Sam Tendency iv one of the Waiting exponents of Arnfa in the United Stat«. And traced under the Gtetl fteogr Tipace tin? Philippinen tie a the rnan th.nt healed my plreheH nerve* with the ancrfnt Fltpirvo Ait of H»V)t wK^n v,v*t.-rn doctor* c<xiM not. Hiot »> a FUlpino healing art similar to a combination of matiagc. A<upre-.tutc. ShwMui and I he
GUROCll Hi RTTENÏO
Gftvrt Tenio ha« trained in a number d Eicnrna stvîes and « prcôcienî m disarm*. Hé hd* d ureal deal of knowledge lu. offer II he chooie% to give * out to the genera) pubJic
GRANDMASTER FLORO VIULABRlLLfc
Ka'. Grand Ma»ur KJoro VlllabnlV of
I law.vi It the undefeated cIvjrr.plon in Counilets t<crifrvi and Ka3 matches in th? Philippines and Hawa He heads Our Kali orgaril/a&on and wxhout a doub:. one of the ^caii'Ji IîvIk-i en ponenf. of the art.
I would aI*o Ike to ded»:afe tK* book to •I * NAriONAl n RNI$ ASSOCIATION Ol THE PHILIPPINES (NAKAPHIL) and the CtBU ISCRIMA ASSOCIATION (CCA) k.r tl « .» effect* ¿n pccwTV'-ng and promoting the Filipino Martial Art» I hope that *0*ntf day I '/.til t»e able to study the an in the Philippine».
When this book wn^ written, not all of the people Danny Inosanto trained with were available for comment. The following excerpts, by Gilbert Johnson, of some of the masters who influenced Danny"-, development are included here to give the reader an Insight to the source of Danny In-.osanto's Escrima and Kali.
Winter Christmas in Alaska. The men in the fish packing house accept the extra holiday pay because they need the money. Cabales »s one of them Outside, the ground is gray with muddy, trodden snow The cold, damp smell of sea water and fish soaks into everything- the wood of the docks and fishing boats, the metal clamps and gaffs, even the people.
It's cold inside too and the smell of fish is the same. Everything's the same, another working day. The men are n't happy, but these are the kind of men who look for sport when they're unhappy, sport that happens at someone else's expense. They spot Cabales working on the line and size him up He's not much more than five feet tall and doesn't weigh over 120 pounds— skinny. The men know him He lives in the Filipino bunkhouse and he's got a temper
They ease around him and start with subtle wisecracks The Filipino man mumble-- something and they goad him on Wisecracks turn to ugly insults The Filipino man s:op<L working and looks around at the big Alaskan workers He moves at one and they all close in slowly iike a pack of wolves Cabales backs off and walks away with their laughter following him out the door
In the bunkhouse he unsheathe his knife. The bunkhouse superintendent, another Filipino, runs to his side.
"No! No killing here! Please, no killing!" He knows about the trouble in the packing house. W> trouble that's been brewing for a long time and he knows it will only get worse with a knifing.
Instead of rushing out. Cabales pulls down the little Christmas tree in the bunkhouse and uses his knife to cut away the branches When he finishes, he has a smooth, tapered stick of supple pine.
He move* outside with the stick and the men are waiting There are seven now. lined around the Filipino shack, and six have large clubs of driftwood. The first comes at him and swings grazing Cabales as he angles beneath i! Before the large man can retract his swing, Cabale* hit . him on the Kick of the head, dropping him in the snow One after another and several at .1 time, they rush Cabales who dodges and sways between their blows. Each time, he returns with snapping motions that crack a knee or an elbow or rebounds off a man's face With a couple lying In the rnud and snow, the rest back off and start throwing rocks Cabales p>cks up the rocks and throws them back and the ones that can run.
rwo of the men are carried to the hospital with broken jaws and concussions One Is nearly dead The authorities keep Cabales in custody, pending a trial if the worker «lies But the man pulls through and to avoid further trouble Cabales Is deported to California
That was a long time ago. Today, at age 57. Cabales remembers the incident casually, just one of many He isn't any larger than he was then I lis sinewed body and small round face are ?<*athery tanned and some of his front teeth are missing. He's seen a lot of fights With a stick in his hand and a cigarette in his mouth, he squares off with one of his students and give the signal to begin 1 le smiles and blinks against the smoke. His hand, churn the sticks, cutting the ribbon of Smoke to nothing arid his body teems to float amidst a blur of movement Nothing rehearsed. Blows are instantly deflected and countered with one. two, three strikes, feints and redoublements* all whipping so fast there's only a vague Impression of staccato popping within the flowing action.
