In FMA, there is always a private and a public curriculum
Before I begin, I would like to thank a few people for giving me the inspiration for this article. So, I would like to thank Glen llamador, Stephen Shy, and Prof. Felipe Jocano! If it were not for their comments on my previous posts, this article might never have happened, so please keep commenting and questioning.
In FMA, there is always a private and a public curriculum that is taught by the Masters and Grandmasters. This could be compared to the outer (omote) and inner (ura) teachings of many Japanese Ryuha. The public curriculum is just what it sounds like, and generically speaking it usually consists of basics with other elements added into it. Personally, my experience of a public curriculum with Grandmaster “Nene” Tortal, consisted of a heavy dose of basics with a stick, disarms by the ton, and a great deal of grappling. Nevertheless, the private curriculum is always hidden behind the public curriculum. If your teacher never teaches you the all-important hidden pieces, then one may never or rarely ever make the connections on their own. Now, the private curriculum of “Nene” Tortal is the sword, and things do change when you’re applying sword techniques vs. stick techniques - please read my previous posts for more context.
Now, why would a Master or Grandmaster only teach students the public curriculum? Hypothetically speaking, maybe the person does not have the right temperament to represent the art. Also, with the trend toward re-branding FMA into something else like “modern” “combatives” or “edged or impact weapons usage” -whatever, the Master/Grandmaster may feel people will only look at the private curriculum as passé and not value it.
Much of the instruction in FMA even today is relational and informal; if you don’t have the relationship with your teacher and physically interact with him/her you may be missing a great deal. The controversial part of this is when those whom have only been taught the public part of the curriculum, assume that they have it all and start teaching. These instructors do their students and themselves a disservice, as well as their former teachers.
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