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American Modern Arnis Inc

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Local, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The AMAA conducts ongoing seminars on the 2nd & 4th Sundays of each month, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, at the following location: College Hill Park Temple, North Clinton Street, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 12601

National & International

The AMAA conducts national & international seminars. If you are interested in hosting the AMAA for a seminar, please contact us today. Also visit our You Tube Channel where we have an abundance of videos/clips from actual seminars & demonstrations which showcase the AMAA system & the quality of our seniors & students. All seminars are taught by the seniors ( Punong Guro Tom Bolden and Guro Peter Vargas) of the AMAA system.

Seminar Topics

AMAA seminars cover various aspects of Arnis & Filipino Martial Arts including single cane, double cane & sinawali, disarming, empty hand translations to locking, throwing & grappling, knife strategies, sword & dagger, cane sparring, etc. If you host the AMAA for a seminar & wish to have specific topic coverage, these arrangements should be made at the time the seminar is setup.

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Punong Guro Tom Bolden was first introduced to the martial arts in the form of Marine Corps hand to hand combat training, which was comprised of knife and bayonet fighting strategies, and components of karate and combat judo. This was in 1962 while in Marine Corps Basic Training at Parris Island, South Carolina and during Advanced Infantry Training at Camp Geiger, North Carolina. Punong Guro Bolden Completed this training in December of 1962 and in Febuary of 1963 was assigned to the The 8th Marine Infantry Regiment at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. While at Camp LeJeune he participated in ongoing combat (firearms, bayonet, machete, garrote, hand to hand, etc) training and studied Shorin Ryu Karate at the Base Karate Club. One of Punong Guro Bolden's senior classmates at the club was, now renowned Shorin Ryu Karate Master, Glen Primu.

In the Summer of 1964 Punong Guro Bolden was transferred to Camp H.M. Smith, Oahu, Hawaii where he served with the Guard and Military Police Unit. While in Hawaii he studied Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo/Kajukenbo with the Central Hawaiian Activities Association-3 (CHA-3), Kenpo Club, Headquartered in Aiea, Oahu, Hawaii. The CHA-3 Kenpo Club was headed by Professor Marino Tiwanak, the first Black Belt Student of the legendary Adriano Emperado, founder of Kajukenbo. Professor Tiwanak had also been a world class boxer who had fought for the world title in the 1940s.

Shortly after Punong Guro Bolden's arrival in Hawaii, a CHA-3 Kenpo Club Branch was formed at Camp Smith by Filipino Master Florentino Pancipanci, a Black Belt Instructor under Professor Tiwanak. Thrilled at the idea of being able to train on the Base, Punong Guro Bolden was one of the first to join the Camp Smith CHA-3 Kenpo Club, thus becoming a Charter Member. The CHA-3 Kenpo training regiment was rigorous and consisted of nightly classes at either Camp Smith with Master Pancipanci or at the Headquarters School in Aiea, with Professor Tiwanak. On weekends special field sessions were often conducted, which covered elements such as situational and environmental combat training.

After several months of Kenpo training, Master Pancipanci chose Punong Guro Bolden as his Assistant Student. This was a position of trust involving the traditional role of playing "The Opponent" during demonstrations, while providing the rare privilege to receive esoteric knowledge and special training. It was in this capacity that Master Pancipanci introduced Punong Guro Bolden to his family art of Eskrima. This was the mid-nineteen sixties when few non-Filipinos had ever heard of The Filipino Martial Arts and even fewer had been privileged to formally study them. Punong Guro Bolden would later learn however that many of the knife and bayonet fighting strategies and techniques used in Marine Corps hand to hand combat training, had first been taught to American military units serving in The Philippines during World War II, by attached Filipino scouts who were proficient in Kali, Eskrima and Arnis.

Eskrima practice with Master Pancipanci was always done behind closed doors and would often take place at Camp Smith, after Kenpo class had been dismissed and the other students had left. Training would involve the use of tightly rolled and taped newspaper as well as sticks and knives, with translations to empty hand self-defense. Many of the empty hand concepts were the same as those taught in Kenpo, except that here they were always related to the weapons. Punong Guro Bolden trained diligently and in 1966 Master Pancipanci promoted him to Assistant Instructor (Brown Belt) of the Camp Smith CHA-3 Kenpo Club.

Not long after his promotion to Assistant Instructor, Punong Guro Bolden was transferred back to the mainland where he was assigned to the 1st Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Geiger, North Carolina. While at Camp Geiger, He served as a Platoon Commander and taught Kenpo and hand to hand combat to Marine trainees. Punong Guro Bolden was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in the Fall of 1966. In January of 1967 he enrolled in the Engineering Program at Savannah State College (now University), in Savannah, Georgia. While a student at the college, he formed the first Martial Arts Club in the school's history, and taught Kenpo until his graduation in the Summer of 1970.