The do*e fighting system Cobalts teaches is "Scr.vl.«," lock and thrust Each stroke is mc! with a block or deflection. a check with the stick hand to lock the opponent's position and a thrust with the free hand that will often carry a dagger Between the block and final thrust there may be any number of counter*tnke$.
Most of Cabales' training took place in the Philippines Born in Barrio Iqania, in the Viviyan province of Antique. Cabales gained some of h;s "street" experience a», a laborer In Manila He was at various times a cement mixer, dockworker. a bodyguard and he served for two years as a $peclftl industry policeman. While In the Philippines, he was challenged on separate occasions by five other Escrlmadors Challenges are a common practice In the Islands when a man gains a reputation with his sticks Only one. Cabales. remembers, gave him any trouble That or;«- whose abilities equaled Cabales* own. was the only one of the five whom he really hurt. Stick fights never last very long and this one ended when Cabales broke open the man's knuckle. The blow lacerated an artery and the blood pumping out of the man's hand kept him from continuing
Cabales left the Philippines in 1939 and joined a crew of a cargo - hip that took hsm to distant ports of the? world. Each port, each foreign dock brought a new aei of adventure aik| with them, a knowledge of survival
After working in Alaska. Cabales wandered from county to county In California He ultimately joined the Filipino farm laborers around Stockton where he now lives Around other Filipinos who recognize Escrima when they sre it. Angel Cabales quickly regained his reputation, and with it the threat of challenge That alone, the idea of being challenged, has kept many of the slick fighter* in seclusion, but Cabales was the first Escnmador to open instruction to the public His matn concern. he says, is that Escnma Isn't taught to the wiong kinds of people, people who would cause trouble, make challenges But. if that should happen someday. Cabales will probably be waiting, a cigarette in his mouth and a stick in his hand
Just off 1114* freeway Into Stockton sits EOustrNino'f imoll yrwii wooden house A green wooden plank fence partition* ft off from the world
Eftustrisimo. a native of Bentuayen Island in the province of Cebu. a former merchant marine turned immigrant farm laborer, turned merchant marine again He is a ho an Escrima master. 81 years old EQustmimo. a man who once in Hawaii fought six men off with two sticks, standi grayed. bowed and smiling at his gate He's a smaD. rounded man now. slowed by arthnti« and near blinded by cataracts He lives in a smaller world of family and friends and no longer travels the sea and strange city streets Nothing shows of hi» past except tattoos that decorate his arms.
He offer* a warm greeting, open» the gate and shuffles down a row o4 wooden planks dividing two vegetable gardens. Once In the house and past preliminaries, he picks up two sticks and backs agalr&t the wall
"They were cheating at dice." he says in hobbled English Dice ts the word he uses for a Fifcpmo gambling game of three coins They throw the coins down beneath a cup and bet on the odds and evens. Three of the same, heads or talb. and the bank wins. The bank waft winning too much.
I picked up the dice. All the same on both sid**<- It was crooked dice, you know I grabbed the dice and throw away Now. they «jet their stick; they want to fight me I go home ami I call my wife and say, 'Give me stick?' I come back with two sticks and I back against the waD so no one can get behind me and I fight them I hit them m the head and le^s and sometimes I hit their nose "
He describes the motions with hH sticks Hfcs memory grows and his hands turn the sticks faster, faster. They wobble, click and fly from his hands and onto the floor. Cataracts He smiles, picks them up and turns them again, more smoothly.
"I beat them, he says and then he laughs. That was 1924.
Fllustrisirvio's fighting style is called "Repetkrlon" and originates on Bohol Island near the island of Cebu One of its characteristic* Is «ts continuous and repeating attacks that don't let up on the
opponent multiple attack- that are continually moving forward No retreating
He learned stick fighting from his brothers, one of whom w.v. an officer in t!e force that fought against the Spaniards invading the Philippines After he had progressed sufficiently, the brothers tattooed a kind of prayer in Latin on his leg. That was to be part of his magic to keep him safe from harm. "Oracion." meditation or spiritual communication, and ' antinganting," the magic of the Escritnadors were both powers that M»me swear kept them from being killed in World War II They're a part of the PI 1 pp iu» that the Escrimadors of old brought to Amenca Anting anting is a token or «n good luck charm Some stake their lives on t power-, of protection, some smile :n good humor and others, particularly in the younger generation, acknowledge it as "something" that they don't understand
Most of Ellustv: .irno's • - * fighting Is behind him now He tern he . some young boys who come to the house once In a while, but for the most part he's content to let the "younger generation" carry on the art His nephew. Floro Viliabrllle. is the undisputed master of Ka and Escrirn.^ in Hawaii and there aren't many Escrimadors in the United States who don't know Villabrllle's name Before 1944. Ellustrisimo says he watched one of the death matchcs his nephew won when competition was legal and common among the Escrimadors in Hawaii
Now with hLs nephew *, i.nre .v.:I the memories of his past. Ellustrisimo is content to live quMljf in his little house
In another part of Stockton. Ellustrisimo* s name carne up in conversation with a younger Qhttngf Escrlmador. He had heard the name but had never actually seen the man When he wa.-- shown a picture of Ellustrisimo. he laughed and Clapped h:'. hands
"I saw him once," he said. "He was leaning on his cane A gang of teenagers walked up and started harassing him. 1 was In my car and started to pull over, but by that time he had hit one of them with his cane. The rest backed off and were trying to gel at him but he fended them off. hit ting them on the head and legs He kept corning after them until they all ran off He didn't need .sny help from me. you could see he was an F.scrimador Many years ago? •
"No. that was just last year!"
