Posts Tagged ‘Grandmaster’

Heads up everyone! LIGHTNIG COMBATIVES is headed your way again USA.

Contact the area representatives for more local info.

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visit our schools in : TEL AVIV | | PETACH TIKVAH | RISHON



LSAIsrael is the bastion of Lightning Scientific Arnis and the Legacy of Grandmaster Benjamin Luna Lema in the Holy Land.  Now into its 7th year and still growing strong, I am very grateful to my students and the opportunity to pass on to them this cultural inheritance.


Watching you guys learn in class is a joy to me.  Seeing you guys grow into the knowledge and passion of the Filipino Martial Arts., seeing you participate in our different activities and seminars, your interaction with and understanding of the different styles, facets and aspects of FMA, make me happy to see you guys open your eyes and minds to its different forms and possibilities.
I look forward to seeing you guys grow deeper into the art and see what fruits you will bear as its future.
Keep working hard as there is still so much for everyone to discover. See you in class!

find us at

visit our schools in : TEL AVIV | | PETACH TIKVAH | RISHON





It has been a while since I’ve been back to my roots.  So this 2015 I’m making a trip to the Philippines to touch base with Family, old friends, students and colleagues… and pick up an award along the way.  I’d like to thank the 3rd Philippine Martial Arts Hall of Fame for the recognition and the people who made this possible.  This award also goes to the people to whom my efforts are dedicated such as my Teacher and his Family, my Family, my Wife, my students and Lightning Scientific Arnis.   See you in the the Philippines!




This year Kilat Senjata-Lightning Scientific Arnis Singapore will be hosting a JON ESCUDERO – LIGHTNING COMBATIVES Seminar this April.  Kilat Senjata was founded by Guro Vicente Reyes in support of the promotion and propagation of Filipino Martial Arts.  Thanks go to Mark Roche for sorting out all the details and hope to see some of you guys there!

Please contact the organizer for details.


De Salon, Corto, Tercia Serrada, What do they all have in common? In general they connote close-combat fighting but they each have their own nuance. So, what do they mean, specifically?

De Salon connotes a close range of fighting in the context of fighting indoors, in a closed space with very little room to maneuver. “Salon”, meaning living room or parlour, it conveys the sense that a lot the techniques would be in small frames with small footwork.

Corto also means close range fighting (coming from the three ranges of fighting largo, media, corto), but with emphasis on the weapon movements. Understanding that in the close range, shorter strikes with either chopping or curving angles would be more efficient in hitting and recovering than long arcing strikes. The shorter strikes also expose your arms less in the close range.

Tercia Serrada suggests the principle of “closing-in and jamming” your opponents movements from the “outside”. It also means meeting the attack and redirecting it so that you can expose your opponents weak-side, blind-spot or back.

These are the Core Principles in doing proper Baston Serrada.

intercepting in baston serrada

intercepting in baston serrada


I already mentioned when I defined Corto that the strikes are meant to be short. But lets refine our definition. In the close range, body positioning is tighter, somewhat similar to a south-paw boxer. Hands are at chest-height, the elbow is close to the ribs, knees bent, the stick in front of the face guarding the body. From this position, full arcing strikes become risky because they make the body over extend making them hard to recover after execution. What is efficient in this range though are shorter, chopping strikes that don’t overextend the arm, exposing the body. Shorter strikes also allow you to reposition your stick faster if you need it to block or defend against a strike you didn’t expect as well as allow you to re-chamber your strike so that you can hit more times.


So I’m now going to break things down into Action Sets. These are sets of movements that could either be interpreted as an attack or a defense, depending on the scenario. These are the building blocks that we will use to put together the full movement that is Baston Serrada.

Banda Y Banda

banda y banda

banda y banda

The word “banda” means bounce. So it translates to a “rebounding strike.” What makes it different from a “halfstrike” which returns to its point-of-origin, is that a “banda y banda” strike rebounds to the other side of the body. To further refine this, the chopping action of the banda y banda comes in at a 45 degree angle on one side and exits at a 45 degree angle on the other side creating a “V” shape. This is the angle of the bounce of the banda y banda. The angle makes it easier to move the stick from one side to the other and vice-versa.

Espada y Daga

espada y daga

espada y daga

Literally, it means sword and dagger, but in this case we are referring to the involvement of the empty hand in a checking or pushing motion where the intent of it is to detect and monitor your opponents movements. Basically, the empty hand moves to the sticks position after it has hit its target. This creates a continuous pressure on point of contact giving you a better chance to overwhelm your opponents position.




The Krus is an inverted vertical strike, like a swinging pendulum, that gets its name from the shape it makes when it is blocked by a horizontal block, forming a “cross”. The objective of this strike is a snapping sneak attack on the lowline towards the knees, groin or elbow. It is also an effective strike when your checking hand is in the way by being on top of your weapon hand.


