How We Met The GMM

How We Met the Great Grand Master

By Master Chief Gary Largo

The year was 1958, December. On the banks of the Waiawa River in Pearl City is where we grew up catching frogs and fish. The water was brackish; meaning that it was fresh water from the mountains and natural springs that flowed into the ocean.

One winter day, we happened on an old man that was fishing for Papio (Jack Trevally). We saw him catching a lot of fish. It was amazing to see the skill he had, so we asked questions such as what kind of bait he was using, hook size, type of line, etc.

Our family had just relocated to Oahu from the Island Maui. We had one more week of Christmas break. In those days, we had no cars and there were no City buses, so we had to walk everywhere we went. We adventured along the shores of Pearl Harbor, Waipahu, and the Waiawa River. It was a great way to explore the area.

There was a bridge across the Waiawa River; we named it the Brooklyn Bridge. As luck would have it, we saw the same old man fishing again. My brother James Largo and his friend Eddie Pedoy, who we just met, were with us that day. I told Eddie that this old man is an excellent fisherman. We’d seen him he catch a lot of fish a week earlier! Eddie started to laugh and said, “That’s my Dad, Braulio Pedoy.” We didn’t realize it at the time; that one day, he would become our Escrima Master.

A few years later, in 1961, some friends and I started going over to Eddie’s house for weight training. It was good to see the old fisherman. He would talk to us about Escrima and its history, the culture and his life. This went on for months. We found out later on that it was his way of screening potential students.

The first time I seen the Grand Master practice Escrima, I couldn’t believe how graceful and fluent his movements were. It was a dance with a bolo knife in his hand. I knew then, this is what I wanted to learn. Several weeks later we began training in the offensive movements (#1 to 12 strikes) of Derobio Escrima.  Included in the first Escrima classes was Eddie Pedoy, my brother Leslie Largo, and Jimmy Silva. Soon the Great Grand Master’s grandson Tyrone Takahashi started training too. The Grand Master told us that you need to learn the offense movements in order to learn the defense. So began my training in Escrima that I continue to practice and teach until today.

Top Left – Head Instructor Gary Largo Top Right – Chief Instructor Eddie Pedoy Bottom Left- First Instructor Leslie Largo Bottom Right- Instructor Jimmy Silva (Photo Taken in 1968)

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