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"The [Inay(an)] System (of Eskrima) is Complete" ~ Mangisursuro Inay 1944-2000

A Thinking Man’s Art

I once was marveling at the skill and prowess of one of my father’s senior students, I was just a boy at the time. I felt this Inayan Eskrimador’s power every time I worked with him, and I had seen him full contact spar many times. I’ve even gotten the bad end of that stick on occasion. As a boy I loved to watch the seniors fight, when we would do reflexive work I would step out of line so I could watch how the instructors would assault those that were senior and more skilled than I. As I grew and matured both physically and mentally within the art, I came to appreciate my Inayan Eskrima even more. I was impressed with the art, with my father’s ability and his students. I was proud to be a part of this. I am proud to be Inayan. So with the exuberance of youth I marveled, and my father said to me, “yes, he is good… for an opportunist”. It was like he hit me, the way that can change your perspective in an instance. Like “oh there is the ceiling, how did I get down here?” My father used to call it “switching your channels”, mostly when he used pressure points, and that was exactly what it was like!
I think that small line changed many things for me in general; the new perspective has become a pervasive influence on my Inayan Eskrima. This and many other occasions of instruction – father/son time has gradually changed my direction towards that of a thinking-man’s Eskrimador, like my father was.
Recently, while teaching at Stanford, I was again reminded of the importance to this aspect of the Inayan System of Eskrima as the founder, my father Mike Inay, taught it and how I continue to teach our family system. Anyone can teach you to throw a punch or swing a kick. Anyone can teach you to make a stick crush or sword cleave, anyone can teach you to play with knives… The Inayan Way is not one of physicality exclusively, nor of mere street fighting or self-defense. Those are aspects of importance to be sure, for no art can be effective without considering those facets of personal combat. The old adage for all martial arts is “Mind, Body, and Spirit”. While this axiom is beyond the scope of this article, we can at least invest ourselves into the mind and it’s part in the dance.
It is my perspective that to react in a reflexive way is very important in the effectiveness and development of any Eskrimador, let alone any Karteka, Judoka, Aikidoka, JuJitsuka, KungFu/WuShu practitioner. Or any other art for that matter, a practitioner should be able to block adequately and counterattack reflexively at the very least. To be able to defend oneself without thought is the first stage to being effective as a martial artist. The traditions of martial arts around the world amount to the ancient military secrets of their respective cultures, the territory of the warrior class. And, no warrior is worthy without being able to defend oneself at least at this lowly level. I liken this level to that of an animal. Animals don’t go to classes or take formal lessons on how to fight; yet they all can. Their intellect and desires do not interfere with their sense of self-preservation. This is where every instructor is at least passable at in teaching his or her students… Anyone can teach you to throw a punch… even a tiger, crane, snake, or monkey.
The mind and the body, work together to produce results in martial arts that affect the outcome of any given conflict. The martial arts practitioner learns deliberate control of the body to produce beneficial interactions with another. Whereas there are many performing arts that require movement and deliberate control of the body, martial arts is the only art that does this under stress and versus opposing forces, without choreography. In this way, the essence of the true martial artist is shown through the art of war. Most martial artists that focus on effective combative training can demonstrate this. This is merely the first way, and most rudimentary way, to harness the mind in martial arts. Merely to mean what you do and do what you mean. At this level you are still just an opportunist in most cases.
The study of martial arts can be divided in many ways, ethnographically, tool usage, influences, and myriad of other ways. Some are useful in certain instances and some are useful in other instances. There are martial art sports… more properly martial sport, for example.  Having an understanding of the academic aspects of an art can let you now more about its development and usage in terms of its use chronologically throughout time. As an example, the advent of armor and introduction of cavalry as well as gunpowder had immense impact on martial arts native to cultures that used such things. Technology in terms of armor and armament also had a great effect on how and why people used certain martial art techniques as well as methods. Fashion, some might be amazed, has left an indelible mark upon European Renaissance martial arts, coupled with the advent of sport fencing has nearly killed any semblance to such a great tradition. Academia has its uses for martial artists, in fact in Europe a practitioner of the martial arts was considered a scholar and afforded the same courtesy as any learned man.
From the point of view of a strategist, and tactician, the mental faculties of a martial artist, a warrior, is what separates him from barbarism and bestial fighting. Producing an affect leading to victory with as little effort as possible is but one of the hallmarks to mastery in regards to martial arts. You can wait, and wait for the right opportunity, and be left with it never happening. Then you are just relying on luck. It is said that a great warrior seeks victory and then goes to battle, and a poor warrior goes to battle seeking victory. Plan your work and work your plan. This is common today in mainstream martial arts, you see people make an attempt at a win during the fight, and owe their win or loss to skill as much as luck.
A tactician and strategist has an understanding of the forces at play so that a plan can be devised in such a way to aid in victory by being both focused on the result as well as adaptable to the ever changing landscape of a fight. How lines of force can interact, and how the body can produce different tangents of kinetic energy to interact with an opponents plane of attack is at the root of this understanding and it’s ultimate mastery. The physics involved is finite, its permutation is infinite, this is where art meets science when fists and feet meet each other, and this is my Inayan. Coupled with a deep understanding of intention and the human condition, you will have at least some understanding of how Mangisursuro taught his only son and daughter.
And using your mind, the only true weapon you have, is only the second step in your development as a martial artist, as an Inayan Eskrimador.
Keep Training
Suro J. Inay



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