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Back in July 2011, I had the privilege to organize the Modern Arnis Family Reunion Camp, aimed at bridging gaps within our cherished community. It was an event that encompassed much more than just training; it was a stepping stone for mending our disjointed community, benefiting both instructors and students alike. Participants traveled from far and wide, with representatives from diverse locations including the United States, Canada, Austria, and Germany. It was a period for unity, healing, and communal growth.

This memorable event also laid the groundwork for various subsequent initiatives. Its positive impact sparked the birth of several other events, such as the Best of the West Camp, the Best of the East Camp, and the East meets West Camp, along with a series of seminars and camps.

Fast forward ten years to 2021, I had plans to host the 20th year reunion, but the global pandemic turned those plans on their heads. Given the restrictions and regulations imposed by the New York State at that time, I found myself releasing numerous instructors months before the event to save them from any potential financial losses.

It was around this time I began noticing a trend, not only in our camps but in other gatherings as well. I have long emphasized the need for us to shift our focus from reunion events, which are more about surviving members, to creating a roadmap for the future. The reason for this perspective became all too real to me during my 40th high school reunion, a poignant reminder of the transient nature of life.

While the reunion allowed me to reconnect with long-lost friends, it was tinged with sadness. A poster bearing the images of those no longer with us, 41 in total, stirred powerful emotions within me. These were individuals, some of whom I knew since elementary school, who were now gone.

This hard-hitting realization made me reaffirm my belief that, while reunions may serve a purpose in our personal lives, in the sphere of Modern Arnis, our focus should be on the development of future generations, rather than dwelling on the pioneers. That’s why I’ve decided to step away from hosting any more reunion events.

In the past, I named our 20-year gathering the 20th Reunion & Remy Presas Memorial Camp. Despite the significance of this event, I feel the need to move beyond commemorating the past. Instead, I envision hosting anniversary camps that celebrate the ongoing journey of our art form and its perpetuation in future generations.

Our collective goal should be to nurture those who will carry the torch of Modern Arnis forward, rather than focusing on those who have survived. Our role should be to foster students’ growth into instructors and beyond, instilling in them the same sense of responsibility to pass on their knowledge. We should all strive to be training our successors, who should, in turn, be doing the same for the next generations.

I can sometimes be quite passionate and emotional about this, but if you want to truly understand my perspective, attend your next reunion. Count the faces that are missing. As the Modern Arnis family, we’ve lost our teacher and numerous members over the years. To ensure the survival of our beloved art, we need to shift our focus from ourselves to the nurturing of our students, their students, and the generations to come.

I welcome your thoughts and opinions on this matter.

Datu Tim Hartman
World Modern Arnis Alliance

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