Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken the process of judging a full-contact FMA match as a tool for extracting lessons in voting; if what I’ve written has helped encourage you to think for yourself and to take seriously your own competence in judging a candidate, then the time I’ve spent has been worth it. If not, I hope at least, that you have been entertained.
This is the final installment–the fourth out of four posts in this series. This one takes the FMA value or focus on ‘respect for the art’ as an analytical tool.
On ‘respect for the art’. FMA judges, when all is said and done, judge a full-contact match, and the competence of a fighter, on his/her demonstrated respect for the art. Aside from it being a sport, FMA–escrima, arnis, kali, panuntukan, dumog, to name a few–are fighting arts handed down across generations, with each generation simultaneously balancing fidelity and innovation. It is a mark of maturity in a fighter to have such high regard for his/her chosen fighting art that showing respect to it becomes second nature, becomes part of who he/she is; everyone who loves the FMA, realizes that it is a gift to the world, and a legacy for the kayumanggi race. Being an ambassador for it–in life and the ring–is a duty and a privilege.
When assessing respect for the art, judges look for how a fighter balances creativity and fidelity–or put simply, by the way a fighter exhibits innovative self-expression through the art without making the art lose its identity and originality. Respect is about precision: the angles of attack are the angles of attack, and one must show knowledge of them; the blocks are vital and specific in application, and one must show knowledge of them.
It is visible with the naked and judging eye whether a fighter strikes with respect for the art. It shows in his/her respect for self in the ring, for his/her school and the team he/she represents, and for his/her opponent. And it shows in one’s temperament–arrogant vs humble, cool-headed and precise vs short-tempered and reckless. A fighter who is judged favorably is one who fights an opponent only to prove his competence in his/her art, and not with any malicious intention to inflict serious harm.
On ‘respect for the art’ and voting. This last judging criterion reminds us the true value of voting. Voting is more than a right; it is and continues to be a hard-earned seat at the table. Indeed, it has been said by Filipino American activists I know that “when one is not at the table, one is on the menu.” To me this means that when we fail to vote, we fail our selves, and our community, and our family, and the many other people important in our life whose context will be impacted by the policies of whomever leads us.
A vote is a conscious, personal choice about the future for all. It is not an inconvenient obligation, or a commodity to be sold, or a token of your socio-political protest.
How we choose to vote symbolizes the commitment we each have to our families, children, grandchildren, and what kind of life we want them to live.
Our vote decides more than the head of a fleeting administration; it decides the policies that remake our social, economic, and political reality — the context, the conditions within which we must live out our personal lives. It defines our other choices, what we think of ourselves, how we live our lives, what we expect of our selves, and in which direction we should go together.
May we show respect for self and our loved ones as we make the final choice about whom to vote tomorrow.