Doce Pares Martial Art Belt Test & Training Seminar

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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14 Responses to “Doce Pares Martial Art Belt Test & Training Seminar”

  1. Hilary says:

    Hi Nutschell – loved all the videos – the getting out of the headlock was so interesting to read and so good to know – sincerely hope I’ll never be in that situation! Your group looks such a cohesive team .. and how interesting to learn about the grandmaster … shows what can be done in life. Yup – I concur about the Filipinos always have a great party time .. sounds like a very successful weekend ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Tonja says:

    Congratulations on your testing!

  3. Cindy says:

    Congrats on the belt. That’s pretty cool. Two of my grandsons just started taking lessons and my little nephew has his first belt Great posting!

  4. Talli Roland says:

    Wow, I’m impressed! Your moves are amazing!

  5. mooderino says:

    Putting your windpipe in the elbow crook is genius. Why didn’t i think of that?

    Great post, always enjoy your escrima updates.


  6. Congratulations on another belt and getting to train with a master!

  7. This was amazing! Congratulations on getting that belt. Maganda Gabi from California. It’s good to be back and visiting my friends again.

  8. Very cool! I’m going to have to show this to my kids.

  9. Lexa Cain says:

    I’m so impressed by all the pictures, videos, and the level of your commitment to martial arts training. You must be in REALLY good shape! Yay for you and good luck on that purple belt (and the five more until the black one)! 😀

  10. Lynn Kelley says:

    Awesome, Nutschell. You’ve got some great moves with that stick! How cool that the Grandmaster and 8 masters were there. Fantastic opportunity! Congrats!

  11. Lynn Kelley says:

    I forgot to say I think Grandmaster Cuesta’s story is fascinating. I’m so happy his life took such a great turn.

  12. Awesome videos. I watch self-defense tips from time to time to give me ideas of what to do in an emergency. You’re fierce and powerful. I’m sure you’ll pass all your tests.

  13. deniz says:

    Sounds really interesting! So, what songs did you guys sing in celebration? :-)

  14. Donna Martin says:

    Way to go, lady! Before you know it you will be tying on that black belt!

    Donna L Martin

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