Master Hans Karrer

Author

James Toney

7. Dan Modern Arnis
Martial Arts since 1976
Arnis since 1979

Datu Dieter Knuettel

Lakan pito and Senior Master of Modern Arnis
Chief Instructor of DAV
It was 28 years ago when I first met Datu Dieter Knuettel. At the time, he was not yet a Datu, but already one could clearly see that here was someone ready for higher tasks.

Already at that time I was very impressed with the enthusiasm which Datu Dieter Knuettel showed for Arnis. Soon it became clear to him that he would stop in the other arts he was practicing then, and that he would concentrate on Arnis, continuing to train only in Arnis. I thought this to be very brave many people stood against it and there were many arguments against spreading Arnis wider in Germany. Some had the opinion that Arnis was only a supplement to the empty hand arts. Others were of the thinking that, because one does not usually carry a stick with him on the street, it does not make sense to train in Arnis.

But they did not take into account the abilities of a Datu! Perhaps he realized intuitively that Arnis is a complete art. This may have been the reason, in the fact, why Datu Dieter Knuettel had earlier trained intensively in Kung Fu, Tai Chi Chuan, Karate, Tae Kwon Do and Judo, so that he already knew many aspects of the Asian martial arts.

The knowledge in these arts became a good basis for this realization. Today, one can say that he was right in his estimation. The FMA were custom-made for Datu Dieter.

The Asians say that one shoud be unhurried in dealing with them and the matters that concern them. In the beginnng stages of Arnis in Germany, we were able to experience what that meant. Whenever you executed a techique, there was always an “as well as” and nothing was really set. This way of learning is very unusual for us Europeans, and not very sensible, when if you want to teach an art to many students.

Datu Dieter Knuettel formed a system out of the unstructured material he had learned, and which is now respected throughout the world. He managed to find a synthesis of traditional techniques and modern methods. In doing so, he achieved the full recognition of the most well-known Filipino Modern Arnis masters, who later awarded him with Lakan Pito, 7. Dan, in 2003 after testing him for a week in Manila. This does not come out of the nowhere. On the one hand, you need the abilities for it, and on the other hand, Datu Dieter is a person for whom respect and loyalty are not mere words. To live this is not always easy, especially if you are dealing at times with a difficult Grandmaster. This is what history had taught us.

What makes Datu Dieter stand out is his neverending enjoyment and curiosity for the FMA. He is constantly engaged, analyzing techniques, methods and different FMA styles. Thus he is aware of the old traditional technics as well as of modern developments.

One of his greatest achievements is the structuring of an examining and training program: Originally, in the Filipino way of teaching, there was no systematic approach.

Things were taught from one day to another. Even the execution of a technique could be adapted individually. This is the traditional way of Filipino teaching, which is great when you are teaching a person one-to-one, but does not work when teaching larger groups. Our way of learning follows a logical structure. Datu Dieter Knuettel realized this very soon and he structured the Modern Arnis program in Germany accordingly. He was smart enough to keep it open in the advanced part. This guarantees that the program is kept alive.

But of what use is the best program if there is no one teaching and spreading it? The spread of Modern Arnis in Europe is undoubtedly to his merit. It started already in 1983 in Denmark but then he taught Moden Arnis also in Sweden, Norway, France, England, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Czech Republic, Australia and in the USA. Today, he even teaches Modern Arnis in Russia. Not to forget the many seminars in Germany. Since the beginning of the 80s, he has been teaching at least 20 weekend seminars a year!

In the midst of all those seminars were the Geman summer camps held every other year. Since the first summer camp in 1989, as the chief instructor of the DAV, he has been heading all summer camps with great success.

As a teacher, Dieter has the ability to instruct and enhance everyone’s own abilities, no matter if the person is a beginner or an advanced black belt. He teaches the beginner to enjoy Arnis as well as the technical fundamentals and impresses the advanced students with intricacies, refinement and sophistication. His base has always been a very amicable and respectful company of students.

As a friend, Datu Dieter is one who gives you his opinion very openly and honestly. When it comes to decision-making, he assists you with his sharp-witted, analytical thinking, or comes up with many ideas that show you there are many ways to solve a problem. One of his mottos seems to be that laughter is the best medicine, and always welcome a joke.

All in all, Datu Dieter is a strong personality, irreplaceable for us in the DAV. And to the world he is a positive example with regard to technique and ability, but who also represents the inner values of the martial arts.