The Philippine martial arts, of which there are numerous styles, are primarily weapon-based systems. Despite the fact that these systems emphasize weapon manipulation, usage and control, this is not their sole realm of operation. The handwork and footwork are also designed to complement the nature of weapon awareness and orientation in their empty hand execution. A complete martial arts system should seek to harmonize the utilization of the body, mind, and spirit – so that movements remain functional and flow with a logical purpose. The system of Visayan Style Corto Kadena & Larga Mano Eskrima, founded in Oakland, California by Grandmaster Santiago “Sonny” Umpad in 1976, is designed to accomplish these goals.
The Visayan Style is structured to remain effective in real world usage, yet retain the beauty and unique character of the Filipino martial arts. The evolution of the system is constant. Tactics are applicable at long, medium and short ranges; as encompassed by the terms “larga mano” translated as long hand or long-range combat style and “corto kadena” translated as short chain or close quarter combat style. Although the foundation of the art is based in proficiency at arms with bladed weaponry, Visayan Style Eskrima has a broad curriculum. It is a comprehensive system that embraces both traditional and exotic weaponry (e.g., pinute, single and double stick, stick and dagger, pocket stick, solo and paired knife, sickle; espada y daga, barong, kris, panabas and kampilan; pana, bankow, sibat and latigo) as well as the empty hand arts of sikaran, pangamut and dumog.
The respect and knowledge gained from the old traditional ways have been maintained in the training methods of the system. The art employs practices germane to the arts of arnis, eskrima and kali to imprint within the practitioner the warrior mindset and methods of an eskrimador. Drills and exercises are performed both solo and in partner formats and encompass pre-arranged and spontaneous expression of the art. Psychophysical combat fundamentals all receive attention during one’s study – speed, power, flexibility, endurance, reflex reaction, optimal body mechanics, spatial relationships, environmental awareness, hand/eye coordination, distance appreciation, timing, rhythm, syncopation, flow, evasion, deception, mobility, range, accuracy – harnessed to the maneuvers of slashing, thrusting, striking, blocking, butting, checking, countering and disarming. The core attributes of this system include, but are not limited to, the “Inside Flow”, “Spring Loading”, and “Fulcrum Striking.” Key elements that are integral to the system are its emphasis on footwork, power acceleration and cutting the angle for entry or illusion. The high, middle and low postures of the art are expressed with intention appropriate to the action to be taken in response to varying circumstances. Defensive and offensive strategies are linked to economy of motion. A keen emphasis is placed on graceful, flowing movement. This flowing, elusive quality is essential to purposeful stylistic expression, and, for the long haul, to preservation of the body in order to facilitate the ability to continue to train over the course of a lifetime.
The art remains alive – in both its philosophy and application. Bearing in mind a realistic view of combative interactions with edged weapons, impact implements or empty hands, an emphasis must always be present on the development of the practitioner’s personal combat system that lives within the operational structure of the art. It is in this context and spirit that the system is passed to future generations.