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The Filipino Martial Art of Eskrima by Tiffany Canonigo

An article written by a student at Kapiolani Community College

The Filipino Martial Art of Eskrima by Tiffany Canonigo

Orginally posted at:

http://bosp.kcc.hawaii.edu/Horizons/Horizons2003/the_filipino.html

Introduction
Eskrima is a martial art form that originated in the Philippines. Due to the Spanish influence during Spain’s colonization of the Philippines, the word eskrima is derived from the Spanish word, esgrima meaning fencing. Arnis, another term for this martial art is also derived from the Spanish term Arnes meaning defensive armor. Because the Filipino language has so many dialects, it has acquired many different names for this art. For example, in Tagalog, it is called Pananandata; the Illocanos know it as Didya, or Kabaraon; and in Visayan, it is known as Kaliradman or Pagaradman, but the more common name known to many is Kali, or Arnis.

Historians have revealed as many as 200 styles of this martial art, styles that describe the different range of fighting. Some of these different styles include Largo, Medio, and Serrada (corto), which mean long, medium, and close range fighting. Other names are based on the movements, which include Abanyko (fanning), Palis-Palis (go with the force), Sungkiti (flicking), Ocho-Ocho (figure eight), and Lastico (snapping). The choice of weapon used is another way to determine another system of classifying this martial art. One may use a single or double stick, (solo, doble or sinawali), a sword or a dagger (espada y daga) or even nothing at all, (mano mano or de kadina).

History
Chief Lapulapu is believed to be one of the primary masters of arnis, or better known in that time as pangamut. He had trained his men to fight in battles against his enemies long before his meeting with the famous explorer, Ferdinand Magellan on April 27, 1521 on Mactan Island. It is believed that Lapulapu’s father, Datu Mangal, was responsible for bringing the art of fighting with a stick to Mactan Island. Lapulapu’s primary reason for training his men to fight in battle was because he himself was in rivalry with Rajah Humabon, the son of Bantug Lumay, who brought the art to Sugbu or Cebu Island. Lapulapu accused Rajah Humabon of stealing a portion of his father’s land, mainly the sea area between the Mactan Island and Cebu. However, Lapulapu never got the chance to use his technique in his battle with Rajah Humabon. It wasn’t until his meeting with Magellan, that he successfully defeated an enemy force.

During the Spanish occupation of the Philippines in the late 16th century, the art of Arnis was banned. Fearing the Filipinos’ exceptional skill with the knife, the Spaniards imposed a total ban on teaching and practicing the art. The Spanish felt that the Filipino people practiced Arnis more than working. But in the 19th century, Arnis became popular again. Disguising the art in plays such as Moro Moro, and dance moves gave the Filipinos the opportunity to evade the order against practicing Kali and carrying knives. Originally, these dances were invented to give the Filipinos a reason to continue the practice and teaching of Amis, and so instead of using bladed weapons, the people began incorporating the use of hardwood called Bahi or Kamagong or using rattan or cane called Oway.

In this paper, I have chosen to discuss two well-known styles of eskrima, Doce Pares style and Balitawak, because they come from the same style of teaching. I will briefly discuss the principles of the Doce Pares style and explain the training using the different range of fighting, the instruments and techniques used, the angles of attack, and the Balintawak style of performance.

Balitawak Eskrima
The Balintawak style split from the Doce Pares style in the early 20th century, when grandmaster Bacon and the Canete brothers went in separate directions. Although a lot of their teachings are similar, there are some differences. During the drills and training, one learns different aspects of the weapon and how to use them, the twelve angles of attack, timing and rhythm. The Balintawak style of eskrima strongly emphasizes in-fighting techniques. The main features include entangling or trapping the hands of the opponent and making a smooth transaction; flowing from one move to the next is a major aspect. One has to have a well-developed visual and concrete sensitivity to the force that’s exerted by his opponent.

The weapon used, not only in this style of eskrima but in all styles and teachings, is the stick called an olise. It is usually made of rattan, which is a tough, fibrous vine. Other types of wood used for eskrima are palm wood or bahi, ironwood or kamagong, and guava wood. The length of the stick should be as long as your arm, from your armpit to the tips of your fingers. The light weight of the stick allows you to move rapidly against your opponent. In many cases, martial arts instructors teach students to use their hands for defense in the beginning of their training, but in eskrima, instructors emphasize the use of the weapon first, then empty-handed fighting later.

While training, there is always an eskrimador, someone who consistently practices the marital art, to watch over you and your partner. The basic and most important drill is to alternate block and defend against the twelve basic blows with the stick. “One to twelve” is the name of the drill. These strikes are done in a pre-arranged order. Eskrimadors teach juniors to move by using subtle redirecting motions while advanced students have added techniques to this particular drill.

Here are the twelve angles of attack, in order:
Angles one and two — lateral blows from the top of the head to the base of the neck.
Angles three and four — lateral blows from the shoulders to the hips. The main targets are the shoulders, elbows, and hands.
Angle five — mid-line thrust from below the elbow.
Angles six and seven— lateral thrusts to the chest or the armpits.
Angles eight and nine — lateral blows from the hips to the feet. The target areas are the knees, shins, ankles, or feet.
Angles ten and eleven — lateral thrusts to the eyes or the neck.
Angle twelve — mid-line blow from above downward.

This is the basic training for all later teachings of the Balintawak style, which is also performed with a stick against another stick, knives, or without any weapon at all.

PRINCIPALS OF DOCE PARES
The Doce Pares style of teaching eskrima does not use a single style of teaching, but a combination of various styles that were introduced into the organization by different masters of the art. In 1932, a group of men wanted to unite as one and renew the dying art of eskrima. This group consisted of twelve people: the Canete brothers – Eulogio “Yoling,” Florentino, Felemon “Momoy”, Tirso, Silvestre, Rufino, Andres, Ciriaco “Cacoy,” their nephew, Maximo, and three Saavedras – Lorenzo, Teodoro, and Fredrico.

This particular style has developed through the years, and their forms, teachings, methods, and systems of fighting have been adapted by many other styles and teachings of eskrima. Their teachings comprise corto (close range) of Lorenzo and Teodoro Saavedra, the medium range of Jesus Cui, the Espada y Daga and corto of Felimon Canete, the long range of Eulogio Canete and Vicente Carin, and in the later years the corto of Ciriaco Canete, and the Pangamut of Maximo Canete. These styles have been incorporated into one more modern style, but the core of the original style remains in their teachings today.

