Thursday, March 23, 2017

3.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars for "Lameco Eskrima" by David E. Gould

In the interests of full disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.

Title: Lameco Eskrima-The Legacy of Edgar Sulite
Author: David E. Gould
Publisher: Tambuli Media
Format: Softcover
Pages: 273
Cover Price: $29.95

    Because of my association with Tambuli Media I've had the opportunity to scratch a martial arts itch I've had for a while.  The martial arts of the Philippines was something that I new very little about.  Over the last couple of months I've been able to read several very good books about the subject from the perspective of different schools/systems.  In most of the books, the beginning history and stories are what fascinated me the most.  The techniques, while illustrative and well done, weren't as useful to me any my martial arts growth (...yet).  This book then was a different take.  It focuses on the life and times of one particular master of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite and how he came to develop and train others in his creation, Lameco Eskrima.

Takeaway from the Book

Great biography of an important Filipino Martial Arts Master and how he synthesized his unique system from the masters he pays tribute to.


    The book is first and foremost a biography.  The last third of the book does have examples of Lameco Eskrima techniques being performed by characters in the book, and they do offer a counterpoint and context to the biographical content.  However, the main section of the book deals with the life and development of a modern Eskrima tradition.  It details how PG Sulite learned and combined the styles from the different masters he studied with, and what he liked to emphasize from each of them.


    There is a definite sense of weight and responsibility from the author in telling his tale.  Guro Gould has a great deal of respect for PG Sulite, and it shines through in the writing.  The tales themselves are interesting and detail a life growing up in the Philippines and studying Eskrima from "old school" masters who prize "old school" training methods.  He also doesn't deify the man, and shows some instances where mistakes happened, and how Punong Guru Sulite grew from those mistakes. It does a very good job of showing the growth of a man and a martial arts system.


    My only real criticism of the book is I think the author stayed to close to documentarian in his presentation of events.  The stories lacked some emotion, but that was a stylistic choice, and I understand that.


     As I said, the book presented the story in a very thorough way, and delves deeply into the history of one particular man and his course of study in martial arts.  It includes his stellar rise through hardwork and dedication to join the ranks of master in his chosed art.  It also tells how he incorporated all the different styles he had learned into something of his own, and how he disseminated those teachings.  I really did enjoy reading the stories, they just lacked some panache.  I do understand that the author was going for a specific format to his writing, so I don't hold that against him too much.  Overall, I'm going to give this book 3.5 out 5 Ninja Stars.  If you are a student of Lameco Eskrima this book would be very important to you.  If you are a student of FMA this book should be a very interesting addition to your learning.  If you are outside that group, although interesting, I don't know how useful it would be to your growth as a martial artist.  It's for that reason, and the slight dryness I give it a rating of 3.5.  It was a good book, but not necessarily useful to everyone.

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