International Women’s Day – Captain Nieves Fernandez

In honor of International Women’s Day. We give to you the history of Captain Nieves Fernandez.

Captain Nieves* In this picture Captain Nieves Fernandez shows to an American soldier how she used her long knife to silently kill Japanese soldiers during occupation, 1944.

Captain Nieves Fernandez, the only known Filipino female guerrilla leader and school teacher. When the Japanese came to take the children under her care she shot them in the face with her latong (a home made shotgun).
Working with guerrillas south of Tacloban, Miss Fernandez rounded up native men to resist the Japanese. She commanded 110 native who killed more than 200 Japanese with knifes and shotguns made from sections of gas pipe.

Captain Nieves was known for being a crackshot and highly skilled with the bolo.  To this extent she drilled her soldiers to a high standard, making them a formidable force against the Japanese occupiers. Her unit was instrumental in helping to force the Japanese out of the southern Tacloban region. Captain Nieves became famous for her bravery and heroics. Eventually leading to the Japanese offering 10.000 pesos for her head. (Which was never collected.)

She was wounded once, leaving a bullet scar on her right forearm.

The Passing of a Legend

Supreme Grandmaster Cacoy Cañete

August 8th, 1919 – February 5th, 2016


Supreme Grandmaster Cacoy Cañete

Supreme Grandmaster Cacoy Cañete

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Supreme Grandmaster Cacoy Canete at the age of 96.
SGM Canete was the last surviving member of the Doce Pares Eskrima club originally founded in 1932.
His personal system of the Doces Pares Eskrima was known as Cacoy Doce Pares.
Although we have never had the opportunity to train with SGM Cacoy directly. I do recall seeing some video clips of him teaching in the Philippines from the early 90’s. The skills he demonstrated at the time was something that stuck with me throughout the years. Then again of of SGM Cacoy working with higher level instructors of his system. Even though at the time SGM Cacoy was in his late 80’s his speed with the stick was still amazing. Laughing as he bypassed the defense of his student, stopping his stick only inches away from them. One could easily see his love for the Filipino Martial Arts.
The FMA community has lost another of it’s legendary warrior masters who helped influence and spread the Filipino Martial Arts around the world.
Our condolences to his family, students, and associations.

With our deepest respect.

~ FMA Academy


Never Bring a Knife to a Gunfight?

Firearms Experts Joke, “Never bring a knife to a gunfight”.  However they sometimes make a dire mistake with this mentality.

Now don’t get me wrong, firearms are to be highly respected. It doesn’t take much training in how to point and pull a trigger.  (Accuracy is a different story all together.)  However a blade takes even less training.  We’ve been building a proficiency in using blades our whole lives.

Here are some reasons a knife can be more dangerous than a gun.

1. Knives are deadlier.

According to FBI fatality statistics from officers killed in a fight, 10% of those who were shot died from their wounds. However 30% of those who were attacked with a blade were killed as a result of being stabbed or cut.

2. Knives don’t have a line of fire.

Knife Blade 1A gun can only kill you if you’re in the direct line of the path of the bullet. It is SUPER ACCURATE. Meaning it fires in the exact same place that it was aimed. Where even the smallest of twitches can change the destination of the traveling slug.

This also explains why officers who are trained to deal with high adrenaline situations at ranges of 3′ – 6′ will only hit with about 1 out of 4 rounds.

Knives however can do lethal damage from any angle. And they rarely miss their target.

3. Knives don’t run out of ammunition.

In a close quarter attack, you can be stabbed 3 – 5 times in a single second.  Now that’s FAST. A handgun is only going to give you about 15 rounds or so at best. So unless you are behind cover or at a distance far enough away to give you time to reload, that’s all you get.

And again, let’s review the FBI stats where only 1 in 4 bullets ever hit their mark, even at ranges as close as 3′. (This is also a portion as to why officers are trained to shoot at center mass.)

Now let’s consider that even if one hits the attacker, they may not drop from that round.  It’s not like what we see on TV and in Hollywood where one bullet stops someone dead in their tracks.  They may very well keep coming.