When performing Baston Serrada, it important to check several things

1. Accuracy – Make sure your are hitting what you are aiming for. It’s nice to have a little luck on your side in a fight, but knowing that you can hit anything you aim at is better insurance.

2. Sensitivity – You must successfully detect the intent and motion of your opponent by feeling the pressure of their movements from point of contact. You must also learn to follow your opponents movements and to redirect them to a safe position from which you can take control and counter attack.

3. Timing – The speed and timing of your block, check and counter attack have to be tight enough that there are no gaps in which your opponent can interrupt you. This also means entering at the proper moment and disengaging safely.

4. Pressure – This refers to the line of pressure your strike creates and not necessarily the power behind your strike. It also refers to the process of pushing and jamming your opponents movements continuously and putting him off-balance.

5. Control – We can look at this 2 ways. Controlling your self and controlling your opponent.

a. For yourself, make sure you know where you stick is at all times. Make sure you know what your position is relative to your opponent. Make sure that you can put yourself where you want to be.

b. On your opponent, make sure you know where his weapon is, know if he has a second weapon in the other hand. Drive your opponent where you want him to be.


Begin training with a progression in mind. It is important to develop the proper escalation of movements to ensure smooth power delivery and coordination. Develop a rhythm. The timing will become evident to you as you improve. Emphasize and develop the use of proper attributes (strength, speed, stamina).

Banda y Banda  

banda y banda

banda y banda

Start slow with the Banda y Banda. Pay attention to body mechanics. Another important part of the dynamics is how the body moves with the strikes. Ideally the body should be powering the strikes from the ground through the hips.

1. One way to ensure this is to start from the abierta position with the heel of the back foot raised.

2. As you execute the first strike of the Banda y Banda, drop the back heel of your foot. This twists your waist and opens your hip which drives the force through your leg, up back into your arm and out to the stick.

3. On contact, the stick should bounce upward to the other side of your body. On the backhand strike of the Banda y Banda, power it by raising the heel of your back foot and push from your toe. This will push the force up your leg and through your waist, twisting it into your strike.

4. Bounce the strike back into the abierta position.

5. Make sure the tip of your stick points upwards throughout the drill.

Espada y Daga + Banda y Banda

espada y daga banda y banda

espada y daga, banda y banda

This is an escalation of the Banda y Banda drill. The objective is to properly apply the “dagger” hand in a checking position in-between the bouncing sticks.

1. Start like you would normally do the Banda y Banda from the abierta position, checking hand on the centerline, back heel raised.

2. Thrust your empty hand forward, right after your first strike as it bounces to the other side. make sure the shoulder of your weapon hand faces forward and drop your back heel.

3. Twist your waist, raise the heel and push from the toes of your back foot as you perform the return strike of your Banda y Banda. Point the elbow of your empty hand forward, with the empthy hand under your chin.

4. Return your stick to the abierta position and move your hand forward into the checking position.

5. Repeat as necessary.

Espada y Daga + Krus + Banda y Banda

espada y daga, krus,  banda y banda

espada y daga, krus, banda y banda

We can further escalate these movements by adding the “krus”. What this does is that it adds the element of unpredictability by adding a low angle strike which gives you additional options of a strike when the point of your stick is low and a strike on the lowline which can be unexpected. Espada y Daga

1. Start like you would normally do the Banda y Banda from the abierta positon, checking hand on the centerline, back heel raised.

2. Thrust your empty hand forward, right after your first strike as it bounces to the other side. make sure the shoulder of your weapon hand faces forward and drop your back heel. Krus

3. Shift your weight from your front leg to your back leg, lean back sideways from your waist to create a pendulum like movement as you swing your stick upward in a snapping strike from under your arm.

4. From contact, chamber your stick on top of your empty hand side bicep. Banda y Banda

5. Twist your waist, raise the heel and push from the toes of your back foot as you perform the return strike of your Banda y Banda. Point the elbow of your empty hand forward, with the empty hand under your chin.

6. Return your stick to the abierta position and move your hand forward into the checking position.

7. Repeat as necessary.


Baston Serrada operates as action-sets on triggers from point of contact. The information you get from point of contact should trigger your reaction, whether it is to go completely on the offensive, redirect the attack and counter, or stay on the defensive. It is ideal to “blind-side” your opponent by going to the outside, but you should still be able to hold your ground on the inside if you cant regardless of the attack. A constant barrage of strikes from multiple angles assisted by the “checking hand should keep your opponent off-balance. Some simple rules of thumb are:

1. redirect the attack

2. move to a better position

3. neutralize the weapon / weapon hand

4. off-balance your opponent

5. attack from an unexpected angle

6. keep hitting

7. repeat as necessary, not necessarily in any order


There are obviously other options that may be inserted into this structure. We still have not covered the different possible blocks that work well with Baston Serrada, nor the different types of disruptive attacks you can insert between the movements, as well as positions favorable for disarms or takedowns. This makes Baston Serrada a very flexible system. I didnt say its going to be easy though. As with anything worthwhile, you must put in the time and effort to develop these skills to their highest potential.