Jungle Warfare. That was Giron's proving ground Me walked as point man in World War II guerrilla warfare in the Philippines. As lead man in a triangular formation of guerrilla soldiers patroltng through the brush, he encountered the enemy first, disabled him (or them) and kept walking, leaving his men in the rear to finish the job
Born in Bayambang, in the Philippine province of Pangaslnan. Giron's first boyhood experience with F.scrima was a secret adventure
"Every time we heard the 'click, click, click* of knives, we would be playing under the mango trees and the trail would be guarded. I sneaked away to watch. Later, we paid so many bundles of ^traw and rice for our lessons My family didn't know I was carrying a bundle of rice when rny father asked me about it and I told him I was going to take it to my uncle; we were going to make cakes.*'
At age 15 when Giron and his family moved to California. Gfron found himself in a world of Escrlmadors In the farming labor camps One of his instructors, a man the people called Mr Delgado. used to travel from camp to camp to fight their best Kxcrimadors He was good. Glron remembers, and In* could fight with either hand Mr Delgado died in a dynamite explosion In World War 11
Though the war took away one of his Instructors, it gave him others, men who depended on Escrlma to stay alive Guerrilla units in the Philippines were made up mainly of Filipinos, Issued leaf-shaped bolo knives for their jungle fighting When Giron was first assigned to a unit one of the men, an Escrirnador, was appointed his bodyguard until Giron could take care of himself Glron recalls one of his training sessions with the sergeant, following a near fatal incident in a Japanese ambush
"When he saw I was nervous he said. 'Take your bolo knife and we'll do some training Don't wony about hurting rne because I've been fighting for a long time. Cut me anytime you can. If you touch me. you'll get a month's pay.' That was the way you learned In those days."
Now 65. Glron talks about the old days In a more guarded way than many of his contcm porarles All the stick fighting styles are good in different situations, he says, but when it comes down to saving your life—keep it simple
An example of simplifying the art is "Cinco TerO$" or what Giron calls the five cardinal blows. Patterned around the four areas divided by an "X" with a dot in the center for thrusts. Cinco Teros is designed for strikes to the large fleshy areas of the body, not directly protected by bones.
He's primarily a "Largo Mono" or long hand fightet, using the reach of his 30 Inch slick or blade to hold h*?» opponent at bay I le supplements the characteristic Largo Mono movements with what some woukl recognize a . different styles and others would call tactics
One such Is "Abwrto" or open style where the fighter dances about and evades his opponent's strikes without blocking. Another Is "Riterada" or retreating style, designed for wary encounters where the fighter has time and room to keep backing away in order to study his opponent's movements. "Fondo FuCrtc" or the non-retreating style is the opposite tactic used when the fighter is forced to take a stand. Fondo fuerte may have been a tactic Giron used m the jungle when closed oif by terrain or rushed for time with more of the enemy closing in
Probably the most unique Is "Lastico~ or what Giron describes as the rubber band style It's characterised by a forward sway arid backward snap that accompanies each strike ! istico i% a method he used often during the war sincc A gives the fighter the ability to strike out between intertwined branches and snap back again for protection.
Much of the training Giron describes gives special consideration to terrain. The environmental training situations described later in this book came largely from his notes In simulated combat, training in the environments Giron describe can be fun. but in real life a knowledge of such com mon situations could easily mean the difference between life or death That Giron Is still alive ;% •.trong testimony to the effectiveness of his fighting tactics in such terrain
Today Giron looks, talks and carries himself upright and quietly like a college professor. His metal-rimmed glasses and hair, now graying on the sides, helps the illusion But something about the way he listens, his careful movements and the casual way he watches the periphery around him without turning his head or eyes, says a lot about him. He grips a stick differently too the
- e ---------- j'at» ——— •••Akil<l III'« »a lot«..) hi* uiA»*\/\n Aiirnfi
Of all the Kscnma masters in Stockton. John LaCoste at 88 years of age is probably the most unique He's also the most difficult to draw concrete Information from. poTtiatly because of his limited English and mainly because he won't hold still.
