FMA lessons on voting (Part 1 of 4)

In full contact Filipino martial arts (FMA), overcoming your opponent in the ring is only part of what needs to go in your favor to win a match; you also have to win over the judges, who do their best to score the fight objectively, but also look for other things.

FMA judges also look for four items: good offense, good defense, ring generalship, and respect for the art. When applied to the world of electoral politics, these criteria for judging full-contact FMA show us dimensions of political combat that could help us, as voters, more easily extract meaning from complex, confusing, and deceitful political campaigns.

In this first installment of four, I unpack one potential use in electoral politicsof the FMA value of ‘good offense’.


Photo-grab of GM Venancio “Anciong” Bacon from

On good offense: FMA judges look for ‘disciplined aggressiveness’, an uncommon quality that is about educated aggression, or aggression that is disciplined by training and educated for precision. A fighter who is viewed favorably is one who strikes not for the sake of striking, but for the sake of hitting the spot where he aims despite his opponent’s defense and doing so with a clean, discernible angle of attack.

Second demo video shows the fundamental angles starting with frame 11:21.

While different FMA styles differ in their angles of attack, the five fundamental angles cut across all styles. And it is these angles that a trained fighter knows how to execute well. It is these angles that judges look for as they closely watch a full-contact match.

Applying ‘good offense’ on voting. As voters, this discussion helps remind us to not be ‘wowed’ by effective attack lines – no matter how numerous or frequently repeated — if they are done capriciously and without regard for the truth. The truth does matter and it does exist, even in a cynical world that perceives it only a matter of perception. While often inconvenient for some political campaigns, there are established facts; there are records of one’s speeches, votes on issues, and policies; and there is a tradition of thought in any given political party.

Truthfulness makes an attack meaningful and substantial. While effective in the short-run, deceitfulness renders an attack counter-productive in the long-run, as it often makes its way back to the attacker as an assault on his credibility. In politics, one’s credibility is the most important commodity worth having. Without credibility, no one listens, no one follows, and no one leads.


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