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Arnis Balite

FMA Informative Issue #46 - Arnis Balite - Foundation of Fundamentals and Basics
Foundation of Fundamentals and Basics

FMA Informative Issue #58 - Arnis Balite: Putting Movement to the Fundamentals and Basics
Putting Movement to the Fundamentals and Basics

The art of Arnis Balite is actually two arts one being Boxing which Pundador Manuel M.  Aguillon loved and was a provincial champion before the war. During the war in which Japan invaded the Philippines Pundador Aguillon joined the resistance as a guerilla fighter in the mountains and jungles in the Zambales region of Luzon Island. It was during this time he learned stick and bolo fighting from other guerillas. After the war he combined the two.

Pundador taught each art separate, however he also combined all two arts for some students into his own personal art which at the time he just called Arnis. Upon his passing the art was then called Aguillon Arnis and once the family passed the art to Steve Dowd, with authorization from the family it was called Arnis Balite.
Punong Guro Dowd as inheritor of the art is holding onto the art until one of the grandchildren becomes interested and then will be taught the art and the art will go back into the family.
Arnis Balite was never taught publicly or commercially by Pundador Aguillon, he taught at his residence and being selective and discreet in choosing students, he would only teach those who he found had high moral standards and really wanted to have the knowledge of his family’s art. There is no ranking in Arnis Balite; either you are a student or a teacher. Fact is, before Pundador would teach his art fully to a student, the student first must learn the basic fundamentals of the art. This includes the fundamental, concepts, and theories of the basic movements strike, thrusts, blocks etc of the cane, but also of empty hand.
If the beginner could not grasp these things then they would not be allowed to become a student. One must remember to have an open mind.
Punong Guro Dowd follows the same mind set as Pundador, never having a school but teaches the art at his residence, selective in his students with the same requirements as Pundador Aguillon had. Yes it is old school and traditional.

Pundador Manuel Molina Aguillon Sr.
Pundador Manuel M. Aguillon

Born June 19, 1915 in San Antonio, Zambales on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, Manuel Aguillon commenced his training in the fighting arts as a young boy. As a teenager he also found that he had a great desire to use his hands with or without the cane, he turned to boxing. He found that boxing was demanding in using the flowing movements of the body coupled with foot and hand coordination. With his desire of Arnis and boxing he combined the body movements. Going to Manila and various other cities throughout the Philippines his skills as a boxer grew and soon he became known as ‘Kid Balite.’ Winning many bouts and building his career as a boxer he became a champion in 1938.
However, this was to only last a few years with the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese. Joining the guerrilla movement, his unit operated out of the hills and jungles of Zambales Province. Becoming a Sergeant in his unit, he believed that his men should know how to defend themselves with or without a weapon and so each trained to become an expert in the art of hand-to-hand combat. It was during this time that Manuel Aguillon also trained with other experts in Filipino stick fighting and added to his own knowledge and skills.
Upon liberation of the Philippines, Manuel Aguillon traveled to Guam to work in the shipyard and also continued his boxing career. Returning to the Philippines he entered the field of law enforcement in San Antonio, Zambales. During this time he gained much respect and it came as a usual routine that if a problem arose people would request his assistance in solving the confrontation, this was even if other officers were present. This was a continuing routine whether he was on duty or off. Known for his tactical abilities, people were amazed that he could handle a situation with his dynamic persuasive personality. In the six years that he was in law enforcement he was never known to use his fire arm.
With his experience in law enforcement and his reputation in handling situations Manuel Aguillon became a government official as Barrio Captain of San Nicholas, Zambales, which was a post that one had to be elected. He served two terms in this position. Retiring as a Barangay Official his passion for Arnis and boxing continued for he was constantly teaching and promoting both arts. Sponsoring boxing matches at events from Olongapo to the very northern parts of Zambales.
Even though teaching was his passion, money was needed to support his family so he then went to work at the San Miguel Naval Communication Station, in San Antonio, Zambales working at the base gymnasium. Even on the Naval base Pundador Aguillon became known for his knowledge in Arnis and boxing, and people would seek him out constantly for instruction. Working during the day, at night his students would come to his home for training.

Pundador Manuel M. Aguillon

To be a true student of Pundador Aguillon learning his family art was an opportunity that only few would get for his standards of trust, conduct, personality, and morality were key factors which would permit one to become a personal student of his. As he would instruct, he would learn your weaknesses and strengths. This was to better instruct the student, building his weaknesses into an equal relationship with ones strengths.
Pundador was always willing to teach a student that was willing to want the knowledge that was being offered, however when sensing that the student was not learning for the betterment of themselves, he would confront the student with his thoughts and if this was the case the student was dismissed. Pundador believed he had the knowledge he was willing to pass on, but only to those who wished to benefit in a betterment of themselves, of their inner being and spirit.
A student that later became a celebrity in Hong Kong and throughout the Philippines in the movies and used the philosophies, and taught what he learned from Pundador Aguillon and later established his own organization was Grandmaster Trovador Ramos of TRACMA [Trovador Ramos Consolidated Martial Arts - of Combat Judo and Karate]. Grandmaster Ramos always has shown the highest respect to Pundador for sharing his knowledge with him.
As the years passed Manuel Aguillon became set and guarded in his families’ art. Being selective and discreet in choosing students, he would only teach those who he found had high moral standards. So upon his passing away on January 8, 1991, only a hand full of students are known to exist that has the knowledge of Aguillon Arnis.
Passing away in 1991 Pundador Manuel Molina Aguillon Sr. his qualified instructors in the Philippines taught as he did in an informal atmosphere, taking few students and maintaining the high standards which Pundador promulgated and believed in.

Named by Pundador Aguillon surviving family members as the most senior student of the Arnis Balite system; Punong Guro Steven K. Dowd has been appointed by the family to carry on their father’s art and philosophies until a family representative can learn the art and take the art back into the family.
If interested in an air conditioned school, with mirrors, colored belts, and uniforms then Arnis Balite is not the answer. Punong Guro Steven K. Dowd of Arnis Balite teaches the art as Pundador Manuel Aguillon taught the art.

There are no ranks other than student and teacher. No belts accept the one that holds up your pants. Arnis Balite has never been taught in schools, but is a backyard /garage training environment. It cuts the cost of facility rent, utilities etc.
 Talking with the Aguillon family it has been decided to go back to the original requirements. What does this mean? Well there is no ranking. The following below are the requirements.
 - Now the way it works is if a person is accepted for training they begin with the Baguhan (Beginner) requirements. They have 6 months to accomplish and be proficient in it or they are dismissed. (Note: if an instructor keeps them on that is up to them, but they can go no further until the requirements are met).
 - Once the person are proficient in the Baguhan requirements and the instructor has accepted them as a Estudyante (Student). Now the Estudyante (Student). Training works them towards Guro (Teacher), once they are proficient and fully can understand and demonstrate all the requirements they can become a Guro (Teacher).

Once it was asked about the scholarly part of Arnis Balite - which is easy and does not really need an explanation. However for those that cannot figure it out - If a student is interested then knowledge is unlimited. If the student is not interested then no matter what is given it is like talking to a wall. And the student should just move on.

Authorized Instructors per the Aguillon Family:
Punong Guro at Tagapagmana Steven Dowd