The Essence and History of Derobio

The Essence and History Derobio- Beyond the Movements

After every class, the GGM would cook dinner for us. One of his favorite dishes was turkey long rice. He would tell stories about General Ablen and of Master Moncado.

GGM cook dinner for the instructors after every class and then would talk to us about his favorite subjects including his life in the Phillippines, General Ablen, Derobio, and of his spiritual master - Master Moncado

We once asked GGM Braulio Pedoy how old was the movement of Derobio. He recalled that General Ablen told him it was over 2,000 years old. He said Derobio is a complete self defense system that takes the student from one stick, two sticks, staff,  small knife,  one bolo, two bolo, bolo and knife, one and two bolo Carranza’s, followed by hand against weapons, hand to hand, to the counters or locks and getaways. (12 areas to master in the movement of Derobio)

GGM demonstrates the Derobio defense against staff

GGM Braulio Pedoy went on to say that Derobio mirrors many of the other styles in the Visayan Islands. Derobio was created and practiced on the Island Of Leyte. In the old days, everyone in the village was taught escrima because other islanders would invade. They would kill the men, their women and children were taken as slaves. Children would be taught at a very early age to defend themselves, their families and their villages. Girls were as good as the boys because the weapon became the equalizer. Girls were known for their speed, fluidity and canniness. With the weapon as an equalizer, women fought against men. GGM would say, “Never underestimate your opponent if you are fighting against an Escrimador or an Escrimadora. Never hesitate to finish your opponent quickly. Move in (don’t back up) and hit them with full power.”

Four centuries ago, the Spanish came to the Philippines. Two major things occurred:

  1. The Spanish outlawed Escrima for 380 years. The penalty was death if you were caught practicing the art. This drove Escrima underground. The movements of Escrima were only taught within families. Derobio was not lost; General Ablen said that besides himself, he had met three other Derobio Masters on the Island of Leyte while he was fighting for independence from the Spanish and then the Americans
  2. The Derobio Masters converted to Christianity and grouped the Derobio movements into 12s, for the 12 Disciples of Christ. Derobio was taught in 12s…. 12 offense moves , 12 defense moves, 12 counters for each offense move and then 12 variations of those moves, and 12 variations of the variations for a total of 1,728 counters.

One night after class, an instructor asked this question to the GGM. “Was there such thing as an instructor of the stick?” he was referring to a student who was so good with the stick, but was afraid of the bolo.  We will never forget the lecture he gave us.  He said, “I am sure there are instructors of the stick in other styles but not in Derobio”. “For 380 years, the Filipinos fought the Spanish for independence. Do you think that they fought them with sticks? Do you think General Ablen and his men used sticks against the Spanish and the Americans? The foreigners controlled the larger cities, but the escrimadors and escrimadoras controlled the jungles and bolos were they main weapons.” GGM explained that the essence of Derobio is a bladed art form, and its not stick fighting. He made it clear that students who are afraid of bolos should never be promoted.

Derobio is a bladed martial art style from the Island of Leyte

We asked the GGM when you should introduce bolos to each student. He answered, “Let the student ask you to learn the bolos. Some students will ask in 3 to 6 months, others 3 to 6 years. Everyone is different, don’t push blades on the student because they may not be ready and may leave class.” He gave us a lecture that Escrima is not stick fighting. “It’s the martial arts of the Philippines, a complete marital art. It’s the history and culture of the Philippines. When someone asks you about Escrima (before your response is stick fighting), think carefully about what I have said and the proper way of describing to them the movement of Derobio.”


  • In Conclusion, The Essence of Derobio Escrima is:

  1. Over 2000 years old.
  2. A complete martial art taking the student through all the weapons used in combat, teaching hand against weapons, hand to hand, counters and carranzas.
  3. One of thousands of indigenous fighting styles (movements) of the Philippines.
  4. Based on Christianity. Look carefully at the Derobio defense, be it one bolo or two bolos, the defense will form the sign of the cross. GGM, use to say “The sign of the cross will protect you. Place your foundation on Derobio, but also learn the inside styles of fighting.”
  5. Derobio is a bladed art form.

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