David Gould has written a very comprehensive book on the martial art of the late PG Edgar Sulite. Published by Tambuli Media, it is titled Lameco Eskrima: The Legacy of Edgar Sulite. Indeed, in the art of eskrima, few names resound like the late Edgar Sulite’s. This young man from the Philippines sought out numerous masters, tested his skill in challenge matches, and developed a system called LAMECO (an acronym for Largo, Medio, Corto; the 3 fighting ranges of Eskrima). In this unique book, Sulite’s “backyard” student and close friend Guro David E. Gould recounts the life, the art and the legend of Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite and his Lameco Eskrima system.
Broke down into 10 distinct chapters, Lameco Eskrima: The Legacy of Edgar Sulite, shows the evolution of a fighter and his art, from the early years of training in Tacloban City and Ozamis City, with legendary masters to the founding of Lameco Eskrima and Sulite’s meeting in Manila of such notable figures as Christopher Ricketts, Tony Diego and Tatang Ilustrisimo. Chapter 4 discusses the writing of Sulite’s three classic books, his world tour and challenge matches. This is followed by chapters on Sulite’s relocation to Los Angeles, the spread of his art internationally, and his invitation-only backyard class. The late Punong Guro used to say that one must try their best to get a collective understanding, a complete image of a person by looking into all available sources. This book, and these last chapters, provides such insights and exposure found nowhere else.
What more could one say about the late Edgar Sulite and his Lameco Eskrima system that has not already been well-stated and depicted within the pages of David Gould’s book? Well, I suppose some perspective on this project might be worth sharing. It began on July 24, 2013 when I received the following message:
“Mr. Wiley, Hello sir I hope that this message finds you well. I am Guro Dave Gould a certified Instructor in Lameco Eskrima under Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite and one of his chosen Standard Bearers for the system. I was curious if you would ever consider writing a book about PG Sulite, Lameco Eskrima and his Personal backyard Group “Sulite Orehenal Group” or Lameco SOG for short? There were 25 of us which made up his personal backyard Group in Los Angeles and we have all remained dedicated to him and propagating his legacy to the next generations to come. The Lameco “SOG” have really created a lot of interest in the general Filipino warrior arts community over the last 16 years since our Founder was sadly taken from us. I think that we would be of great interest to you and a great topic to be written about from you. Please consider this and let me know your thoughts on the matter. Regards, Guro Dave Gould.”
I was honored that the Lameco SOG group thought enough of my work to approach me with such a request. I considered the proposal for week, but thought that I was not the right person to write such a book. While I knew Edgar and many of his notable friends in the Philippines, I was not a practitioner of his art. In the past I did write an article or two on Lameco Eskrima and featured chapters on Edgar Sulite and his system within my books Filipino Martial Culture and Filipino Fighting Arts: Theory and Practice. I did want Tambuli Media to publish this book, but I felt it needed an insider’s perspective to be complete and meaningful.
No great book is ever created in a vacuum, and this one is no exception. What makes Lameco Eskrima: The Legacy of Edgar Sulite so significant is that from the outset it was meant to be a collaboration. As the late Punong Guro was fond of saying, one can never hope to gain a full understanding of him or his art by seeing it only from one perspective. This book embraces that notion and draws on the support and recollections of his oldest friends, Jun Pueblos and Alex Co, and eight of his backyard students to offer invaluable insights into Lameco Eskrima and the man responsible for developing it.
Fifteen months of collaborating, editing, photo shooting, designing and proofing have finally led to the book’s publication. It is part biographical, part historical, part memorial, part instructional, and altogether an invaluable resource providing insight into the life and art of a great man.
Edgar Sulite was well respected in the Philippines, where he dedicated his life to learning and mastering the art of Eskrima. He put his reputation on the line, taking challenges for money and honor. He earned the confidence of a collection of legendary masters of the day, including Jose Caballero, Leo Gaje, Jesus Abella, Pablicito Cabahug, Ireneo Olavides, and Antonio Ilustrisimo, among others. He earned the trust and mutual respect of his era’s newest masters, including Roland Dantes, Yuli Romo, Tony Diego, Christopher Ricketts and Alex Co. Sulite came to the United States and took the country—and then the world—by storm. He was featured on the cover of countless magazines, starred in numerous instructional videos and had a large seminar following. In short, the poor kid from Tacloban City matured into an international phenomenon, bringing the Filipino arts and his friends up along with him.
I am honored to have known Edgar Sulite and to have helped promote him and introduce his art through my own efforts nearly 20 years ago. I am also honored to have, like Edgar, earned the trust and friendship of Roland Dantes, Yuli Romo, Tony Diego, Christopher Ricketts, Alex Co, Jun Pueblos, Andy Abrian, and our shared teacher, Antonio “Tatang” Ilustrisimo. We traveled similar paths, Edgar and I, but our paths crossed only a few times in person; in his Los Angeles home and at select seminars on the East Coast where he asked me to be a guest judge during promotional exams.
““`Tony Diego, Edgar Sulite, Roland Dantes, Antonio Ilustrisimo, Christopher Rickettes, Alexander Lim Co
It was also an honor to help Rey Galang assemble Vortex, the Lameco Eskrima newsletter, at Galang’s home in New Jersey. Rey and I also collaborated closely with Alex Co to assemble Edgar’s notes and photographs into the book that was originally titled “The Masters of Arnis” but which was retitled for an international audience, The Masters of Arnis, Kali and Eskrima. And now at the end of 2014, 17 years after the untimely passing of our friend, I am able once again to bring the world an important work on this unforgettable man and his dynamic fighting art. In retrospect, it looks as though I have been an unofficial chronicler of a man and his art. But without a doubt, David E. Gould and his fellow SOG contributors are the real, the official, chroniclers and standard bearers of the late Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite and his Lameco Eskrima system. The late Punong Guro is truly missed by many, but his art lives on in the capable hands of the Lameco SOG group. May Edgar’s life and legacy live on in their teachings and within the pages of this book.
–Mark V. Wiley
Publisher, Tambuli Media