A Story of Prof. Presas
A while back (1993-I think), I brought Master Presas in for a seminar in Lansing, IL. I encouraged my students (TKD) to attend. I also trained in kali in a nearby school, whom which I also invited. The turnout at the seminar was VERY low. He said it was the lowest turnout he ever had. I offered 1000 apologizes. It didn’t really bother him though; He gave a very good seminar and everyone came away amazed at the Professor!! Later that night, he gave me a private lesson in his hotel room and we talk for hours about martial arts philosophy. The wealth of knowledge he possessed was incredible. Not only about arnis, but all martial arts! I will never forget that night!! He will be missed.
Look At The Stick And be Tricked
A few years ago, I had the privilege of having a one-on-one workout with the Professor Remy. At this particular time, the Professor was introducing his current form of tapi-tapi into the mainstream of his teaching and using it as the centerpiece of his seminars. This was my first look at tapi-tapi. Professor Remy started slow with one stick sinawali, then added the sweep and counter block, then back to sinawali. As we worked at this, and because I was unsure of the movements, I kept glancing at my hand and the sticks.All of a sudden, the Professor starts yealing “look at my face, look into the face of your opponent”. I saw his eyes…his expression and his voice change into the warrior that he was. After shaking off the fear, I did as he said and matched his timing as he picked up the tempo to a blistering pace. I looked into his face the whole time and never missed a beat. After finishing me off with lightning fast trap, he returned to his jolly old self, then he told me to trust my instincts and my training would take over. He said that your eyes can play tricks on you and that you will be able to feel what is coming, if you relax and just react.
Professor Remy took me to a new level that day, beyond what I thought I was capable of.
To this day, I remember that lesson and the fire I saw in the eyes of a fierce warrior… true Grand Master. A true warrior is fierce in battle but also kind and understanding. The Professor made everyone feel special and that is why he was special to everyone. I will miss his friendly smile and I will do my best to honnor the Professor and pass on to others the art of Modern Arnis.
Sal Todaro ( Cebu West )
A MESSAGE FROM BOBBY TABOADA
To the family, friends, and students of Grandmaster Remy Presas:
I would like to express my deepest sympathy to you all for the loss of Grandmaster Remy Presas. Remy was a very dear friend of mine who helped and supported me in many ways in the past. If it wasn’t for Remy, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.
Remy was one of the original members of the Balintawak Escrima Group and received personal instruction from the late Great Grandmaster Anciong Bacon. By the time I became involved with the Balintawak Group, Remy was already long gone. Since then, he had created Modern Arnis and made a name for himself. In my eyes, Remy is the “Great Grandfather” of the Filipino martial arts and I consider myself a “follower” of his. When I first heard that he was promoting the Filipino martial arts abroad, I became inspired to follow in that same path. Through his example, he gave me the courage to leave the Philippines and come to the United States. In 1992, when I met up with him in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I now reside, he helped give me a head start in teaching classes and seminars. I was honored when he included me as a featured instructor, along with Wally Jay, George Dillman, and himself, at the Martial Arts Extravaganza in 1993.
He and I became very close friends. When I got married the following year, he was the maninoy (godfather) of my wedding.
It is my hope that Remy’s name, his art of Modern Arnis, and the foundation he’s set will continue to be carried on and that his art will continue to flourish throughout the world. The realization of this goal will require a unified, cooperative effort. We must all help to keep his dream alive.
Best wishes to you all,
September 2, 2001
I first met Professor Presas in the mid 1980’s. He was teaching a seminar in Portland, Oregon.
What I was the most taken with upon meeting the Professor was how at ease he made me feel. I was new to the Art, and had never met him befor, and he made me feel like an old friend.
I continued my training in Arnis because of that first meeting.
My prayers to all that will miss him.
A Child at Heart
I think what I remember the most about Remy is that he never ignored his inner child. We were always playing pranks on each other. One such occasion was at a seminar at Jaye Spiro’s in Detroit. We were picking Remy up at the airport and we missed him getting off the plane. Jaye and I split up looking for him. Jaye then found me and told me he was waiting up front and she would meet me there with her car. When I got to the meeting area I heard someone call out “Hartman!”. I looked by the doors and there was Remy darting behind a pillar trying to hide from me. I immediately went into game playing mode. I dashed around the other side of the pillar to sneak up behind and surprise him. As I rounded the pillar I could see him looking for me and thought this was my chance. I reached out to grab him only to have him turn around at the last minute and throw a open palm strike inches from my nose and shout Ha! After that we hugged and people must have thought we were crazy. They were right!