Following graduation Punong Guro Bolden relocated to the Mid-Hudson Valley Region in upstate New York to work as an engineer with IBM Corporation. Shortly after his arrival he began studying Tae Kwon Do (Ju Di Kwan) with Korean Master Paul Cho, while continuing to train in Kenpo and Eskrima. Punong Guro Bolden earned the Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do in 1973, and for the next year, taught classes in Kenpo and Tae Kwon Do at the State University of New York at New Paltz. In 1974 Punong Guro Bolden wrote, directed and starred in a ten week self-defense series "Self-Defense Workshop" on the local (Poughkeepsie, NY) Public Access Cable Television Channel. This was the first television program of its kind ever to be aired in the region and one of only a few being aired nationally.

Over the next several years Punong Guro Bolden studied various other martial art systems including Aikido, Tai Chi Chaun (Grand Master Da Liu and Issac Student), Fu Jow Pai Kung Fu (Sifu Wo Look), Capoeira Regional (Mestre Ubira Almeida Jara) and Capoeira Angola (Grand Mestre Joa Grande and Mestre Nego Gato). He continued his Kenpo and Eskrima development by traveling back to Hawaii to train with Master Pancipanci. However, in addition to Kenpo and Eskrima Master Pancipanci now added Tai Chi Chaun and Chi Kung to the training regiment. In 1978 Master Pancipanci promoted Punong Guro Bolden to Full Instructor in Kenpo and Assistant Instructor in Eskrima, making him one of only a few instructors of Pancipanci Eskrima in the world.

In 1984 Punong Guro Bolden met and became a student of Grand Master Remy Presas, founder of Modern Arnis. In addition to having studied various other martial art disciplines, Grand Master Presas was also a Balintawak student of the Great Grand Master of Balintawak Eskrima, Vernancio Anciong Bacon. In 1986 Punong Guro Bolden started one of the first Modern Arnis Schools in New York State, and in 1987 he opened The Mid-Hudson Valley Modern Arnis Development Center in Highland, New York. Under his leadership the school became widely recognized as a center for technical and artistic excellence in Modern Arnis. During his tenure Punong Guro Bolden earned the status of a Senior Instructor of Modern Arnis. He served as Director and Head Instructor of the school until July of 1992, when he resigned in order to have the freedom to globally pursue and promote excellence and high ethical standards in Modern Arnis.

The several years following his resignation from the school were very busy and rewarding for Punong Guro Bolden. In 1993 he was inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame as "Instructor of The Year". This was the first time (Punong Guro Bolden was inducted with three other Modern Arnis practicioners: Kelly Worden, Doug Pierre and Billy Bryant) that any Modern Arnis practicioner other than Grandmaster Remy Presas had been recognized by a world/international awards granting body! The same year he also founded the American Modern Arnis Associates (AMAA). The AMAA is an organization dedicated to the continual development and propagation of " American Modern Arnis"(his personal adaptation of Modern Arnis) and to advancing the highest standards of excellence in the Filipino Martial Arts in general.

"American Modern Arnis" is a collaterial system of Modern Arnis which embraces modern as well as traditional teaching and training methods. It is a reflection of Punong Guro Bolden's own personality and over four decades of study, research and training in various martial art systems, as well as other disciplines such as Science, Engineering, Music and Dance. Like Modern Arnis, "American Modern Arnis" embraces the philosophy of eclecticism and by using the Filipino Martial Art principles of flow and rhythm, integrates principles and concepts from various styles. These styles include Pancipanci Eskrima, Balintawak Eskrima, Crossada, Cinco Terros, Palis Palis, Ocho Ocho, Redonda, Elastico, Espada y Daga, Hawaiian Kenpo, Tai Chi Chaun, Silat, Jujitsu, Dumog, Capoeira and others. Flow is the glue which ties it all together and allows it to work as an effective, highly refined and totally integrated combat art.

In 1994 Punong Guro Bolden initiated an annual National Seminar Tour to propagate "American Modern Arnis" and promote excellence in the Filipino Martial Arts. He also conducted a lecture series throughout the Northeast entitled "Recognizing Quality In The Martial Arts", to educate the public regarding the topic of choosing a quality martial arts instructor and school. On the local level he taught courses in "American Modern Arnis" at well known Vassar College located in Poughkeepsie, New York, and in the Poughkeepsie School Districts' Continuing Education Program. He also became actively involved in training peace officers and security personnel in "American Modern Arnis". 1994 was also the year in which Punong Guro Bolden was again inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, this time as "Master Arnis Instructor of The Year".

The year 1995 was an exciting one for Punong Guro Bolden. He continued his annual seminar tour and released his ground breaking 1st video tape "The World Of American Modern Arnis" (The Art, The Science, The Spirit). In 1996 Punong Guro Bolden again conducted his annual seminar tour and was also honored by Grand Master Ronald Malone (who also studied with Master Florentino Pancipanci and Professor Marino Tiwanak) and the World Christian Martial Arts Hall of Fame, which recognized him as a Grand Master and inducted him for the "Golden Life Time Achievement Award" for 35 years of study and training in the martial arts.

Punong Guro Bolden was very busy during the period from 1997 - 2000. He demonstrated the Filipino Martial Arts at the 1997 New England Martial Arts Expo which was held in Danbury, Connecticut. He was also honored by the "World Hall Of Fame Sokeship Council", which inducted him into the International Martial Arts Hall Of Fame as "Master Instructor of The Year" for 1997. During this period he continued his Filipino Martial Arts Instructional Tour and did joint seminars with such notables as Al Tracy, Roberto Torres and Bobby Taboada. He continued his "Recognizing Quality In The Martial Arts" lecture series and in 2000, started production of his 2nd video tape "The World Of American Modern Arnis" (American Modern Arnis In Action).