One of my teachers told me of a story where he asked a government officer that he was training “What was the scariest thing you ever dealt with while on the job?” His answer was that while dealing with a perpetrator who was charging him with a weapon, he emptied his clip into the man, yet he kept coming. They then got into a wrestling match on the ground. No bullets in his gun and the assailant still had his weapon.

Consider that it may take several rounds to finally stop an attacker. You may find your clip empty and still facing an even more enraged assailant with a blade that’s still going to be a threat no matter how many times he uses it.

4. Knives take no skill to use.

Since we were young, holding and cutting with a knife has been a part of our nature. Think of the number of meals you have had where you’ve used some sort of cutting utensil. You’ve had literally thousands of hours of use with a blade. (Hopefully not in a hostile context that an assailant would use.) However using a blade is second nature to most of us.

In the Filipino culture it is known that even a 6 year old with a blade can be a viable threat to the safety, health, and life of a 30 year old grown man.

For example, we can work a drill to show this. Take a child and give them a chalked trainer. Tell them to treat it like a paint brush and to paint a line wherever they want whenever they can. Even the most skilled at knife work/knife defense won’t be able to get that blade away without getting ‘cut’ in the process.

Yet firearms take lots of skill to become truly proficient with. With many, many hours logged in at a range practicing ‘target shooting’. Yet few train or prepare for shooting in a real close quarter gunfight. (Again, something which I truly hope that none of us ever have to deal with.)

5. Knives give little to no warning. Knife Blade 5

It’s often discussed. When someone is cut in a fight. They first realize that the blade is there after it’s cut them a few times. Oftentimes after seeing their own blood. While having no idea how or when the blade was deployed. They now have to deal with the shock of being cut or stabbed, and dealing with an individual who has every intent of ending you.  In fact, many victims in a knife attack claim they didn’t know they were being stabbed until it was too late.

A firearm will make a loud noise. As soon as it goes off, you know you’re dealing with a gun. Run and seek cover (better yet, keep running).

Yet the blade is the silent killer. It will cut you again and again without making more than a subtle noise.

6. It has the advantage of being a close ranged weapon.

Many discussions have been made of the advantages of a firearm over a blade. For the most part they are accurate. However there are certain details that are sometimes overlooked.

Two general assumptions are normally made.

The knife wielder starts at a distance, charging at them. They are not skilled in using a blade.

Building on our earlier point, a knife wielder is not likely to start from a distance to give you time to draw, or at least not easily. They will often be in close proximity before the blade even comes out. Knowing full well that they have a close quarter weapon, a knife wielder will want to be as close to their target as possible before drawing a blade. Oftentimes within grabbing distance or even in the middle of a confrontation where the fists are all ready flying.

Let’s think about a typical mugging for a second. Oftentimes victims don’t even know that the mugger has targeted them. Caught off guard and unaware, they often find the mugger in their face, making a threat, and their demands. The victim barely has time to register the close proximity of the individual let alone the threat.

In both scenarios, they are good at closing the distance before hand. Giving themselves the greatest advantages as possible.

7. 21 Foot rule (of thumb).

Law enforcement does have what is called a 21′ rule which is actually more a rule of thumb. This is a minimal distance of where a blade can be a viable threat to the safety of an officer. That being said if a blade wielder is 30′ or more away, I’m sure the officer is still going to draw on them.

This rule of thumb is about the amount of distance a knife wielder can cover before or after an officer can draw their firearm. If you think about it, that’s a significant distance. Some people will outright dismiss it, saying that there is now way someone could get that close that fast.  Yet the 21′ rule is known to all officers though out the country.

Allow me to tell you a story.  A long time ago, I was at a different school where a friend/student was also a local police officer. We were discussing this rule and decided to experiment with it.

Our friend had his training belt, holster, and rubber gun with him. So he put them on, and the rest of us went to the other side of the school marking off the 21′ distance. Technically, for the scenario to be worked out properly, the initiating action should have been on the knife wielder’s side. However we would only begin to close the distance on the ‘officer’s’ draw of the firearm.