We are talking In a small park In the middle of South Stockton. A handful of F.scrlmadors and myself are sitting at a picnic table. There is an empty spot on the bench reserved for LaCoste. LaCoste is dancing In the grass. He grins at each of us separately while entertaining the group with h:> version of "carenza." Esctima shadow boxing. I'm handling the questions and fussing with a tape recorder.
"Where were you born?'" I ask
"1 te!2 you true." he says, "you train every day: do like this."
He squats down Into a half crouch and hops from side to s:dc. back and forth, feet together, feet apart Then he shakes his head and. still crouched, bobs and weaves like a boxer
"Three minute ►." lie says. "Every morning. I hen this "
He drops into a pushup position and. supporting himself on one arm. swings his free arm back and twists his chest upward. I le alternates arms >tx or seven times to make sure everyone gets the Idea
He sits on the bench, str.nghtens his legs and holds them horizontally, then turns one leg over the other and vice versa — many times.
"Drink no cold water. Only little warm watei Then breathe."
He jumps up. inhales deeply on tiptoe, holds it. then lets it out
"Every morning, he says, "and at night."
if anyone would like to know. John LaCoste was born somewhere in the central Philippines
"tirk.-i* -..J-^—t c---:--I---------- ... -»• -
side to side, turning like a radar antenna. Both heels turn inward until his feet are parallel, one in front of the other, then they turn outward and twist back and forth Independently. At the same time they tap the ground — heel. roe. heel. toe. lap. cap. top While all this is going on his flat, opened hands stroke and pat the air against imaginary attacks. His hand and elbow do a quick pat. par.
* Look." he says and he pulls one of the F.scrlmadors in front of him. hands him a stick and says "Number one " The Escrimador delivers a strike with the stick at the angle requested LaCoste dtps beneath it. passing It over hi-- shoulder with one hand At the end of the strike's ex tension, lie locks it into place with another hand and pat pots it. first with his hand (a double checking move to keep it from swinging back on him) and then with his »-Ibow on a nerve on top of the man's arm. The man rubs *iis arm
"Thank you." 1 say I still don't know what styles he use . One of the group tells me that he is familiar with all different styles, but his favorite . arc "Moro Moro." two methods of "Cebu." "Or Cidenta! Negroes" and "one more." Moro Moro •> named after a religious sect of people in the Philippines. Ocbu and Occidental iVegroes are named after islands and one more is anybody's guess.
I tell you true." LaCoste says. You learn first two numbers, you fight any style and beat him."
1 understand what he's saying. Most tscrlma styles have 12 numbers or angles that any attack must fall close to For each of those angles there are about 12 blocks or deflections and another 12 counters to each block If a person understands all the blocks and counter to the first two angle*, he can adapt their motions to defend against any of the other strikes After studying "many styles." LaCoste knows where all the principles colnc de
"One month I teach you You fight okay, any style
What he means, I am told Is that he can teach anyone with a little comprehension how to do the blocks and counters for the firs? two strikes Whether or no? the person get*s good enough with them to actually use them in combat another matter It's '.ike his footwork. Danny Inosanto says he's been try:ng to copy LaCoste's footwork for 14 years He's finally gotten to where he can describe it. but actually use it the way LaCoste does? No
I look back at rny notes to see what else I can ask him. 1 know that he moved to I iawaii from the Philippines many years ago. While In I lawail he headed a m.ijor farm labor strike that the Filipinos in Stockton still talk about today LaCoste Is their hero. The strike Itself cost the lives of a dozen farm workers and 22 "poU emen." but it put across the idea that farm workers. like anyone else, should be given sufficient wages to live and support a family.
Following the labor sirike. LaCoste was deported to the Philippines. I le carne back into Cal.for-n:a several years later, enlisted In the military and was decorated for heroism. When he was discharged, he settled down in California, finally making Stockton his home.
Ironically, situations in Stot kton weren't exactly peaceful People have tned to rob the little five-foot-two LaCoste at least twice The inckJents are documented in police records and local talk Once a man tried to rob him with a knife LaCoste turned the knife into the man so he stabbed himself.*' Another time in a hotel a man tried to rob LaCoste by placing a gun In h:> back The element of surprise may have had something to do with t Who would expect a little old man to elbow the gun while twisting off to the side and trap the gun downward while hackhandlng him in the face? The gunmiin surely didn't and by the time he realized what wa going on I aCoste had him in an armlock and the pollc»* were on their way LaCoste got a commendation for that from the Stockton police department, one of several.
