From: Ray Terry <>
Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2001 18:29:00 PDT
Subject: eskrima: Floro Villabrille

Guro Harrell sent a msg to the list, but from an unsub-ed addr, so it couldn’t
go thru. But he referred back to this info that he submitted last year, from
issue v07.n527.


Forwarded message:

From: “Mark Harrell” <>
Date: Sun, 05 Nov 2000 19:12:10 GMT
Subject: eskrima: Villabrille

I am sure that post will fall upon deaf ears and closed minds but
here it goes anyway…

There does seem to be alot of things being said about the late
Mr. Villabrille that are nothing more than inflammatory statements
not based in fact, but in hearsay. Let me attempt to shed some light
on a few documented facts. Oh, yeah before I get up on my soap box
(ha, ha)let me say that I personally do not think that bickering over
hearsay ever solved anything. That includes my hearsay as well as yours.

Let me qualify my hearsay: ha, ha
I have been involved with the Villabrille-Largusa Kali system for twenty
two years now and I am a Kali Association of America Board
Certified instructor who has been awarded his teaching certification
directly from Grandmaster Ben Largusa. I also met and spoke with
the late Grandmaster Floro Villabrille on two separate occasions during
the early and mid 1980’s. I have also served two years on the Executive
Board for the Kali Association of America, the governing body for the
Villabrille-Largusa Kali system. This Association was founded in 1973 by the
late Founder-Grandmaster Floro Villabrille and his top student and chosen
successor Grandmaster Ben Largusa.

My Executive Board position was KAA Secretary, was responsible for taking
notes of all KAA meetings, writing and mailing letters from
Grandmaster Largusa and Tuhon Lopez, as well as helping the other
KAA Executive Board members document, archive and preserve the
legacy of the late Grandmaster Floro Villabrille.

There does seem to be alot of things being said about the late
Mr. Villabrille that are nothing more than inflammatory statements
based in hearsay. Let me attempt to shed some light on a few documented

Although I know that this information will fall upon deaf ears and closed
minds I feel obligated to make an attempt out of respect for someone who is
dead and cannot speak for themselves. It is a shame that people feel the
need to attack and disrepect those who have passed on…

First a brief list of some of the late Grandmaster Floro Villabrille’s
achievements and contributions: (Note: In my opinion, I think that a
person’s contributions are more important to the masses than a person’s
claims or persoanl achievements).

I know that the first two will create a real stir in some of you.

1)He was “an” undefeated champion in Kali/Eskrima/martial arts competitions
and death matches in the Philippines, Hawaii, and
Australia. Most of his fighting did however take place in Hawaii.
(Note: I did not state “the”).

2) Grandmaster Villabrille was awarded a certificate and diploma signed by
General Frank Murphy, then Governor-General of the Philippines. The
certificate states that he won the National Grand Sports Competition Martial
Arts Division , held at Alonan Park in Manila on July 4, 1933. Thus giving
Floro Villabrille the title Grandmaster of Eskrima/Kali and proclaims him to
be the Champion of the Philippines. Note: that I have a copy of this
certificate in front of me as I type this. This is documented proof of this
Champion of the Philippines claim.

3)The Kauai Times newspaper wrote an article on him on October 30, 1979
entitled, Floro Villabrille: “Know How to Love and Respect” (something I
think many of us have forgotten). The article starts off by stating, “Floro
Villabrille is one of the greatest martial artists in the world….” The
article goes on to highlight not only his martial art accomplishments but
also some of the many wonderful things he did for his community, the young,
the old, the poor, and even lobbying in the 1950’s to aid Filipino
immigration to Hawaii.

4)In the Cebu Municipal Museum there is a copy of Mr. Villabrille’s
Championship certificate and a picture of Grandmaster Floro Villabrille.
(Note: I have seen photographs of this in the Kali Association of America
archives from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I do not know
if this still hangs in the Cebu Municipal Museum today).

5)Villabrille learned Kali from many sources traveling great distances and
fighting the top martial artists of his time. He combined the knowledge he
came across, with his own experience and developed his own unique system of
combat, which he called Villabrille Kali. (Note: I am
sure of the fact that Mr. Villabrille’s Kali is a composite hybrid method
that has its origins in Kali, Eskrima, Arnis, Silat, and Kuntao).

