Back in March 2015, almost aged 25, that’s when I decided that I would try to learn different things as much as I can and not waste the time that I have left in my life. Looking at myself, I was not in good physical shape, got no talents, no achievements and nothing to be proud of. I wanted a new set of skills. I wanted to learn how to play musical instruments, and so I bought a guitar and a keyboard piano. I wanted to be smarter, so I started reading more relevant books and articles. Most of all, I wanted to be fit and have a healthy lifestyle.
Heart disease runs in my family. I needed to get my ass out of the couch and start committing my body to cardio exercises. I also needed to cut down on soda pops and eat healthier, which meant good bye to high cholesterol dinners. I asked myslef “How? What should I do? Just go to the gym and start lifting?”. I suddenly had an idea that I should also learn self-defense. I live in the busy city of Cubao-Quezon City where crime rates are high. I’ve actually experienced going home at night just to discover that my apartment got ransacked by robbers while I was gone. So learning how to defend myself ins’t really a bad idea. I get to learn something new and at the same time it can be a great cardio workout.
I searched the internet what martial art should I learn and I ended up in a forum where “Tapondo” was one of the topics being discussed. Tapondo is a Filipino martial art that has it’s roots in Aikido, a Japanese martial art.
After, watching some Youtube videos about AIkido, I wasn’t so sure that Aikido or Tapondo would be an effective martial art for self-defense. It seemed flimsy. But Tapondo had the cheapest session based classes that I can find compared to other nearby martial arts gyms, and since I didn’t want to spend too much on something that I might no be accustomed to, I ended up enrolling in a Tapondo class in Cubao.
First Day of Training
One Tapondo session would be 2 hours long. The class would start with warm up exercises, the difficulty of exercises would also vary from belt color ranks. White belt was for beginners and Black belts for the most advanced ones and instructors. If you’re not physically active, these warm up exercises can actually tire you down. After the warm up, the class will be given a 5 minute water break.
On the second part of the session after the break, you will be partnered to another trainee, perhaps someone of your same belt rank. Then black belt instructors will assist you on what moves you will need to learn. The difficulty of the moves also varies on belt ranks and since I was a white belter at that time, I was being taught the easiest moves. At least 45 – 60 minutes of practicing is allotted for those moves, after which another 5 minute water break will be given.
The last part of the session will be actual sparring. Each trainee will be called up to face two opponents who will be attacking you, simulating multiple attackers. This was quite a scary surprise for me considering it was my first day. But experience was one of the best ways you will learn in self-defense. So there I was, a newbie, standing in front of other experienced members while posing my “ready-to-fight” pose, one foot forward while one hand positioned near my chest and another near my forwarded leg. The head instructor shouted the signal and my two opponents attacked me with real fighting sticks (the ones used in Arnis, another kind of Filipino martial art). Eventually, they made it easy on me to fight back, but only because it was my first day and I was a white belter. The spar lasted for about 30 seconds, the longest and most thrilling 30 seconds of my life.
The Tapondo Experience
I’ve been in and out of the Tapondo gym since 2015. It’s been a slow progress for me to make my way up the ranks. I’m now a purple belt, which is the third higher rank from white. Overall, the experience is worth it. I still remember the day when I was able to throw a bigger opponent some feet away during one of our spars and I was also able to take down another trainee who I didn’t really like because he pestered everyone with his attitude, also in a spar.
Eventually, I also got hurt several times during some of our sessions. I was subjected to pain so I could understand how pain works and how it influences our bodies. I even got a minor hand injury and had to stop training for a few weeks.
We’ve simulated and practiced on different kinds of scenarios such as, multiple attackers, being held at knife or gun point, etc. I still wouldn’t say that I’m a fighter and that I can take on any challengers or threats. I still need to be very careful and cautious in my daily life. Understanding that I can’t win all fights and that I’m not invincible should still be part of my core values.
I realized alot of things, including my capabilities and the other things I need to work on myself, that the things that I want must be earned by hard work and dedication. Sometimes in life, the best way is the hard way. I also, learned humility and patience by offering my body to my trainee partner for practice.
Tapondo, though a bit more violent, still has similarities with Aikido. It shares the same principles of valuing peace. Protect yourself, your love ones, and if possible even your opponent. Peaceful efforts must be made first and foremost to avoid conflict. Violence is only a means of last resort. After all, the best self-defense will always be peace, mercy, and love that we give towards our neighbors.
Tapondo headquarters and gym is located at UNI Building in Cubao
To get there:
Coming from North EDSA:
Riding a bus to Cubao should be able to drop you off right in front of UNI Bldg across Farmers Plaza mall. If riding the MRT, drop off at Araneta Center – Cubao Station, cross the foot-bridge by Farmers Plaza mall and you should be able to see a building sign that says “Tapondo” which serves as the same headquarters for AIGS.
If riding a bus to Cubao, drop off at Farmers Plaza mall. From the 2nd floor of the mall, you can cross the highway through a foot-bridge. If riding the MRT, drop off at Araneta Center – Cubao Station.
You may also contact them at 4130650