My Arnis: URVIL JAMES ARNIS
Starting out with gymnastics at the age of 3, Urvil James later transitioned to the martial arts at the age of 8; only to leave two years later due to a lack of interest and discipline. Though unconventionally continuing to train under the tutelage of his father and take part in "backyard wresting" until the age of 22, he later returned to his home academy with a newfound curiosity and respect for the martial arts and the mind.
Now fuelled with an undivided devotion and passion for learning, Urvil James quickly achieved his black belt by the age of 25, making him the second fastest student to ever receive their black belt in such a record amount of time; preceded only by his primary training partner and childhood friend, Adrian Sanchez*.
After receiving his black belt in 2013, Urvil James went on to pursue the path of yoga; eventually embarking on a world trip in 2016, inclusive of various martial arts and spiritual meccas like Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines. During his stay in the Philippines, Urvil James tasked himself with finding a master who would teach him the indigenous art of Arnis, ancestral to his heritage. Eventually stumbling upon Master Jose “Pempe” Repiedad — one of the few remaining masters still left cultivating the art of Arnis for themselves and a select few — he began undergoing private tutelage; eventually receiving his black belt at the end of his mentorship.
Returning back to Canada, he began teaching the art of Arnis to several students, opening up his own yoga-martial arts studio, Persistence Academy*, alongside two fellow black belts; an idea he had formalized during his stay and training in Thailand.
Combining principles learned from various other styles that he has studied both domestically and abroad, Urvil James has formulated his own version of Arnis, focusing primarily on simplicity, functionality and the fluidity of movement. The primary teaching of his Arnis is centred around the application of practicality, adaptability and an ability to achieve a total state of presence, or meditative 'flow'.
In 2017, he was awarded his 4th degree black belt mastery under Black Scorpion Arnis* through the guidance of his teacher, Master Jose “Pempe” Repiedad, due to his extraordinary achievement of spreading and teaching the art of Arnis beyond the Philippines and into his home country of Canada.
Ranks held: 5th Degree black belt, World Sikaran Brotherhood Of The Philippines; 4th Degree black belt, Black Scorpion Arnis International; Black belt, Arnis De Mano/ Balintawak; Black belt, Nerkin Ouj.
F . A . Q . _________________
WHICH STYLE OF ARNIS DO YOU PRACTICE?
Black Scorpion Arnis. However, like the 'curry' of India, each family in the Philippines derives their own unique version of Arnis; so, one could essentially say that I learned the "Repiedad" style of Arnis.
WHAT OTHER STYLES OF MARTIAL ARTS HAVE YOU STUDIED?
Beyond the styles that I am ranked in, I have also explored: Karate, Capoeira, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Jeet Kune Do, Krav Maga and Tai Chi.
WHY DO YOU FOCUS ON ARNIS IF YOU'VE STUDIED VARIOUS OTHER STYLES?
Fighting is always better with a weapon in your hand.
WHICH ASPECT OF ARNIS DO YOU FOCUS ON THE MOST?
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TEACHING MARTIAL ARTS?
I've been teaching since 2011 and started out by assisting in group classes in trade for membership.
ARE FORMS USEFUL?
Forms are great for understanding all of the potential strikes that may be thrown your way, along with understanding your own body mechanics. However, they're mostly great for achieving a state of meditation, or 'flow'.
WHY DO YOU EXPLORE/ CONTINUE TO EXPLORE SO MANY DIFFERENT STYLES?
No "one style" can ever truly be "complete". So, it is best to become a well-rounded practitioner. When fighting, always start with a weapon in your hand; if you lose that, you better know how to strike; if you get taken down — well, you better know how to grapple!
CAN I CHECK OUT ONE OF YOUR FORMS?