Presas, The Man Behind Modern Arnis
true lover of sports, Mr. Remy A. Presas
man behind Modern
today. From the cold tomb of oblivion, Mr. Presas gave new life
and meaning to the true Filipino martial art called Arnis
Arnis died with the passage of time as the incontrovertible onslaught
of modern living and foreign influences blotted out this gem
of the Filipino culture to merely one of the things of the forgotten
past. Truly Arnis died with the times. If there were any devout
practitioners of the art, they were a very negligible few not
even worthy of the slightest attention. People then were so overwhelmed
by the appeal of other foreign martial arts like judo, jujitsu,
and karate, as to give a passing look to their own arnis. Such
then was the sad status of the martial art of Arnis.
fate has it that "Arnis" will not forever stay dead
because on December 19, 1936, in the fishing town of Hinigaran,
Negros Occidental, a boy was born destined to one day reopen
the eyes and hearts of the Filipino martial art lovers to their
own true martial art, arnis, an art which has its roots sacredly
marked since the beginning of Philippine history itself. This
boy was Remy Amador Presas.
of a middle class family, Remy was born to Jose B. Presas, a
businessman and the former Lucia Amador. His father and mother
wanted Remy to pursue a career other than sports like business
where the family was then comfortably ensconced. But business
was not for Remy. Exposed at an early age to sports through his
grandfather who was also a lover of sports, Remy developed a
special love for the physical art that will one day find him
one of its stalwarts.
the tender age of six, while learning his alphabet and prayers
from his mother, Remy was already learning the fundamentals of "kali",
as Arnis was then called, using finely carved wooden canes shaped
like swords or daggers. This developed in Remy an immense love
for sports which will become and indelible mark of his nature.
his youth, the fascination of sports in Remy grew so much as
to develop in him the adventurer's itch. Not content with the
bucolic atmosphere in Hinigaran, at the age of 14 Remy went to
the different cities like Cebu, Panay, Bohol, and Leyte, where
he pursued his athletic career. In Cebu, he furthered his study
of Arnis under Rodolfo Moncal, and then under Timoteo Marranga
and Venancio Bacon. All were Cebuano experts in Arnis, and under
them Remy mastered Arnis and the deadly "Balintawak" style
of stick fencing. Remy's association with Arnis experts and other
renowned athletes in the different parts of the country sharpened
his ability in sports.
the time he came back to his hometown, Remy was already and expert
in Arnis and in other sports like judo, jiu-jitsu, wrestling
and karate. After his marriage to Rosemary Pascual, Remy, idealistic
and enterprising that he is, then set up a gymnasium in Bacolod,
Negros Occidental, and there started the wheels of his obsession
to revive the dying martial art of Arnis. With the fervor and
determination of a true dedicated sportsman, Remy labored and
sacrificed to bring the youth in Bacolod closer to the wealth
of their cultural history that they failed to appreciate because
of indifference. Encouragingly, he succeeded. In that unpretentious
gym he founded, Remy succeeded in drawing the interest of the
youth of Bacolod. His followers in Arnis increased by the hundreds.
was not only successful in that respect. His business in the
city also went well and he was also teaching physical education
(with emphasis on Arnis) at De La Salle College, then at the
University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, being a holder of
a bachelor's degree in education major in physical education.
Remy was then a very successful man, a success capped by the
encouraging outcome of his crusade to revive the lost glory of
in 1968 Remy was confronted with a decision that was to become
a turning point in his life. In one of his summer sessions at
the Rizal Memorial Sports Arena in Manila, the sports Mecca of
the Philippines, Col. Arsenio de Borja, secretary treasurer of
the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation and director of the
National College of Physical Education, Mr. Philip Moncerrat,
former President of the PAAF, and Professor Jose Gregorio, took
notice of Remy. Upon learning of Remy's crusade, they asked him
to further his crusade in Manila, the seat of National influence
in any field of activity. In Manila, the interest of the whole
country would be drawn, Remy was told.
idea interested Remy, for indeed, Arnis is not only for a region,
it is for the whole country and could even be before the whole
world. The thought played in Remy's mind like a precious diamond
toyed by two cats.
whole thought was crucial and difficult for him. Coming to Manila
would mean leaving behind all he has founded in Bacolod. It would
mean virtual abandonment of his well-entrenched businesses which
could guarantee the future of his family. Besides, it would mean
re-establishment of his family which was now well settled in
Remy can not get himself out of the thought of the great opportunity
for him to bring his crusade to a wider scope and area of audience.
