1st Russian Modern Arnis Camp
February 2 - 8, 2007
Ekatarinburg, Russia
By Dieter Knüttel

     For my 3rd trip to Russia I was invited to teach at the 1st Modern Arnis Camp to be held in Ekatarinburg. My first 2 trips to Russia were weekend seminars (2005 and 2006) but this time there should be more training.
     After Alexander Pisarkin had attended the 2005 Modern Arnis summer camp of the DAV and attended last year with 2 of his students in the Philippines at the 1st Remy A. Presas Memorial Modern Arnis Camp and the 3rd FMA Festival, he decided, to work with his association the "Regional Arnis Federation", RAF, and put together a 7 day Modern Arnis training camp.. This was the first "Worldwide Brotherhood of Modern Arnis" (WBMA) event after the Founding (according to my knowledge).
     He invited Grandmaster Rene Tongson and Senior Master Samuel "Bambit" Dulay from the Philippines as well as myself, Senior Master and Datu Dieter Knüttel from DAV, Germany as instructors for the camp. I was accompanied by my student, Peter Rutkowski, 4th Dan Modern Arnis. Out of personal reasons, I could only participate the first 3 days of the camp, but Grandmaster Rene, Senior Master Bambit and Peter stayed and taught the full 7 days.
     Especially for the Filipino masters, it must have been a special experience, to arrive in Russia where a lot of snow had fallen days before. They were supplied with a lot of warm clothes, so they would not freeze outside. Still they said: “We love the snow, but we rather stay inside.” But with -20° Celsius (- 8° Fahrenheit) and sometimes a strong wind one could understand this. It was really cold, also for us.

Senior Master Dulay - Grandmaster Tongson - Datu Knüttel - Guro Rutkowski - Guro Pisarkin

     During the weekend (Friday to Sunday), there was more than 40 participants. During the rest of the camp, (Monday through to Thursday), 15 people took part in the training. Some of the participants travelled from a long distance to the camp. From Moscow for example, it took a 29 hour train ride one way, to get there. But there were also participants from other cities and other Filipino martial arts styles like Serrada, Doce Pares, Pekiti Tirsia, and Kombatan.


Television interviews

     The camp took place in the Ural University of Ekatarinburg, where Alexander is also teaching. It was opened by the vice-rector of the University and there was a lot of interest for the camp. 2 TV stations were there at the opening, filmed the demonstrations and made interviews, which were broadcasted the same day. A 3rd TV station was there during several days to make a longer report about the camp, as they did before when I was there the first 2 times. Additionally, a radio station and some print media were there too, to report about the camp. So the PR was excellent.
     The training itself was very versatile. Sinawali, disarms, empty hand concepts, self-defense, classical Arnis, Knife, double stick, Abanico Tres Puntas, Tapi-Tapi and a lot more was taught during the week. So a wide range of Modern Arnis and Filipino martial arts was covered. The participants were excited about this.
Friday night was the evening of the gradings. 40 Modern Arnis practitioners were going for a new degree, ranging from white through to blue belt. (With white, yellow, green, blue and brown being the student levels there). Everybody passed and the testing was very good. One could see the time and effort, they had put in the training the months before. So on the next morning, everybody was happy to receive their new certificates of rank.
The training was held from 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm. In the evening we went out having dinner with Alexander and some of the students, and different to some expectations, vodka was NOT consumed a lot. Not more or less than here in Germany either.

5 6
Instruction by Grandmaster Tongson and Datu Knüttel

     Sunday night, Alexander had a surprise for us. After the dinner he told us, we would go to the forest. I have learned not to ask what is happening there, because whatever Alexander suggested or organized, it is always very good and a lot of fun.

With the rector of the
Ural University, Ekatarnbutg

Alexander, Dieter, Peter, and Victor

9     So we drove to a Datscha “a weekend - house” at the outskirts of Ekatarinburg where we were supplied with warm shoes. Especially Grandmaster Rene and Senior Master Bambit got VERY warm jackets. We really looked funny, wrapped up in these VERY thick and large clothes. But it was necessary, because we walked about 20 minutes at –20 ° Celsius (-2 ° Fahrenheit) through the forest, to arrive at a campfire. There we met a musher. This guy had crossed Alaska and then went to Murmansk only with a dog sled. This was 6500 miles and it took him 8 months. He got 2 entries into the “Guinness book of records” for that. So now the dogs (Huskies) were put in front of a sled, and we could ride a round track, lit with torches, on this dog sled. At around 11 pm we returned to the campfire, where we got bred chicken, tea, warm wine and Russian, magic water. What a spectacular experience all together!
     During the meeting with the rector of the Ural University, he was excited with the Modern Arnis activities of Alexander Pisarkin and the perspective that Modern Arnis would spread through Russia from his University. He said to Alexander, that he would officially support all of his Modern Arnis activities now.
     He also told us that he had a large room at the University. That he did not know how to use up to now, but now he knows. This room will be turned into a Modern Arnis training center and he confirmed that this will be finished by my next visit to Ekatarinburg! We were really excited by this official support from the University.
The next trip to Russia is planned on the 7th and 8th of December, where the Ural University of Ekatarinburg will celebrate its 40th anniversary. We were told that Grandmaster Rene Tongson and I would be invited as official guests of the University to participate at the anniversary ceremonies. After that, we will hold another Modern Arnis seminar.10
     These are all very positive developments for the propagation and spreading of Modern Arnis in Russia. There is already talks for a seminar in Moscow, but there is no date set as of yet.
With Alexander Pisarkin, there is not only a very talented martial artist leading Modern Arnis in Russia. But he is also a very good teacher (one can see that when you look at his students) and an excellent organizer. We are lucky, that he is there to work for Modern Arnis in Russia.
     I am already looking forward to meeting him and his students once again, when he will participate at the 10th Modern Arnis summer camp of the DAV in Germany on the 6th to the 12th of August 2007. And of course, I am glad to be back in Ekatarinburg in December 2007.
     All together, this visit was again very impressive especially through the cordial friendship and hospitality we were able to experience there. This also showed through many little things that cannot all be mentioned here.
For me, these trips are so important, not only to spread Modern Arnis, but to reach an International understanding between different cultures, to make new friends and deepen existing friendships and to work against prejudices that some people and cultures may have of each other. Also in this regards, the camp was a big success.

I can only say: Russia? I would love to come back.



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