TRAINING WITH MASTER GARRY BOWLDS IN ATITLAN, GUATEMALA
It’s been three years now since I have been living and travelling in Mexico, finally arriving to the famous San Christobal. Before I move to another place – knowing that I wanna stay for a while – I reach out for people on Facebook and I post a video or two of the FISTS & BLADES TRAINING, offering classes and personal training to locals, travellers and expats in the area.
It’s been three years now since I have been living and travelling in Mexico, finally arriving to the famous San Christobal. Before I move to another place – knowing that I wanna stay for a while – I reach out for people on Facebook and I post a video or two of the FISTS & BLADES TRAINING, offering classes and personal training to locals, travelers and expats in the area. Someone named Garry Bowlds commented on my post in the „San Christobal Expat Community“ Facebook Group saying that he has been training in Eskrima with Angel Cabales and Mike Inay in the 70’s! Of course I had to meet him (!) and I ended up taking classes with him for a couple of weeks working on my Serrada (Filipino Martial Arts) and listening to his awesome and funny stories having some wine in this beautiful Mexican mountain village San Christobal. I knew from the first class on that I wanna see this Eskrima master again. I’m a nomad … or at least I was before COVID, I make some money online with websites and graphic design but my main passion remains training and teaching while living and traveling in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Colombia. Money is usually short so going home all the way to Germany is pricey and I barely get to see my martial arts teachers in Europe anymore. So meeting a teacher and train for my own development is a rare thing these days, and I am happy to have Garry on this part of the world! He just told me that he had moved from Mexico to Atitlan in Guatemala as I arrived to Nicaragua in mid June 2019. I came all the way from Medellín to train a guy from Austria for 3 months in Nicaragua’s colonial town Granada. When the „Train & Travel Trip“ was over I decided to see Garry again after I had tought my last class in Nicaragua. I took a shuttle with my dog to Antigua in Guatemala and stayed there for a couple of weeks to hang out with some good friends. Antigua is one of my favorite spots in the world and taking the bus to Atitlan through the beautiful green mountain area is a super nice trip. Arriving at the giant lake is a magical moment to everyone I guess. You drive down a small and curved road facing this breathtaking view on mountains and volcanoes that stand majestic and tall to this mystical lake. Another highlight are the boat rides from one village to the other – that’s the way to get around in Atitlan.
Remember that I always have my dog with me, which makes traveling even more exciting (and sometimes a pain in the ass). Surprisingly she seemed to enjoy riding the waves in a small boat going from village to village, picking up tourists and school kids in colorful dresses. I was super short on money and my credit card didn’t work in the area, so I had to overthink every move I made and every coin I spent. I arrived on a cloudy and rainy day in Panajachel where Garry picked me up for my first lesson. Lemme get to the point. Training under Garry made it on my list of martial arts magic moments. Despite the whole setting at Lake Atitlan, the vibes, the nature, the adventure, the magic … the dirt and the poverty … the smell and the noise … walking by the markets and little – Garry Bowlds is a world class teacher from the fucking shadows. I have met some "Martial Arts Superstars“ along the way, but one on one lessons with a man that took classes with Mike Inay and Angel Cabales is not only an extraordinary experience but also necessary to get your skills to the next level. You know what is convincing to me? Repetition! Few techniques, easy concepts and a teacher that can explain you the very elementary materia of a single block, strike, move, step, position, decision, mindset … That’s what I love about Serrada. When you have seen the last fancy triple armlock abanico choke fucking disarm flying kick that someone performs a hundred meters away from you behind a crowd of hungry students from all over the world, from beginners to super advanced, and you have 30 seconds to try the same thing, then you might wanna go back to basics and do some real talk about what the fuck does actually work when the day might come and some asshole wants to kill me and/or my beloved ones. Dancing and flying is over fellas, experimenting, exploring and „let’s put some gloves on and punch each others' til someone has enough“ and „let’s wrestle-grapple the shit out of each others“ til one needs to go home for dinner with his girlfriend ... – over! In a system like Serrada (not even sure if it’s a system or simply an art of „I will kill you before you touch me“), you will spend hours and hours and hours and yes … more hours on one fucking block. And then you will spend the same amount of time talking about it, because there is a vast black universe of knowledge that you haven’t understood yet. Garry has a lot of knowledge and many cool stories to tell from the 70s in California where Cabales started spreading his dealdy fighting art. Honestly, sometimes we talked too much haha but dude … he has so much to tell. I mean he could talk about one strike the whole night haha. And I like that! Plus, he is just a cool guy! We went out for some wine and tacos watching live music in a Guatemalean Bar! He said back in the days (and in Filipino Martial Arts) there were no belts, no competitions, no Guros, Sifus, Senseis, inner circles, uniforms and secret fucking knowledges or whatsoever. It was just Angel and Mike and Jimmy and so on. Advanced students could be recognized by the thickness of their knuckles from several fractures haha.
That’s what I like about Filipino Martial Arts. It’s not "Karate Masters“ with uniforms and black belts standing in line ... it’s about some skinny Filipinos and Americans in Hawaii-Shirts and Flip-Flops taking smokes and six-packs to the training session, performing deadly techniques ... training for survival.
Master Garry Bowlds totally brings those vibes to the training session and much more important, you will be more skilled and more wise and more rich of an extraordinary train and travel experience. If you wanna go on a trip with me and train with Garry, shoot me a message or contact Garry directly. I am pretty sure he would be open for more training sessions. Don't let this virus keep you at home forever!