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: www.facebook.com/oncameracombatives

Contact information for the organization is ryan@mono-productions.com


Article written by:

Guro Chris Thompson

Owner/Head Instructor

FMA Academy

Phone: (315) 313-KALI (5254)


Orginal Giron Escrima


OGE Bahala Na Escrima seminar with Grandmaster Michael Giron.

In honor of the upcoming seminar this Thursday with Grandmaster Michael Giron coming to the FMA Academy.  I felt that it would be good to share some history and culture of this system.  For that though, we must go to the history of his father. The late Grandmaster Leo Giron.

The Beginning:GM Leo Giron founder of Giron Escrima

Grandmaster Leo Giron was born in the Philippines on August 20th, 1911.  Originally he was trained in the family’s system of the Filipino Martial Art, Grandmaster Leo’s interest grew.  At the age of 9 he was given permission by his father to train outside of the family with Master Benito Junio who was known for his expertise in the Estilo Larga Mano and Estilo De Fondo styles. This training lasted for about a year before Grandmaster Leo Giron trained with another master (Master Benito’s uncle), Master Fructuso Junio who was known for his expertise in Estilo Macabebe. Their training would continue for the next 5 – 6 years.

Coming to America:

At the age of 15 Leo’s family decided that he would be chosen to go to America to find success and also provide a path for family members to follow. With only $3.75, he set sail on the USS President Lincoln.  In order to pay for passage and food, Leo landed in San Francisco with only 25¢ left to his name. There he met is cousin where he was taken to Stockton, California to start his new life. Leo started in the fields of Terminous harvesting celery for 35¢ an hour. However because he was so young, many felt that Leo shouldn’t get a ‘man’s’ wage and had to settle for 17.5¢ an hour.

Following the migration of the other workers in 1929, Leo eventually ended up on the prune orchards of Meridian, California where he met his next instructor Master Flaviano Vergara.  Master Faviano emphasized the importance of having knowledge of close quarter combat styles (Estilo Defondo) as well as long range combative style (Estilo Largo Mano). Master Flaviano advocated being a quiet defensive fighter as not to give up the knowledge of the fighting abilities that one possessed. Most of all, this is where Leo learned the patience in which he practiced in all of his days to follow. Master Flaviano and Leo would train together for the next 4 – 5 years.

World War II:

After the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and Clark Field on December 7th of 1941, many Filipinos in the US like Leo rushed to Army Recruiting Stations to enlist only to be rejected as they were not US citizens. In April of 1942 the Draft opened and that is when Leo successfully volunteered. In September of 1942 Leo got his calling where he was inducted into the United States Army. He was initially assigned to the 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiment and later assigned to the famous “978 Signal Group and The Allied Intelligence Bureau” which was a special ops unit that aided in General MacArthur’s return to the Philippines.

As a part of General MacArthur’s select group of secret operatives/commandos, Leo underwent intense military training at Camp X near Brisbane, Australia. On August 12th of 1944, Leo Giron was moved to Fort Darwin, wehre the US Submarine Sting Ray was waiting for him.  This submarine would take Leo Giron and his squad mates back to the shore of Caonayan Beach in Northern Luzon.

While they were unloading supplies and men from the submarine with rubber boats, the submarine was forced to leave before dropping off all of the supplies and men.  The captain offered to turn around and pick up the Filipino American troops, because things weren’t going according to plan. But the Filipino-American soldiers said “We are in our homeland now. No thank you. We will stay.”

 For almost a full year, Leo Giron and his squad mates moved throughout Luzon, mostly by foot through mountainous terrain and came into close quarters combat with Japanese soldiers on several occasions.

During this time Leo would again meet is friend and Master Faviano and they would continue to train. He was taught more of the two extremes of the “Defendo” and Larga Mano styels. Master Flaviano explained that what he has learned was a gift and to hold it in remembrance of him as he felt this War will be the reason for his death. Master Flaviano explained that there are a lot of unexpected styles out there and Leo needed to learn them in order to bridge the gap between the two extremes. Later in 1944 Leo would find out that Flaviano died during a dynamite explosion.

The fighting would often be hand to hand with bolos (swords) verses the bayonets and Samurai swords of the Japanese. In the dense foilage of the jungles or during night, combat was limited to hand to hand as one wouldn’t be able to shoot for fear of hitting their own team mates.

In one encounter with the Japanese, Giron was with two platoons of soldiers and a few non-combatants whose duty was to protect the trails leading up a hill at Kiangan. They would use a wedge formation of three men on each trail with one man in the front (point man) and one on either side of him but slightly behind.

Giron was point man. He chose the highest trail so that the Japanese would be tired by the time they reached them and so when injured or killed they would roll and slide down the muddy trail and away from them.

It was a rainy night in June and General Yamashita (known as the ‘Tiger of Malaya’ for his strength against the Allied forces in the Pacific) had chosen Kiangan as their last stand. They knew when the Japanese were coming because they would charge positions Bansai style yelling and screaming the whole way.

Giron was attacked simultaneously with a Samurai sword straight in front of him and a bayonet slightly to his left. He parried the bayonet with his left hand and blocked the sword with his bolo, slashed the bayonet man on the hip and cut through the Samurai swordsman’s triceps, as he attacked with a backhand strike.

Giron moved forward and the two men in the back finished them off. Then came another attacker with a Samurai sword. Giron, performed an inside block and slashed the leg, dropping him. They heard a lot of clanking below and the screams of Japanese soldiers. The battle was won and soon, so was the war.

