Friday, June 02, 2006


Philippine Modern Arnis Master Rene R.Tongson is the embodiment of the martial arts warrior, businessman and scholar of the twenty first century. His initial experience in Filipino martial arts (FMA) consisted of intense, extensive training from the whole Presas clan, progenitors of Modern Arnis and other arnis styles.

His formal training started with Grandmaster Roberto Presas. Grandmaster Remy taught him the classical arnis techniques and forms that would eventually be the basis of Modern Arnis. Grandmaster Ernesto rounded off his training with weaponry. Master Rene also credits a young Cristino Vasquez, cousin to the Presas and now another prominent Modern Arnis grandmaster, for developing his stances and postures. Master Rene would also later earn high ranking black belt dans in karate and kendo.

Eventually, he founded his system known as Tres Puntas as inheritor of Grandmaster Mateo D. Estolloso’s Abaniko Tres Puntas Estilo. As a traditionalist, Master Rene is known for his fluidity and grace in classical arnis. His students include Master Bambit Dulay, datu Dieter Knuttel, dayang Edessa Ramos and many other arnis guros in the Philippines and other parts of the world.

Presently, Master Rene is one of the highest ranking Modern Arnis masters with the rank of Lakan Antas Walo (Blackbelt 8th Degree) and titular head of International Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines (IMAFP). He also presides over the international chapters of the IMAFP in the Middle East headed by Godofredo Fajardo, North America headed by Jay de Leon and Europe headed by Edessa Ramos.

Together with about a dozen like-minded, stout-hearted men, Master Rene also belongs to a council of Modern Arnis grandmasters that is trying to keep the legacy of founder Remy Presas alive. Some of these venerable masters include many personal students, longtime friends and blood relatives of Prof. Remy Presas including Roland Dantes, Rodel Dagooc, Vic Sanchez, Cristino Vasquez, Godofredo Fajardo and Roberto Presas. This year 2006, Master Rene is the point man in the formidable task of organizing the 3rd Filipino FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) Festival, an international gathering of Filipino martial arts practitioners (

At least one hundred fifty masters of Filipino martial arts from different styles and from different parts of the globe and several hundred more local eskrimadors are expected to participate in several venues in the Philippines over a period of ten days. Fortunately, Master Rene’s extensive business background, organizing experience and diplomacy skills should serve him in good stead in orchestrating and managing this logistic nightmare.

He graduated from college with a degree of Bachelor in Science in Industrial Engineering and a Degree of Master in Business Administration (MBA). He is used to the political arena, holding incumbent positions in the Philippine government as an elected local legislator. He is comfortable in the executive board room, as he is presently a Director of the National Coffee Board and consultant to various Philippine business companies.

In addition to his technical skills in arnis and the other martial arts, his administrative abilities were tested when he spearheaded the formation and development of Arnis Philippines, now the governing body for arnis under the Philippine Olympic Committee. In 1987, he authored the original version of the Philippine National Standard for the conduct and practice of competitive arnis, the basis of standard rules now being followed in local and international padded arnis competitions.

A recent widower, having lost his wife to cancer in 2005, he is now faced with raising four wonderful children on his own. He claims this personal aspect of his life together with his faith give him balance and perspective in addition to his responsibilities in the martial arts, business and political world.

For this Renaissance man of arnis, the challenges ahead, both personal and professional, are daunting and numerous. But like the Renaissance men of Europe centuries ago, he is fortified by his scholarly acumen, his quiet diplomacy, his indefatigable leadership and the legacy of Prof. Remy Presas who told him in January 6, 1999, “Go and spread the word, Arnis is Filipino, Arnis is for the world.”


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