A th^rd incident was two years ago when LaCoste was 86 Three boy_ had made it a regular game to slink around South Stockton and mug elderly people LaCoste was an elderly person, so he went for a walk in the vicinity of the muggings. Sure enough, the boys were waiting
At K9, Mi/Atrr John ¿oCm.'ca moo«« ore stitl youihjut a»iJ
"Could you describe what happened when you fought the three boys?" I ask I.aCoste dance • further out on the grass
"First boy. he say. "Hey ok! man. you got money?' I tell him no. He say. 'What you think if I throw you In that tree?* I tell him. Maybe I throw you in that tree He conn- at me and I throw him down and hold him like this I look at other boy anil I laugh I say. 'Come boy. you make in« happy toe» * Other boy, he get stick and run at me. tiy to hit me I take stick away and throw hlni down I |K>lnt stick and ->ay, 'You want to die boy?' He say. "No.' 1 say. 'Go home boy.' He and other boys, they go home and they no bother anyone no more."
That wasn't one I nCToste received a commendation for. but it did earn hlfri the respe-4 t ol the boys who may someday be ILscrimadora themselves Perhaps such things make a master
LaCoste is not the typical stereotype of a brawler l-lls philosophy, he says, is friendliness and Jove to everyom Even as he talks and dances In the grass <far. far away from the tape recorder too far) he focuses m on each person, individually, until he gets a response, a laugh, a change of expression He's a fighter, but he's also a lover He doesn't pass anyone he knows and likes Without patting his leg or shoulder or reaching out to <?rab his arm
A few days after the interview Danny Inosanto picked LaCoste up .it the Los Angeles Greyhound bus depot. It was a blistering hot day and the two were to appear on an NBC-TV special on Escnmo in )ust a little while Danny pointed in the direchon of the car. but 1-aCostc grabbed hr> arm arid led him off through the crowd They marched down the depot lor two minute-. *ir so before La( oste found who he was looking for It was a Mexican family <.f six. They couldn't speak English and were lost LaCoste, who speaks Spanish, discovered the r trouble and wouldn't leave until they were on the r>iht bus and headed for their destination
Thnt's I aCoste I.aCoste is Stockton's oldest and most vein rated Escrtma master. I le teachen the F.scrimadors how to fight. He also teaches them how to live and make people happy. If you want to know what style he uses. It's the LaCoste style and he's the only one who can pull it off
Ben Largusa separates himself from the title of Escrima master He is a man of Kali, the ohler F ilipino art. Kali is the source from which all the Escrima styles developed.
Lscrima. Amis, Stkaran. Silat, Kuntao. Kaliradman. Kalirongavt and Pagkahkali are all phases of Kali." says Largusa. "but Kali is the mother or ancestral art These phases are all part oi our training/*
"Ben Largusa is a master because of his ¿kill and knowledge." says Danny Inosanto. "If you don't know him, it's hard to draw anything personal out of him. but movement wise can't touch him."
LaTgusa gets his movement from his instructor. Floro Vl!labril!e. the most commonly repeated name among the Escrimadors in Stockton. Villabrille lives in Hawaii and Largusa. who was bom on Kauai, studied under him for six unbroken year* in the fifties He has maintained contact with him to become his foremost protege
The son of a migrant worker, Largusa deports himself in a way that distinguishes him as something more He chooses his words carefully, listens with his eyes and moves from room to room somehow with very little motion. When he speaks of Ka3i or the history of the Philippines, he's obviously well read and when he explains and demonstrates the principles of his art. he's just as well practiced.
1 arou-i now ha', a v.hool n Sou:h San Francisco with a system of rank.nq and a curriculum that geared to span three years If the student is active and learns what he is taught, he may then qualify to teach. According to Largusa. It is the first time Kali has been organized commercially and the school lias Viliabrilie's blessings
A class »n Kali at Largusa's school begins with "Orascion" or meditation and a kind of nonpartisan prayer Largusa makes a%point of saying that neither the prayer nor the meditation are used to teach any brand of religion.
"I just teach the basics and they communicate whatever they want," he says * If you're a Chris tian, then you communicate with the Heavenly Father. If you're not a Christian, then you com munkate with whatever you believe, supernatural spirit or spirit of light It is the spirit of giving that is exercised in this meditahon. You have to be humble Yo'u have to give before you can take, especially when you train."
