Lameco Eskrima and the Laban Laro Drills

Discussion in 'Lameco' started by Guro Dave Gould, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. Guro Dave Gould


    The various Laban-laro drills which we have in Lameco Eskrima have sort of become the identity of our Lameco Eskrima and is what seems to define us as a system by many on the outside looking in. In Lameco Eskrima in total there are 4 different sets of Laban-laro drills covering various weapons and combinations of weapons which Punong Guro Sulite created, taught and required of us, his students, to be diligently trained as we formed, developed and instilled our most basic foundation of combative movement and delivery system.
    There were two different sets of Laban-laro drills regarding the "solo-garote" curriculum, the first set which consisted of 15 drills and the second set which consisted of 12 drills. There was one set of Laban-laro drills regarding the "doble-garote" curriculum, which consisted of 15 drills. Then there was one set of Laban-laro drills regarding the "espada-y-daga" curriculum, which consisted of 14 drills. Punong Guro Sulite also would practice various Laban-laro drills with the knife and single sword but they were interpretted from the above listed 4 sets which we officially have in the systems curriculum.
    Only the first set of Laban-laro drills regarding the "solo-garote" curriculum and one set regarding the "espada-y-daga" curriculum were ever released on video to any degree by PG Sulite. Those videos only covered the first and most basic progressions of each drill presented, not showing the numerous other progressions for each drill as it evolved regarding counter measures, basic reactions and responses made by the training partner. He with held the other variations from public video as that material was best trained hands on with himself or one of his appointed standard bearers of the system. He wanted to make sure that the student fully understood and was able to respond adequately against various unexpected counter measures in real time speed or close to real time speed which provoked the student to give an adequate reaction in earnest, or be caught lacking.
    As the student advanced through the various levels of the system the emphasis was then placed on the function that each Laban-laro drill was designed to package and transfer to the student through countless hours of practice. This is when PG Sulite would start to insert various doses of adversity and uncertainty into the Laban-laro drill structure by presenting something that did not belong in the drill to gauge response from the student, as dictated by cause and effect, in dealing with the unexpected attack and counter attacks. He referred to this practice as "breaking out of Laban-laro".
    The idea was to hold the student firmly with-in the confines of the drill and then suddenly break out of the drill with something that did not belong in the drill to force the student to abort the drill as he knew it and react to the more immediate unexpected threats faced and to contain those threats as quickly as possible. The farther that the student advanced with-in the system the quicker and more often that PG Sulite would "break out of the drills" to force failure and provoke a reaction from the student, always demanding that the student improve on his results looking for more gain while minimizing risk.
    Then as the student further evolves fighting and sparring became the platform by which to hone and refine each function received through the Laban-laro drills. This allowed the student to work in an environment full of aggression, chaos and uncertainty as he was forced to problem solve each opponent which stood before him being forced to ply his craft in real time speed and power where he would be held fully accountable for all that he did or hesitated to do while fighting.
    I saw the Laban-laro drills change often and sometimes drastically over the 5 years that I trained privately under Punong Guro Sulite at his home as did my brothers from the "backyard". PG Sulite was always in search for a more efficient way to package each function in drill format with which to transfer to the student with more pristine clarity. The quicker that the function was transferred then the sooner that that function could be further developed, honed and refined against a non-cooperative opponent, usually revealed and addressed in the form of sparring or fighting.
    PG Sulite would also present the Laban-laro drills to better instruct us how to negotiate the various ranges as we would find ourselves in close, medium or long range and each distance found in-between those three ranges as we would be caught in transition during the fight. It is one thing to stand in any of the recognized ranges and defend your position with-out being required to move, it is another thing altogether to actually be forced to defend those ranges and distances found in-between the ranges when you are forced to move and closing distance or retreating backwards if only with the intent to rebound quickly when opportunity reveals itself to you in real time speed and power. The Laban-laro drills were an excellent method of instructing the student in how to more efficiently maneuver and negotiate range, distance and timing regarding all of this.
    Even though the Laban-laro drills may be seen as the identity of Lameco Eskrima by most on the outside of our system, fighting ability is what has always defined us as a group. If you ask any of us who were members of Punong Guro Sulite`s invitation only "backyard" Lameco Eskrima group at his home in Los Angeles we will all tell you that fighting ability was what truly defined us as a group so many years ago and still does to this day. This is why the four phases of Lameco Eskrima are so vital in learning the complete Lameco Eskrima curriculum as it allows the student to learn, train, fight and eventually teach all that is found in our system with the focus shifting from learning mere technique and mastering drills in the basic levels of our system to mastering the numerous functions and the combative equation itself in the advanced levels of our system. Then we dedicate a lifetime towards refining to pure efficiency all that we do in an effort to become reactionary fighters who base our capability on combative effect and yield only to combative truth as revealed and based on actual experiences gained in fighting as opposed to mere speculation.
    Each fight and each fighter becomes an individual exam of our combative value unto themselves and each one provides numerous essential combative truths to the fighter which can only be gained by engaging in the actual experience itself and can not be replaced or substituted by any other form of training. It all starts with forming, developing and instilling the basic foundation and delivery system. Then the process shifts towards gaining various technique, principles, concepts which are presented and come together in the initial stages of drilling. Then the function which was packaged within each drill has to be dissected, removed from the drill and instilled in the students combative capability where it can be further developed, honed and refined. Then each function is tried, tested and proven in sparring or actual fighting and then the focus shifts to refining everything which takes what works well and making those things work better and more efficiently.
    It all starts with the Laban-laro drills in their most basic configurations, then we reach the level of the drills where we begin to question the answers and introduce unexpected attacks and uncertainty with the intent of inserting adversity into the training model to provoke the student to think on his feet and recognize what needs to be done as reality dictates as opposed to the student responding with what is supposed to be done and feeding mere speculation. This forces the student to begin rising above the drill and problem solve the unexpected as opposed to complying with speculation. This is when the concept of "breaking out of laban-laro" becomes productive in shifting focus from the drill itself to the function which was packaged with-in the drill to be transferred to the student, becoming function over form in every sense of the meaning. It is very much a process which takes the student from the infancy of his development to proficiency over a life time of dedication and sacrifice. Truth to self... truth in training... and truth in combat that is the formula to success.
    For those who would like to learn more about the Laban-laro drills of Lameco Eskrima the best source is from PG Edgar G. Sulite himself. We are fortunate that he left behind three videos which cover the first set regarding "solo-garote", that being "Lameco Eskrima; Advanced Laban-Laro (Vol. 1)", "Lameco Eskrima; Advanced Laban-Laro (Vol. 2)" and the Laban-laro drills regarding espada-y-daga in the video: "Lameco Eskrima; Espada-y-Daga", all three of which are available for sale at: which is the Sulite Family website.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
  2. BSnyder