The teachings of solo olisi, single stick, include long, medium, and close range fighting. One may even incorporate some techniques of espada, sword, into fighting with the stick. The stick serves as the offensive side of fighting, and one’s empty hand is used as defense. When fighting in the doble olise style, or double stick, one has two sticks, a stick for each hand. These may be used for combination attacks, or one hand may be used as offense, and the other for defense. A variety of striking and twirling patterns are practiced to develop strength and coordination over many angles of attack and combinations. These skills may be transferred over to the other styles such as mano mano combinations, solo olisi, and espada y daga.

—Mano Mano, or empty hand drills, absorb Western boxing style attacking movements. The defensive movements use the same body angling practiced with weapon techniques, and emphasize on open-hand defense, blocks, and evasive tactics such as bucking, snapping-back, slipping, weaving and sidestepping.

—Espada y daga, or sword and dagger fighting training begins with coordination of two weapons while striking, then footwork and body angling are added later. When fighting in the espada y daga style, the strong hand holds the long blade, and it is the primary offense. The other hand holds the short blade and is used for both offense and defense. The more complicated espada y daga techniques consist of locks and takedowns.

In order to be considered a student of the Doce Pares style, one has to be able to switch between long, medium and short range fighting, use Espada y Daga, mano y mano, trapping techniques, and also the twelve basic forms taught by their grand masters. Now this art form, once forbidden, has established itself and become considered a prestigious art form.

Mike Del Mar School
The del Mar School of Filipino Martial Arts was founded by Professor Mike del Mar. His system is a combination of several styles of eskrima that involve weapons and empty-hand techniques as well as kicking. Professor Mike developed his own blend of techniques from 29 years of experience and knowledge. At the beginning and at the end of each class, everyone pays respect to his faith, ancestors, Maestro/Maestra or grandmaster (whether it’s a male or a female), and lastly to each other. If other guests are present from other schools, they are acknowledged as well.

The first position is called alisto, which means attention, or to get ready; then everyone will ampo, or bow their heads to give an oracion, a prayer to their faith. After praying, everyone stands up and gives respect or saludo to their faith, and to each person in the class starting with the highest ranked person, the Maestro, down the rank to fellow students in the class. The Maestro then gives saludo to each person below him, including the students. At the ending of class, after paying saludo to your faith, to the Maestro, and each other, the very last motion is a handshake, beginning with the highest ranked person to each student of the class.

In his classes. Professor del Mar trains his students not only to learn the art and principles of eskrima, but to build good character and self-discipline, to develop strength, to condition oneself physically, mentally, and spiritually, to have respect for others, yourself and other martial art styles, and lastly, to defend yourself against physical and other assaults.

Professor Mike shared many interesting stories with me. One was about the last dueling eskrima match here in Hawai‘i, in 1948 in the old Hawai‘i Civic Auditorium. The two fighters, Floro Villabrille and Francisco Adrona, fought with absolutely no safety gear. Two weeks later, Adrona died. It was a mystery whether he died of natural causes or whether it was because of the fighting match that he lost.

Another story was about the spiritual side of eskrima. Just as the Asians have chi, the Filipinos believe in anting anting. This is a special power shown by a person practicing the art of eskrima, and also a power that no one can defeat in an eskrima match. This power also allows one to heal things. It is your choice to accept this power that is offered to you by another who possesses it. However, if you do accept it, you have to sacrifice a lot of time to practice, train, and maintain certain principles that come with anting anting. There may be times when people may want to challenge you if they have any inclination that you have this special power. Before you die, you must pass this power on to another person that you feel can and who is trustworthy and will use this power for good, not evil.

Eskrima, once a dying art, is reviving and becoming even stronger than ever. Many schools are being established all over the world, not only in the Philippines, but also in Berlin, Great Britain, and right here in the United States.

Bibliography
Del Mar, Michael. Personal Interview.
“ Kombatan: Flilipino Fighting Arts History,” <http://kombatan.com/index.cfm7page-history>.
Wiley, Mark. Amis: Reflections on the History and Development of Filipino Martial Art. Title Publishing. 2001.
Zimmer, Michael. Balintawak Eskrima: The Filipino Martial Art 16 May 1995.

Excerpt from interview with Ted Lucay Lucay

An interview from Ted Lucay Lucay, who speaks briefly on his ties to Hawaii FMA

http://www.usadojo.com/articles/inte…lucaylucay.htm

Steve: The first question would be how long have you been involved in the martial arts?

Ted: 31-33 years

Steve: What martial arts have you studied?

Ted: I started out first in Judo. A friend of mine introduced me to the art of Judo when I arrived in the states. I was born and raised in Hawaii until I was 13. I didn’t get an official system but studied several different styles. My first Karate style was a Hawaiian karate style; I spent a lot of years with that. Then I started experimenting and trying other styles like ****oryu and Shorinryu. Then my Dad and I started Kajukempo with Tony Ramos. When I first came to the states my Dad and I helped build a gym in L.A. where we trained Kajukempu. I stopped for a while and when I started back up I was in Praying Mantis, then I went to Dan Inosanto’s backyard and that’s when I first started JKD and Escrima. I was brought in because of the Escrima. My Dad knew Richard Bustillio who got me into the backyard sessions. I got in to learn Escrima but I really wanted to take JKD first. It was pretty good because I learned to like both of them. It use to be after the JKD class, before everyone would close out, Dan Inosanto would ask those of you who wanted to stay for the Escrima can do so, and everybody would leave but maybe about three, four maybe five if we’re lucky. But the Escrima class in those days was so brand new nobody ever knew what it was. As it went further down the road, then I got involved in the Filipino arts more. I got three main systems that I studied: serrada style by Angel Cabales, Largo Mano style systems from Leo Giron and Villabralle/Kali style from Ben Largusa. This was also my dad’s system that he had learned as a kid from the Grandmaster Villabralle. Also under his belt, he had been taught by others a knife fighting system, which I think, helped him in his boxing years later. My Grandfather was a champion boxer on the islands and he didn’t want my Dad to fight. As my Dad got older and, he stopped the Escrima training because, as a kid, everybody was doing basketball or whatever, and he just got tired of doing Escrima and Kali by himself, which is natural for most kids. My Grandfather stopped him from training with Grandmaster Villabralle because hi was such a ‘hot head,’ but eventually he continued boxing in spite of my Grandparents.

Steve: Your Grandfather was Grandmaster?