The year 2001 was one of the most memorable of Punong Guro Bolden's 40+ year martial arts career. He was inducted into Action Martial Arts Magazine's Hall Of Fame and was awarded "The Spirit Award" for dedication to the martial arts. Punong Guro Bolden was also invited by Grand Master Al Tracy to teach at the 2001 Kenpo Gathering Of Eagles, which was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. This invitation afforded Punong Guro Bolden the opportunity to share his unusual knowledge and insights into the Eskrima legacy of Hawaiian Kenpo. Punong Guro Bolden conducted a series of seminars entitled "Connecting The Systems, Hawaiian Kenpo and Eskrima".

The "Connecting The Systems" seminars were among the most popular conducted at The Gathering, with the high point coming when Punong Guro Bolden's teacher's teacher, The legendary Adriano Emperado (Founder of Kajukenbo), attended one of his seminars. Another high point for Punong Guro Bolden came when he was awarded the title and status of "Senior Master Of Kenpo and Eskrima" by The Grand Master's Council of Ten Grand Masters, including Sijo Adriano Emperado. The awards ceremony was witnessed by hundreds in attendance including such martial arts notables as Chosei Motobu, Eric Lee, Al Dascascos, Al Tracy, Adriano Emperado, James Ibrao, Ralph Castro, Larry Tatum, Alan Abad, Ted Tabura, Joseph Simonet, Max Pallen and others.

Punong Guro Bolden has continued to promote the Filipino Martial Arts through his ongoing classes, seminars, camps and videos. He also demonstrated "American Modern Arnis" at the 2003 International Modern Arnis Symposium which was held in Buffalo, New York.

In 2005 Punong Guro Tom Bolden had the good fortune of meeting and beginning his training with Grand Master Crispulo Ising Atillo, in the Atillo Balintawak Arnis Eskrima System. Atillo Balintawak as does all of the Balintawak variants and Modern Arnis, have their roots in Saavedra Eskrima. Grand Master Ising Atillo calls his system, Atillo Balintawak because he learned the art from his father Vicente Inting Atillo, who learned along with Delfin Lopez from Grand Master Doring Saavedra (the nephew and student of Great Grand Master Lorenzo "Tatay" Saavedra). Lorenzo Saavedra was also the teacher of Anciong Bacon.

After the Saavedra clan broke away from the Doce Pares club and moved their training to Balintawak street and formed the Balintawak club in 1952 (Inting Atillo, Anciong Bacon and Delfin Lopez were among the founding members), people soon began to associate the style with the street name "Balintawak" which eventually stuck. Although Inting Atillo was a founding member of the club and assistant to Bacon (head teacher), his son young Ising, never learned from Bacon, he was taught exclusively by his father. Punong Guro Bolden having studied Balintawak Eskrima from Grand Master Remy Presas and Grand Master Bobby Taboada, found it easy to see and appreciate the obvious similarities between the systems. However new/different strategies and connections have given him expanded knowledge and insights into Saavedra Eskrima, Balintawak Eskrima and Modern Arnis. In 2008 Grand Master Ising Atillo promoted Punong Guro Bolden to the rank of "Eskrimador" in the Atillo Balintawak Arnis Eskrima System.

In April Of 2010 Punong Guro Tom Bolden was honored and humbled when he was cited by Senior Grand Master Vicente Sanchez (Founder of The Kali Arnis International Federation) and promoted to the rank of Grand Master (Pinakamataas na Guro), and recognized as founder/head of his own organization/system, The "American Modern Arnis Associates". Grand Master Bolden was also nominated for, and presented the "DATU Award"/Citation which reads as follows:

"CONGRATULATIONS! Your marked display of loyalty and diligence renders you one of our distinguished achievers nominated as DATU in the practice and propagation of The Filipino Martial Arts of Kali and Arnis. This brings pride and encouragement to us and fellow Arnisadores who also work to attain greater heights in these endeavors. With perfection in mind and spirit, let us preserve such dynamism so that we can linger long as one of the world's prides. MABUHAY!"

Grand Master Sanchez's decision to honor and recognize Grand Master Bolden was based upon his individual accomplishments in the martial arts, the quality of students he has produced over the years and the number of years (40+) he has been studying/teaching Filipino Martial Arts.

In June of 2012 Grand Master Tom Bolden was inducted into The IMAF Black Belt Hall Of Fame as a "Pioneer of Modern Arnis". The year 2012 was the initial year of inductions into The IMAF Black Belt Hall of Fame.

In addition to those who have been previously mentioned, other teachers whom Grand Master Bolden would like to thank for having given valued martial arts knowledge and insight over the years include, Cherie Barnier (Tai Chi Chaun and Chi Kung), Sifu/Guro Dan Inosanto (Kali, JKD, Silat) and Professor Wally Jay (Small Circle Ju Jit Su).

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