Brief History and Description of Vee-jitsu
Jim Roma, Senior Instructor
Master Florendo M. Visitacion (Vi-zi-tah-she-own) has been a true genius and innovator in the martial art world. He has proven himself to have those qualities of character and technical abilities that make him a member of that minority of martial art practitioners that we honor as Masters. He was the instructor of some famous martial artists, such as Master Moses Powell and ‘Little John’ Davis, as well as many other lesser known instructors from many different styles. He has made an impact upon thousands throughout the world. His recent Memorial Service in New York City, for example, was attended by somewhere around 700 people (many of whom are respected instructors) and he received a full page obituary in the New York Times Newspaper (January 10, 1999).
Professor Vee, as he was affectionately called, has been a guest of Mr. Aaron Banks at the Oriental World of Self Defense held at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. He has also been featured in most major martial art magazines as well as in many college and public newspapers. In demonstrations and conventions from coast to coast master Visitacion has been a welcomed performer and instructor. Until his death at the age of 88, Master Vee taught regularly in schools on the East Coast and privately tutored instructors in his Bronx, New York apartment.
Master Visitacion was born on June 7, 1910, in a small Barrio (borough) of Bacarra, the Philippine Islands. At a very young age he was taught some forms of jujitsu and Arnis by his brother and uncle. Professor Vee then emigrated to the Hawaiian Islands and survived as a laborer on a sugar cane plantation. He lived there from 1926 until 1928. Moving to California, he served in the American Armed Forces during the Second World War. He arrived in New York City, New York, in July of 1946. Graduating from high school at Boro Hall Academy in Brooklyn, he then attended Long Island University for a year. He also took a liberal arts course for a summer at Pace College of Business in Manhattan.
Although having had martial art instruction as a boy and some training while in the Army, it wasn’t until 1951 that Professor Vee began to study in earnest. He received instruction from Charles Nelson, a former Marine Sergeant. Then also in Manhattan he studied jujitsu at Sigward’s Sports Academy; Sigward having taught hand-to-hand combat techniques to the Armed Forces Military Police. Well-known jujitsu master, Kiyose Nakae, author of the book Jujitsu Complete, also taught him during this time. Swami Vraygiananda at the Jiu-jitsu School of India taught him basics of Varmannie; Mr. Ivan Villegas, instructor at the Samurai Judo Club of New York gave him instruction in Kodokan Judo; Mr. Jerome Mackey had an influence in his studies; and Professor Ogata, an expert in Kendo, Judo and Jujitsu rounded out his training.
Then from 1960 on, Professor Vee studied for various lengths of time in schools that taught such arts as Karate, Gung Fu (mainly Wing Chun and Praying Mantis), Aikido, Tai Chi Ch’uan, and possibly his first love, Arnis (Filipino knife and stick fighting). He has studied under prestigious masters, such as Mr. Leo Gaje, Mr. Amante Marinas, and even enjoyed a few sessions with well-known masters Mr. Raymond Tobosa, Mr. Remy Presas and Mr. Dan Inosanto. He received an Arnis teaching certificate from Mr. Marinas and the coveted Datu Award from the Arnis America Organization, which reads, For your outstanding contribution in promoting Kali, the Philippine Martial Art. On August 11, 1971, the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation (AJJF) officially recognized Vee-jitsu and issued Master Visitacion its highest rank of Judan (tenth black) dated as of February 26, 1966.
Professor Visitacion loved to read, which is evidenced by his large martial art and philosophy library. The key to his success was his ability to not only read, but to be able to identify and extract those principles that formed the foundation of any system. Then he intelligently incorporated them with principles from other styles, and so on. Early in his training, Master Vee developed a philosophy that became the foundation of his learning and teaching process. He reasoned that the martial art world was one. The various arts could be compared to many paths leading to the same mountain top; or to many instruments playing in the same orchestra. He realized that every art had merit and that if he approached his studies from that perspective then he could gain the most from his efforts.
He disciplined himself to respect all men and all systems. He chose to embrace them all, to select from them those techniques and principles that graced his personal development, and to never allow himself to believe that he had arrived. “When you eat fish, eat what is good and leave the rest on the plate. Don’t refuse the fish just because it contains bones,” he would tell his students. And because of this mind set, Master Visitacion blossomed into a versatile, outstanding technician as well as a friend to martial artists from all persuasions.
He has categorized his years of training into a system. As Professor Vee’s system evolved, it assumed names that reflected its forms, such as Vee Jitsu Ryu Jujitsu, Vee Jitsu Te, Vee Arnis Jitsu, and the latest, Vee Arnis. The system has 21 Minor Katas and 9 Major Katas, which are prearranged forms using mostly karate and Gung fu. There are 7 General Courses composed of hundreds of techniques from a wide variety of arts. Ukemi (the art of falling and rolling), pressure points, hard and soft blocking forms, body movements from tai Chi, Karate, Gung Fu, Pakua, and Aikido, a great amount of Arnis, a little weaponry, striking techniques from all the major arts, and Kapo (oriental first aid) are all included in these General Courses. He has a set of techniques that are designed to develop one’s ability to withstand blows to the hands and arms, known as Humanized Makiwara. The Te Groups are a productive and unique feature of Vee Arnis. These are short katas that are always performed with a partner. When the Te is completed the defender continues to use any and all techniques from his arsenal until he chooses to stop or exhausts his possibilities. This part of training is called the follow up. There are at least 50 Te Katas.
Low kicking (from the solar plexus to the feet) is emphasized and encouraged, but high kicking is acceptable when used correctly. Free style practice, using a controlled attack and sparring with one or multiple opponents is often employed. Other than the stick and knife, weapons training is minimal, since Professor Vee’s concept is that all martial art training should be applicable in today’s society.
Since Master Vee believed in using multiple strikes and because of his follow up approach to practice, Vee-jitsu practitioners are noted for what is often referred to as over kill. Master Visitacion considered this a positive approach to training since it helps the student to be prepared to continue his defense should the opponent move or block his efforts. He felt that if one gets into the habit of 1,2,3 and stop fighting, then that student may be conditioned to hesitate in real combat. However, he constantly insisted that his students never do more than what was necessary in an actual conflict. Punishment and vengeance are both condemned.
The Vee-jitsu System is open ended. This means that new techniques are always welcomed and old ones may be discarded or refined. Professor Vee himself never stopped experimenting and creating. Martial artists of all styles were attracted to him for he did not tell them to abandon what they have already accomplished. Rather, his goal was to help them economize their movements, to build upon and expand upon those techniques that they had learned elsewhere; to perfect themselves. Although each student is required to imitate the movements of the instructor while learning a new technique, the end goal is to have the student express his own creativity and individuality. “This system is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end,” Master Vee would say.
The Vee Arnis emblem has an orange sun (to honor Professor Vee’s Filipino heritage), a yellow ‘V’ for Visitacion, the words Vee Arnis Jitsu: An Expansion of Knowledge, and the letters S, M, and P. The letters stand for spiritual, mental and physical.
Supreme Grand Master Florendo M. Visitacion told us often, “Train as if every man is your enemy, but live as if every man is your friend.”