Ted: He was known as a boxer in the Hawaiian Islands. When he was in the Philippians he was also known for a kicking art known as sikeran. I never saw any evidence of the Sikeran but the boxing part I use to see regularly. My Dad used to play around with my Grandmother. He would do a kick to her leg and take off running. She would chase him with a frying pan. But I would say he was more of a boxer that’s why he helped the immigrants come on over from the Philippians to settle in the main island. He was one of those who were prominent and they made money in those days from the boxing but he never really kept any because he helped immigrants come over, and get settled. That is how Grandmaster Villabralle came to Hawaii. But before Grandmaster Villabralle there were some Filipino men who would train my Father. Some of them were fishermen, some were long shore men, some were gardeners, and all of these men were Escrimadors. They use to be at my Grandparent’s house and they would come drop off vegetables, fish, and whatever. What I did not understand was that my Grandparents had been instrumental in bringing them in and getting them settled. Like all of the old customs they would give back something. So along with giving back, they would teach my Father and since he was my Grandfather’s only child, he was one of the chosen ones to be part of the Federation. I pictured him as a little boy in the Federation movement learning from the fishermen and longshoremen Escrimadors as Escrima was a part of their life. They gave back by teaching to my Grandfather’s son and my Father taught me.

Steve: Your Father was close to Flore Villabralle?

Ted: Yes, Grandmaster Villabralle is from the Island of Vitayan, which is where my Grandfather is from. The Island of Vitayan is in the Visayan Islands. Our family helped him get settled, and that’s how they came close. He became by Dad’s Godfather and later on he trained him. My Father taught me boxing when I was a kid but I did not like it. No matter who tried to teach me that, I didn’t like boxing, but is was years later that I went back to pick up the lessons that they were trying to give me.

Steve: When did you start training stick work with him?

Ted: The stick work was in my mind from the knife training and Escrima we did. He used to practice on me so I learned by being a dummy so to speak, but I really didn’t get involved until after we started training with Dan Inosanto. After we started training with Dan the escrima training with Dan and the Escrimadors, my Father would show me things and I would take off with him. It all came back to him after a while, so that when he started getting active again, and teaching, he opened up a lot more.

Steve: He had his own studio?

Ted: He had a rented studio and he trained his family first, whether it was blood related or associative.

Steve: Why is your dad known as the father of Panantucan and Pananjacman?

Ted: He was coined that because nobody was really teaching those arts. In the old days at the Torrance Philipino Kali Academy, Dan used to bring in instructors but Dad used to come in and teach the boxing exercising and relate them to the knife. Through his contribution, he was given this title. At the Philippine Kali Academy, the art was given birth through my Dad.

Steve: Was your Dad the one who was responsible for getting the better Grandmasters like Angel Cabales?

Ted: No. He was actually more responsible for bringing in the Villabralle groups. At the time they were the only group that was known as Kali practitioners. However, it wasn’t even out in the open, it was Escrima and Arnis that was known. The only group that was known for Kali was the Villabralle School. But as it came down to the Torrance Academy, it became generic and it improved the other systems that were using Arnis on Escrima. Today you will see all three; Kali, Escrima, and Arnis which are basically in the same family. So, it was good because all of the bickering over the name, what is Kali? What is Arnis? What is Escrima?, slowed down a bit. It was a big thing then. The only real Kali School at that time was the Villabralle in Hawaii. Largusa Kali in San Francisco and Dan Inosanto’s school. Everyone else was studying Escrima and Arnis.

Steve: What was it like training at the time; can you remember back in those days?

Ted: It was an experience, you know. It was an exciting time because everything was brand new then. Bruce Lee had just passed away recently so from the backyard training, Dan and Richard opened up the Torrance Philipino Kali Academy, a year after Bruce died. It was incredible, because martial arts was influenced by Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do so the enrollment was huge. There were people from all walks of life from all over the country. You talk about a waiting list, there was a waiting list that was like, and I can’t give you an example. After they opened up the other half of the school, the enrollment was like 30 people for each class each night and so they had like give classes or so, with 30 people. I used to work the phone and the desk and everything and we had hundreds and hundreds of people coming in by themselves. People coming in with their families and leaving their place of residence, from America as well as from other countries. They would come in to be part of the Kali academy because they wanted the JKD training. It was great because it was all kinds of different people and you found huge enrollments starting out. However, you would train for a few months, training with no contact but once contact started, “boom,” maybe half would drop out. But there was no problem because you had a waiting list and class filled up right away. And so it was just phenomenal at how many people enrolled and how many more were waiting. It was the wish of every businessman at the time. But being brand new too, it was also exciting because you had people from all the different styles come in from the first degree black to fourth, fifth, sixth. And it looks good on paper, but when they got on the floor and started to bang it was amazing to see, especially at that time, before the kickboxing, how many inefficiency was demonstrated on the floor. With all their previous training and knowledge these people with all their belts would be destroyed by simple jabs, crosses, and hooks and this would break the mystique. JKD was very simple and all these guys with all their experience in the arts had their self-esteem broken down. Twenty years ago it was so unique. It was brand new and unique. We would be sparring looking at high-level martial artists being dropped to the floor like flies. Dan and I were drumming the conga. I was always assisting him with teaching all the beginners. Dan would tell me, “Hey, take a look on the floor. That’s so-and-so, the tenth degree from so-and-so system.” They would be sparring with a senior JKD student or someone who had been there six months. It was so funny to see them get shattered to pieces by the six-month students. Again it was easier in those days because it was 20 years ago and people were not as knowledgeable as they are now. That’s why it was exciting because it was brand new; it pulled down the mystery, the mystique about all of the belts and all the styles. It was neat to see how JKD in the pioneering stage was very superior in those days. It was also, I guess, a privilege to study JKD. There was a lot of heavy sparring and a lot of heavy “banging.” That was the major point at that time to make contact to let your opponent know what we were doing was real. In those days most people didn’t expect that sort of thing, even your hardened martial artist. There was a lot of heavy sparring but it was also a lot of camaraderie. It was nice because the JKD families were close together at that time.

Steve: Who were some of the prominent people who you trained with at that time?

Ted: Not all of them were well known because much older guys have been and done their thing, like Moses Torrez, Chris Kent, of course, is teaching. Richard Lee, a Korean guy, he is an engineer. Most of the people have gone and they are not really active in the martial arts scene anymore. Jeff Imada is in the movies choreographing fights for stunt people. A lot of them I can’t remember their names anymore.

Steve Martinez is another one. He was a friend of Cliff Stewart; Greg Shannon is another one who taught me how to train with the metronome on the heavy bag. Joe Poe is an African American who had long legs and long hands. He was like a spider, he moved so quickly and he would hit you out of nowhere, you know? The other guys aren’t here anymore; they have gone their own way. But at the same time, like I said, “there was good camaraderie there, it was great.”

Steve: When did you leave the Torrance Academy?

Ted: In 1975 I left officially to open up a studio in San Diego. I left the academy but I went back to visit and train.