He was tickled with the thought that in Manila, he will not only
be able to revive Arnis to national consciousness but he will
also have the opportunity to present this lore of Philippine
culture to the whole world. Remy believed that if the world accepted
judo, wrestling, karate, and kung fu, there would be no reason
why Arnis wouldn't be accepted for Arnis is as effective, if
not more effective than all of these other martial arts. It was
a gem of an opportunity and Remy took the challenge.
1969, Remy brought his family to Manila. He then established
a gymnasium in the heart of Manila's commercial district and
founded the National Amateur Karate Organization (NAKO)
and Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines (MAFP). With
his gym as his springboard, Remy pursued his crusade to revive
Arnis on the wider scale to the hilt. He taught (up the present)
in various universities and colleges in Manila emphasizing the
basic beauty of Arnis as a martial art. He was also teaching
Arnis in his NAKO and MAFP club in Quiapo, Manila.
also founded the Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines.
He gave countless exhibitions (for free) with his boys
before different audiences and even before tourists. He has even
performed before Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos in Antipolo, Rizal,
who, after seeing the exhibition, expressed profound interest
in the art.
untiring crusade brought Arnis to the knowledge of every martial
art lover. Not only that, Remy's magnificent achievement brought
him honors and respect among the titans in Philippine sports.
So enthusiastically was Arnis received that Remy was asked to
train the different armed services and police agencies in the
Philippines in the martial art of Arnis. Arnis has also become
a popular sport engaged in friendly competition between clubs.
popularity of Arnis even transcends Philippine shores that in
1970 Remy was asked to go to Japan and before Itago Police Academy
he introduce Arnis. So intrigued and fascinated were the Japanese
Police authorities of the art that they exclaimed in admiration
of its effectively.
name became a name to reckon with in sports circle. Besides being
the founder and president of the MAFP and NAKO,
he was elected Vice-President of the Philippine Arnis Association
whose president was former Senator Rene Espina, also an Arnis
aficionado, He is also a coach in judo, karate, and wrestling.
Remy is a sixth Dan Karate Blackbelter and a judo blackbelter.
athletic prowess is known far and wide that several American
martial art clubs invited him for a cultural demonstration and
not a few American personages who are lovers of martial art asked
him to propagate the art of Arnis in America and Canada. These
invitations are testimonials of Remy's fame as an athlete.
Remy's dream is more than all these. He wants to make an international
sport out of Arnis. He wants the world to know that in the Philippines
there is an indigenous martial art that can surpass the martial
art they already know. "Few of us may know that a skillful
knowledge of the art of Arnis can make one outplay a master of
judo, or karate, " Remy would tell his students.
the whole world may know of the art, led Remy to write this book
on modern Arnis. Digging deep into his wealth of knowledge after
27 years of research and practice of the art, he decided to publish
a book. Collating the early style and techniques of the art with
the modern, he prepared a text devoid of primitive linguistics
which might not be understood by enthusiasts. Thus this book.
in it's modern form in line with modern demands and circumstances,
this book will be easy for a learner to understand. Every style
and technique is presented in modern form and the terminologies
adopted to contemporary language.
book is only the beginning of Remy's magnificent dream. This
book will merely serve as a springboard for the ultimate acceptance
of the Filipino martial art of Arnis. The crowning glory of this
dream, of this crusade, will be when Arnis becomes a commanding
sport in every arena of sports competition the world over.
Filipinos have now accepted this gem of their culture. Through
the inspired efforts of Remy, the Bureau of Public and Private
Schools has now included Arnis in the Physical education curriculum.
this in not enough for Remy. He believes that a good art should
be shared by the whole world. This is his ardent dream and when
this dream shall have flowered, the world will have to thank
not only Remy but also his wonderful wife Rosemary, whose
inspiration, perseverance, and priceless assistance made this
book possible. Also, their children Mary Jane, Mary Ann,
Remy, Jr., Ma. Theresa and Demetrio Jose, whose innocent
laughter have lightened the mental load in the awesome preparation
of this book.
Arnis will go a long way and Modern Arnis is incomplete without
bringing into the picture the athlete and the crusader, Remy
A. Presas, "The Father of Modern Arnis". Signed
by Col. Arsenio de Borja (Ret.)
from the book authored by our
beloved father, REMY A. PRESAS"Modern
Arnis", First Edition, 1974.
evening, August 28, 2001, Remy Amador Presas passed away
in Victoria, British Columbia after a ten month battle with brain