While some had trouble closing the distance.  Others were faster and got dangerously close to the officer.

During my four rounds, I did a little better.

Round 1 – Based off of the ‘officer’ initiating the draw, I got close enough to bury my blade in his chest as the training gun was pointed at me. Yes, I would have been ‘shot’, but not before burying the blade into them as well.

Round 2 – I closed the distance even faster this time. Getting close enough to attempt to parry their pistol wielding arms. Yet, I missed the parry attempt and would have been ‘shot’ point blank in the chest. Yet still close enough to bury the blade into their chest again.

Round 3 – Deciding I had had enough of the distance factor and initiation on the officer’s draw. I threw the trainer from the beginning distance.  On target, but hitting the belt buckle of the rig. Resulting in the loss of that round.

Round 4 – I threw the trainer again, this time closing distance with my second trainer. Who says the knife wielder can only have one blade? (Mind you, I don’t do end over end knife throwing as seen in acts. I do what’s referred to as straight throwing. Where the blade literally travels straight through the air, blade always pointed at it’s target.) Unfortunately, my aim was slightly off with this throw and traveled higher than I wanted. Instead of heading for the belly (a relatively safe target), my finger twitched just as the blade launched, sending it towards my friend’s head. Luckily he ducked and was only grazed by the trainer in the hair line. Yet by the time he recovered, I was all ready on top of him with my second blade.

At the end of the day, we discovered that the 21′ rule was just as it is supposed to be. A guideline to the minimal safety distance for an officer.

Here is a separate video clip from a training session done in California back in the 1970’s. Check it out and see just how effective a blade can be.

Officer Training Knife Attack (640x481)Officer Training Video – Knife Attack

Now let’s consider this. If an officer is ‘interviewing’ someone. They are often within the range of 3 – 5 feet during this time. If the person in question decided to pull a weapon of some kind and attack, the officer will be very hard pressed to draw any tool available to them.

8. How do you train?

For those reading to carry firearms with the intent of self-defense or personal protection. I would like you to ask yourself some questions. How is it that you train with your firearm?

I’m sure time is spent at the range. Working on one’s accuracy. However what about when you’re not at the range in a safety oriented environment?  (Proper gun safety should NEVER be overlooked or forsaken for more ‘realistic’, simulated close combat training.)

Do you train to draw your carry under high duress situations. Such as when someone is yelling in your face, charging at you, or all ready raining blows down on your head? Do you train for situations where they have grabbed at your firearm, trying to get it away from you?

Are you aware of the possible effects of the adrenaline dump that is going to happen? Where your fine motor skills turn into gross motor skills. Where you may go through auditory exclusion which is where you hear all noises to an almost overwhelming level. Or the opposite where one becomes almost temporarily deaf where they will not hear anything at all. Time will seem to distort itself to where it appears to slow down to an almost complete stop it may speed up to where it seems that everything has happened in a blink of an eye. Or the affects of visual distortion (tunnel vision or having a hard time discerning depth perception).

These are all factors that should be taken into consideration when one carries some type of tool for self-defense.

Now understand. This blog post is in no way an attempt to say that knives are superior to guns or vice versa. It is simply an attempt to get one to think about and re-evaluate the potential threats that one could face when dealing with a blade wielding assailant.

Article written by:

Guro Chris Thompson

FMA Academy

Bahala Na – Original Giron Escrima 2nd Annual Apprenticeship Camp

The 2nd Annual Bahala Na – Apprenticeship Camp is now in the books.

All in all, we had a great turn out with camp participants coming from as far away as Connecticut, Ohio, and Canada. Our participants ranged in ages from 8 – 50. While teaching such a diverse group can sometimes be challenging. Grandmaster Michael Giron did a great job and keeping everyone engaged and working hard during all three days of the camp.

Bahala Na - Original Giron Escrima Apprenticeship Camp 2015The camp itself focused on two specific groups of training being the first and second modules of the Bahala Na – OGE (Original Giron Escrima) system as taught by Grandmaster Michael Giron.

