Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fair Play: 15 Masters get Wekaf's highest nod

THERE are so many masters and grandmasters in Eskrima these days that, if you just blink, the guy you’re talking to is suddenly a master in the Filipino martial art.

This could mean, of course, that the sport is growing by leaps and bounds that a lot are already considered masters in their own right. Or, this could mean, too, that there are just darn too many masters that there’s no more distinction between a master and a true master.

Chess, actually, started something like this, when the advent of computers helped folks gain the GM status a lot quicker than it used to in previous years by calling the elite players the Super Grandmaster (When I first heard of this word, I had visions of a stoic skinny guy in a red cape, underwear over pants beating a monster named Deep Blue).

Wekaf, too, is starting a similar move by bestowing on 15 martial arts icons the Order of Datu Lapu-Lapu and they envision this honor to be one that will belong only to a limited group who has elevated the art to what it is now.

What’s another honor in martial arts? I think this one is unique, and, judging by how the group is honoring both Diony and Cacoy Cañete shows politics and favoritism play no role in who gets this.

Anyone involved in the world of arnis knows the story of Cacoy and Diony, and by bestowing the honor on these two legends, along with 13 others, Wekaf is saying, “We are not interested in their split. We are honoring their contribution.”

Eskrima used to be a fringe sport, practiced only by a few dedicated individuals, but now, it’s practiced worldwide and is also part of the Philippine educational system, too, thanks to a former Sen. Migz Zubiri, himself a practitioner.

Now, it’s not even just about fighting with sticks as the art has evolved a lot and not a few men who really need this type of unarmed fighting (Army, Special Forces) the world over have come to the Philippines to learn it.

Now that the world has seen the Filipino martial art, and has appreciated its beauty, it is but fitting that those who strove hard to make it what it is now get honored when the sport’s biggest event—the Wekaf World Championships—returns home.

To the First 15, congratulations and thank you.

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