After the orasc:-on. beginner-» learn the 12 basic movements of Kali with a stick in each hand Then they learr* five variations or styles to each of those movements Numerailo" Mylc for in fighting. "Literada" (otherwise called nterada or retreating style) for outside fighting. "Sumbrada" which i«. a fast-paced counter for counter style, and "Fraile" and "Cabisedano" that are combinations of the previous styles. The double st>cks may be round or flattened to resemble a sword. Tlie flattened sticks serve as a reminder that Kali is adaptable to any kind of weapon. Waded or blunted, and one edge of the flattened stick Is used like a bla le Usin«j a tick in each hand helps the student develop his weak side by Immediately relating it to the movements of his strong side He in effect becomes ambidexterous with his weapons and by shortening his weapon, he soon learns that the art works Just as well empty-handed. All in all the training not only makes the per son ambidexterous in terms of hand movements, but in terms of weaponry .is well
The Kali people often use the circle to organize their hand and foot movements A defending Kali man. for instance, may step around his opponent to position himself In "safety ¿ones " These safety zones are places where the opponent has either not had time to gain momentum in his stnke. a zone that would >aru his stnke before it begins (position a" in the diagram), or u.»here hi. strike has reached the end of its motion (position b")
The end of every movement In Kali is the beginning of another movement De o?
rhoin-Uki' movement where each is connected to the next is what gives Kali its fluidity
According to Largusa's descriptions, the basic concept of defense in Kali has three elements the parry, the safety factor and the killing bk»w The parry is the motion that deflects the opponent's stnke The safety factor is the checking motion that holds the opponent's striking hand in place after the strike has been deflected The killing blow the counterstnke but it may occur after the parry and safety factor or during either one. The Kali men train to be able to insert the killing blow or counterstrike at any time in the clash
"Killing blow" may be a misnomer because, according to largusa. the ultimate philosophy in Kali (at least .v; he practices it) to discourage, not injure, and to spare life, not lake :t. - "If we wanted to kill the person," says Largusa. "if we were convinced that our lives were threatened, then we would go to the vital area, the head, to the mind or its supporters, the lung or henrt But the ultimate tn Kali training ks when you can spare a man's life. Only then have you learned the purpose of Kali training."
In I.argusa's Mrhool. the primary target is the hands
"A rattlesnake can kill, right? If you take off the fangs, it still looks deadly, but it cannot kill In Kal:." says Largusa. "a hand is considered a fang. If you take away the hand, it cannot p>ck up a gun or a weapon and kill you. People who are not familiar with Kali see us strike to the hands and vay it's not deadly, but they don't realize until they learn Kali how deadly it is and why we strike to the hands."
While explaining his concept of training the students to strike to the hand. Largusa also demon strates how easily the- target may bo adjusted when necessary. Since the hand is smal'er and more elusive than the head or body, it would seem that draining against the hand for a target would only sharpen a student's accuracy. In Incidents such a?, defending against a nunchaku with a stick, the hands actually move much slower than the \yeapon and. therefore, are easier to hit Seeing the kind of speed possible in both Escrimo and Kali, vomp might wonder if trying to follow the hand wouldn't be a dangerous thing to do in any kind of combat How do vou follow five strikes that take place almost simultaneously if you're trying to follow the hand each time? This fcs where Largusa brings out the concept of the rhythm triangles in Kali
It has been proven In boxing.'* he says, "that the hands are faster titan the eye. If you shoot six darts at me at once I can't defend against each one so I treat them a', one dart If you throw three Or four punches at me very fast. I treat them as one punch They are only one point of your rhythm triangle Once you understand the theory of the rhythm triangle, you can understand these movements."
The triangle, like the circle, is a key to understanding Kali The rhythm triangle is pictured with the rnlnd at the top of the triangle and the hands and feet a: the other two corners. Knock out any one of them and you've seriously hampered, if not completely negated the opponent's ability to fight. The mind here i* at the top because it affects both the hands and feet
Another example of the triangle explaining a prlncipk* of Kali is the "internal triangle."
"The internal triangle pictured like the rhythm triangle." says Largusa "The mind Is at the top. On one side Is the "kl.' the seat of internal strength, and on the other sid%? Is the point of contact If you hit the back or the feet, the kl will weaken Like the old saying, kill the hark and the tree will die This is the same process
"Without this spiritual and mental aspect one moves mechanically, like a robot, no feeling and no meaning. Orascion (meditation) Is very Important because It makes the mind stronger It develops the fighting spirit, what we call plain old 'guts' For this everybody has a different degree of guts You're either born with guts or without guts. Now with Kali spiritual training, one doesn't have to be born with guts, it can be developed M
The highest level of Kali training then would be the universal triangle Mere the supernatural spirit is at the top, communicated with by orascton. The practitioner and his opponent are on the bottom corners.
Supernatural spirits, sticks and blades, fighting with weapons and empty hands—all of this leads to the Inevitable question, always asked off to the side Does anyone ever get hurt? Largusa says he has never received an in)ury in all his years of training They keep injuries at a minimum in his school by teaching "slow training," a theory related to the yin and yang of Kung Fu or karate "Our philosophy," he says. "Is soft but hard, hard but soft When you train slowly, speed comes automatically With soft training, hardness comes automatically. We have very slow training in the beginning so they can correct the fine points and develop finesse. When we go fast, we use either the light rattan stick or the plastic baseball bat and go to the non-vital areas such as the trunk and between the )otnts to prevent Injuries."