Back to Civilization:

Leo returned to Stockton, California a hero after the war. Like many who came back, Leo suffered from horrific nightmares of WWII. The screams and talking in the middle of the night was not an uncommon event. Sometimes during the night when the nightmares and screams were particularly bad. Leo’s wife and children would go over to their grandparents house and come back the next morning.

Leo was often frustrated with the treatment he and his family received being perceived as foreigners in this country. (Especially after Leo became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States during the war. In order to alleviate the language barrier Leo and some friends would join the Toast Masters Club of America to learn to speak and present them in the manner society accepted. He was constantly looking for ways to make it better for himself and his family. Still the memories of the War lurking in the background Leo returned to the solitude of being a fisherman and at home he would periodically play his violin. He also would become a member of a largest world wide Filipino Fraternal Organization called the Legionarios Del Trabajo. Later to hold one of the highest recognized positions in the fraternal organization. He would also organize a lodge composed of all this town mates from the Province of Bayambang. Between family and all the activities he was trying to make it easier to cope with the bitter past.

The Warrior Returns:

Because of an incident back East, where a maniac killed several nursing students (mostly Filipino) Leo became enraged. Thinking that if they knew the skills of their culture, they might have been able to subdue the attacker.

So in 1968 Leo Giron would open his first licensed Bahala Na club in Tracy, California. He would have the help of the late Grandmaster Vincente Tinga, (Menehune Karate) who would allow him to share his Dojo in return for payment he would have to share his Escrima with Grandmaster Tinga’s students. One of the students was Grandmaster Tinga’s daughter, Elizabeth Tinga and the first female Escrimador within the Giron System. Then, 1970, it was back to Stockton, Ca. and the Bahala Na Giron Arnis Escrima breaks ground on South San Joaquin Street. Due to his military skills, knowledge of combat Escrima, knowledge of fraternal structure, experienced as a Toast Master, Leo’s road of being a legend continues. Under the original logo of the Giron System harvested many students:  Dan Inosanto, Dentoy Revilar, Ted Lucaylucay, Jerry Poteet, Elizabeth Tinga and many more to follow.

The Legacy Continues:Grandmaster Michael Giron of Original Giron Escrima

Being the son of a Grandmaster you would think that his Filipino martial arts training would have started at an early age. In this case it was not so. Many of the men after WWII (first generation Filipinos) wanted to forget the memories of war and just wanted to start a new life for themselves and their families. It was probably good thinking for that time, but, it caused a lot of Escrimadors to go underground, to never
ever be known and to never share their fighting skills. Grandmaster Giron did not know that his father was one of those bladed warriors until he was 19 in 1968.
He was never pushed into learning the art by his father but others questioned why he never wanted to learn. Grandmaster Giron’s answer was “I wasn’t ready yet,” because he knew he would have to fully commit to learning this art and he did not want to be a disappointment to his father.
Finally, his training started in 1975. It was not easy training under a Grandmaster who is also your father. Perfection was the only option. Grandmaster Giron attended the normal class downstairs and more often than that he did private training upstairs.
Throughout his training, Michael observed many instructors renowned for their own abilities. The instructors were Angel Cabales, Gilbert Tenio, Max Sarmiento, John Eliab and Leo Giron. After learning the 20 styles within the Giron System and the private extensive training Grandmaster Giron passed all the testing and earned the right to be a Certified Graduate of Bahala Na Giron Arnis Escrima in 1980. A year and a half later he received his Instructor’s Certificate. Grandmaster Giron was proud to participate in the first full contact Escrima tournament on the west coast and possibly the USA. This tournament took place in San Jose, CA in 1982, and was sponsored by the organization called the West Coast Eskrima Society which united several Filipino Masters. The Masters were Mike Inay, Jimmy Tascoa, Max Sarmiento, Gilbert Tenio, Narrie Babao, Dan Inosanto, Richard Bustillo and Leo Giron.

Grandmaster Giron discontinued his training to pursued a career as a professional musician. After that was over he was back again training. Then, his father passed on May 21st, 2002. What was different was now the fighting system that he had learned in the 80’s had slowly evolved into what is called a modified version. He did not see the reason for change and the fighting system that was learned from his father in the early years stood alone and was battleground proven. In his eyes it was causing more harm than good to the students and the organization that his father had created, so he did one of the hardest things in his life. He resigned from the Bahala Na Martial Arts Association, relinquished his title as Grand Advisor and his lifetime membership to the organization

He then, created the “Bahala Na” Original Giron Escrima Federation.
By creating “Bahala Na” Original Giron Escrima Federation it allows Grandmaster Michael Giron to maintain the purity of the art that he had learned, and continue to maintain the legacy of his father and this great gift that was given him. By doing this Grandmaster Michael Giron will have fulfilled his personal mission as the son of a legend and in doing this it allows him to do his small part in promoting the Filipino martial arts.


 Comments from the author:

The sources of information for this article can be found at the bottom of the page.

To date I have had several opportunities to train with Grandmaster Michael Giron while attending seminars and in private training sessions.

I’ve also had the opportunity to read two very distinct books on the Giron Escrima system.  The first being “The Secrets of Giron Arnis Escrima” and the second being “Memories of the Tide Ebb and Flow”. The first book can still be found on many sites, while the second book is extremely rare and is difficult to find.


Book – The Secrets of Giron Arnis Escrima

Book – Memories of the Tide Ebb and Flow

Grandmaster Michael Giron

“Bahal Na” Original Giron Escrima Federation


Guro Chris Thompson

Owner/Head Instructor

FMA Academy


Daniel Sullivan

Warrior Arts Alliance


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