6) Floro Villabrille co-founded along with his top student, protégé, and
chosen successor Ben T. Largusa, the Kali Association of America, on January
27, 1973. The Associations purpose is to maintain and develop upon the Kali
methods, techniques, and theories deriving from Grandmaster Floro

The Association also preserves the traditions, legacies, philosophies, and
teachings of Kali as well as serve as the international governing body,
authority, and certifying review board for all instructors in the
Villabrille-Largusa Kali System.

As I have already mentioned: Mr Villabrille fought in the Philippines,
Hawaii, and in Australia. Most of his public fighting did however take place
in Hawaii. (Note: I have included a brief history on some a few of his
matches in Hawaii).

Some of Grandmaster Floro Villabrille’s public full contact matches
were held in Hawaii during his fighting career between the years of
1933 and 1947. Most of his matches in Hawaii were open to the public
similar to boxing matches. These were organized and funded events
with paying spectators.

Grandmaster Villabrille was active in training full contact Kali
and Eskrima fighters for the Honolulu Civic Auditorium in the
1930’s and 1940’s.

Grandmaster Villabrille’s first public full contact match in Hawaii was
in 1935 and was held at the old Honolulu Civic Auditorium. He fought
against a man named Veloriano Seqovia.

Villabrille’s second public fight in Hawaii was in 1938 and was held on the
Island of Kauai in the Manila Hall. He fought against a man named:
Andrike Kihano.

Grandmaster Villabrille fought many additional full contact matches
in the old Honolulu Civic Auditorium. The most famous of his Hawaii
full contact public matches was a grudge match held in May of 1946 against a
man named: Francisco Ardona.

Grandmaster Villabrille retired from the ring undefeated in 1947.

In conclusion, I guess the stories,legends, and claims of all martial
artists are kind of fun to hear. I listen to them and then go on with my
life. These stories, legends, and claims whether fact or fiction do not have
any affect on my study, or practice of martial arts. The fact or fiction of
them does not contribute to my personal growth in the martial arts or even
as person in general. In my humble opinion, they are just kind of fun and
they add to the colorful history and legend of the martial arts. Try to
lighten up a bit and enjoy your life because we will probably never be able
to come into agreement over heresay or folk legends.

I just do understand why so many people waste so much time and energy
arguing about things that cannot possibly make any difference.

In short who cares or why care? No body will ever be able to convince
the other of their version of the truth… The TRUTH is as we each see it
and live it. Very unique and personal.

People have been fighting about who is right or wrong according to their own
standards or point of view for thousands of years… All that this has ever
proven is how childish we can all be over points that only matter to us. In
fact, how many people in history have been hurt and or killed over such
bickering??? Too many I assure you.

Maybe if we spend more time studying and practicing we could improve
our own understanding and expression instead of bickering over things
that none of us truly knows for sure. After all, none of us were actually
there… Think about it, we are fighting over hearsay.

Peace be with you,
Guro Harrell

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  1. I have heard other stories of grandmaster floro when i was a kid but was too eager to go and play than to sit and listen. Later in my mid-twenties i heard some friends discussing filipino stick-fighting. I just listened, in the end I held back the urge to correct them, it ws obvious that they probably heard those stories from someone who heard it from someone,and so on,well, you get the picture. These other stories- I know are true. My dad told it to me. Mr. villabrille was my dad’s godfather-and was a close family friend of my grandfather-back in haleiwa where they lived. I would enjoy sitting down with my dad to hear more stories of the legend. Thank you for stating the true facts and if I can find my dad I’ll be sure to ask him more of grandmaster floro. Mahalo.

    1. Thank you Brian, It would be an honor if you shared some stories, it would be interesting if possible to do some kind of interview with you and your father. Mahalo!

  2. The subject FLORO VILLABRILLE is the younger brother of my late grandma VALERIANA VILLABRILLE-GUMBAN. So, i count him as one of my grandfather. As my parents told me, they lived in the island of Hilantagaan, but was transferred to the island of Kinatarcan after the World War II. On the late 70’s when I was 12 years old then, I’ve met him personally, and even witness his wondrous ability. In his old age at that time, I can say that maybe he acquired supernatural power through his lightning-likes moves when he demonstrated to us his fighting moves and superpower strenght. He even broken down the (medium size) 20 feet coconut tree with his round-house kick. For me, he’s the most powerfull mortal fighter in the world.

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