During the seminar we had several evaluations where four participants earned their completion of Module 1 certifications. While they may not have known they were being evaluated at the time. All testees did very well during their counter for counter/sparring sessions. Congratulations to those who passed and have now moved on to Module 2.

Grandmaster Michael Giron was very pleased with everyone’s energy and enthusiasm. Giving many compliments not only to the camp attendees, but those to helped run the camp, bring various groups of individuals, and contributed to the overall friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the camp.

Not only am I grateful and appreciative to be able to bring in Grandmaster Michael Giron for the Bahala Na Apprenticeship camp. (The only one of it’s kind on the entire East Coast!) I am also grateful for the brotherhood of the participants. It doesn’t matter what style or school that one may come from. All are welcomed just the same. Where we come together to train in the Filipino Martial Arts as one extended family.

We are all ready looking forward to and setting up the date for next years apprenticeship camp. (Early October, 2016)

As photos become available, they will be shared to our school’s Facebook page which can be found here:  FMA Academy

We would like to thank all that came and supported the camp. Because of you it was a success.
With deepest respects.
Guro Chris Thompson
FMA Academy

On Camera Combatives

On Camera Combatives

A while back, I was in Buffalo, New York.  Attending the World Modern Arnis Alliance camp held at the headquarters of Horizon Martial Arts under the direction of by Datu Tim Hartman.

While at the camp, a seminar was being offered by On Camera Combatives (OCC) held by Ryan Monolopolus. The premise of the seminar was to introduce the martial artists attending (and aspiring actors/actresses) on how to combine actual martial arts into their work on camera.

While I admittedly have little interest in pursuing a role on camera, (I would do it once for the unique experience).  I participated in the seminar to see what it was about.  Looking around at the group, most were martial artists who were there for the martial arts camp that weekend.  However there were a couple of aspiring actors/actresses, potential extras, and others there as well.

Ryan began by giving a brief description on how cinematography works and the goals for the workshop that day. Ryan explained: “While the concept of martial arts in film is nothing new – the approach is quite innovative. What we are doing is creating a Rosetta Stone for fight movement in film. This way, from the most basic of action to the most complication fight sequences, we can script and build impressive scenes for the camera.”

On Camera Combatives Seminar

What’s it like taking a class or seminar of On Camera Combatives?

As the instructors of the program have broken it down for us, it looks something like a cross between a fitness/martial arts class and a collaborative acting workshop. Students are introduced to the OCC system and what they refer to as the three pillars of training: Weapons, Hand-to-hand combat, and Movement. In addition, full-day intensives classes focusing on drilling with partners, in small groups, with the instructors and on camera – making sure that everyone leaves with a sense of competence and understanding of the material.

After a brief warm up, we got right into it.  We began by working the strikes based upon the Modern Arnis angles of attacks that were normally used in their stick work. However instead we were using basic punching strikes.  This helped create a template of not only what was going to be fed, but the how as well.  While it may not seem ideal to a martial artist, in the movie industry it’s imperative. It was explained that it allowed for both actors to be able to know what was coming next and how to best stay safe while working various fight scenes.

We were also began to learn how to ‘sell’ the hit when our partner struck us. With particular details being given not only to watching out for the incoming strike but how to react to it in a convincing manner. Such as making sure the head moves in the proper direction of an incoming strike so that the move makes sense.  (Nothing like seeing a cross come in near the head and seeing the actor on the opposite side bowl over as if they were hit in the gut.)

Taking shots

While we stayed in the realm of hand to hand combat (which was probably for the best considering my training partner was an actor and not into the FMA combatives that I prefer). I still picked up quite a bit of material in the amount of time that was allotted for the seminar.

I found Ryan’s approach to be both interesting and thoroughly engaging. Not only for the Filipino Martial Artist in me, but also for the actors and actresses that were there as well.

After the On Camera Combatives seminar, I found the opportunity to talk to Ryan and ask more about his program. During our conversations Ryan explained: Another goal for OCC is to help any performers, actors or martial artists demonstrate their material in an impressive fashion. Eventually the founder imagines the program being taught by affiliate instructors around the world and uniting professionals throughout the industry.