This Is the "OraKion". a nor>-partisan prayer uw-J of fh»* bcGtnnirHj of fuch <mlas9.
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This Is the "OraKion". a nor>-partisan prayer uw-J of fh»* bcGtnnirHj of fuch <mlas9.
I argusa'r. -.chool now has just under '«G students who ore slowly working their way up the Lid der of his ranks. When they're ready for a promotion. Largusa gives them a test. The test includes "sayaw." the dance form that kept fcscrima and Kali hidden from the Spaniards in the Philippines Largusa teaches 20 or more sayaws that the students are ^uppovd to he able to do at random either to the beat of a drum or with their own imagined rhythms. Within the sayaws are the 12 ba^c movements of Kali a> well as all the defensive movements, counter?, vtnkes and footwork patterrvs.
He also teaches ets. similar to Kata in Karate but labels them in two categories: planned and freestyk* The planned set . . as it sounds with the movements planned in sequence, mainly for the beginners. The freestyle set. however, employs anything the student has learned and s more similar to shadow-boxing.
All considered. Largusa's school is probably the most organized and commercial Filipino arts academy found anywhere in the United States. To some EscrUnadors, commercializing a school for public use means that the art is being watered down and "frozen" to keep It organized and palpable to public consumption But people who have seen Largusa's student«-- work and par ticularly l argusa himself, always seem to come to the same conclusion "You can't hit 'em with a 10 foot pole." That's got to r.ay something.
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In all of the Filipino martial arts, one name keeps surfacing with great reverence and awe That name is Floro VlUabrtlle He is the- undefeated champion in countless Escrlma and Kali matches In the Philippines and in Hawaii Escrirna stick fighting matches were full-contact bouts without the aid of armor, which resulted in death or permanent injury to the participants They usually used the stick in the tight hand and punched with the left hand The use of the elbow, knee and head were common at close range combat. Combat grappling like techniques (standing or on the ground) were applied. These Included throws, trips, sweeps, take-downs, chokes, strangulation. d.sJocattons and locks on the fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles and knees. The feet were used for kicking at the low level It was a brutal art and only the swiftest, the strongest and the roost courageous survived or remained In practice. The rounds were two minutes with one minute rests In between
One instructor s.»id. i am very good, but Floro Villabrille is way out of my cla-^s; but then again he way out of everyone's claw Floro can beat you with hi* brain an<J. gut-. "
In December of 1977 my Publisher visited Mr Villabrille at his home on Kaul. Hawaii where he spoke of his special training. "Before a ftght I go to mountains alone I pretend rny enemy is there. I imagine being attacked and in my Imagination I fight for real I keep this up until my mind Is ready for the kill I can't loss; When I enter the ring nobody can beat me already I already know that man is beaten. In 1948 my wife wa-. a: the fight. I tell her 'no worry. I can't lose.' Anything you do. even go to school or firvd a job. . in the morning you make a prayer I want to do this I got to do it I got to do it Walk around and work on your mind And you will do it " Some people feel his life is charmed and that he has the power of Anting-Antlng a magical charm that gives a person super natural strength.
Floro Villabrille started his training at the age of 14 He traveled the length and wxlth of the Philippines researching the art of Kali and studied under many different Instructors His favorite Instructor was a female, a blind princess named Josephina To reach this blind princess, he had to travel many unaccessiblc trails, finally reaching a village called Gundari on the Island of Samar. ! le stayed in this village for a long time not learning any Kali but just doing menial tasks as cleaning up. Finally be was allowed to practice the art He states that he doesn't know how the princess saw the blows, but he contends that sIh? was one of hi% best instructors. After training there for some time, he comes down from the village and comivtci While competing in a match and win ning. he is approached by a man who asks him where, he learned that style Villabrille tells him that he learned it in. the village of Gundari on the Island of Samar. The man tells him that is im possible for the village is unacce&ftlble to travel and that he couldn't possibly have reached the village because he was from there. When Villabrille« tells him about tin? blind princess, he reahze« that he is telling the truth and starts to cry and embraces him
At the age 13 Villabrille was working on a >hip when his training partner. Dison. telegramed him to fight a young Moro stick fighter. Dison was a great stick fighter in his own right, but had previously lost to the Moro stick fighter When Villabrille arrived in the Philippines he was met by his friends They told him that the Moro fighter was just too fast and too good and that he should cancel out Vlllabcilk- stubbornly refused to back out of the match. According to Villabrille. the Moro was much faster than he was and probably the fastest man he ever met On sheer guts and determination, Villabrille trades blow for blow and finally wins the match In the fifth round. For several weeks after the match, Villabrille couldn't raise his arm-, above his head because of the blows he had received while trying to block Villabrille now feels that if the combat hod been with swords, the Moro fighter would have probably won. I le competed in 1933. 34. 36. 36 and then the matches were stopped until 194# when his last match took place
Villabrille pooled all the knowledge from all the source* he came across and developed his own system of combat. That is the Villabrille System of Kali which is a composite of ail the styles of the Islands.