    BSnyder New Member

    Guro Dave,

    Thanks for the excellent explanation of Laban Laro. Your timing was perfect since I recently purchased the videos and was very impressed by them. I do have a question about how the Laban laro are structured in the curriculum. At what levels would you learn the various Laban laro sets?

    Thanks again for all your posts, I always look forward to reading them.

  3. Guro Dave Gould


    Hi Bruce, The laban-laro drills are taught in all three levels with-in the Lameco Eskrima system. The basic progressions are taught in the basic levels, the intermediate progressions are taught in the intermediate levels and the advanced progressions are taught in the advanced levels of the system. Let`s take laban-laro "uno" from the first set (garote) for instance to better illustrate my point. Various progressions of this same drill are trained in all three levels or our system but the various progressions of that one drill are taught accordingly in each level where they are required in developing the student. PG Sulite would train the first few progressions of that one drill in the basic levels. Then he would train other progressions of the same drill in the intermediate levels. Then he would train the remaining progressions of the same drill in the advanced levels. At each interval the drills were designed to provoke different reactions and responses from the opponent and the student as he developed, honed and then refined his skills. From the basic levels where he faced mild adversity in training, to moderate adversity as was necessitated in the intermediate levels to heavy adversity as was necessitated in the advanced levels. How he responded to each was instrumental to his progress. The laban-laro drills were designed to introduce a function to the training model. Then at a certain point in time that function was to be developed and functionalized. Then the function was to be tried and tested against varying degrees of adversity and uncertainty in the form of unexpected attacks. Then the function was to be proven against more uncertainty and higher levels of adversity. Then the function was to be extrapolated from the drill where it could be further honed and then refined to pure efficiency in fighting and sparring while being forced to apply the function against random aggression at real time speed and power in an environment where there were consequences for all actions performed in the form of cause and effect. Then each drill with-in the remaining set of Laban-laro drills was destined to meet the same criteria and expectations. PG Sulite used the laban-laro drills through out the learning and training phases as a platform from which he could hone and bring to fruition the reactions which he had established and set forth in meeting and then exceeding his expectations for his students regarding combative effect and fighting ability. The drills in the basic levels are trained against a broken strike, in the more advanced levels they are trained from fluid strikes and combinations of strikes where they do not always stop but go beyond the blocks so the student has to be able to make the correct decisions based on perception and reaction in close to real time speed to either try and secure the hand with hand sectors or counter right away due to the inability to locate and grab the hand in motion. Then the drills escalate from there to being more difficult with higher levels of failure being forced on the student in hopes of turning those failures into successes based on their ability to respond correctly as well as make proper risk assessments and better decisions. I hope that some of this makes sense to you it is kind of hard to express in words but rather best demonstrated with actual movement in order to fully grasp the concept. Simply put the drills continue to evolve to the point where the drills become less significant and the function becomes most significant as the student evolves. Best regards.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  4. BSnyder

    BSnyder New Member

    Thank you Guro Dave, that was an excellent explanation.

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