Steve: Then you got your certification?

Ted: Yes. Jerry Poteet and I were the first to graduate from the academy under Dan Inosanto and Grandmaster Leo Giron. It was a privileged moment for us.

Steve: You got an opportunity to work personally with Angel Cabales and Grandmaster Leo Giron.

Ted: Yes. It was a blessing in disguise. Grandmaster Cabales was in his 60’s. He was shorter than I was but he was like a never-ending source of energy. And in Serrada, he was very quick with the stick and the empty hand. This short Filipino guy would be just continuously going with a lot of energy and at his own pace. He would be working out and have a cigarette in his mouth at the same time. He was a nice man and he shared a whole lot and I will always have a never ending gratitude towards him and his instructors for helping us. He learned the old way and we spent a lot of hours working on what they showed us. It wasn’t just given to us for a certificate and I thank them all for that. Grandmaster Giron taught us the long stick system; he shared a whole lot with us. He was always genuine, intellectual, articulate and very soft mannered. He was an older gentleman who was supposed to be ill yet he has still outlived the rest. Twenty years have gone by and is still here. Then of course the Kali group that are my dad’s family helped us a whole lot in those days. Everything was new and we got to learn from the masters themselves. Serrada was a blessing in disguise to our system because with Serrada, you got exposed to the close range. With the Kali it brought the concept of the long and short together so you could work inside and you could work outside. I enjoyed doing them all. I still do. But it was much later that I got to appreciate the training I had received as well as the development and awareness of the three different ranges. When the other styles came along, it was easy to pick them up because of the foundation of the three original styles we were taught. You could fit them in with anything else.

Steve: Why did you choose to stay in the background for the last 20 years?

Ted: Well, number one I was never one to step into the limelight because I was a good follower. When I did get more public I just got saddened and disillusioned, and I think we can do our share to promote harmony and brotherhood and contribute a little part in this martial arts society.

Steve: What do you think of the present day JKD controversy?

Ted: I think people have too much time on their hands as the saying goes. I believe in this: If there is a question as far as the combative aspect of JKD, take it to the middle of the floor, bring it to the gym, get in there and just do it. I guess that is what the JKD philosophy was all about. Let’s test the essentials and do away with all this make believe. Let’s find out the truth. That’s the real JKD, so we are not getting into all of this hype about concepts or the original JKD. I think controversy sells. If this was like in other countries or if you had to survive in the streets of LA, New York or Chicago, you know people that walk the streets have no time for b.s. So I think some JKD people today are just trying to sell their politics. The martial art is no different than anything else. In my opinion it did not seem that the philosophy of the martial arts was being practiced. It was more than just hitting and “banging” and beating up on somebody. There is a whole new life associated with that, and it wasn’t being taught in that manner. But like the rest, I enjoyed it in the beginning and learned new things but later on you get tired of that. There had to be something more to be offered. And later you find out what it is like more brotherhood and more harmony within the martial arts family. I just got disillusioned, sad, disappointed and maybe even angry. I hate to stay angry but I guess I am still a bit angry. Of course we can’t control how things have gone, but eventually you start to realize that you have got to face reality, so I’ve changed my views on things now. JKD in its true sense is streaming something for the individual. I think this would be a much better practice to present but I think there is a lot of b.s. going on today. There is not going to be much settling until the authentic people take the reins and just try to organize and come together since JKD has become an individualized segment of the arts. So now it is time for organization. But I think it’s speaking for itself. Already I have seen the trend go from “okay, you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to use GI’s or tee shirts or salute or anything because all we want to do is fight. Now, you do see uniforms you do see programs, schools and organizations. Like it or not JKD has become a style or system and it is part of the business world, it is not really changing a lot of blood, so there is always time for controversy now. It is just more verbal fighting and comparing going on then the actual fight itself. That is what I mean by too much time on your hands.

Steve: What is the philosophy behind Temujin? What does that mean?

Ted: Temujin is the name of our organization: Temujin Lucaylucay Kali/JKD. Temujin was the name of Gengis Khan, the Mongolian leader, and it was Temujin who became the great conqueror. It think the Chinese gave him the name of Gengis Khan, as far as the philosophy, Temujin was the man who brought all the Mongolian tribes together. I remember talking about all the controversy earlier with all the different JKD factions now. They are all apart and yet they all come from the same family. Like the Mongolian tribes who were scattered living apart for so long and surviving, by stealing and robbing. Temujin comes along and brings them all together and makes them into one great conquerors and developers. That’s what we are trying to do since there is bad vibes, politics and controversy going on. We like to use the concept of Temujin to bring all the JKD people together; (those who want to come together) and learn how to live, change, share, and grow, with more togetherness and harmony. If primitive Mongolian tribes can do something like that, here we are suppose to be a more civilized, educated people or nation, it would seem a little more easier for us. Our direction right now is to bring the people who want to get along together, not to create controversy among each other, and not getting involved in the nasty politics. These are the ones that are most prone to doing and enjoying what we want to do and pushing towards the same goal. And that is to get along.

Steve: What makes your organization any different from any other JKD organization that is “flying its flag?”

Ted: Well, here again I am going to say, if you want to say different that’s good, but I’m just going to say what our goal is to let people see the growth and maturity that we have. We are geared towards more professionalism. We still observe the basic courtesy and the basic ethics. Some organizations feel they don’t have to salute or give respect because they feel they are the best. We do have the basic courtesy. We want to show that we are polite and we observe other traditions and cultures, because again JKD had a reputation for downing traditionalists, but not us, because most of use come from a traditional system as well as train an eclectic system. So we show the best of both worlds like Yen and Yang. We can’t live one without the other because you’ve got to have some foundation like raising a family or a nation, and yes, we want to let people know we have the ability to show it. Our motto is to show and do. The show is professionalism and courtesy as I was mentioning. And the do part is letting people know we can “do our stuff” with quality. Our direction is not to accumulate but to eliminate (this is the JKD philosophy). When we say eliminate we don’t mean against the traditional stuff. We don’t want to eliminate total respect for our tradition and culture because I myself love it. This is no good. For the fighting part we want to get as much quality in the few things, the things that are going to get you through the fight. What is going to be the proper one at the moment, whether it is a straight direct hit or a complicated one then you just go with it.

Steve: What is your teaching philosophy?