“I am humbled to have founded and be teaching this program – but this is just the beginning. We are looking to bring on more skilled instructors, hold events throughout the USA and internationally, and become the go-to training program for fight movement and combat skills for film” stated an enthusiastic Monolopolus.

“We encourage all those in our industry and even outside of it to engage with us, take a class, join our community. I am excited to help bring elements of FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) and all martial arts into the spotlight of the entertainment industry. But its only together than we can make this program a phenomenon and success.”

Here is a video with Ryan working On Camera Combatives techniques in Union Square, NYC a couple of weeks ago with SAG actress Evgeniya Radilova. This was in preparation for a seminar at the Actors Studio in Manhattan on June 11th.


What I like most about what Ryan is doing is that he is taking the Filipino Martial Arts to the mainstream media through his actions. Ryan’s On Camera Combatives program is a great vehicle to help promote and spread the word of FMA.  As Datu Tim Hartman of the Modern Arnis system said: “I don’t care if it’s Modern Arnis or a different Filipino Martial Art system. As long as it helps get it out there, then it’s all good.” This is something I fully agree with. To that extent we will be happy to help support Ryan and the On Camera Combatives program. We will also enjoy watching the excitement, interest, and awareness that he is helping to generate for the FMA community.

About Ryan:

Ryan MonolopolusRyan Monolopolus is the founder and owner of On Camera Combatives. Ryan has also worked on a few films in various roles. Ryan worked as an assistant director for the film “Anna” that premiered at the Tribecca film festival. He produced and was the Assistant Director for the film “Let Them Have Their Way”. Ryan is currently Directing a web series titled “I Am Gamer.” Was the lead role in the short film VIGILANTE by Demar Productions and has been cast as the role Vladimir Kravchenko in the series FORCE.

Ryan is also working on a lot of bigger projects that are under confidentiality agreements. So he wasn’t able to share any information about these upcoming films/productions.

While at the World Modern Arnis Alliance Camp we also saw Ryan earn his 5th degree black belt in Modern Arnis and be awarded the title of Punong Guro.


For more information on this program you can find them on Facebook:

Contact information for the organization is


Article written by:

Guro Chris Thompson

Owner/Head Instructor

FMA Academy

Phone: (315) 313-KALI (5254)


It’s All In the Name

FMA Academy?  What’s with the name change?Lapu (Image Only - Web Page)

This is a very fair question. After giving it a great deal of thought for the past year, I’ve decided on changing the school’s name and associated logos.

Originally when I created the school name of CNY Filipino Martial Arts Academy, it was a good name.  Even though a little long, it said exactly what the business was.  A school in CNY (Central New York) that taught Filipino martial arts.  A name that was localized to a specific region just as all the business name guides suggested.

However as our school has continued to grow and evolve over the past couple of years. Word of what we do has spread. And with that our reach has gone from being a school in a local region to reaching more people across the country (and even internationally). I’ve also had many great opportunities not only to train with various teachers and masters of the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). I’ve also had the opportunity to meet great friends who are also on their own individual journeys in their martial arts training and development.  Some are in the same lineage (Inosanto Kali) doing their own thing. Others are of different styles of FMA or other systems all together such as Muay Thai, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, various military/law enforcement aspects, etc., etc.

Throughout it all, I’ve come across and been exposed to a wide array of various systems within the Filipino Martial Arts. While similar in some aspects, each with their own unique perspective at how they look at things and prefer to fight.

So to that extent, instead of having a localized school where I was only focused upon one area.  I wanted our school to reflect the all encompassing aspect of what the Filipino Martial Arts has within it. Out of this the name FMA Academy came to be.  A name fitting for a school that is open to the various styles, perspectives, and methods of the Filipino Martial Arts. Appreciating what each has to offer in their specific areas of expertise.

Just as my teacher Guro Dan Inosanto wants for all of his instructors. The FMA Academy will have an open minded approach to learning from others while we continue to research, develop, and refine our methods.

At this point, I would like to finish by asking you to help us in welcoming the FMA Academy.

Guro Chris Thompson

Owner/Head Instructor

FMA Academy