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There can only be one! Long live Escrima!

Very cool story from

A few days ago I did a live interview for a Filipino Martial Arts based
Internet program. I was happy to do it. There were some questions asked that I dearly wanted to answer. One of the questions was about challenges.

Many of the stories that I can tell would be considered offensive to people closely involved. Another thing is that I follow in my Master' footsteps, regarding challenges. Angel Cabales would speak of challenges, but he "never" gave names

. He would "never" put down any opponent and always credited "luck" as being in his favor. I want to share a story today that hopefully will not open a huge can of worms. But, if the story is listened to closely: It will truly get into the very heart of Filipino Martial Arts. It will hopefully be understood with compassion, admiration and respect.

Manong Angel began hearing about Johnny La Coste being spoken of, as the leading Escrimador in Stockton, Ca. The illustrious Dan Inosanto dearly loved the movements of Johnny La Coste and rightfully so.

Manong Johnny had a certain way of moving which always puzzled me, but I liked them anyway. Manong Johnny was a friend of my father's and until I began learning Escrima had no idea that he was an Escrimador. Honestly, I seldom heard any mention of Filipino Martial Arts. But, war veteran's seldom speak about the battles they were in, in public. And Escrima was very secretive and unknown, during the time of my childhood.

But, due to Guro Dan's heavy public profile and his pushing of Johnny La Coste: The stories of Manong Johnny being a better Escrimador then Manong Angel kept circulating. Manong Angel felt that he was being displaced as Stockton's premier Escrimador. There can be only one.

So Manong Angel went looking for Johnny La Coste and found him very sick. He had found his room and knocked upon his door to gain entrance. The exact exchange of words will forever be lost, but it boils down to:

Hey! They say you are better than me, so let's fight and find out. Now, according to Manong Angel, this total event happened in Manong La Coste's room. So listen closely:

Manong Angel said that Manong La Coste couldn't move very well,
due to his illness. He was speaking to Angel sitting at the edge of his bed. But, Manong La Coste stood up from his bed and said that he wasn't a woman and that he was old and very sick, but that he would fight. If he had to die he wouldn't beg for his life, but die a man.

Manong Angel said that Manong La Coste could hardly stand up, when he was speaking to him. Manong Angel said that he couldn't help but shed tears in admiration for the man he was speaking to. He simply said that no, we don't have any problems and walked out.

This is the heart and soul of Filipino Martial Arts. A true Escrimador spoke to Angel Cabales that day. Old and sick, he would rather be beat down and even die, than bow down to any man.

Angel Cabales teared when he told me this story, many years after the event. He told me this story with deep respect for Johnny La Coste. So it is with a heavy heart that I say: Mabuhay ang Escrima.

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