Ted: My teaching philosophy is to lay a good foundation and then be open minded enough to build something on it. It’s like building a house. So if you get a good foundation in a traditional martial art like some Kung Fu karate style or a boxing style, they all share the same principals in terms of balance, centerlines, attitude, and that sort of thing. Now as far as the method eventually an individual will go down and change methods such as karate or go to boxing or that wing Chun but I think that using the JKD concept; if you are open minded you could see that. All of these principals intertwine. First of all I think you need to get a good foundation no matter where you get it from and once you have that you can build upon it. You must have an open mind and be able to get along with people and you must be able to observe tradition as well as not limit you infinite growth potential. The fun part of learning is blending all the different systems to help you develop your own style. When I say your own style, your own style as an individual. I am not creating a style on my own; I don’t have one. I combine tradition and JKD concepts to streamline it. But my philosophy is to again be open-minded, enjoy having fun at it and shoot always for quality.

Steve: In terms of legacy, is that what you are trying to pass on?

Ted: Exactly, I want it to be known that we are a group that is easy to get along with and instead of wasting time fighting among each other. So we are growing, we get along, and we develop good quality and hopefully that we always have a win-win situation.
Salutations and Farewell to Guro Ted Lucay Lucay
Upon my return from a seminar that I taught in Columbus, Ohio, I arrived home to find my answering machine quite literally filled with messages, each one bring me the same, sad news; Guro Ted Lucay Lucay, my instructor, my mentor and my friend had passed away.
Guro Ted, whose martial art accomplishments spanned more than three decades, was without exception one of the finest instructors of our time. The son of the late Lucy Lucay Lucay, and one of Dan Inosanto’s original backyard students. Guro Ted dedicated his life to promoting the Filipino martial arts as well as the Jeet Kune Do of Bruce Lee.
I consider myself most fortunate to have known him and to have learned from him. He was true scholar in the arts and will be sorely missed by us all. Ted’s spirit and his teaching will live on as instructors such as myself share the knowledge that Ted shared with us.

One flame goes out yet another burns hotter…
One light fades and dims yet another shines brighter…
One bird ends its flight yet another flies higher…
Because of you.
Richard Lamoureaux
C.D.F. Academy of Indiana

Bill banning butterfly knives debated

Originally posted at:

http://archives.starbulletin.com/1999/03/18/news/story3.html

Bill banning butterfly knives debated
Thursday, March 18, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Martial arts instructor Ron England demonstrates
how a butterfly knife works.

Bill banning
butterfly knives
debated
Opponents to a ban say
the ‘balisong’ is a vital part
of Filipino heritage

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Martial arts instructor Ron England demonstrates
how a butterfly knife works.

By Pat Omandam
Star-Bulletin As a youth on Maui, Mark Tolentino remembers when he and his friends would practice handling the butterfly knife, hoping to become as good with it as their elders.
To them, the butterfly knife, or balisong, was part of their Filipino heritage, an instrument viewed not as a deadly weapon that must be banned — as the state Legislature is proposing — but as a cultural and martial-arts tool taught from one generation to the next.
“There was no intention to hurt somebody,” said the 21-year-old University of Hawaii-Manoa student. “It was more like learning an art.”
Ron England, Tolentino’s martial arts instructor, said knives such as the balisong are an integral part of the Filipino culture, as they are in many other Southeast Asian countries.
“That knife was your weapon, your agricultural tool; it got you firewood; it was everything,” said England, who operates the Pedoy School of Escrima and teaches a defensive form of blade-and-stick fighting twice a week at Old Stadium Park.
England opposes any attempt by the Legislature to ban the sale, possession, use, transport or purchase of butterfly knives — a response by lawmakers to rising reports of use by minors.
Of the five bills introduced this session dealing with butterfly knives, two remain alive. The Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow votes on a House bill that would make it a misdemeanor to make, sell, transport or keep a butterfly knife.
The House Judiciary Committee, in the meantime, has before it a Senate bill that would make it a class-C felony to sell a butterfly knife to a minor. A hearing date for the bill is pending.

Balisong used in martial art

Currently, state law does not prohibit people from owning butterfly knives and other deadly weapons such as dirks, daggers, blackjacks and billy clubs, but it makes it illegal to conceal them in any form or to use them in a crime. Only switchblades are banned. According to the 1986 book “Balisong: The Lethal Art of Filipino Knife Fighting,” blade combat has a long and colorful history in the Philippines. The balisong was among several blade weapons used as part of escrima — a type of martial art — most of which predate the arrival of the Spanish in 1521. Those practices, however, were banned after the Spanish conquest of the islands over the next 350 years.
Capt. George McKeague, head of the Honolulu Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, said he understands the significance of the butterfly knife to people of Filipino descent.
“It’s almost a rite of passage to have one, to know how to use it, and to open it,” he told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Concern is with juveniles

Nevertheless, McKeague said, tougher laws are needed because butterfly knives are ending up in the hands of juveniles. For example, the knives were recently found in the purses of juvenile girls picked up for truancy. Also, more juvenile boys are using them to commit robberies or threaten classmates, he said. “Butterfly knives are preferred as they are easy to conceal and are more intimidating when brandished,” said McKeague, who added they can be bought cheaply at swap meets and open-air markets.
Deputy Prosecutor Lori Nishimura said butterfly knives are dangerous weapons closely associated with criminal activity. They are solely designed to harm or kill people, she said. As for the knives having a practical purpose, Nishimura told senators she questions whether there is a recognized social use for knife-fighting in any kind of martial arts. She urged lawmakers to craft legislation to withstand court challenges.
“The anomaly here is right now under the current law, you can carry a butterfly knife openly but you can’t carry it concealed,” she said.
“And that seems to make no sense to us at all. Is there a purpose in having it? Is there not a purpose in having it? But it shouldn’t matter whether or not it is concealed or openly carried.”

‘Penalizing the mystique’

England and others contend a ban on the balisong would destroy a part of the Filipino culture. He stressed lawmakers’ need to research the issue thoroughly before acting. “What they’re doing is they’re penalizing the mystique of a weapon because they found a few bad boys that carry them. You know what I mean? It’s blind mentality,” England said.
“Anything can be a weapon. (Senate President Norman) Mizuguchi’s wife was attacked by that guy with a rubber mallet. What are they going to do? Outlaw rubber mallets? They can get those out pretty quick too, you know,” he said.
Mike del Mar, owner and operator of the Del Mar School of Filipino Martial Arts in Waipahu, also opposes a ban. He questions whether it would stop youths or gang members from committing crimes, noting other weapons are available.
“I kinda look at it as the singling out of a particular weapon and the type of ethnic culture that belongs to that weapon,” he said.

Part of cultural heritage

Deputy Public Defender Ronette Kawakami, who opposes a ban, said the balisong’s use in escrima shows it does have a cultural purpose. “Like karate, aikido, or tae kwon do, escrima is a martial art that developed and arose out of the country’s unique culture,” Kawakami said.
“Escrima schools here in Hawaii teach balisong as a legitimate martial art. Martial art instructors and enthusiasts should be allowed to continue the teaching of a cultural heritage.”

