Summary: Just a peek
Comment: A good book that gives a peek into the Kalis Ilustrisimo system. It would be impossible to show the finesse and level of efficiency and effectiveness of this system other than experiencing it under a qualified instructor. The level of development of this Art is impossible to capture in still photography, the finer (and most important) aspects are literally "lost in print". Still, this is very useful to the beginner wanting to get a glimpse, though for further study I would recommend training under Tony Diego.
Summary: Forget the politics
Comment: Previous reviewers have engaged in somewhat of "who's dady is the strongest" discussion, but that has nothing to say about this book. Now, I found the book very good in achieving the intended goal, i.e. giving an excellent presentation and explanation of the subject covered. My objection is that while it is nice to see applications of the same technique with different weapons, in some places the transfer is rather obvious, and I believe that that space could have been used better, maybe to show responses to some other types of attacks. Still, I have to note once more, thte book is very valuable to anyone interested in learning about FMA as it is, so I recommend it sincerely.
Summary: I've Studied The Villabrille-Largusa Kali Style for 15 years
Comment: This is an interesting book. As Grandmaster Ben Largusa taught me long ago, all of the styles from the Philippines have something worthwhile to offer. I have also read Mark Wiley's books. Quoting older Filipino practitioners and passing it off as scholarly research is a dubious practice at best. It is ironic that most of the people who comment on the late Grandmaster Villabrille have never met, talked to, nor practiced under him or his disciples. I have trained with Grandmaster Ben Largusa, Professor Greg Lontayao and Professors Allen and Mario Magdangal...all who had direct access to the legend himself. I have spend countless hours learning from and interviewing Grandmaster Largusa, Villabrille's direct descendant. The Grandmaster and I are writing a book on Villabrille. Mark Wiley has absolutely no idea what he's talking about when it comes to Grandmaster Villabrille and should leave him, respectfully and in perpetuity, out of his conversations. Take the time to experience and endure the rigors of this very traditional Kali system before venturing into territory of which you have no knowledge. Most people don't have the tenacity and fortitude to study the Villabrille system, and I suspect that's why it is so much easier to simple "talk" about it (and him). Villabrille learned the rudiments from his Uncle. The remainder he learned from the Princess Josefina and combat, making use of his own natural gifts. Put in proper perspective, it's to ok to add this book to your martial arts library. Again, they all have something to offer.
Guro Ron Smith
Summary: mistaken review by that Hawaiian guy
Comment: The book is OK as an introductory overview. The first guy who made a review was mistaken because despite all the videos and books circulated by authentic arnis/eskrima masters, they were never meant to impart more than a little peek into the art. For sure, they never meant to teach through books or videos, hence don't be surprised if this book is just 200 or so pages.
It's true that the Kalis Ilustrisimo masters learned by watching and videotaping Tatang Ilustrisimo. Most westerners like the first guy assume that arnis/eskrima has to be taught like a course or school subject. Sorry, but wrong. Arnis/eskrima is often self-learned in the Philippines by watching and training a few times with a few masters on sporadic instances. What makes them different from the much-looked down upon "seminar student" in the USA is that in the Philippines, you back up your training with LIVE and REAL sparring. Whereas in the US, they just attend seminars and collect certificates, videotapes, and photographs but don't spar w/o armor. Some masters and grandmasters here in the Philippines learned by just watching others practice or teach, and by imitating the moves and making them their own, AND THEN proving these techniques in sparring.
The students of Tatang didn't split up. Sagasa is not a school of Kali Ilustrisimo practitioners; it's a kickboxing style taught WITHIN and AS AN INTRINSIC PART OF Bakbakan International. Although not all Ilustrisimo practitioners are members of Bakbakan, they all interact together to this day since they all know each other personally.
Lastly, just because the late GM Villabrille was a great fighter, DOES NOT mean that he's incapable of telling tall tales. It is a very Filipino trait to tell tall tales especially in the FMA world where one-upmanship is the name of the game. The Filipino penchant for tall tales can be seen in the review posted by the Hawaiian first guy for this book, in which he describes the country of his ancestors' origins (I assume he's Filipino in ethnic descent due to his name and exposure to FMA, as well as his Hawaiian location) as NOTHING MORE THAN A COLLECTION OF GHETTOES. Exaggerated, isn't it? As I write this I am in the 52nd floor of an intelligent skyscraper in Manila.
