The question was asked, I looked around the training floor to see the hands of the people who have actually trained with Professor Presas held up in air. For me it was a bittersweet moment. My hand was held up proudly, yet there was sadness in my heart. It is a feeling that only someone who has lost someone important would know.
It has been 13 years since Master Remy Presas passed away. Each year, new students start training in Modern Arnis but, there are fewer and fewer people who worked with Professor himself that are still practicing his art.
Professor lived and breathed Modern Arnis he was Modern Arnis. It was his passion; it was what he thought about for most of his time each day. He was always trying to improve his art. He was amazing, he was able to look at any other style or martial arts and take the best and most effective concepts to incorporate in his art. He was a great strategist, after studying another fighter he was quickly able to find their weakness and capitalize on it to ensure his success in a fight.
Professor Presas was a warrior; he proved the effectiveness of his art in real combat during his younger years in the Philippines. The mention of his name would cause most people to shudder. Even skilled fighters did not want to face him. In the Philippines, a fight was not mediated by a referee and stopped if things got serious. The fight was stopped when one fighter could not continue.
How then did this fierce warrior become a man loved by people all over the world? Professor Presas wanted to spread his art everywhere, he wanted everyone to learn and practice his art. He left the Philippines for America in the early 70’s. In order to spread his art he modernized his style by allowing people to hit the canes instead of the their partner’s body. This was the change that allowed people to practice without fear of a catastrophic injury. Since Professor had seen so much violence he wanted to help people, he was very compassionate. It was during this time that he made lifelong friendships with many top martial artists in America. Many people were lucky enough to be come his personal friends. These people work very hard on the art and became the teachers of today.
These lucky teachers who carry on the wishes of Professor are an elite few. They are the people who understand why I was proud and sad to say that I was a student of Professor Remy Presas. Those who knew him will always miss him. They will think of his skill, of his humor and the endless Professor stories. The memories and the sharing of the experiences with Professor will keep him and his dream alive if only in our hearts and minds.
He was truly a one of a kind. As I think back on my experience with him, I treasure every minute. I also thank the people who carry on his legacy for keeping things real and not watering down his art. The teachers are the hands of Professor now. They are the people everyone wants to work with and get to know. They will carry on his dream and make him proud.
Thank you Professor for all that you have taught us and for the teachers of the future. You will always be in our hearts.