If you ever pay a visit to the University of the Philippines, Diliman, and hear the loud noise of clashing sticks, chances are you’ve just stumbled upon the UP Sangkil Karasak, a club devoted to the martial art of arnis, most especially the LSAI style of arnis, or Lightning Scientific Arnis.
It was developed by one of the most famous personalities in the Filipino Martial Arts world, Grandmaster Benjamin Lema Luna, who even during his old age was still a very formidable fighter. One of the specialties of this style is called the espada y daga, or more literally sword and dagger, which uses two weapons in very close combat. Such a technique can literally “chop” up the opponent into pieces when used properly. LSAI is also famous for its high-powered long-range stick strikes, which can twist and bend in various angles to always hit the opponent.
The most high-level student of the grandmaster, Guro Elmer Ybañez, was the one who formally established the UP Sangkil Karasak, in line with his new system called LESKAS, or Lema Scientific Kali Arnis System, which was named after his teacher. Things were looking good for LSAI, LESKAS, and the UP Sangkil Karasak, until the untimely death of Mang Ben in 2003, and Guro Elmer in 2004.
The charge of the UP Sangkil Karasak was then left to Guro Elmer’s top students, such as Master Joey Quiriones, a member of Philippine Law Enforcement, and Master Alex Ortinero, a security specialist who has had significant experience in Iraq. The effectiveness of the style can be gauged in how well these masters were able to do in their chosen careers. The same effectiveness of the style is still emphasized in the UP Sangkil Karasak, which also aims to help ordinary people by teaching them practical and applicable self-defense techniques.
Most of the students of the UP Sangkil Karasak have been ordinary college students, who do not have the opportunity to train full-time. That is why the training system has been fine-tuned, and is still being improved, to be able to get the most out of every training session. However, the teachers in the club also accept private students for a reasonable fee. Training is usually done in true Filipino style, improvising with tires for practice, in an old classroom.
Those who get the most out of escrima training in UP Sangkil Karasak are those who are willing to stick to it for the long term, and that means several years. Training requires patience, determination, and a love for the art which has been hailed as the deadliest martial art in the world. If you’re interested in getting a head start in escrima, the UP Sangkil Karasak is a good place to be!
Jeremiah was a member of the UP Sangkil Karasak for more than five years, and has just recently received his escrima black belt. His other hobbies include the Bible, Internet technology, and the study of metaphor.