Illegal knife fighters make incredible sacrifices in pursuit of ancient art

Most people believe that greatness is a God-given talent; that you’re born with such talent. That’s wrong. Guys like Bo Jackson and Usain Bolt – sure, they were born with it, but they still had to put in the work to become great.

The legend of Bo Jackson is that he was the strongest person on the field and he hardly ever lifted weights. There are stories from college about him that his teammates used to get mad at him for skipping weight training, yet he was always stronger than them. As for Usain Bolt, you can train and get a little bit faster, but to be that fast is unattainable. But neither of those players would be what they are/were without practice.

But those are just two stories; outliers. Most of the time greatness is earned though years and years of training and repetition. Just ask Filipino martial artist Ermar Alexander, who has mastered his craft through years of practice.

Like any other sport, those who study Arnis start from the ground up by doing basic training before they ever think about mastering the technical aspect of it.

“You begin with a stick, and then you progress down to the empty hands technique itself. Everything you do with the stick is transferred down to a non-weapon based mano-mano, which is empty hands fighting.”

Ermar Alexander

You must learn how to dribble and shoot before you can start playing basketball, throw and catch before you can play football or baseball, or skate before you can play hockey.

What do a lot of great players, or athletes have in common? Multiple sports. The ability to take skills from one sport and apply them to another.

Look at former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, or even Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon. They both used the footwork they developed from playing soccer to incorporate it into their basketball game.

Ermar Alexander has spent time studying and training other martial arts that he has been able to adapt and master stick fighting. Each different fighting technique helps develop new skills and movements that can be used to perfect stick fighting.

The fundamentals of Arnis translate from hand-to-hand combat to bladed weapons.
The fundamentals of Arnis translate from hand-to-hand combat to bladed weapons.

But, like he preaches, no one is going to just show up and be a better fighter than someone if they don’t put in the work.

Take future NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber. During his first six seasons, he was a below 60 percent free throw shooter. When he got to Sacramento and the team became successful, he refused to have any weakness on the floor, so he worked during the off-season to become a better free throw shooter. In 2004-05, he shot 79.9 percent.

The virtues that Ermar preaches are dedication and patience. You must put in the time and work to become great, whether you’re fighting for the playoffs or your life.

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