Maranga, Rodrigo

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Some great martial arts masters are very secretive about their art. This has come about because of things that have happened in many time and places. Masters of the war arts become worried that their will be used for evil ends, so they teach their skills to no one and take their martial secrets with them to the grave. Fortunately, some of those great masters manage to find a handful of trustworthy students to pass their art down to, enabling their art to survive after they pass away. This was the case with the late escrima expert, Col. Timoteo Maranga. According to his son, Rodrigo Maranga, the late grandmaster of tres persones escrima de combate super cuentada was one of the "three pillars" of balintawak arnis (the others are Venancio Bacon and Delfin Lopez). Timoteo Maranga had originally started training in de marina stick-fighting techniques at age 7 but spent the better part of his youth travelling around the Philippines learning martial arts techniques from many different masters. He even became an expert with the gudo, a type of bladed weapon, before mastering escrima.
When Maranga met Anciong Bacon, he became a devotee of balintawak arnis. But after years of study and many challenge matches, he blended the balintawak of Bacon with his own experiences and his deep spiritual beliefs to form a new style: tres persones escrima.

Tres persones means "three people" and is a reference to the three pillars of balintawak and the Holy
Trinity. It reflects the late grandmaster's belief in the Christian God and his feeling that this was a fundamental part of escrima. But his beliefs included some things many Western Christians may find
curious, like the use of a short recitation, called an oracion, to call on supernatural powers, or the stitching of small magical amulets into the skin so the practitioner can absorb their power. Tres persones is as much about f ighting as it is about religion, and this led many people to seek out Maranga for instruction. But the late grandmaster rarely taught anyone outside of his family and never accepted money for the lessons. In fact, modern-arnis founder Remy Presas was one of the few people outside of the Maranga clan to study tres persones escrima. Rodrigo Maranga, the current grandmaster of the style, recalls Presas showing up for lessons with an armful of food for the late grandmaster-since he wouldn't take money. The techniques of tres persones escrima are similar to those of balintawak arnis, but they have their own special twist. For instance, tres persones uses the same "candlestick defense" (stick held vertical, body swiveling from side to side to block) as balintawak. But tres persones has 29 methods of attack. It also has a set of complex trapping techniques that differ from those of the balintawak styles.

Because of Maranga's secrecy and his commitment to teaching only worthy students, there is but one living master of tres persones escrima: Rodrigo Maranga. In keeping with his father's wishes, Rodrigo has taught only family members and a few trusted outsiders in the 15 years since his father's death. In mid-1 998 Rodrigo and his son introduced the style to the world for the first time at a conference in Cebu,Philippines.
Rodrigo hopes that this exposure will help spread his father's style and open the eyes of escrimadors
everywhere. "This is the first time we're out in the open," he said, "and I hope people will see that [our
escrima] truly comes from the heart." It's a legacy that his late father would be proud of.

There are no feints in De Campo; the first strike is always delivered with a
maximum effective force. Any part of the enemy's anatomy closest to you
should be your first target. In most cases it is usually the weapon hand. If the
weapon hand is retracted rearwards and other parts are of the body like the
head, elbows, knees and checking hand offer a good opportunity, they should
be hit first.
1. When the enemy advances- strike at the knees
2. When he sees an opening hit the hands or elbows.
3. When his focus is good hit the eyes.
These are the three primary targets of De Campo. There are no stick to stick
blocks and tapi-tapi or alive hand techniques. All disarms are simple direct
strikes to the weapon hand. Manong Jose called this the defensive strike.
Training cannot be overemphasized in the method. The grueling target hitting
drills are practiced one on one €" in Instructor student tandem. Doing this
exercise by a pair of fighters of the same level of skill is never encouraged.
The rationale behind this methodology is that a student should always be
conditioned to fight a highly skilled fighter and not just a big muscle bound
bully. GM Caballero, did not just beat up ordinary drunken thugs, he defeated
the best fighters of his era like Balbino Mancao, Simeon Saavedra, Vicente
Labor, Master Juan Carolla, Heneroso Carbajosa, Master Alfredo Macalolan,
Tanciong Lopez, Horje Navajo, Solomon Canonio, Pastor Hingoyon, Anoy of
Tangub and other unknown challengers.

Teaching De Campo doesn't make good business sense, unless you intend
to fleece a gullible apprentice, then you establish a protracted format of
progression that can be redundant and boring and worse ineffective. Manong
Jose once gave this straightforward advice to beginners: If you find the
weapon hand hard to hit, target the elbows since it travels at a very narrow
radius. If he strikes you with a planchada,(horizontal strike) counter with a
vertical strike from the ground up or vice versa and if he strikes you with a
vertical strike at any angle, counter with a planchada - but remember maintain
maximum effective distance.? Like a worn out vinyl record he always
reminded students: I trained you to fight very good fighters and not just a
big bad clumsy bully with a stick. A stick fight should be over in three seconds,
beyond that, be careful!?