One of the great masters that came to the US in the “Golden Age” of the martial arts in the US during the 1970’s was the dynamic and charismatic Founder of Modern Arnis, Professor Remy A. Presas.
Hailing from the Philippines, Professor Presas began developing his system of Filipino Stick Fighting in the 1960’s as means to teach the basics of the traditional Filipino weapon arts in a more “user-friendly” way, avoiding common training injuries by emphasizing stick-to-stick drills instead of targeting the hand, as was common in the older training methods. With this “student-friendly” training approach of Modern Arnis, Presas was able to identify the basic concepts of various Filipino stick styles and merged them into basic drills within the Modern Arnis system, and by the late 1960’s the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation approved Presas’ Modern Arnis to be taught at the National College of Physical Education.
Bringing Modern Arnis to the US in 1974, Presas’ system taught a simplified stick-fighting method that fit in easily with existing Kung Fu/Judo/Karate systems, and was delivered in a captivating and groundbreaking rapid-fire seminar format that was a radical departure from the traditional classroom training system in common use at the time, and.exposed countless new students to the Filipino Martial Arts in short order.
The Modern Arnis system excelled in the seminar format and enhanced the skills of many practicing martial artists. Using the seminar format, Presas was able to effectively “piggyback” on the enrollment of existing schools to disseminate and broadly expose Modern Arnis without a permanent central school or training location of its own. This was a very successful marketing strategy and led to a rapid increase in the public awareness of Modern Arnis, creating a growing number of students with basic and general knowledge of the art.
Paralleling his historic accomplishments in revitalizing Arnis in the Philippines, Professor Presas propelled Modern Arnis forward in its’ march toward popularizing the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) in the United States.