By Mark V. Wiley

The Serrada Escrima system was developed in the mid-1960s by the late Grandmaster Angel Cabales. While a teenager living in Cebu, Philippines, Cabales studied boxing and later de Cuerdas Escrima under Felicisimo Dizon. Upon relocating to the United States, Cabales systematized the de Cuerdas style and added an empty hand aspect he had not previously learned from Dizon, thus creating the Cabales Serrada Escrima system.

A primary method of training the blocking techniques finds practitioners pairing off, with one attacking and the other blocking and countering. After the basic counters have been perfected, practitioners move on to the art’s three principal drills, which leads them to be able to apply block and counter techniques in an appropriate and reflexive manner.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row column_structure=”1_3,1_3,1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_padding=”6px|||||”][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” title_text=”Mark Wiley and Tony Somera” align=”center” admin_label=”Mark and Tony” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” width=”100%” custom_margin=”||16px|||”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” alt=”image” title_text=”GM Angel Cabales” align=”center” admin_label=”Angel” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_margin=”||-32px|||” custom_padding=”|1px|18px|||” hover_enabled=”0″ sticky_enabled=”0″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” title_text=”Mark Wiley and Angel Cabales” align=”center” admin_label=”Angel and Mark” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” min_height=”190px”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_padding=”8px|||||”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”]

The first drill is known as “lock and block,” and refers to a “locked” or “set” fighting guard, which assumes lateral movement of the practitioner’s arms and weapons to overcome inertia, thus allowing one to respond more quickly to a given attack. As with basic defense training, “lock and block” begins with two partners facing one another—one is the defender; the other is the attacker. The defender is armed with a single stick and must effectively defend himself against an opponent aggressively wielding both a stick and dagger. In the initial levels of this drill, the defender’s goal is to block the attacker’s stick attack, complete an entire counter sequence, and return to his “locked” position prior to the initiation of the attacker’s follow-up dagger thrust. At this level, the attacker strikes in sequence (i.e., angle one, dagger thrust, angle two, dagger thrust, angle three, etc.). During the latter stages of the drill, the attacker strikes and thrusts at will, thus forcing the defender to depend on honed reflexive actions to support his transition from one counter sequence to the next without hesitation or disruption. At advanced stages, “lock and block” is performed with no attacking sequence, and with both attacker and defender armed with stick and dagger.

Another dill taught concurrently with “lock and block” is known as “flow sparring,” which develops fundamental skills in single stick direct blocking and countering. This drill finds its participants facing off and engaging in an even exchange of strikes and blocks. That is, when one partner strikes, the second partner blocks, and when the second partner counter strikes, the first partner blocks. “Flow sparring” is primarily employed as a tool to teach practitioners how to block effectively and counter efficiently in a somewhat reflexive manner.

An advanced training drill is built around the techniques of “picking” or feinting techniques. While “picking” is a primary fighting strategy, when trained with a partner it becomes a drill to further develop reflexes and the ability to defend against such strikes. Practitioners are first taught how to properly execute the “picking” (or feinting) combinations and then how to time those of an opponent. This develops in the exponent the ability to decipher when an opponent has sufficiently committed to a strike, thus affording one the opportunity to “pick” him — or strike his open areas. To develop the skills and reflexes necessary to defend such strikes, one partner will execute single strikes against the other partner, who will counter. At an undetermined time, the attacker will feint the first strike(s) and pick his opponent, who must then react accordingly and then follow up after the fakes have finished.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row column_structure=”1_3,1_3,1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” min_height=”293px” custom_margin=”-18px|auto||auto||”][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” title_text=”GM Darren Tibon” align=”center” admin_label=”darren” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” title_text=”GM Wade Williams” admin_label=”Wade” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” title_text=”GM Angel Cabales and GMD” align=”center” admin_label=”Angel and GMD” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_padding=”4px|||||”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”]

Like the compact nature of the Cabales Serrada system itself, its number of articulated fighting strategies are also few, but nonetheless effective. Among the more prevalent are methods of controlling distance and spatial relationship through footwork, techniques of feinting for luring an opponent to commit to a false attack, and methods for countering an opponent’s counter attack by going with the force of his strikes. In terms of an overall basic strategy of maneuvering, practitioners’ step along standard isosceles triangles. To maneuver to the outside of an on-coming attack, practitioners step forward with their left leg along the left line of an inverted triangle. To face the on-coming attack, exponents replace their lead leg without changing distance, by stepping to the apex of the triangle with the rear leg and then back with the front leg. At times when an opponent’s weapon is long or the Cabales Serrada exponent finds himself out of position, either a one-and-a-half stepping back combination or a series of short, stomping shuffle steps are used to adjust to the extra distance needed to move off the line of attack.

As described above, another key strategy used Cabales Serrada Escrima is known as “picking.” This refers to methods of using fakes or feinting maneuvers to cause an opponent to open his guard in response to the false strikes, thus providing the attacker an opening to strike. Picks are executed as a series of strikes, and each of the system’s twelve strikes has a specific picking combination that may be employed to fake the opponent.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row column_structure=”1_3,1_3,1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” title_text=”Angel Cabales and Max Sarmiento” align=”center” admin_label=”angel and max” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_margin=”|-35px||||”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” title_text=”Ron Saturno” align=”center” admin_label=”saturno” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_margin=”|10px||||”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” title_text=”Angel Cabales and Darren Tibon” align=”center” admin_label=”Angel inside a” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_margin=”||-12px|-29px||” custom_padding=”|||2px||”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”]

As described above, another key strategy used Cabales Serrada Escrima is known as “picking.” This refers to methods of using fakes or feinting maneuvers to cause an opponent to open his guard in response to the false strikes, thus providing the attacker an opening to strike. Picks are executed as a series of strikes, and each of the system’s twelve strikes has a specific picking combination that may be employed to fake the opponent.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row column_structure=”2_5,3_5″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_padding=”2px|||||”][et_pb_column type=”2_5″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_image src=”” alt=”product image” title_text=”Filipino Fighting Arts – Mark V. Wiley” url=”” url_new_window=”on” admin_label=”FFA” _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” width=”95%” custom_margin=”||-11px|||”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”3_5″ _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” custom_margin=”|||-7px||”]

If an opponent can effectively counter the Cabales Serrada exponent’s attack, he employs techniques known as “reversing” to counter the opponent’s counter. Such techniques include using the left hand or the stick to parry or pass the on-coming counter strike, followed immediately by striking along the newly created open line of attack.

If the opponent can counter the counter, then the Serrada practitioner will employ the technique again, but in a different way, in an effort to end the exchange of strikes. This is known as “reverse reversing,” or countering the counter. One method of “reverse reversing” that works well is known as “sticky stick,” and refers to the method of blocking a strike with your stick and then immediately sliding your stick down the length of your opponent’s stick in an attempt to strike his hand and disarm him.


This article was excerpted from the author’s book, Filipino Fighting Arts: Theory and Practice – Volume 1 (Tambuli Media).

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_column _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.6″ _module_preset=”default” hover_enabled=”0″ sticky_enabled=”0″]

Lead photo by Master Chuck Cadell.

Images featuring Grandmasters Angel Cabales, Max Sarmiento, Mark V. Wiley, Darren Tibon, Wade Williams, GMD, Ron Saturno, Tony Somera.


Share This