By Mike Bailey
The Filipinos who practiced our indigenous martial arts have brought fame and glory to Filipinos in foreign counties. Just as anyone can relate Karate to Japan, Kung fu to China, Taekwondo to Korea , Krav Maga to Israel, Silat to Indonesia, etc. As with any FMA enthusiasts, we feel that great pride within us, being a part of this blade based combat art which many consider as “the complete” martial art. To wit, we have the empty hand (pangamut), the weaponry (hinagiban/pananadata), foot boxing (sikaran) and wrestling (dumog). Long before the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) term became extremely popular , the Filipinos already have everything that is being used in MMA not limited to dirty fighting but the FMAers then just don’t have the specific term (MMA) except in our own dialect commonly generalized term as “away” or “harong”.
In the province of Cebu, they have terms like “bahug-bahug” meaning rumble which uses most MMA moves among groups of gangs. While in single combat scenario or one-on-one, some describe it as “bugno or dumog”.
There is one system among the many family styles/systems in the Filipino martial art that is being taught to a few dedicated individuals. This system was introduced to Walter and Wesley though the tutelage of the late GM “Boring” Heyrosa ( aka the old man or "tiguwang") with the guidance of then master Uwet Jecong until the last years of the old man. Master Jecong showed the basics of the system though not thoroughly. They learned the basics of DeCuerdas while continuing their training with their core system and using the sparring practice sessions of the late Mr Gil Crucero who was an active student of Master Uwet Jecong at that time.
In their curriculum they give emphasis to a particular traditional FMA system that is less known and has been considered as a street wise system. This lineage traces back to Noy “Anciong” Bacon who had secretly taught Iti (Boring) Liborio Heyrosa the unorthodox style of combative stick art. It was the talent of the latter who continued to evolve the system and called it “De Cuerdas”. It best fits the description of the system because it corresponds to the guitar strings that you can use as a tool to produce low, mid or high notes at any given moment at will. We would want to identify this system as the De Cuerdas Liborio Heyrosa which is totally UNRELATED to ANY other De Cuerdas styles elsewhere. There are many major differences between DC Liborio Heyrosa and any other de cuerdas styles ranging from the striking patterns, techniques and teaching format. They openly emphasize the view that they are promoting the system as teachers and not as instructors be it basic or advanced learning. Only duly certified teachers of this system can teach considering the risks involved in learning from the art. They only teach the basics of Liborio Heyrosa De Cuerdas as what was taught by Master Jecong . However, the emphasis is on LCS as the core methodology currently used which has evolved into what became today as Ultimate Eskrima. The system completely explains the practical principles used in the FMA art in all aspects of self defense and offense.
The emphasis is on direct and simple fighting techniques. Having been trained on just the BASICS of De Cuerdas from their secondary mentor, the CORE of UE system remains the central basis for most of the combative techniques of Ultimate Eskrima. They were fortunate to have learned some advanced techniques from their own family tree and are propagating it according to its traditional format. They focus on honing one's skills and practice in intelligent fashion the simple and less complicated maneuvers both in armed and unarmed offensives. Emphasis on knife techniques were more on the use of the knife rather than on disarms. The sticks and other weapons stressed more on close combat regardless of the situation. The long range techniques are just as effective when using the same basic principles used in the close quarter maneuvers. They had continued to use the traditional no-belt system so that learners classify their skill level through tests and tournaments. Speed, timing, flexibility and accuracy are the key elements in this traditional based combat system. However as programs of martial arts have evolved they have adopted the sash and head band to identify the skills levels/ranks of our dedicated followers and student practitioners. As with all FMA enthusiasts and teachers, De Cuerdas Liborio Heyrosa has always been guided by the “eskrimadors’ traditional pride to propagate the stick and blade fighting art of the Philippines for the sole aim of preserving the Filipino heritage and its cultural meaning. Others styles are just as respected and honored according to their specific roles and principles whether it be regional, provincial in origin or commercial, political and social function.
Be an active member and help propagate the Filipino martial art. Be proud of being an effective member be it of any Filipino style and give it a chance to spread and be known worldwide that Eskrima also known as Arnis is an indegenous art of the Philippines. Mabuhay.