Great Grandmaster Angel Cabales
His reputation preceded him from the Philippines to the United States. A perfect record of 9-0 is what is recorded, as it is rumored to be more. A pioneer in his own right, he opened the first Filipino martial arts school to non-Filipinos. Grandmaster Robert Castro of Eskabo Daan and a student of Great Grandmaster Angel Cabales was asked to give his insight on the man who is regarded the Father of Eskrima.
Great Grandmaster Angel Cabales is one of the earliest Filipino martial artists who brought FMA to the United States. His art he called Serrada (meaning close) differs from other Filipino martial arts using a stick of 18 inches rather than the traditional 28-inch sticks. According to Castro, Serrada “is a hybrid system… It’s a combination of Doce Pares, Kali, but Angel translated it to the shorter stick for close-in fighting.” Castro added that Serrada wasn’t exclusive to sticks as it incorporates “…an Espada y Daga system that means sword or rapier and dagger.” Castro explained that an individual could translate the same techniques from a sword to stick by understanding body mechanics. “With a sword, you have to use longer motions and the short stick is more of a flicking action. You use your wrist and arms instead of using your shoulders to make a cutting motion versus a flicking motion.” But his contributions to the art isn’t the only reason is regarded as the Father of Eskrima.
“He was one of the first out here teaching. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, He was only one out of a handful that was teaching at the time, Leo Giron (who studied with Angel Cabales), Remy Presas and Danny Inosanto were as well. He taught a lot here in the US before anyone else and that’s why I think he’s one of the fathers of Eskrima, he’s not the only one but he’s one of them. And I agree with the acknowledgement.” When asked about the origin of the alias “Death Match Champion” Castro stated, “In the Philippines, they fought to the death; it was just to show how good you were and the honor and prestige of being a stick fighter. He never advertised its just his reputation preceded him. Once you get into fighting, death matches, your reputation spread like wildfire.” But Angel’s reputation isn’t the reason he is respected and missed by so many.
“He was a personal friend of mine I enjoyed his company. He would come down to my house and we would train either at my house or the park. Angel was a true grandmaster, his art is impeccable, his knowledge of the art was impeccable and his way of teaching was very awesome, I enjoyed his teaching. I thank him greatly for all the knowledge he has given me in the past and his experience.” His teachings have paved the way for his students to express their own art. "When I first started, it was the root base of Eskabo, but as I progressed and tried to expand my abilities, Serrada expanded with me. I started adding other systems to Eskabo and as it grew it became more eclectic and versatile" stated Castro.
Great Grandmaster Angel Cabales is just one of the many Filipino martial artists who were revolutionary in their own rite, but very much unknown. Eskabo Daan strives to give individuals like Angel Cabales their due respect and recognition.
Approved by: Grandmaster Robert Castro