Monday, April 11, 2011

Fair Play: Diony: Master of the Arnisverse

COMPARED to other septuagenarians, 73-year-old Diony Cañete seems like a teenager.

He’s bubbling with energy, he’s got so many ideas up his sleeves that it seems he needs more than 24 hours in a day to put everything in order.


At 73, I’d gladly let him do the “reasoning” if some KSP City Mayor’s son starts being joavanile..er…I mean juvenile, so he can get the thumping he deserves.

I learned that two years ago, during a visit by the Sportswriters Association of Cebu to Diony’s headquarters for a demo on the finer arts of Eskrima.

Sir Diony was demonstrating the different ways to parry an attack when I decided to be a smartass. I thought his demo partner seemed too willing a victim so I asked, what if the attacker does this…

It literally took just one blink and the next thing I knew I was staring at the ceiling (or was it the floor) and my arm was getting stretched to a position that I thought was possible only in cartoon shows.

“Before opening your mouth, use your brain, you must,” was one of the Yodaisms that hit me after that demo.

A couple of nights ago, I met Sir Diony again. He was celebrating his 73rd birthday and just like two years ago, nothing has changed—except, maybe, that there was no demo.

He still has that same spring in his step and is still quite as busy as ever.

Two years ago, it was about the planned Academy of Eskrima; now, it’s about a grassroots program that will teach Arnis to Grades 1 and 2 students in Cebu City.

And the goal, really, is not to make arnisadors of the students, but to teach them discipline and respect because he believes that is one of the best aspects of learning arnis.

“We will teach them salutation and politeness. Moyukbo gyud mo sa instructors, teachers, elders and even to each other,” he said.

The program, which was first proposed by Vice Mayor Joy Young last September, will be implemented this June with Doce Pares shouldering the P50,000 monthly allowance of the trainers.

“One of the long-term goals of this program is for every Cebuano to learn what Eskrima is,” Diony said. “And they, in turn will become ambassadors of Eskrima.”

According to my friend King Cortel, the program will follow a step-ladder approach.

“The first graders will learn single stick and will progress to double sticks in the second grade,” he said. “The third graders will learn the bangcaw.”

By December, they plan to hold separate tournaments for schools in the South and North and by February, they plan to hold a North vs. South contest, just in time for the Cebu City Charter Day.

By the way, that’s not the only project that’s keeping Sir Diony and the Doce Pares group busy these days, as they are also preparing for the Wekaf World Championships this July.

Makes you wonder where the 73-year-old Master keeps his fountain of youth, doesn’t it?

TENNIS. If things go as planned, the sportswriters should be having a brief tennis clinic by PJ Tierro and Johnny Arcilla tomorrow and I’m so looking forward to it.

People may see me as a football nut but tennis is one of the first sports I took up and is my favorite pasttime.

Back home, whenever we had a break from college, we’d spend the whole afternoon, sometimes up until the evening, playing tennis.

And I can’t wait to play again.

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