Großmeister Rene Latosa
Martial arts systems cannot be developed overnight. The development of a system takes time, testing, and a solid foundation from which to start. Latosa Escrima had undergone over two decades of testing and developing before Rene Latosa would put his name to the system. It involves more than a name on some technique and adding a few extra twirls to make a system.
The Latosa Escrima System
The philosophy behind the Latosa Escrima system is very simple; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, a technique does not work by itself unless combined with the concepts of balance, power, speed, focus, timing, and attitude. When combining these elements, the outcome or whole is far more effective then what would normally be the sum of the parts. This is the reason techniques, as practiced in the system, are only tools used to understand, accept and retain these ideas. The number of different techniques mastered by an individual does not increase his level of competence in this system. Techniques are only practiced moves until combined with the proper fighting concepts. The ultimate goal of the martial arts is to make your mental, physical and technical skills work as one. The goal of Latosa Escrima is to do this while producing a quality Escrimador who can think creatively and react responsively rather than giving people information overload. Escrima was the original name used under the flag of the Philippine Martial Arts Society. The name changed to Combat Escrima as the system was influenced by the concept of using power and combat reality. Combat Escrima relied on a single goal; winning. This goal proved to be a very valuable asset.
The intimidation factor of the name “Combat Escrima” was something the students felt they had to defend. However, just the goal of winning actually proved limiting in the progression of the system and future instructors. PMAS produced excellent fighters and world champions but failed to produce very many well-rounded instructors.
PMAS had the box recipe for producing competent fighters but failed to isolate the individual ingredients that make up the end product. Latosa spent his time developing training methods used to understand the reasoning behind the techniques and isolating the concepts of Escrima.
In the early stages of developing Latosa Escrima, the power techniques were key, and the idea of using concepts was secondary. As the concepts of power hitting: blocking hard, assortment of different weapons, balance and attitude became more dominant the system developed a new focus.
It was very important to feel positive and confident about what you knew.
This proved to be the advantage in a dangerous situation. This early stage of Latosa Escrima was effective and contributed to the fighting reputation of his students. In his classes in San Francisco, he taught each of his top students different conceptual styles with some specialization (long sticks, knives, double sticks, contact fighting, swords, etc.). His plan was to ensure that each of the students worked together. With each one having a piece of the puzzle, no one could claim they knew it all. The product, Latosa Escrima, did not seem complete. There was that missing element that connects and distinguishes the Filipino art from all other martial arts. It was not the techniques, since most systems techniques are different. It was not the ability to change from empty hands to sticks. What exactly was it? The search for the answer became the driving force in the developing of Latosa Escrima. It was concepts, and how they have to play an equal role in the effectiveness in the Filipino martial arts as a whole. Rene had always used fighting concepts combined with techniques. Techniques became the drills to learn the important concepts. Latosa is a firm believer in “using what works” in any given situation, however a person must understand the various risks (not what they did) as well as the advantages. He has basically empowered most of his top instructors to develop teaching formats from what he himself had been teaching and preaching. He is the visionary and the guide of the system. If any of his instructors feel that they have uncovered a new technique or concept, which cuts seconds without abandoning other attributes, Latosa has given them permission to incorporate it into their teachings.
The basic concept of the system rests with the idea of movement, balance, speed, power, focus and attitude. The bare bones of the system as far as techniques go, are what has become known as the box system. It consists of five interrelated movements, not blocks or offensive/defensive movements, but just movements. These movements may seem as if they fall into the definition of blocks, but what they actually become are interference strikes. The idea is to understand the movements then relating them to every concept studied in Latosa Escrima. With only five main movements the approach is simple, yet the varieties are endless.
Rene Latosa, as an instructor was never one to hide or refrain from teaching what he had learned or developed. There are no secrets, nor any hidden agendas in Latosa Escrima. He believes that if one person holds back information, and the next person he teaches holds back information, eventually there will be nothing substantial left to teach. Rene feels that the idea to hold back information has to do with an instructor¹s insecurity. The instructor would always have something to use against his student. The students of Latosa Escrima strive for creativity, innovation and working hard. Latosa Escrima shall always be in the constant state of development. As long as students continue to learn quality Latosa Escrima, the system will continue to develop. It is a progressive, challenging
and adaptive system. The simple approach of learning conceptually will help the Filipino martial arts produce top Escrimadors for the future.