Villabrille has an award, a certificate and diploma signed by General Frank Murphy, then Governor of the Philippines The certificate states that he had won the Grand Championship of tlx* Philippines, thus making him the Grandmaster of that country. In the Cebu municipal Museum they have a giant picture of Lapu-Lapu. the man who killed Magellan Next In size is the certificate and picture of Grandmaster Floro Villabrille
What is learning?
A journey and process, not a destination and conclusion.
What is an instructor?
A guide, not a guard or dictator.
What is discovery?
•A constant process oí questioning the answers, not answering the questions.
What is the goal?
Open minds so that you can "be/* not closed issue* so that you have to "do" and follow to achieve the goal.
What is the test?
Being and becoming, not just remembering and reviewing.
What do we teach?
Individuals; not lessons, not styles, not systems, and not methods or techniques.
What lb the school?
Whatever we choose to make it.
Where Is the school?
Anywhere, not a four cornered classroom, wherever we are!
Basic Striking Angles
There arc an uncountable number o4 styles In Filipino stick fighting, but they all have one common denominator that gives them adap-tab ty Thdr principles of combat are based on a pattern of angles that all attacks must fall ink», regardless of the style, regardk-ss of the weapon discounting of course the use of firearms The pattern takes the form of a com b. nation of what may be recognized today as mat he matte symbols. (See drawing« )
Within some stick fighting styles, the angles of attack are treated as the pk> shaped areas between the lines of the mathematlc symbols Any attack, for Instance, between the top vertical line of the pattern and the next diagonal line to It is treated as one angle. Esciimadors from other styles direct their attention to the lines themselves and practice their defenses against each kne that represent* an angle of attack The important thing Is that you keep the defenses you will learn flexible enough to blend either way with the attack Even more important is that you remain flexible enough to flow with sudden changes in angle.
The infinity sign (<*>) that completes our drawings Is the standard motion of the stick to keep the Escnmador's movement fVtfcd Thfcs figure eight motion Is used in its complete form or partially. The use of the figure eight will become clearer when you study the sec-t>on on Sinking MoDoni
With the addition sign f + ) and the multiplication sign (X) and dot <•), a pattern forms that any thrusting attack, such as a jab w.th the ffcst or a stab with a knife, or any arc ing attack, such as the wide swinging blow of i club, must follow The pattern of angles 4s the same whether the nttacker is >abblng and swvngtng with a weapon or kicking and punching
The addition sign stands for the vertical and horv/ontal strikes and the multiplication sign »lands for the diagonal stakes The dot in the center of the pattern represents all thrusting or >abb*ng motions, as opposed to the wide, swinging blows. Though the dot only appears in the center of the pattern, representing pel manly the centerthrust that comes r>ght down thv middle, thrusts may actually occur at any of the angles The defenses, described later, remain about the same
The numbering system used in this book is Danny Inosanto's own A "number one" angle for a right hander follows a motion much like a baseball throw. A "number two" angle, then, for the same right hatuk-r .-. ; .! ] be a backhand strike. All the numbers on yout right (1. 3. 6 and 9) are blows that begin with your weapon turned away from your body to the nght The numbers on your left (2. 4, 7.8 and lO) are backhand strikes that hrgin with your right nrm crossed in front of your body and out to the left.
"Number six* is a thrust into the body on the "number one" angle and "number seven" is a backhand thrust into the body on the "number two" angle Any of the angles may include thrusts, but these two are given their own numbers because they supposedly occur more often n combat
Numbers five eight, eleven-and twelve lie on the same vertical plane. ' Number five" >a commonly occurring thrust to the center of the l>ody "Number eight" and "eleven" are both descending blows, but "eleven" is overhand and 'eight" »s backhand. "Number twelve" :•. any rising blow along the center line. A snap kick would be a good example.
Pick up a stick and execute the blows In sequence as they are numbered and you'll see how well they flow together, one after another. By throwing two or three in quick succession, you'll understand how basic body dynamics omit your follow-up blows to some extent and give the Escrimador a good idea of what blows are coming up next A knowledge o? these ba:>ic striking angles and how they often follow each other naturally gives the Escrimador an almost psychic appearance in battle
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