"12 Basics..." Guro Bryan Sloyer

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.
— Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

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

My name is Bryan Sloyer. I am a martial artist and a filmmaker. I was born in the Philippines somewhere near Manila. Was in an orphanage for a short time before moving to NC with my current family. Met my Balintawak instructor Guro Jeff Soriano in my hometown Winston-Salem, and coincidentally discovered that GM Bobby Taboada was in Charlotte.

 Guro Bryan Sloyer

Guro Bryan Sloyer

How were you exposed to Balintawak?

I had lost my interest in sports and my Dad was asking around about martial arts. A mutual friend was able to connect us with Guro Jeff. 

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

I began when I was fifteen years old with Jeff Soriano. I am now 26. My first year I wasn't very disciplined, and became more serious about training when I was 16.


 A novice Bryan Sloyer with his teacher Guro Jeff Soriano

A novice Bryan Sloyer with his teacher Guro Jeff Soriano

What was the hardest part of learning Balintawak?

Since Balintawak was my first martial art, it was a very new and strange movement for me. Simple striking was hard to remember and the forms were tedious, as they were so simple and efficient by nature. 

Favorite part of Balintawak?

The simplicity and efficiency haha! Being taught right away to see beauty within sound and unfancy structure created a wonderful foundation for me. As I began to experience other martial arts, having learned precision speed and power from Balintawak gave me a special appreciation for the art I began with. 

Being taught right away to see beauty within sound and unfancy structure created a wonderful foundation for me.

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

I have studied boxing, kickboxing, kenjutsu, panantukan, various knife systems, and a multitude of separate escrima styles. I am always learning new things but find myself always coming back to balintawak to apply the concepts I learned. 

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

I am a stuntman in the film industry. I have been hired to perform/action design/choreograph/ and coordinate. To be honest, I have kept these worlds separate for now. There are things I am experimenting with in regards to introducing balintawak elements to my action design style. Hopefully soon, these ventures will become more public as they leak into my future material.

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

To be kind. I like to emphasize to them the ideal of guiding. When my students (COA's Armand Rabanal, Joseph Oreste, and Nathan People) first began feeding, I told them this:

You are instructing now. By the simple fact that you are feeding now means you are teaching. When you feed someone you have become their caretaker. It is your responsibility to not lead them wrong. However you touch them, whatever you say, whatever you do...they will remember forever. You are imprinting. They trust you. So guide with care.

Within this ideal, I have learned to be kind first of all. As I believe kindness will yield to other things such as, patience, understanding, the ability to be just and fair, honest, and humble. As these were virtues shown to me by my instructor and Grandmaster.

...kindness will yield to other things such as, patience, understanding, the ability to be just and fair, honest, and humble. As these were virtues shown to me by my instructor and Grandmaster.
 Guro Bryan Sloyer and his Crew, (From Left to Right) Nathan People, Guro Bryan Sloyer, Joseph Oreste, and Armand Rabanal

Guro Bryan Sloyer and his Crew, (From Left to Right) Nathan People, Guro Bryan Sloyer, Joseph Oreste, and Armand Rabanal

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

With beginners I like to emphasize good defense first. Anyone can swing a stick with the intention to hurt....but can you defend? Sometimes trouble comes to you and your loved ones...are you ready? Within good defense I see the timid become more courageous. Through good defense I see the unsure develop hope. When I see the confidence build, then I know it is time to feed groupings. For the eager ones, I make them wait and I focus on disciplinary concepts with them more.

For my advance students: again, how to guide, how to teach. Every student is different. Everyone examines the same thing uniquely. So then how can you find their process and use their own mind to reach them? This is what I tell my advance students: talk to them. Be vocal! Watch their behavior. Watch for bad habits. Then expose their weakness; not to reprimand, but to advise and strengthen. You can tell a lot about someone in how they respond...is this not the essence of balintawak structure? But you have to connect with your student on a personal level too. Not just mechanically. 

Every student is different. Everyone examines the same thing uniquely.

What does a typical class look like when you teach?

We always work through the levels. I can't stress more than ever now, how just 12 basic strikes alone affects the precision of everything ALL the way up to semi advanced techniques. So I always start at the bottom. If it is a group setting, this gives everyone a chance to learn. I make the advance ones teach and correct the beginners. And if the beginners wish to stay to observe the more advanced part of the session I allow it. And of course I feed everyone. The more hands I experience the better I become at adapting. 

Bryan Disarm Beach 1000x553.jpg

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

Due to a busy work schedule, it was hard for me and my COA student to find time. I had about three weeks to come up with a solid 24 before we tested. So I wish I had more time to clean up and organize a better set...but under the circumstances I liked very much what I had. The idea behind of all mine were to find "control" positions first before striking to the head. I very much like security locks because the idea of these are to have a non fatal suppressive position that makes you dominant. In other words you are giving the troublemaker a second chance whilst diffusing the danger. Now if they refuse to comply after being shown "mercy", then to me that's the personal invite to get a power strike to the head.

 GM Taboada feeding Guro Bryan Sloyer during his Level 7 test

GM Taboada feeding Guro Bryan Sloyer during his Level 7 test

Why did you want to become a Fully Qualified Instructor?

I want to share the art that changed my life. I hope that it could change yours, give you the courage, give you the hope, give you more than just a self defense tool...but concepts that can be applied to life. As a young man I learned how to accept pain. When you get struck you cant simply stop in the middle of a feed. The feeder wont always stop to allow you to correct your defense. You must keep going and note your mistake in hopes that you will recognize it when it comes again. Such is life. Life continues. Battle on. Accept the pain. Learn from it, do not dwell on it or you will not see the next strike. 

I want to share the art that changed my life.
 Armand Rabanal (L), GM Bobby Taboada (C), and Guro Bryan Sloyer (R) at the 2018 World Camp

Armand Rabanal (L), GM Bobby Taboada (C), and Guro Bryan Sloyer (R) at the 2018 World Camp

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

They say I am fast. I think I'm just lucky haha!

For more information on Guro Sloyer check out his website:

http://sloyerstunts.wixsite.com/sloyerstunts

Also be sure to check out some of his amazing work on his Youtube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_jhUpb6y_WzwoRfA3hZMdQ