"12 Basics..." Guro Terence Dayot

sonder
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
— Dictonary of Obscure Sorrows

Who are you? How do you define yourself? What's your story?

My name is Terence Dayot and I was born and raised in the Philippines. I moved to Canada when I was 16. My wife, Christy, and I live in the Greater Toronto Area with our three kids. While I do have a day job, I also run Pugad Lawin Martial Arts where I teach FMA; primarily Balintawak and Modern Arnis.

How were you exposed to Balintawak?

I was exposed to Balintawak through Ike Sepulveda. I met him a few weeks after I started Modern Arnis in 2008. My Modern Arnis instructor Brian Johns was telling me about a gentleman who came to visit him and his class. He told me about the play that they did and how much he enjoyed it (probably due to the overlap between the two arts). He invited him to come and visit a few weeks later; and when he came through the door, it turned out that I had met him through my uncle a few years prior. I had no idea that he taught Balintawak.
I started training with him a few weeks later. A couple of months down the line, I met GM Bobby when he stayed at Ike's place in the Toronto Area.

How long have you studied? Who was your primary instructor?

I started training in Balintawak in the summer of 2008 and enjoyed it ever since. Ike Sepulveda was my first instructor and I trained with him until he moved back to Cebu a few years later. Fortunately, GM Bobby took me under his wing and continued my training.

What was the hardest part of learning Balintawak?

The hardest part is not letting my other martial arts training affect my fundamentals in Balintawak. It is all too easy for one's previous training to assert itself when learning something new. Basically, I had to empty my proverbial cup when I started Balintawak.

It is all too easy for one’s previous training to assert itself when learning something new. Basically, I had to empty my proverbial cup when I started Balintawak.

Favorite part of Balintawak?

There are two things that I love about Balintawak : Cuentada (counter-for-counter) and the teaching methodology of employing agak.
 
I believe Cuentada is at the heart of Balintawak. The goal is to develop flexibility and agility in one's response; this applies to both the physical and mental aspects of the art. A flexible mind allows us to use our training regardless of the situation; while mental agility allows us to be a few steps ahead of our opponent. To me, this goes beyond the martial arts and applies really well to our everyday lives. Flexibility means being adaptable and agility aids one to excel in whatever endeavour one undertakes.
 
The other part that I really enjoy is the teaching method of Balintawak- always a senior with a junior player. One person takes the lead and is tasked to help the junior improve his or her skill. The beauty of this is that as the teacher builds up the junior and improves the junior's skills, the junior ends up pushing the skill of the senior as they develop together. Everyone grows and develops in the art; your senior pulls you up while your junior pushes you.

Everyone grows and develops in the art; your senior pulls you up while your junior pushes you.

Have you/do you study other arts? How have they influenced each other?

I have been doing some form of martial art since I was about six years old. I love to tell anyone who asks that my first instructor was my dad who taught me to box and showed me his modified boxing style. I also hold black belts in Modern Arnis under Master Brian Johns and the Masters of Tapi-Tapi of the IMAF; and in Taekwondo from the World Taekwondo Federation. I have also trained in Hapkido and Yoshinkan Aikido.

With my background, I would say that Modern Arnis most influences my Balintawak. It should not be a surprise since Professor Remy Presas was also a Balintawak player.  There are a lot of similar movements between the two arts and they complement each other really well.   The 24 techniques that I presented during my FQI test included a lot of elements that I learned from Modern Arnis, Master Brian Johns and the Masters of Tapi-Tapi.

What's your day job? Have there been any concepts from that profession that have informed your Balintawak or vice versa?

I work at the head office at one of the largest banks in Canada and have held different roles. However, I am also in graduate school trying to complete my Masters in Counseling Psychology.
I spoke earlier of what I like in Balintawak; I would say that developing mental flexibility and agility are important in all aspects of one's life.

I would say that developing mental flexibility and agility are important in all aspects of one’s life.

What is the main lesson you want your students to take from your instruction in Balintawak?

That everyone who trains underneath me has to learn how to teach. One of the things that I do as part of level tests is that I have the candidate teach the class for a few minutes; I emphasize a teacher's presence, ability to command, and the ability to perceive how he or she can help their fellow students. I believe that a person who can teach an art gains deeper insight into it.

What do you emphasizes with beginners and what do you emphasizes with your more advanced students?

With every single student, I emphasize the fundamentals. A proper strike and a proper block is important; and without that strong foundation, more sophisticated techniques will not work.

With advance students, I emphasize two additional points:

  1. Flow - that their goal is to be able to move fluidly from technique to technique, from position to position, from attack to defense and vice-versa
  2. Efficiency/economy of movement - that a martial artist should be able to execute their movement effectively without using unnecessary energy.

What does a typical class look like when you teach?

After warm up, my class usually starts with seniors paired up with juniors. At this point, the seniors run the juniors through the levels and focuses on the junior's current rank. At the half-way mark, I usually divide the class and take the level 4 students and up to focus on key skills related to groupings, teaching skills, techniques or fundamentals; other times, I introduce techniques that they can incorporate into their FMA. The junior students continue their practice either doing solo or partnered work.

What kind of things were you thinking about when you were developing your 24 techniques?

To be honest, I had a hard time trying to limit my techniques to just 24. I had to consider different things when I did this:

  1. Keep the basis of the movement within Balintawak's stick fighting motion.
  2. Balance the technique between practicality and being able to present different elements of my martial arts background.
  3. Consider how I will teach these techniques to my students
  4. strive to look as a good as GM Bobby while doing the technique (it’s a lofty goal but something worth striving for).

Why did you want to become a Fully Qualified Instructor?

I love Balintawak and the Filipino Martial Arts; I feel the need to try and share the art along with my passion for it. Furthermore, I like the culture of the Balintawak community; I am very proud to be a part of it.

I like the culture of the Balintawak community; I am very proud to be a part of it.

One Extra. What are you known for in the Balintawak community?

Even though I have been practicing Balintawak since 2008, I am still new and relatively unknown in the community. But, I hope to be known for my passion for the art. Also, I hope to be known because of the product of that passion: the skill of my students.