The issue of weapons training can be contentious issue from various aspects, be it the choice of tools (firearms circles seem to be ridiculous with constant bickering over the best caliber, makes, models etc.), or relevance of some of those tools nowadays (like, does it make sense practicing fencing). As always, my approach is contextual – the legislation here is very prohibitive of firearms, so I focus on the “weapons” that require the least legal hassle, in terms of owning and carry, and most carryover in terms of training being applicable to various improvised weapons. So, in the end, it means impact and edged weapons.
It is a widespread belief that some of the best methods of use of such implements can be found among the exponents of Filipino martial arts (FMA). While I have found out that there are other approaches that are just as valid, while of different geographical origins, it is definitely true that some of the arnis and eskrima systems (oh, all right…and kali, too) have a lot to offer in this regard. That said, although I have trained in various methodologies, my foundation for weapons handling is the Astig Lameco system of eskrima.
If you run even a cursory research on Lameco, you will find that it is formulated on the founder Edgar Sulite’s background in several traditional Filipino systems, five of them being main influences. Through my own training in the system, two of those have had most appeal to me, one for the blade training – Kalis Ilustrisimo; the other for its impact weaponry training – Eskrima De Campo 1-2-3 Original. It is the latter that is the subject of this article.
Eskrima De Campo 1-2-3 Original was founded by the legendary eskrimador Jose Caballero, and the system is renowned for its highly functional, hard-hitting approach to stick fighting, with no fancy maneuvers, but rather well organized training method of proven and effective techniques and tactics, honed through diligent practice. If you belong to the category of practitioners who seek a highly functional set of tools that you can confidently apply (naturally, after having invested proper effort and hours in training – no magic bullets here), you will feel right at home with this approach.
Due to Caballero’s reluctance to teach his art openly, the system never got the recognition it deserves, and only started slowly spreading in the West over the last decade or so. I was among those that felt frustrated with the lack of relevant sources of instruction, because the bits and pieces I was able to get from my Lameco instructors were very enticing. However, the advent of modern technologies has finally come to the rescue!
Today, the head of the school is Jose Caballero’s grandson Jomalin, who lives and teaches out of Ibo, Toledo City in the Philippines, i.e. the same home where his grandfather taught his handful of students. Owing to the great enthusiasm and tech-savvy of one of the modern day students, guro Paolo Pagaling, maestro Caballero has filmed the entire curriculum as the series of well-produced lessons, which is now available through the website decampo123.org
The technical material is demonstrated by maestro Caballero himself, while guro Pagaling does the narration additional explanations as needed, while the drills and applications are then shown by both instructors. The lessons are filmed against the backdrop of Caballero’s own backyard, which gives additional impression of authenticity, and to me makes the videos more pleasant to watch than if having been recorded in some studio. In other words, this is as close to the private lesson as possible, having in mind the format of the material. You can get free sample lessons on the website, to see for yourself how it is laid out.
Now, at the first glimpse, the program might look a bit pricey. However, if you keep in mind that we are not talking about some sort of the “best of”, “selected techniques”, “peek into the system” etc., but actually FULL curriculum and proven training progression, as well as the fact that the authors are willing to respond to potential questions and help you get most out of the material, maybe even potential certification, I would say it is a fairly good deal. Just check their Facebook page to find out more.
In conclusion, what the authors did with this program is essentially the exact thing that in the 1990’s I used to hope would be the main advantage of the Internet – finding true information from true sources, while dispelling myths and not wasting time on digging through the fluff and artificial mystique that has been surrounding all kinds of human endeavors for a long time. Well, we all know how it turned out with the spreading of internet forums and the ability for every wannabe and delusional self-appointed expert to say whatever they want from the anonymity of their homes and behind their screen avatars. The efforts and results such as the subject of this review are the high points in the presentation and preservation of some traditional martial arts that are out there and in dire need of being properly displayed.