I will miss you father.
Buffalo NY USA
Around the summer of 1991 I became one of Remy’s unofficial “chauffers.” He
would call and I would disappear from home for a few days or a week at a
time. I was preparing to open my school so I spent a lot of time with him
that summer. My mother had asked me if I owed Remy money because I would
pick up and leave without telling anyone where I was going. I told her that
I finally found someone who believed in me and told me that I could do it.
That was much more powerful than money. He taught me some great lessons,
but more important the power to believe in myself. I have not only lost a
teacher, but more importantly a friend and an inspiration.
God Speed Remy!!
The Only Time I Ever Beat the Professor!!!
In July of 2000, the Professor was in Raleigh, NC. The Professor had a seminar scheduled in Kentucky at Master Shane Hamilton’s .He wanted me and Roland Rivera to attend and be his assistants. The Professor had bought an airline ticket to leave on friday afternoon. Roland, my student Harold Evans, and I decided to drive (it was about a 6-hour drive). The Professor decided, “Maybe I will ride with you instead if they will refund my ticket.” Roland and I dropped the Professor off at the airport around 5:00 pm.on Friday. He went inside to see if they would refund his ticket. He came out and told us he had to fly and would meet us in Kentucky. He also asked us to take his luggage. We immediately left the airport and went to pick up Harold and began our journey.
Our drive was long. We arrived in the mountains of Kentucky around 11:00 in the evening. We couldn’t get any cellular service. We were in the middle of nowhere with no place to stay. The Professor had asked us to contact him when we arrived so we could give him his luggage. We called Shane’s home and spoke with his wife.She told us that Shane was at the airport picking up the Professor. Their drive back from the airport was a 2 1/2-hour drive from Lexington, Kentucky. When we found a hotel room, I checked my cellular voice mail. Professor heard that we were already in town for the seminar and they were still an hour away. His message was as follows, “David, How did you beat me? David, I fly on the airplane and you drive in the car, How did you beat me?!!!”
I beat the Professor…traveling. And throughout the seminar, Professor had to remind us and everyone how we beat his flight and that he should have just ridden with us instead.
Professor, we will miss your Humor, Friendship, Instruction, and Guidance. We will continue your mission in spreading our Filipino Culture and Martial Arts with everyone.
Mananatili ka lagi sa aming alaala.
[PIC 1] [PIC2] (Please click on links to see pics with this tribute)
The picture where Grandmaster Ernesto Presas is in kendo uniform was taken in
Professor Remy Presas school in Quiapo , Manila. I appear in the right side
of the picture if you are facing it. The person beside me in Kendo uniform is
guy named Evangelista. Grandmaster Ernesto Presas just had a kendo bout with
Mr. Evangelista who is from California for a visit prior to the taking of the
picture. The shinai I hand crafted for GM Ernesto Presas was broken when he
hit Mr. Evangelista on right side of the head. In spite of the protective
armor, the ear of Sensei Evangelista turned purple.
The other picture where Professor Remy Presas is sparring his brother GM
Ernesto Presas shown in kendo uniform, was done in his school after the kendo
bout to demonstrate his art in the presence of students and foreign visitors.
The good part of the story about picture however is not the action but
regarding the kendo uniform. The kendo uniform was brought by Professor Remy
Presas to the Philippines after his goodwill tour in Japan with his brother
and Dr. Lengson, the then head of the Karate Federation of the Philippines.
One kendo uniform was bought by Professor Remy Presas, while the other was
offered to Professor Remy Presas by the Kendo Sensei after disarming the
Japanese Sensei of his sinai when Professor Remy Presas ordered the Sensei to
attack him. In return Professor Remy Presas offered his Formal native shirt
called “Barong Tagalog” to the Japanese. I had a copy of the picture with the
Professor in kendo uniform and the Japanese in Barong Tagalog but I misplaced
it somewhere and its nowhere to be found.