GM Lema Portrait

I don’t want to bore you with a re-statement of information that you could google or search for on the Internet.  Instead I’d rather talk about the man as I knew him.

He was a quiet man.  Very old-school.  Dressed in long sleeved shirts and pressed pants, he would conduct his lessons at the Marikina Sports Center on Sundays.  These were unforgettable times for me.  Our group would go and train and try to get as much understanding as we could in the limited amount of time we had.  He threw information and knowledge at us like buckets and we often have to split the load just to get it all.  And at the end of the day, we knew we had our work cut out for us during our week in our daily sessions together to study and understand the lessons of the weekend.

It was fun being young, having the energy to run around to “this training”, and “that training.”  I now appreciate the times I had driving him to his personal clients during the week and driving him home from the classes.  These were the times I got to know a little bit more about the man behind the lightning bolt.

I can say he likes fried chicken a lot.  Its like a default.  By this time he couldn’t really eat a lot due to his ulcers, but he still liked ” a little bit of this, a little bit of that.”  I was fortunate enough to accept his invitation to join the Arnis Demo Team that he was bringing to the World Martial Arts Festival in Chungju, South Korea in 2001.  It was an eye-opening experience for me.  It motivated me to push myself more.  Thinking back I realize that I was a very cocky, immodest and sometimes arrogant individual.  Some kind of Maverick-Hotshot-bald-tom cruise.  But after seeing some of the best martial arts teams in the world perform… sometimes you realize you may be a Big-fish… in a small pond.  My world just got a little bigger then.

It was a great feeling to see him awarded and honored internationally, some sort of icing on top of his cake.  It also made us proud to be members and recipients of his legacy.  The legacy of a man who made Arnis his life and life’s work.

It also made us proud to be members and recipients of his legacy. 


In the classes he’d sit back watching us like a hawk as he put us through our drills.  He was forgiving about some flaws in technique, he’d let us make mistakes… until he’s had enough of it.  You’d either get a sharp reprimand… if he liked you.  Otherwise you’d be left alone to figure it out.  Lessons with him intimidated me at first.  He spoke softly but firmly and spoke like men of his generation did.  He used the language differently, and used words we don’t use any more.  No one speaks like that anymore.

He was a proud man.  He was always up for a challenge.  His dignity showed in the way he presented himself and the way he dressed.  When he would explain things, it was alway matter of fact, and he’d show you exactly why things worked his way.  Like a chess grandmaster, he could read you 2,3,5,10 moves ahead.  He could tell you by your first move what your options were going to be and whether or not it was a good decision.

He was a strong man.  We hear this from the stories the other old men tell about him.  There are stories about his 19-inch circumference biceps.  His old photos show this.  The power showed through when he’d break thick rattan sticks. When his hand checked, it was like being hit by a sledgehammer.

He was lightning quick.  Even in his old age. We are lucky to have videos of this.  Otherwise people would say that we are telling tall tales.  His timing was impeccable.  Trying to breach his defense was like walking into a blender.

And his repertoire was huge.   His range of techniques covered all ranges of Largo, Media and Corto.  Weapon sets from Solo Baston, Doble Baston, Espada Y Daga.  Deep understanding of the principles of De Salon and De Campo.  A very sophisticated set of Agaw Baston and Defensa Contra Baston.  He was nicknamed Ben Judo for his Trankada (probably also for his time training at the Kodokan in Japan).  And he was also left handed which made for mind boggling complexity in shifting from hand to hand with equal dexterity and skill. What an opportunity for endless, lifelong study!

He had a reputation as a fighter and would not back down to a challenge or to anyone who would disparage his name.  There are stories about matches he’s had in town fiestas and other tournaments.  The details I have are sketchy as they are not first hand and the other old men are better at telling them.  And he would alway be up for a demonstration.  We take for granted our time now with all this recording technology.  Some footage of him survives.  Some of it is on the internet.  But it won’t be the same as the real thing.

He was also a bit of a prankster and he’d put us sometimes in funny, compromising and potentially embarrassing situations and see how we’d react.  I guess being around us younger guys made him feel young again.  Our Korean host  took us to a Korean day-spa where they also had a gym.  Upon hearing that he decided to join us for a bit of pumping iron.

Our respect for Mang Ben is boundless.  And we are thankful for the time we had with him.  Naturally my memories of him are different from the other people who were close to him.  Granted there are a lot of other people with their own personal experiences with the Old Man.  And it often crosses my mind what it would’ve been like to train with him when he was at his prime.  All the trips and stories he could tell.To some he’s a father, grandfather, friend, buddy, mentor, teacher… but for me, he’ll always be the Grandmaster.

More about GM Lema on Lightning Scientific Arnis Israel