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Reflecting on Remy Presas: More Than Just an Instructor

It’s been three years since I began hosting the FMA Talk podcast. Throughout this time, I’ve delved into many topics, including discussions about the late Remy Presas and the kind of instructor he was. However, on this 22nd anniversary of his passing, I find myself yearning to share my reflections on the man behind the title.

Admittedly, during the time leading up to his passing, I didn’t fully grasp the essence of Remy. While I might have had a deeper insight than many due to the numerous moments we shared, I lacked a comprehensive understanding of his cultural backdrop. It wasn’t until I traveled to the Philippines, with seven visits to date and more in the pipeline, that I began to appreciate the cultural nuances that shaped him. Some might have misunderstood certain aspects of his behavior as mere personality quirks, but in reality, these were deeply rooted in his cultural upbringing.

I frequently visited Toronto, hoping to familiarize myself with the Filipino community, but it wasn’t until I truly immersed myself in the Philippines that my perception of Professor Remy started to evolve. Nevertheless, there are certain universal attributes that are instantly recognizable. Notably, Remy often went by ‘Professor Presas’ rather than ‘Grandmaster’. His preference stemmed from a desire to appear less daunting and more approachable, something that was clearly evident during his interactive and spirited seminars.

Remy’s schedule was incredibly tight, often whisking him away to the next seminar venue right after finishing one. His commitment to sharing his expertise was evident in how he was possibly one of the busiest individuals in the martial art seminar circuit. But those moments when I hosted him in Buffalo were special. We would spend a week together, sharing stories and experiences. On occasions where seminars were held at hotels, we’d share rooms, drive to various places together, and even indulge in sightseeing with other attendees, like during the first Germany camp.

His affable nature shone through in all interactions. He always wanted to blend in, be one of the crowd. A memory that remains etched in my heart is of a seminar where the Canadian stick fighting team visited. Post-seminar, while I showed the team Niagara Falls, some of my guys took Professor Remy to a club. We danced the night away, and it’s one of those nights you reminisce about with a smile.

Generosity flowed through Remy. On my first trip to Germany, he helped finance my ticket, which I was keen on repaying. On another trip, in the era before electronic ticketing, I lost my tickets. Without hesitation, he offered financial assistance until I could sort things out. That gesture took more than a year to settle due to airline complications, but it showcased his magnanimity.

Describing Remy’s warmth is challenging unless you’ve personally experienced it. While he had his complexities, day in and day out, he radiated kindness and care. To me, he was akin to a fatherly figure, and his absence leaves a void that’s hard to fill. If you never had the privilege of meeting him, I might fall short in conveying his essence, but those who did will undoubtedly cherish those memories.

As we commemorate the 22nd anniversary of his passing, the upcoming episode of FMA Talk will honor his legacy. And in my capacity as a student and a martial artist, I pledge to continue championing the art he introduced me to back in 1985.

With warm regards,
Tim Hartman, World Modern Arnis Alliance.

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