Serrada Training in Mexico
I came walking into Garry Bowld's backyard where he was teaching some Doublestick combinations to a child and it’s father. I couldn’t really afford to have a lot food before the training but it was nececarry so I had some vegan spring rolls at my favorite place nearby „Todo Vegano“. That’s how Garry and me got into our first conversations. He told me he was vegetarian since more than 35 years. I got his message on Facebook when I posted into the San Christobal Expats group on Facebook. He said he was training with the godfather of Filipino Martial Arts: Angel Cabales, back in the seventies and that he would like to meet me. I was like "whaaaaaatt? of course!!"
His backyard was perfect for private classes and I was very excited, brought my sticks and training knives. He asked me to demonstrate him the twelve angles of attack in Serrada Escrima and started correcting me immediately . His concept was easy. First we went through all the strikes then through all the blocks against angle 1, then through all the blocks against angle 2 and so on. His moves were a bit different to what I have learned with my teacher Mukatder Gül and Master JC Cabiero. Garry learnt Serrada with Mike Inay and Angel Cabales before I was even born! His footwork and attitude were a bit different to what I have seen before, also different to how Jeff Espinous and Fred Evrard moved when I saw them the very few times when they were performing Serrada. Garry says he teaches Inayan/Cabales Serrada Escrima „like back in the days“. I think that fits.
Mostly I enjoyed his stories from the seventies when people were ranked not with belts but with the thickness of their fingers and broken bones. „You had no choice than to do your blocks right,“ he said „otherwise you hurt yourself pretty badly“. And that was how Serrada changed during the years. By spreading it and teaching it to more „ordinary people“ that do not wanna get out of a martial arts class with broken fingers, they had to decrease the intensity and also added more techniques (like Decuerdas) to keep students longer in the school. He said Angel Cabales was different. He was killer, not a nice guy. A chainsmoker, small, super skinny and super fast. He encouraged his students to have fights with people that were training in different styles and he was super confident that he could beat every style, just as he did back in the Philippines before he emigrated to California. Escrima was super rare those days. Also there was absolutely no training equipment for stick fighting. No gloves, no protection and of course not such a thing as soft sticks.
I asked Garry why he prefers to „stay in the shadow“ (I never heard about him) as very few people can rely on Angel Cabales. He answered that he got out of the martial arts world many many years ago as he was sick of politics. It was a heartbreak to see Angel and Mike Inay split and go different ways and to see how students had to pick side. Actually it was Mike Inay who really formed hin as a fighter. Garry told me that he was a big guy with an even bigger heart.
We ended the session with Hit to Hit and I ended up with my back against the wall. He said I did to much Kali Female Triangles and spent too much time teaching beginners stuff, my moves were to large. I remember him moving always in a male triangle which made him always faster. Fa
scinating to not only see this skinny man move but also to feel his power and economy of movement. I found it very interesting how he would translate the blocks to empty hand techniques and how he drew a line to my Wing Chun moves. In his opinion Ip man and/or his teacher included Escrima moves to the Art and that Escrima is much older than Wing Chun.
He also claimed that he would ALWAYS try to prevent a fight, always. „Escrima, the way I learned it was made for killing. I don’t play or fool around. I wouldn’t punch you in the face. I take out your eyes, your groins and I make sure your back will never work the same again – so it’s better to walk away. I hate violence and I am a vegetarian for decades.“
He says Martial Arts is for avoiding pain! Think about it for a while. If you apply that on life, career, relationships, …
To train with Garry in the Art of (Cabales/Inayan) Serrada in San Christobal de las Casa in Mexico was one of my top magical martial arts experience and helped me a lot to stay centered during those difficult times, broke and lost in Mexico haha. Thank you Garry! I hope to see you soon.