Ron England teaches a defensive form of blade-and-stick
fighting twice a week at Old Stadium Park. Here,
he works with Mark Tolentino.

Ties of martial arts

Originally posted at http://archives.starbulletin.com/1996/11/07/features/story1.html

Maestro Mike Del Mar, center, instructs actors
Martin Romualdez and Mark Allen Malalis.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin


Ties of martial arts

Maestro shares knowledge of
Kali-Escrima as the fight choreographer in
Kumu Kahua’s ‘PeregriNasyon’

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Maestro Michael del Mar remembers learning Filipino martial arts techniques the traditional way – from his father. Time was when that was the only way.

Filipino martial arts traditions predate the arrival of the Spanish in 1521 and were banned after the Spanish conquest. Kali-Escrima, incorporating the use of empty hands, blades and wooden weapons, was preserved in secret and passed down from one generation to the next.

“You’ll see different styles because everything was shared (only) between family members or people with very close ties in a village or a province and not with anyone else,” the soft-spoken Vietnam veteran explains. Filipino field workers brought kali-escrima to Hawaii and the mainland, but it remained within the ethnic Filipino community until the mainstream interest in all Asian martial arts led to it being “discovered” a little more than 20 years ago. It is now a tournament sport in California.

Del Mar founded the Del Mar School of Filipino Martial Arts – Kali-Escrima to perpetuate and share the traditions here. He has been sharing his knowledge with an unusual corps of students as the fight scene choreographer in Kumu Kahua’s production of “PeregriNasyon.”

“I wanted to present a melding of indigenous culture, the Spanish influences and American influences – the moves of kali-escrima become one of the core elements,” explains playwright and director Chris B. Millado.

“PeregriNasyon” (“Wanderings”) follows the experiences of two brothers whose separate choices take them on different paths. The men’s experiences contrast the experiences of Filipinos in the Philippines during the U.S. occupation and those who emigrated to Hawaii and the mainland in the 1930s.

One of the major threads to the story is the revolt of the landless peasants in the Philippines who were trying to assert their right to own land. The other is the events that lead up to race riots in Watsonville, Calif.

“A lot of the fighting is used as movement vocabulary in the Philippine scenes, but traces of it are seen in the riot scenes too as a shared spiritual link,” Millado adds. The staging juxtaposes the kaleidoscopic spectrum of revolutionary movements in the Philippines with the racial discrimination experienced by Filipinos in Hawaii and California.

“The stick fighting is used not only in scenes portraying combat but also to recreate the rituals of the secret organizations met.

‘We’ve also brought in the southern Filipino empty-hand fighting style of silat, and the ritual chanting done during Lent to commemorate the life and suffering of Jesus Christ. Recent researchers have found that these were analogies of people suffering and preparing themselves for revolution and eventual resurrection,” Millado says.

The Filipino Martial Art: Escrima

Originally posted at:

http://www.midweek.com/content/story/midweek_extrastory/the_filipino_martial_art/P0/

The Filipino Martial Art

Escrima, an ancient martial art of the Philippines that was once banned and is still kept secret by many practitioners, lives on with a Honolulu grandmaster

Wednesday – February 22, 2006
By Lisa Asato

Takahashi’s son Ty Keoni will one day succeed him as grand master
Takahashi’s son Ty Keoni will one day
succeed him as grand master

Tyrone Takahashi, a grand master in the Filipino martial art of escrima, retreats to a solitary corner during class and, facing the wall, performs a knife dance, or “caranza,” using a 26-inch blade. The weapon is fierce, but the movement is graceful, fluid and rhythmic.

“Flowery,” he says, “because the blade is all over you.”

Takahashi, the third generation grand master of Pedoy’s School of Escrima, based in Waipahu with branches in Honolulu and San Diego, says the dance helps him to practice his rhythm and timing. “Usually when we do demonstrations, I do the caranza. I have to keep myself in tune.”

As the state’s year-long Filipino Centennial Celebration continues, Takahashi is expanding his school’s reach in hopes of letting “the people of Hawaii know there is a martial art that exists of the Filipino ancestry.”

Corban Welter, Gilead Spence, Niel Spence and Sarina Girangaya get their first taste of escrima using padded sticks
Corban Welter, Gilead Spence, Niel Spence and
Sarina Girangaya get their first taste of escrima
using padded sticksGreg Leong, Anthony Tanare, Abraham Rosario and Jordan Adaro practice with machetes and sticks under the watchful eye of grandmaster Tyron Takahashi.
Greg Leong, Anthony Tanare, Abraham Rosario
and Jordan Adaro practice with machetes and
sticks under the watchful eye of grandmaster
Tyron Takahashi.

His school is offering for the first time escrima training for children, who use padded sticks. Twelve students showed up at the inaugural class last Tuesday, including Corban Welter of Kapolei, who found the footwork a little tricky, but wants to keep at it; and 10-year-old Sarina Girangaya of Kaneohe, who says she learned how to strike with a stick in two positions. Of her grand master, she says: “He’s great. … He helps us, and if we’re having a hard time he shows us what’s right.”

The school is also organizing in conjunction with the centennial celebration, a full-contact international escrima tournament to be held Oct. 14 and 15 at the Filipino Community Center. Arnis and kali styles of escrima will be included.

“We’re inviting all the schools in the island and in the state of Hawaii,” Takahashi says, estimating there are seven schools statewide. “And also we have schools coming in from the U.S. mainland and from different countries, from the Philippines, Germany, Australia, France. … We’re trying to get everybody to come out and participate.”

Escrima’s history in the Philippines stretches back to 200 A.D. when “Arab traders brought bladed metallic weapons and a fluid style of fighting to the islands,” according to the school’s Website. The art was further influenced by the Chinese, Japanese and Spanish martial arts. Another enduring influence occurred in the 16th Century when Spanish colonists banned escrima as a deadly art. That forced it underground, where it survived disguised in dances.

Takahashi and Glen Spence teach first day students how to pay respect to senior escrima members
Takahashi and Glen Spence teach first day
students how to pay respect to senior escrima
members

That centuries-old mindset of secrecy has bled into the present. After establishing his school in 1961, it took a decade for Takahashi’s grandfather, Braulio Pedoy, to bring his teachings to the public. And when he did, in the 1970s, he was the first in Hawaii to do so, Takahashi says.

“Even today, a lot of the escrima masters around, they still keep it to themselves,” he says. “So many of them don’t even give it to their families – they die with it. That’s the sad thing because at one time escrima was a dying art. All the masters were dying and the art wasn’t passed down from generation to generation.”

