Recently a fan asked James how he came to learn Eskrima and he replied with a wonderful story that was both random and amazing. It struck me that a random encounter of someone I did not know at the time with a new teacher could have such an impact on something I enjoy decades later.
Eskrima is a Filipino Martial Art used in defense of oneself, family, clan or country. It is made up of:
- Panandata (weapons)
- Kuntao (empty hands)
- Dumog (grappling and locking)
- Sikaran (kicks)
- Hilot (healing)
“Arnis, Kali, Eskrima is the common terms used to refer to the Filipino art of armed and unarmed combat fighting. The differences in terms can be attributed to regional dialects among others.”
Source: United Arnis
I researched Dr Lopez online and found the following from Eke Academy of Martial Arts:
“Lopez Villasin Balintawak Eskrima is a dynamic martial art system that takes its origins from the founder of the Balintawak system in Cebu, Philippines as it was passed to Atty Jose Villasin, whom Dr. Lopez trained with in his youth.
Dr. Lopez has been teaching his style of Balintawak since the 1970 both here in BC and in Ontario.
Balintawak is a fluid and flowing form of stick-fighting rooted in the days of duelling which saw combatants testing what they trained sometimes with deadly impacts.”
James has used the techniques whilst choreographing fight sequences for Arrow and Stargate Atlantis. The style is effective and looks dynamic on screen.
As Arrow star, Stephen Amell, had no fight experience prior to working on Arrow, James started his training prior to anything being filmed. He explains to TVLine:
“So I started Stephen off with some basics, mainly from Filipino martial arts — Eskrima, Kali. I wanted to get his timing up, because one of the things I don’t like about a lot of the combat on television out there is they use full-beat, old-school John Wayne timing — which is like, “Beat, beat, beat.” What I love to introduce is half-beat timing, which is “ba-bop, bop, bop, ba-bop, bop, bop.” That’s my style and Filipino martial arts delivers that, so I immersed Stephen immediately in Eskrima hand work, stick work, hand-versus-knife, knife-versus-knife and so forth.”
Here’s to the randomness of that visit from Dr Lopez to James’ dojo. Without it we may not be enjoying it on our favourite shows.