From the Instructor:
First and foremost, my goal is to spread the art of Eskrima. I have been an Eskrima practitioner since 1992 and have never lost my love or fascination for its diversity and effectiveness...still finding new elements with application of its concepts. Truly, this is an art that anyone can learn to be effective with and will continue to challenge. If you have the thirst, this well is very deep.
We are a community.
I spend time training each and every student, and get to know everyone both personally and professionally. I take a personal interest in the development of each student who has the desire to absorb this Art. I practice the “first assumption” with all students…that the individual is an intelligent, motivated and capable person…and teach accordingly. I give to the student the techniques and concepts of Eskrima, along with the theory of how each technique functions and why...a deeper understanding of how the art works.
It is my goal to bring the best out of all my students…to give them more than just technique and form, but also style, effectiveness, understanding and confidence. Class-time is where we not only train, but we better ourselves, support each other, challenge one another, and become skilled. This art is effective with simple to complex techniques depending on the practitioner, but most of all it teaches situational adaptation, awareness and response. This level of training is what instills confidence in the student and changes their presence.
- Guro Chris McWethy
My martial arts journey began with my first influences…movies. When I was around 6 or 7, I saw Errol Flynn’s “Robin Hood” and the 1981 film “Camelot”. The elegance and style of the swordplay and the sword itself, captured my attention as a beautiful and effective skill to have, forging my desire to become a swordsman. Even at this early age, I was aware that these skills may be eclectic and impractical, but their rarity and style held a certain romance.
As I got older, around 10 or 11, I enrolled in my first martial arts class at Cho’s Black Belt Academy. It was a Tae Kwon Do class and my goal was to learn enough skills to counter a school bully and provide myself with some self-defense knowledge and skills. After three months of training, I earned my yellow belt after breaking a board with a side kick during my rank test. Unfortunately, after achieving this rank, I was unable to continue my training for financial reasons. And while I had some skills, I didn’t achieve my goal of countering my bully after only 3 months training of one hour per week. In fact, when he learned I had training he was emboldened further.
Through my tweens and teens my childhood friends and I played around with wooden swords. At age 17, I took an interest in sword-smithing and crafted my first steel short-sword and dagger. A complete novice in both weapon-smithing and metallurgy, the steel I selected for the blade was of dubious quality. I acquired it from a local scrap yard, and it was never tempered or heat-treated. I used tools I on-hand including a hacksaw, bastard file, hand drill, and various grades of sandpaper. I still have these tools to this day to remind me of my humble beginnings as a blade smith.
In college I joined a medieval reenactment group. It was here where I was introduced to the man who would become my mentor in the art of blade smithing. During my second meeting with him, I brought my short-sword and dagger for him to inspect. After explaining the tools I had used, he got this twinkle in his eye and a Cheshire grin, threw his arm around my shoulders and said, “My son…let me show you the GOOD TOOLS.” This was the beginning of my decade-long journey to learn how to properly craft a blade.
During this journey, I decided I would get back to my martial arts training. I began training in Okinawan Karate (Sho Rei Ryu) and was very dedicated for 1.5 years. It was at this dojo in 1993 I was introduced to the art of Eskrima. I had heard tales about FMA from my weapon-smithing mentor, so when I saw the sticks and the announcement of the class I was one of the first to sign up. Thus began my Eskrima career.
I transferred Universities at my junior year ending my Karate training, but I kept making the drive back to my old dojo to continue my Eskrima training. During this time, I also took fencing classes and was a member of the fencing club for 1.5 years until the program shut down.
After completing my Bachelor’s degree, I entered the working world enabling me to continue my Eskrima lessons more easily. Around this time, I was elevated to an Apprentice Instructor rank and began teaching the classes. Before this point, I had never sought nor considered the possibility of becoming a teacher of any kind and I had been content with just acquiring the knowledge and skills. My aim was to become a swordsman, not a teacher of swordplay. It was during this time that I met some of the better practitioners of this art who have become colleagues and friends to this day. Every day they challenged me to improve. A year after becoming an Apprentice Instructor, I tested for my first official Instructor rank in front of Mangisusuro Mike Inay, and with my five brothers from our dojo, passed and was awarded my first Instructor Rank.
