Kuntaw History in Canada

Marc’s Kuntaw Martial Arts is the predecessor of Kuntaw Canada. Both names are registered as business entities in Ontario, Canada, and GGM Carlito A. Lanada, Sr. ("GGM Lanada"), the founder and Grandmaster of International Kuntaw Federation/Kuntaw Ng Pilipinas (IKF/KNP), recognizes both names. Kuntaw Canada has its humble beginning in Canada.

In 1998, GM Marc and his family migrated to Toronto, Canada, with an objective among others, to propagate Kuntaw martial arts style. Shortly after, GM Marc contacted GGM Lanada who is in the US and signified his intention to teach Kuntaw in Canada and asked for GM’s blessing. GGM Lanada immediately granted his blessing and appointed GM Marc as the official Kuntaw Director of Canada with all the rights and privileges accorded to such a position. According to GGM Lanada, he had never made any official appointment for a Kuntaw Director in Canada in the past; hence this is the very first appointment for a Kuntaw Director in Canada.

GM Marc started to set his feet in the martial arts community joining local (Karate Ontario, etc.), North American (Golden Belt, etc.), and International Karate Tournaments such as Kubota Cup. An opportunity to get into establishing a club came when GM Marc and his wife, Kyudai Joan, joined a Catholic lay association. The association leaders approached GM Marc and asked to establish a youth sports program in self-defense. That was the first full Kuntaw club established in Canada - Kuntaw as the main art and the school that carries Kuntaw's legitimate emblems, uniforms, certificates and ID'S, and most importantly directly affiliated with the IKF/KNP, the international federation that is founded by the Kuntaw founder himself.

Establishing a club was really a great challenge, but with all sincerity, GM Marc said that without the kind heart of Master Vern Tilley, 8th Dan, Kushinrin Budo Kai, founder of Tilley’s Karate, who allowed him to share Master Vern’s dojo from 1998 until 2007, Kuntaw Canada would not be on its strong feet by now. GM Marc vividly remembers the time when he started to promote Kuntaw in Ontario. They were just a bunch of unknowns (of a Filipino ancestry) with an unknown martial arts name and a dance-like patterns/forms. At the time of kata competitions, judges had given dismal scores because the forms were really “weird” (as one of the judges had said to GM Marc without knowing that the person that he was talking to was the master of that “weird” style). However, when it comes to sparring division, judges were surprised to see that these unknown competitors were placing top honours.

Kuntaw martial arts became well-known when GM Marc and his young kuntawistas consistently placed top honours in different tournaments. Masters and instructors of different styles came to GM Marc and inquired about the new style that they were seeing. Students of other styles came to kuntawistas to befriend them and to exchange pleasantries and techniques. Overtime, Kuntaw becomes a well-respected art in the martial arts community. Invitations to participate in local and international tournaments pour in including an invitation to become part of the team to represent Canada in the International Martial Arts Tournament.

Kuntaw has also inspired its practitioners to pursue their careers in the military and policing. There are kyuds who are taking Police Foundation programs and others in the military service. Kuntaw has also managed to penetrate the teaching in the military reservist force. There is a kyud reservist who trains in the reserved forces’ empty hand combat training.

Kuntaw has helped practitioners to defend and protect themselves in the real street fighting in Toronto (against single or multiple attackers). Police officers acknowledged that without the would-be-victims’ skills in self-defense, results would have been different.

In 2005, GGM Lanada promoted GM Marc to a Lakan-Datu/Master rank - a 6th Degree, Red-White-Blue Belt. In the same year, GM Marc founded Kuntaw Canada to become the forefront of all Kuntaw clubs to be established in Canada. Its main objective is to govern, control, and regulate Kuntaw, a style that is under the lineage of GGM Lanada.

In September 2007, during the 45th Anniversary of IKF/KNP held in Kuntaw Palace in North Carolina, USA, GGM Lanada had graced GM Marc another promotion to the rank of 7th Degree, Red-White-Red Belt, with all the power and absolute authority to propagate, govern, control and regulate Kuntaw art throughout Canada. Membership, recognition, and promotion of ranks shall be through Kuntaw Canada. In Canada, Kuntaw ranks shall be confirmed and supported by an IKF/KNP certificate signed by the grandmaster, which bears a promotion number issued and controlled by GM Marc. Kuntaw instructors shall posses valid Instructor’s Certificate issued and signed by GGM Lanada.

In November 2009, GGM Lanada promoted GM Marc to a Grand Master rank with a 9th Degree, Red Belt. In September 2010 during the 50th IKF Anniversary held in Kuntaw Palace in North Carolina, USA, GGM Lanada officially announced the promotions of five senior Kuntaw masters into a grand master rank. They are GM Benjie Ortiz, GM Bud Cothern, GM Bill Roy, GM Jon Bais (founder/GM of Bais Tres Manos M.A.), and GM Marc De Leon (founder/GM of Tagaan Arnis-Kawala M.A.).

Kuntaw, an unknown art in Canada back in 1998, to a formidable and well-respected style in 2008; from zero kuntawista in 1998, to six full-fledged blackbelts and scores of practitioners in different ages and rank levels in 2008. Yet, amidst these accomplishments, GM Marc remains humble and never divert from his mission,i.e., “to help practitioners to establish or increase the probability of surviving the threat either imminent or at-hand."

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