Myself and a student attended the Birmingham (UK) course with the Professor just prior to his original tumour being diagnosed.
At the time I was preparing to host David Hoffman, the Professors UK Representative, for the first Modern Arnis course in the North East of England.
David had asked if I was going to get down to meet the Professor again (I met him the last time he was in the UK), and I had to say that due to financial constraints I wouldn’t be able to attend. Two days before the seminar David phoned me to say that the Professor was inviting me down for the course as his guest – no charge!
From what I’ve read from his students, this is a typical example of the mans generosity and his determination to spread the FMA around the globe.
I wanted share a story of a great man who helped me find myself.
In 1996, I had the pleasure of being alone with the Professor at the East Coast Camp in Massachusetts. When I heard the news that he wanted to speak to me privately, I said..oh-oh, I ‘m toast. I thought it was because I never wore a uniform or discussed rank, something I thought he was upset about. When I entered the room, he became a “regular” man, and asked to help him with his knees ( as I practice Chinese Tui Na massage).
I said “sure” Remy! I had no idea….While working on his knees, he said to me ” Brian, you are strong” in his great accent, Ken ( DeJesus)
has taught you well”. I said yes, you both have and will treasure all that I have leaned. He also said “keep in your heart the humor that you have, dont lose it..it would be bad…and (regarding my wife Helena) Always remember…I am looked at as a great person all over the
world, people look up to me, but when I get home..my wife hands me a mop…never forget they are the boss!!”
I will never lose the ability to laugh at myself.
Peace be with you Professor.
I met Professor Presas in the middle 1970’s in the Philippines at his place in Quiapo and it was there that he gave me his book,printed in English, on glossy paper, autographed by him, and also he showed me “twenty-minutes” method of learning sinawali(single and double) which he graciously gave me, although at the time I was far from any degree of mastery but he knew that with practice, I would gain more proficiency. My first Filipino instructor(in karate,etc.) Bernabe Paragas had his son study with the Professor also shortly before I met the Professor, who also extended traditional Filipino hospitality to the USKA Karate Team under the late Grandmaster Robert A. Trias who visited the Philippines at my invitation. They were shown arnis and other martial arts as well. It was the Professor who introduced me to Roland Dantes, a former Mr. Philippines, movie actor/star, and an original student of the Professor. Roland and I have been friends ever since and he is in the first book by the Professor. The Professor and I were going to set up a series of seminars on the island of Marinduque where I was President of the Marcopper Martial Arts Club but he left for the US and went into self-imposed exile for around 14 years or so and so it was not until I returned to the US that he and caught up with one another when he gave his second seminar in Salem,Massachusetts at Ben Hernando’s school. The Professor warmly greeted me and after that I attended another seminar sponsored by David Hoffman in Beverley,Massachusetts. The last time I actually saw the Professor alive was at a seminar in Greenfield, Massachusetts, at Richard Roy’s school. Nevertheless, the Professor and I maintained communication with each other over the years, right up until his passing, through friends and students, followers,etc. He knew what I was doing and I knew what he was doing. The only thing I can say is that if things had worked out in the Philippines before he left, I might have been his student entirely, but though I never became his official student, we nevertheless shared a common interest in advancing arnis in the world. Many articles have been written about the Professor but few can capture the essence of the man. He will be missed by all who really knew him, who really followed him, and who will remain loyal to his teachings, despite any re-formation of followers and students. As Executive Editor of FILIPINO MARTIAL ARTS MAGAZINE at www.filipinomag.com I have reviewed his first book(s) as the Greatest Arnis Book ever published in the 20th century. No other book has been as distributed and as widely read as his and it continues to be a best seller. His original book,published in the Philippines, is still available, and is a must reading for all Modern Arnis practitioners. Those who have autographed copies of it should cherish them for years to come. Also, his videos are a lasting legacy for all to see and enjoy and learn from. They will remind those who trained and studied with the Professor of what they now will miss so dearly. But they will also be as if the Professor were there with them, guiding them along the path of Modern Arnis. Now that the Professor is at rest in his homeland, I hope that everyone who can will make a pilgrimage to his gravesite on the island of Negros in the Visayas.
MARAMING SALAMAT. MABUHAY ANG MODERN ARNIS.
Halford E. Jones