Monday, September 19, 2011

Roger Agbulos - bridging the generation gap

With the unfortunate and premature death of Punong Guro Edgar Sulite, his Lameco system of eskrima seemed to have taken something of a back seat in the world of FMA. However, there have been some of his close students, members of what is know as Lameco SOG (Sulite Original Group) who have continued to train hard and tried to spread the knowledge of their beloved teacher.

SOG - the backyard days


One of those is guro Roger Agbulos, a true exponent of all the qualities that Lameco stands for. Even though the passing of PG Sulite has left his backyard group in sort of a vacuum, some of them have continued their training and research of the roots of Lameco. Guro Agbulos was one of those, and he turned to some of the predecessor styles of Lameco, specifically Eskrima De Campo JDC-IO, under professor Ireneo Olavides, and Ilustrisimo under the tutelage of late GM “Topher” Ricketts and GM Reynaldo Galang.

With late GM Christopher Ricketts


Through this training, guro Roger was able to develop a thorough understanding of the principles of edged and impact weapons combat, especially in the tradition of functional approach, as this striving for the functional means of fighting were installed in him during his formative years under PG Sulite. The constant effort to develop the best ways possible to deal with a weapon wielding attacker in the real time and under pressure lead to the dedicated and committed research and practice of techniques and principles that had shown to satisfy the criteria of functional performance in combat.

After a few years of such work, guro Agbulos has devised his own teaching progression and training methods, aimed to bring the trainee to the desired level of performance as quickly and efficiently as possible. Due to the nature of such working ethic in training, this system of teaching and training was named Astig Lameco, where astig is the Filipino word with the meaning of “hard core” or “diehard”. In the best tradition of his teachers, guro Agbulos has kept his focus on functional combative performance and has been teaching a group of students with the zeal to train in this manner, thus honoring the name of the system. However, despite the tough training and hard work, the atmosphere during the sessions and among the group members is familiar and relaxed, which in turn enables the students to ask questions and look for the answers, in order to bring their progress up to speed. Ultimately, although the work in Astig Lameco is focused on tried and tested principles that hold for the grand majority of situation that combat might present before its practitioners, it is still meant to be one’s own personal expression of those principles, in line with personal characteristics and requirements of the particular situation.


Essentially, Astig Lameco is a training methodology. Namely, in my view the main feature of this system are not its techniques as such, but rather the training method and learning progression that makes those techniques work in a real-time environment.

The Astig method uses pretty much the same techniques as many other FMA and other weapon-based combative schools, but instead of emphasizing the smorgasbord of possible technical maneuvers and combinations for their own sake, the accent is on the development of practitioners' personal physical attributes and proper MECHANICS of DELIVERY. In practice it means working on a limited number of tried and tested functional techniques in such a way that a trainee is able to develop an "internal", corporal understanding of the essence of those techniques, hence being able to use them under constantly changing environment of live combat. From that standpoint, one might say that the training methods of Astig Lameco are more in line with boxing than other, more traditional styles of martial arts.


As a result of this methodology, guro Roger is sought after in those martial art circles where a functional and readily applicable ability in weapons use is required, so he has been providing consulting and advisory services in various combative circles, among the reality-oriented schools and methods (KAPAP, BASH etc).    

With Avi Nardia and Albert Timen of KAPAP

Besides excellent training methods, guro Agbulos has also worked out an equally good teaching progression. Unlike with many schools where the technical material is presented and demonstrated, more or less randomly, rather than actually taught to their students in a systematic and meaningful fashion, in Astig Lameco the material is actually presented in a unique order – according to the chronological needs of the trainee. Namely, when one wishes to learn about combat (and not theatrical versions of it), he or she needs to learn some things in certain order. The first thing you need to be able and do is get out of the harms way, when on defense, and actually reach and inflict damage on your opponent, when on offense – hence the need for solid footwork, and a stance that enables most efficient delivery of that aspect.


 Next in order, you need some tools to use on your opponent, so basic striking angles are taught, either with a stick or a knife. At this point, another landmark of Astig comes in, i.e. the approach according to which the offense and defense are really one and the same. Namely, guro Roger teaches us to make our opponent feel the pressure even when attacking himself, which in turn is achieved by using our striking to defend, but it is only possible with well-developed footwork. Really nice thing about guro Roger’s progression is that each block of material acts as a foundation for the next one, thus making it easier to acquire and apply, if worked on diligently. 
Sparring is a regular part of training sessions

With his unique dedication to preserving the true nature of the FMA legacy and enjoyable personality, supported by the excellent teaching methodology, it is no wonder that guro Roger Agbulos is getting rave reviews of his seminars and workshops. It is therefore no wonder that his Astig Lameco is spreading, so currently, besides the central school in Los Angeles, one can find chapters in Texas, Canada, Philippines, Central America and Europe. If you ever get a chance of joining the training of Astig Lameco, jump on the opportunity, you won’t be disappointed. 

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