DeCuerdas Eskrima: GM Tenio and Master Eliab
I read an article on GM Tenio and Master Eliab in the latest Filipino Martial Arts journal.
I was privileged to meet these two gentlemen in the early 90’s. The two of them drove from Stockton to Fresno to train me and my friend and training partner Ryan Osborne. They asked for nothing, but showed up to teach.
And teach they did. GM Tenio demonstrated pressure points on Ryan, who repeatedly dropped like a rock. The pain was so intense that Ryan literally threw himself to the ground. I’m glad I was the one watching.
The two masters then demonstrated DeCuerdas technique. It was very direct and economical. A key idea I learned from them, and it’s influenced my thinking ever since, is to keep the stick in an upright orientation. I had previously studied eskrima styles in which the stick sometimes pointed up and then pointed down, alternating constantly.
A constant upright orientation of the stick cuts down on needless movement. This was later reinforced when I studied with GM Maranga. Keeping the stick upright also is a strong defense against stick disarms, and anytime you drop the tip of the stick downward you leave yourself vulnerable to a disarm.
We trained all day that Saturday, and then we invited the men in to eat. When I referred to Master Eliab as “Master,” he disclaimed the title and denied he was a master. I was impressed by his humility.
I had put a couple of slices of Filipino hot peppers (sili labuyo) into the homemade pickles to spice them up. I warned Master Eliab as he was about to bite into one, and we all had a laugh as his face turned red and he gasped. I told him they were hot!
We gave the two gentlemen some money to try to compensate them for their time and the teaching they had shared with us. They were surprised and grateful.
I never saw them again. But these two masters were class acts and I’m thankful that they so generously shared their art with me and my friend.