The Visayan Eskrima Guild was founded in Oakland, California, in 2008 to further the study of the martial arts of the Visayan island region of the Philippines. The Guild serves as a vehicle whereby the Filipino martial arts can be studied in a supportive atmosphere of mutual respect. Seven gentlemen comprise the Founding Plank Holders of The Visayan Eskrima Guild; we sit on the Board of Directors & Examiners of the organization – our terms are for life. Membership in The Visayan Eskrima Guild is offered by invitation only. It is the mission of The Visayan Eskrima Guild to both preserve and propagate the Filipino martial arts, as well as, those martial arts upon which the Board members were graced with functional knowledge and instructional concepts.
The guild format was chosen because it was felt that the vast amount of material, concepts, principles, and techniques left to us, via first-hand interaction and instruction with our teachers, would best be served by not limiting its interpretation any one person’s grasp. This simple realization came about as a direct outgrowth of our many years of friendship, intertwined with informational exchanges and highlighted by numerous protracted training sessions that subsequently lead us all down a path to an agreed upon logical conclusion – in order to do these arts justice (arnis, eskrima, kali) the collective knowledge of the group had to prevail.
The Visayan Eskrima Guild was founded to preserve and disseminate the life’s work of two highly respected masters of eskrima: Grandmaster Sonny Umpad and Grandmaster Angel Cabales. Grandmaster Wade Williams and his son, Master Keenan Williams, brought the art of Cabales Serrada Escrima into The Guild. Visayan Style adepts Mike Braten, Steve Magness, Chris Suboreau, Steve Van Manen and George Yore brought the art of Visayan Style Corto Kadena & Larga Mano Eskrima into The Guild. The art established by Grandmaster Angel Cabales: Cabales Serrada Escrima, and the art founded by Grandmaster Sonny Umpad: Visayan Style Corto Kadena & Larga Mano Eskrima did not, per se, exist in the Philippines – both arts were formally begat in America. These two arts comprise our foundation. The ancestral origins of these particular Filipino martial arts systems can be traced to the island of Cebu, part of the Visayan island chain of the Philippines. The two arts exist separately in The Guild. However, the arts share many principles and each is a useful lens through which to view the other. Like a microscope – each art serves as an invaluable tool for dissection, examination and analysis; providing the necessary means to reach true understanding of each art. The teaching of both arts together, side-by-side, leads the student to insights he or she would not receive if the practitioner only trained in one discipline.
Our Operational Philosophy There are many styles of Filipino martial arts and they all have something to offer the sincere student. Which art is best? Simple, the art in which you can get the best possible instruction, and that will allow, over the course of time, the individual to develop their own personal system. There is no single superior art, just highly motivated and dedicated practitioners who train to achieve their true potential. It has been our experience that cross training with the right mix of arts can be very effective. Those who approach their studies with an open mind will be rewarded and enriched by the experience.
The real secret to success in the study of martial arts is hard work. Consistent and conscientious focus must be placed on the proper areas of concentration over a long period of time. A coaching model that stresses the fundamental principles that must be expressed during the execution of the art is essential. Armed with a clear rationale for their execution, the individual is presented with the tools to see the value in their investiture of time. The necessity of the physical work becomes readily apparent, and, opens the gate for mental insights as well as spiritual growth. This work ethic, combined with competent instruction will cause improvement in all those who persist. We believe that hard work, guided by proper instruction, and combined with realized insights, will ensure martial arts success.
Most masters of the Filipino martial arts see these arts as “endless.” Once mastery of the basics is attained, one is free to explore a vast world of timing and movement. One is free to experiment with different weapons. Material already firmly in hand can be combined into new sequences and applications. This ongoing research and analysis of established methods, along with integrating new insights and permutations gained from the practical knowledge of one’s primary combat system, in combination with exposure to other systems, is the life’s blood of a martial art. This continual development of increased understanding can become its own reward to advanced practitioners. However, in order to avoid straying too far off course, bear in mind that these arts were meant for real combat, so they become empty without effective warrior mindset and tactics.
For our organization, it is readily apparent; as you improve as a practitioner it is your obligation to bring your brothers and sisters up with you so that the art may benefit all. The art is of paramount importance because it was handed down with the knowledge that to ensure our future we must preserve our past. The ancestors understood this concept well. The Visayan Eskrima Guild is a group of professionals who embrace this philosophy. With an emphasis on preservation, teaching and research – practical results and common sense – have illuminated the obstacles and the goals. The Guild hopes to make continuing progress in this endeavor. We consider it our honor and duty to keep these arts alive.