Pedoy, who immigrated to Hawaii in 1924, learned escrima

Abraham Rosario (front) and Anthony Tanare (back) work on perfecting their stick technique
Abraham Rosario (front) and Anthony Tanare (back)
work on perfecting their stick techniqueAbraham Rosario, Jordan Adaro, Anthony Tanare and Greg Leong
Abraham Rosario, Jordan Adaro, Anthony Tanare
and Greg Leong

Student Jackson Welter shakes hands with the grandmaster in a show of teamwork and sportsmanship
Student Jackson Welter shakes hands with the
grandmaster in a show of teamwork and
sportsmanship

in the jungles of Leyte from Faustino Ablin, a general in the Philippine Army who fought against the Spanish and then the Americans. At first Pedoy would only teach his son Eduardo, now the batikan, or head of the school; and Takahashi, his grandson. The Pedoy’s School is what Takahashi calls “a lineage art,” meaning only descendants of Pedoy can achieve mastership at the gold, or highest level. The highest level outsiders can attain is master chief in the red, or instructorship, level. So when Takahashi passes on the title of grand master, it will be to his son, Ty Keoni, who is now 20 years old.

Greg Leong, a financial adviser from Kahaluu, says he’s trained at other schools, but is drawn to Pedoy’s School because of the passage of teachings within the family. “Anytime you can find a direct lineage to the art … the bloodline is strong and there’s no change in the style. It’s not watered down,” Leong says. “This style is real.”

Anthony Tanare, who is stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, grew up watching his grandfather practice escrima. Tanare has been taking the class for about two years and says he’s in better shape and has more energy to devote to his family. “It’s addicting,” he says. “I even teach it to my kids … Once a week we do it together as a family, so it’s kind of a thing now.”

It’s also a family affair for new student John Girangaya, whose wife and three children are also first-timers. Girangaya says the workout was tougher than he expected, but that his training in Filipino dance helped.

“It’s like riding a bike,” he says. “I’m familiar with the movement, but it was intense, trying to get that body back into that motion. But once you get into that rhythm, it’ll start to pick up.”

Enrollment for adult and children’s classes is ongoing. Classes are held Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at the Fil-Com Center in Waipahu. For information, call 216-3211, or email: gmty@pedoysschoolofescrima.com

Filipino martial art goes beyond fighting with sticks

Orginally posted at http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jul/14/sp/FP607140341.html

Posted on: Friday, July 14, 2006

Filipino martial art goes beyond fighting with sticks

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

From left, in front, Richard Kanoho, Emely Kroll and Greg Leong go through escrima drills at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu. The three are students at Pedoy’s School of Escrima.

Photos by JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Grandmaster Tyrone J. Takahashi, center, watches over his pupils.

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PEDOY’S SCHOOL OF ESCRIMA

WHAT: Fighting techniques include hand-to-hand, hand-against-weapon, stick-against-stick, double-stick fighting, dumog (Filipino grappling) and Panantukan (Filipino boxing)

Derobio style has incorporated various styles of fighting within its system, keeping its foundation on its original bladed movements. It emphasizes disarming techniques and defensive behaviors rather than aggressive actions. (Source: www.Pedoysescrima.com)

WHERE: Filipino Community Center (94-428 Mokuola St., Waipahu). Classes coming soon in Waipi’o Gentry.

WHEN: Adults—Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sundays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Children—Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sundays, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

FEE: Adults, $60 a month. Children, $30 a month

INFORMATION: 678-2438 or 216-3211, E-mail gmty@pedoysescrima.com, or go to www.Pedoysescrima.com.

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PACIFIC ISLAND SHOWDOWN

WHAT: International Invitational ultimate full contact stickfighting championship presented by Pedoy’s School of Escrima

WHEN: Oct. 14 and 15

WHERE: Filipino Community Center Ballroom, Waipahu

INFORMATION: 678-2438 or 216-3211, E-mail gmty@pedoysescrima.com, or go to www.Pedoysescrima.com.

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It was nearly lost, banned because of its deadliness. Disguised in dance forms to carry on the tradition, escrima — Filipino martial arts — survived and continues to be taught to new generations.

But 8-year-old Nate Roque likes it because it means fighting with sticks.

“He’s excited about getting ready on that day,” his mother, Marie said. “He gets all of his things together (beforehand).”

Escrima (pronounced eh-scream-ah) specializes in weaponry, usually with one hand holding a bladed weapon or more commonly a stick, and the other hand free. Escrima has 12 basic offensive and defensive movements, designed to disarm an opponent.

“In our school, self-discipline and character development is a top priority,” said Grandmaster Tyrone J. Takahashi, who teaches at Pedoy’s School of Escrima. The school specializes in derobio style, which emphasizes disarming techniques and defensive behaviors rather than aggressive actions, according to its Web site.

Nate is “more disciplined, he listens more and he’s more alert,” Marie Roque said.

Although he was intimidated at first, he said it was “pretty easy” to learn. Now, the hardest part of class is the duck walk at the end of training.

Takahashi also learned escrima at a young age, taking his first lessons at 5.

“Going through the years, having that positive attitude, over the years it has really taken place in my life,” Takahashi said. “I can see that with the training, it has brought me to different levels with my private life and business life.

“It taught me how to be an effective leader and how to keep the positive values in everything I do. Aside from the teachings, that was one of the main, if not the main things I got from martials arts over the years.”

Takahashi added that it is important to learn the history and the culture of the Philippines, especially because escrima “went underground for 300 years (during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines). It was so deadly they had to ban it. It turned up in forms of Filipino dances. That’s how they hid the art back then.”

Greg Leong, 38, a financial advisor from Kahalu’u, said he likes escrima so much he became a student of its history as well.

“Once you get into it, you like to read about it,” he said.

Leong first learned and participated in escrima in 1991, and joined Pedoy’s School of Escrima in December.

“Unlike any other martial arts, if you have two fighters who have equal skills and equal knowledge, usually the heavier person has the advantage,” Leong said. “In escrima it comes down to the skill of the person, because the stick is the equalizer.”

Takahashi learned escrima from his grandfather, the late Braulio Pedoy.

“It’s a diverse art, where you not only utilize the stick, as people think with escrima,” Takahashi said. “People don’t realize that it has open-hand (no weapon) techniques. In our style, the stick is an extension of the hand.

“It is a very balanced art, where it can be matched up to karate, kung fu, all those disciplines of other ethnic groups. It’s a very effective art.”

He called it a “graceful, passive art.”

