October 19th-20th was my designated martial arts weekend.
Friday, October 19th marked my second belt test of the year. This time, I tested for a purple belt. If I pass, it means I’m halfway through the basic program already. It also means I’m five levels away from getting a black belt.
This belt test was very special for all of us, as we had Grandmaster Arnulfo “Dong” Cuesta, fly all the way from New Jersey to facilitate our testing. On top of that, we had 8 masters grading our every move!
Our Torrance Class with Grandmaster Dong Cuesta & the Doce Pares Masters
I won’t bore you any more grueling details of my almost four hour belt test, but I will give you a little preview of what I had to do to earn that purple belt.
That’s a video of me coming up with some random stick twirling moves based on what I’ve learned so far.
Doce Pares Group Photo
The next day, October 20th, we had our first ever Doce Pares Training Seminar with Grandmaster Arnulfo “Dong” Cuesta.
Grandmaster Arnulfo “Dong” Cuesta is a 9th degree Black Belt, who was featured in the 2000 TLC Documentary “Martial Arts: The Real Story.”
Myself and Grandmaster Arnulfo Dong Cuesta
His martial arts story is an intriguing one. He learned Eskrima at the age of 13 as a way of escaping life as a gang member. He ended up as a runaway in Pasil, the most dangerous part of Cebu (A southern city in the Philippines). With members of his gang arrested for murder, Dong Cuesta took an offer by Grand Master Cacoy Canete to train in his gym.
He trained in the Doce Pares system with Cacoy’s son Edgar. Though his initial goal was to learn how to defend himself against his old gang, Dong Cuesta’s dedication to the martial art impressed Grandmaster Momoy. The Grandmaster trained him personally and later on healed him with a healing skill known as oracion when he became very ill.
In 1981, the NARAPHIL (National Arnis Association of the Philippines) hand-picked Grandmaster Dong Cuesta to promote the Doce Pares Multi-Style system in the United States. Grandmaster Dong Cuesta recalls venturing to the U.S. with a one-way plane ticket and $40 in his pocket.
Grandmaster Dong Cuesta, along with the other eight masters, taught us basic self defense maneuvers, as well as extra material which we don’t usually get to do in class.
Grandmaster Cuesta teaching me some knife fighting techniques
I had fun with the empty hand techniques and knife drills which Grandmaster Cuesta and the other masters taught us.
Master Erwin Mosqueda teaching me some arm locks
The best thing I learned from the seminar was how to escape a headlock. Now I know what to do if someone grabs me from behind and tries to choke me.
I asked Grandmaster Cuesta how to get out of a headlock. He says the first thing to do is to NOT get in a headlock!
But if I’m already there, I need to make sure my breathing doesn’t get cut off. I need to move my head, so that my chin is resting on the attacker’s arm. Here’s Grandmaster Cuesta explaining how to get out of a headlock.
I also learned another cool way to escape a headlock from Guro Tim Wolchek:
Being able to learn directly from Grandmaster Cuesta and all the other masters was an awesome experience. I’d definitely do it again.
The Doce Pares Family
Being part of a Filipino martial art family means that the day won’t end without some kind of celebration. So to cap off an amazing training seminar, we also had a party to celebrate the 8th year anniversary of the Los Angeles region group.
As with any Filipino celebration, there was tons of food, pictures and lots of singing.
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