A couple of years later, after becoming a Siniwallis/Dequerdas Instructor and teaching classes at the dojo, I decided I wanted to use these skills in heavy weapons armored combat. I wanted to test my skills so I bought/built my armor suit and approved weapons (sticks), pursued and achieved my authorization to fight. During the next 6 years I went to competition tournaments and sparring events to explore the application of my Eskrima knowledge in a more “real” environment against unknown participants. This exploration provided me with invaluable experiences which included 1-on-1, small group, skirmish, and “war” level engagements (ex: thousands vs thousands).
In 1999, I left the dojo and moved to the Twin Cities Metro for work. During this time, I kept in contact with my colleagues, but it was time for this bird to leave the nest and start his own group. I initially started with unofficial park and backyard sessions I held to keep my teaching skills and practice up. In 2001, I began teaching an official class in a dedicated school as an independent contractor. It took a few years to gain a sizeable group, but for the next 18 years I had a home.
I continued my Eskrima journey earning several instructor levels over the years. In 2009, I realized I needed to leave the Inayan organization to forge my own path and be true to Mangisusuro Mike Inay’s instruction to “make the art your own”. During this separation, I re-evaluated how I wanted to teach Inayan Eskirma and developed new training methodologies, philosophies, and concepts. Making the art your own means there’s more than one right path. This sparked the birth of EO Eskrima.
In the following years I continued to develop and formalize EO Eskrima. EO Eskrima has three core tenants: Knowledge, Skill, Application. Our teaching style focuses on empowering practitioners to be able to adapt, modify and apply techniques from any weapon style to any other weapon style. This is the basis for our ecosystem approach to Eskrima. In this approach, you are the weapon and the knife/sword/staff/etc are merely accessories to enhance or augment your capabilities and range.
This has been a journey I did not expect nor seek, but found I have a gift for it as a practitioner and teacher/mentor. So, the journey continues.
~ Guro Chris McWethy
1993 - Eskrima training started in the Inayan Training Organization (ITO).
1998 - ITO Instructorship in Siniwallis/Dequerdas
2000 - ITO Instructorship in Kedena de Mano
2001 - IFE Katulungan Instructor Level 6 (Bronze Certificate)
2005 - IFE Katulungan Instructor Level 7 (Silver Certificate)
2005 - IFE Katulungan Instructor Level 8 (Gold Certificate)
2006 - IS3 Instructor Level 1
2007 - IS3 Instructor Level 2
2008 - IS3 Instructor Level 3
2009 - EO Eskrima
1995 - Inayan Laro Mano - Level One
1995 - Gathering of the Masters - 4-day Intensive
1997 - Gathering of the Masters - 4-day Intensive
1998 - Gathering of the Masters - 4-day Intensive
1999 - Gathering of the Masters - 4-day Intensive
1999 - PSNA Intensive w/GM Mike Inay
2000 - Inayan Serrada Level 1 w/GM Mike Inay
2001 - Kedena de Mano Intensive w/Masirib Guro Steve Klement
2001 - Eskrima Intensive w/Masirib Guro Emanuel Hart
2003 - Inayan Training Camp - 2-day Intensive (IFE)
2004 - Inayan Training Camp - 2-day Intensive (IFE)
2005 - Inayan Training Camp - 2-day Intensive (IFE)
2005 - Inayan Gathering - 4-day Intensive (IFE)
2006 - Inayan Training Camp - 2-day Intensive (IS3)
2007 - Inayan Training Camp - 2-day Intensive (IS3)
2008 - Inayan Training Camp - 2-day Intensive (IS3)
2010 - Chicago Katipunan Gathering
2014 - Knife One (Practitioner)
2016 - Knife 201 (Practitioner)
2017 - Savat la Rue / FMA Knife Seminar (Practitioner)
2013 - Friendship Seminar (Co-Instructor)
2013 - QLK Seminar (Co-Instructor)
2014 - Friendship Seminar (Co-Instructor)
2014 - QLK Seminar (Co-Instructor)
2015 - Knife One (Co-Instructor)
2015 - Friendship Seminar (Co-Instructor)
2016 - Knife 101 (formerly Knife One - Co-Instructor)
2016 - Friendship Seminar (Co-Instructor)
2016 - QLK Seminar (Co-Instructor)
2018 - Friendship Seminar (Co-Instructor)
2018 - UKKS Ohana Fall Seminar (Session Instructor / Rank Judge)
2019 - Friendship Seminar (Co-Instructor)
Other Martial Training
1992-1994 - Sho Rei Ryu Karate
1994-1995 - College fencing
1996-2002 - Medieval Armored Combat (Sword/Shield, Long Sword, Dagger, Pole Arm, Spear, 2-Sword, Thrusting Tips)