I just received the book Estalilla Kabaroan Eskrima. I studied one-on-one with GM Estalilla and I am authorized to teach his system, so I want to write a good review of this book. Unfortunately, I can’t.
My main problems are poor pictures and a lack of clear teaching. For example, on pages 54 and 55 there are two interesting sequences, but the pictures illustrating the sequences only take up half of the page, and the bottom of each page is blank. It’s hard to figure out what is going on. Why not make the pictures larger or use the bottom of the page to insert a written step-by-step description of the techniques?
There are several other pages where pictures take up half the page, with no explanation, so the reader is supposed to make sense of the small, poor-quality pictures on his own.
We start with a stance on page 15 that makes no sense to me. The left foot is forward, and the long stick is held at the waist, pointed forward and parallel to the ground. If you have a long (36 inches) and heavy stick, and GM Estalilla always trained with a big stick of solid hardwood, you’re going to struggle to keep that stick in position. What are your options from this stance? You can thrust, obviously, but why isn’t the other hand on the stick? How do you strike from this stance?
Also on page 15 are two pictures of rifle grip, holding the stick palm-up with one hand and palm-down with the other, with the hands about shoulder-width apart. I never saw GM Estalilla use that grip, and it doesn’t appear anywhere else in the book. Why is it here?
On page 48 GM Estalilla counters a strike by hitting the opponent’s weapon hand. This picture takes up half the page. If you do the Filipino martial arts at all, what are you learning?
Pages 65 to 102 show double weapon techniques, doing sinawali with the staff, with two long sticks, and sequences using a staff in one hand and a second staff or long stick in other other. These techniques (pictured below) may be interesting, but I just don’t see how they’re practical. In my years with GM Estalilla we never did any of these techniques. There is a small section on espada y daga in here, but nothing is really taught–you’re just told that the dagger fills in for the live hand.
The Alpha 12 form used to illustrate kabaroan is not as good as the Abridged 15, which I feel is a better way of showing the system.
At $33, the book is very expensive for a paperback, plus six dollars for postage. I ordered my book on January 13 and received it February 1. You have to decide if you’re getting your money’s worth.
Rather than end on a down note, if you study the following video you can see GM Estalilla actually teaching, and Fabrizio Filograna’s application is solid.