Sarah Alegria, an 11-year-old from Waipahu, started taking escrima classes about two months ago. Her father wanted her to learn a form of martial arts for self-defense training, and one day in Mililani, she saw people “fighting with sticks,” and became interested.

“It’s fun, and it’s addicting,” she said.

So addicting, that she takes adult classes along with the children’s classes. She picked it up easily, and although she finds some of the exercises tiring, she’s grown much stronger.

Leong called escrima a “good stress reliever” that gives him a “good natural high.”

“We train hard, and we know we’re going to get exhausted for doing it,” he said. “But we get a high doing it. We look forward to going to class.”

Leong said he likes knowing he can protect himself in almost any situation. Because of the practicality of escrima, “you can walk into any place and pick up a weapon and know how to use it.

“But our master always teaches us to walk away. But once someone hits you, you have the right to defend yourself. It’s all about self-control. Not bragging you know the art. It’s about having the knowledge, but knowing how and when to use it. It should not be used for intimidation.”

GARCIA CAPTURES WORLD TITLE IN SINGLE STICK

Robert Garcia, the chief instructor at the Hawai’i branch of the Bandalan Doce Pares Association, successfully defended his gold medal at the 9th World Escrima Kali Arnis Federation World Championships, July 2 to 8 in Orlando, Fla.
Garcia, a Honolulu resident, won gold in the lightweight single-stick fighting division.

Jdelo Dadulas, of Honolulu, earned a gold medal in the welterweight division of single-stick fighting.

At the World Invitational Tournament in Orlando, which followed the World Championships, Dadulas won a gold in double-stick fighting. Ray Dela Cruz, of Pearl City, won a bronze in the cruiseweight division of single-stick fighting, also at the World Invitational Tournament.

The championships are held every two years. The next competition will be in Cebu, Philippines, in 2008.

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Out of the Shadows!

Orginally posted at http://www.midweek.com/extra/extra.html

Out Of The Shadows

You’ve got to earn Mike del Mar’s trust. A master of the Filipino martial art of escrima, a fighting form that combines the use of weapons such as sticks and knives with karate-like chops and thrusts, del Mar knows that each student is a potential lethal weapon.

So he studies each prospective pupil, gets to know them in social settings, gauges whether they are capable of loyalty, respect, discipline.

“I do it because once you give away the knowledge, you can’t take it back,” he says.

He is one of several local masters of escrima who are breaking with a long tradition of secrecy to teach a new generation of Filipinos a part of their culture in order to help preserve it.

For most martial arts, a fearful reputation is an invaluable promotional tool. But for escrima it has been something of a curse.

The Spanish colonizers of the Philippines so feared escrima, also known as kali, arnis, or by its alternate spelling eskrima, that they banned it. It went underground where it became a dark secret, notorious for the “death matches” that settled disputes between proponents of competing styles.

It came to Hawaii with the plantation workers but couldn’t shake the old reputation. A bloody 1948 public match in Honolulu between two noted masters so appalled authorities that a ban on such bouts quickly followed.

Kali, an early form of escrima, grew out of the frequent warfare between the peoples of the Philippines. Deadly attacks could descend on villages without warning, so kali largely skipped the ritual and empty-handed forms of combat characteristic of other martial arts and got right to teaching one how to wield a stick, a spear, a wooden sword or whatever else was at hand.

A chieftain named Lapulapu is said to have used kali to slay the explorer Magellan during a skirmish near Cebu in 1521.

But the later Spanish ban and the Philippines’ island geography caused the art to splinter into a confusing array of subtly different styles. A desire to protect the secrets of each “school” caused different masters to restrict instruction. Disputes over which school was best — fed by a healthy dose of Filipino machismo — were settled in bloody and often deadly duels.

This secretive legacy carried over into its introduction to Hawaii and the Mainland, primarily around Stockton, Calif., home of a large Filipino immigrant community. By the early 1970s escrima was in danger of suffocating itself in the United States, so several masters in Hawaii and California began teaching it openly in hopes of keeping it alive.

But the old ways die hard.

Much of the escrima still taught in Hawaii is passed on behind closed doors or, in keeping with tradition, in secluded outdoor areas on moonlit nights. Many oppose the new openness. As a result, escrima remains an enigma to many.

Eric Padilla, an instructor with the Hawaii Filipino Martial Arts School, conducted an informal survey of about 100 Filipinos not long ago, asking what they knew about escrima. The vast majority knew nothing.

Donald Mendoza of the Tobosa school says he searched for years for an instructor before finding late master Raymond Tobosa through a chance encounter in the 1980s. Other students tell similar stories of long, frustrating searches for a guro or master.

“It’s been dying out as many of the old masters pass away, so we’re feeling some pressure now to pass it on ourselves,” says Padilla.

“We need to get Filipinos to come together to perpetuate this art. If the Japanese and Chinese can do it for their martial arts, why can’t we?”

There are signs of hope.

A group of local schools including del Mar’s, the Tobosa school, and the Escrima Academy of Hawaii run by del Mar’s wife, Joey, have joined forces in a loose alliance in recent years to promote the art, staging a full-contact tournament each year. The next is set for July 27.

The competition is a far cry from the death matches of the past. Heavy protective gear is worn, moves such as blows to the neck or knee are outlawed and, when swords or knives are used, their edges are heavily blunted.

“We’ve had to water escrima down to keep it alive,” says Mendoza, who remembers Tobosa turning off the lights as his pupils drilled with long knives in close quarters, a tactic aimed at sharpening their senses and technique.

“You can’t do that kind of thing today. Nowadays the emphasis is on safety.”

The experience has been invaluable in providing a structured, competitive outlet for students, del Mar says. The alliance, which also has a Web site, has even taken students to California in recent years, where they have fared well against fighters up there.

Pat Amantiad, head guro of the Hawaii Filipino Martial Arts School, another member of the alliance, says a new generation of more open-minded instructors bodes well for the art. He nods at Padilla as the stout Gulf War veteran leads his class, which has several non-Filipino students, through a series of lethal-looking knife thrusts at the Beretania Community Center.

Demonstrating how an escrima-trained woman might use something as simple as a pair of keys to ward off an attacker, Amantiad also sees escrima as a potential force for good. He dreams that the cultural pride it could engender might help improve crime-bedeviled places like Kalihi and other areas where Filipinos are concentrated.

Either way, he says he and others are determined to keep escrima out in the open to ensure that this unique slice of Filipino culture gets a steady supply of nourishing sunlight.

“There are some here in Hawaii who think escrima should still be practiced only in secret, by a full moon,” he says. “I have to explain to them that this is not like the old days. “We can’t afford to hide anymore.”