Grandmaster Gary J. Largo Founder of the General Ablen’s School of DerobioEscrima

Teaching Derobio and focusing on bolo training comes with lots of liability for its instructors. It was decided that each Derobio school would have its own name and insurance policy. The General Ablen’s School for DerobioEscrima was formed in 2010 with Head Grand Master (HGM) Gary Largo as our leader.

HGM Gary helped Master BraulioPedoy and his son Educado Pedoy open the Pedoy’s School for Escrima in May of 1961. At the time, Gary was the Head Instructor, third in command; Eddie was the Chief instructor; Leslie Largo was the first instructor; and Jimmy Silva was an instructor. Like most lefties, Gary was coordinated and strong with either his left or right hand.

HGM Gary was a master welder at Pearl Harbor shipyard, and he had the clearance and technical skills to do welding on nuclear submarines and secret radar installations in Hawaii. His mastery of welding was so good that the Navy contractors brought him out of retirement three times to assist in keeping the Navy ships at Pearl Harbor operational. HGM Gary was a hard worker who loved his job, but he always found time for his hobbies, including teaching Derobio, making hula drums using goat skin, and creating wooden turtles for his collection.

To understand Gary was to know how much he respected and loved the Pedoys. He loved telling the story of how he met Eddie Pedoy in High School; one day, while walking home, Gary pointed to an older man fishing at a bridge, and he told Eddie what a great fisherman the older man was because he always caught so many fish. Eddie laughed and said that is my father, come and I will introduce you.

Eddie and Gary took Martial Arts and would lift weights at the GGM’s house. When Eddie became a black belt, he told his father that nothing could beat Karate; the GGM said you are wrong; if an Escrimador and a Karate man fought, the Escrimador would win. Eddie asked what Escrima was; he didn’t even know his father was a Master of Derobio, Escrima. When Eddie tested his Karate against the GGM ‘s Escrima, he was met with fast blows of the GMM’s stick and conceded that Escrima was an excellent martial art. Eddie and Gary asked the GGM to teach them the art so they could someday open an Escrima School.

The GGM was at first hesitant to open an Escrima School because it was a deadly art form; the GGM did not want to train killers. In Derobio, seven of its twelve strikes are headshots; using your full power would stop any opponent immediately; in traditional Derobio, you always strike first. Later, the GGM had an idea to create self-defense Derobio, in which your opponent attacks first, and the Pedoy’s School of Derobio Escrima was formed.

The GGM Braulio Pedoydied on July 29, 1992; sixteen years later, The Bakitan Eddie Pedoy died on May 22, 2008. Grand Master Tyrone, the Pedoy’s grandson, and rightful heir took over the Pedoy’s School of Escrima, and Gary Largo took General Ablen’s School of DerobioEscrima.

Both Derobio Grand Masters strived to achieve Pedoy’s wishes

  1. Let the world know how the Pedoys brought Derobio to the US, so their names will live forever
  2. To make the style of Derobio famous and to acknowledge all Escrima Styles
  3. To lift up the art of Escrima, the martial art of the Philippines

In the fifty-plus years, HGM Gary taught Escrima, he never made any money. Under the Pedoys, the dues went toward their living expenses. When GGM Gary took over the school, the dues money was used for paying for our student’s tournament fees, entertaining visiting Masters, student functions, and school expenses.

When the school traveled for escrima business, HGM Gary was the first to offer to pay for lunch or dinner for his instructors and students. HGM was extraordinarily generous and easy going; he never said anything negative about other Escrima schools or their Masters. ‘

Under HGM Gary’s leadership, General Ablen’s School of Derobio Escrima expanded with branch schools in Maui and Virginia. Our Oahu School moved from the Moncado Church in Kahili to MaeMae Elementary School in Nuuanu.

HGM Gary received the prestigious “Order of Datu Lapu-Lapu” award from the World Eskrima-Kaki-Arnis Federation (the World’s largest Escrima Organization headquartered in the Philippines) on July 23rd, 2018, for his lifetime dedication to teaching and promoting the Martial Arts of the Philippines. At the time, only 18 other grandmasters in the world had received the Order of DatuLapuLapu award.

We asked HGM Gary when he was dying of cancer, what his instructions were for us remaining Masters, and his response was simple, “Maintain the course the Pedoy’s have given us. Nothing changes.”



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