Monday, March 25, 2013

Escrima ... A Long Life Sport by Robert Samaniego

An article written in a local NorCal newspaper many years ago ...

  Eighty-one-year-old Leo Giron of Stockton vividly remembers playing
with under a mango tree with one of his siblings. It was a game they
would play after helping out in the fields. In 1926, at the age of
fifteen, Giron would come to America, not knowing that the stick game
he played as a child would become a major factor in his life.
His first job in this new country was pruning trees at an
orchard in Meridian, California, northwest of Yuba City. There he
worked alongside many of the Filipinos that came during the time. It
was here where he met up with Flabiano Vergara, who reintroduced him
to art of stick-fighting. Flabiano was an older fellow who was a
veteran in stick-fighting, and he "taught" Giron the Largamano and De
Fundo techniques.        
The variation between techniques is that the Largamano is is executed
with a longer stick and the De Fundo with a shorter stick. De Fundo is
considered to be the old style of stick-fighting and Largamano was of
the new style.
Soon to follow was the 'Stelo Serrado', which uses a much shorter stick, and
then progresses on to the bare-hand-techniques. Flabiano coached Leo
in mastering these techniques after their work in the orchards. In
1943, Leo Giron enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the 2nd.
Filipino infantry.
The Filipinos were issued bolo knives and were trained
for jungle warfare. Even away from the fields and his friend Flabiano,
stick-fighting again resurfaced. There was a time in when an American
Sergeant, challenged him to defend himself
There was a push broom and a short stick in the room, and when given
the choice, Leo picked the shorter stick. The Sergeant was a man much
larger than Leo, but nevertheless, the Sergeant armed with the push
broom, charged Leo bayonet-style.
The Sergeant agressively fought although never got close to Leo. To his suprise,
 he was always getting hit by the (shorter stick). From that day on the Sergeant gave his
full respect to the Filipino art of stick-fighting.
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