It's safe to say that ALL the masters exaggerated their stories of achievement. The notion that GM Villabrille invented the word "kali" has enough basis although that notion isn't final as proven yet. The exaggerations come from the fact that they are all Filipinos, that they were recalling the stories from old memory hence getting some details mixed up or exaggerated, and that there was a language and conceptual barrier considering that 99% of FMA grandmasters who made FMA famous in the West were unschooled and practically illiterate. That's why the only jobs they got were not U.S.-educated "pensionados" but rather Hawaiian and Californian fruit pickers and harvesters.
All in all the book is great as an introduction and overview, and let's not begrudge the book's good traits just because we were hoping to learn Kalis Ilustrisimo from the book's contents. No, siree. If you want to learn Ilustrisimo, get yourself an AUTHENTIC teacher and train. Use the book only as reference and as a sort of primer on the style. Do not treat it as an instruction manual.
Summary: Kalis Ilustrisimo explained
Comment: This is a how-to-book which I think is inappropriate for escrima. This tract is some 200 pages but considering the illustrations, the actual text is less than 150. I read his whole book in four hours and it should have been a thousand pages to be complete in what little they intended to enunciate. A single movement has an almost infinite number of assumptions, antecedents, raison d' entre, and best practices. Escrima should be learned through corporal instruction.
The non-instructional parts of this book, the backround of Kalis Ilustrisimo, the life of the grandmaster Antonio Illustrisimo (first name may be wrong) is very useful and enlightening. Mark V. Wiley wrote the preface to this book and as I understand it he is an adherent to the Ilustrisimo style. I bring it up because it is his and the authors' contention of the falsehood of the term Kali. Mark V. Wiley and cohorts conclude based on their research that the term "Kali" was made up the very prolific stickfighter grandmaster Floro Villabrille. My opinion is that it is very hard to question Villabrille, he is a stickfighter par excelance. While in Hawaii, in tournaments, he killed a second man before stickfighting tournaments were outlawed, and one must wonder the unknown people he killed in stickfights(in the old days and maybe even now, there is such an event as a deathmatch, there is even a special sign for it). By insinuating that Villabrille, by coining the term Kali may have been mistaken is very polemic indeed. And it is tacky since Villabrille is safely dead and cannot defend himself against attacks to his reputation.
There are lapses in the writing in this book and there are two. The first is that it comes across that the only way that they learned from the grandmaster Ilustrisimo was by videotaping his counters and studying it. And that is the only way they learned, this is absurd, the grandmaster must have disclosed much more even thou he was reluctant to teach. Their style of Kalis Ilustrisimo is a complete style and there is much more to the pedagogy than videotaping the grandmasters' movements. The second is that they are very proud of the unbroken lineage of instruction within the Ilustrisimo family, but it comes across that Antonio Ilustrisimo rejected the strict regiment of his father and eventually washed out and left. Along the way he met and stayed with a man named Cortez for a long while. He must have learned from Cortez also, therefore his style must have been a composite style as most accomplished escrimadors are. This is because the very nature of escrima is to steal worthy styles from other escrimadores and make it their own. Antonio Ilustrisimo eventually returned to his family and learned more. But in their writing they leave out things that and contradict what is a misguided pride in the lineage.
Antonio Illustrisimo is a typical grandmaster, he has anting-anting (part fighting mojo, part magical charm) that is tattooed to his body, he has oracion (very effective premeditated prayer). Much like his grandmaster peers he must have lived in a world of vicious casual violence, especially in a place like the Philippines which is just a collection of ghettos.
I give the book three stars, I read the whole book in a convivial bookstore and did not purchase it, this is why I may be mistaken by the first name of the grandmaster since I don't have the book to refer to. It is sytopical with other escrima and arnis book on the market like the ones written by Mark V. Wiley. Wiley does not have a good reputation among some escrimadors. The authors of this book manage to put on airs about themselves as Mark V. Wiley is suppose to be known for. The senior instructors of grandmaster Ilustrisimo broke ranks with each other to form their own schools. One of my favorite, because on its name, is the Sagasa school, sagasa roughly translates to tagalog as "to run over". Another is Bakbakan International, bakbakan roughly translates in tagalog as "fighting strife".