Rene’s great grandfather, Esteben, was a well-known (wanted) outlaw and a feared and dangerous Escrimador. As the story has it, he possessed the Anting-Anting, “the symbol of the supernatural” coupled with his martial arts skills made him a truly invincible man. As a young boy of seven years, Juan Latosa, Rene’s father was the only person his outlaw grandfather Esteben would allow near him. Esteben saw a future Escrimador in the brave eyes of his young grandson Juan.
He tried to teach him the finer points of fighting but Juan was too young. One day as Esteben, lay sick in bed dying, he asked his grandson to take the Anting-Anting protruding from his mouth. Even as a young boy, Juan sensed that this object had evil attached to it and refused to take it. Esteben smiled at Juan’s wise decision and felt assured that his courageous grandson would be a successful fighter without the Anting-Anting. In his weaken state Esteben left for the mountains never to be seen or heard from again.
Juan Latosa, Rene’s father, was a well-respected fighter within the province of Capiz, and in the city of Mambusao. Rene’s father was the eldest in his family and a big man in terms of the average size of a Filipino. As a teenager, relatives introduced Juan to the Filipino Martial Arts early. With his interest and skills sparked, Juan asked his mother for money to go to college in Manila. His mother’s perception of study meant academics; whereas, Juan’s interpretation was to proceed to the mountains to study Escrima. He never made it to Manila. For over a year he studied in a secret camp where his training extended to weapons of different sizes, shapes (kampilan, staff, rope, double sword and etc.), and ending with a weapon completely out of character, the Japanese samurai sword. When he returned to his village, he continued to season his skills in actual fights and by practicing with different vendors and travelers who had martial arts skills. In his village, he was the best fighter; the fights did not injure him too much cause his athletic skills were at the highest level (Philippine Olympic Track Team).
He departed Philippines in 1920s for America seeking fortune, adventure, and a better life. On the ship to America, he confronted a Japanese Bo Master because he was causing trouble and bothering the other Filipino passengers. Juan asked him to stop; consequently, the situation escalated into a death match. With the stage set, the match began with sticks against staff. The fight ensued with Juan rendering the opponent down and defenseless in a matter of seconds. Being a death match, the opponent requested that he should finish the job; Juan refused. His opponent had to live with the humility and loss of face for the rest of the voyage. This story was told to Rene by other people, many years before he realized and verified that it was his father who was the major part of this episode.
Rene’s uncle was a wonderful source of training and stories. He told Rene fascinating stories of his brother Juan’s temperament, fights, and reputation in Philippines. Pedro learned Escrima from Rene’s father. The training he received from his father was for survival rather than learning for learning’s sake.
Angel Cabales did not realize how many people he had influenced during his life. As one of Rene’s first instructors, part of his legacy and influence will continue to live on in the Escrima Concepts System developed by Rene Latosa. Angel Cabales liked to teach each person individually. This is the way he was taught. He did not believe that a student could learn effectively in a group environment. Angel was a sincere instructor; he showed genuine interest in all his student’s progress. He sacrificed his evenings, after working long and hard days at the farms. His drive was the pleasure of teaching. It was Angel’s striving and rebellious attitude that inspired Rene. Angel, saddled with the pressure of the community and his peers not to open the art to non-Filipinos, persisted anyway. The Filipino community feared the possibilities of exploitation. When Rene visited Angel, they always ended up next door at Gong Lee’s restaurant catching up.
Maximo Sarmiento was Angel’s partner in the Stockton Escrima Academy; he was the person responsible for persuading Angel to open the school. Max was proficient in various aspects of the Filipino Martial Arts. His specialty was knife fighting, single and double; and Cadena De Mano, empty hands. Rene spent long hours training both at the school and privately with Max. Rene achieved the only certification in Cadena De Mano as well as Serrada by the late Maximo Sarmiento. Max Sarmiento’s style is evident in the compact and power structure of Escrima Concepts.
Dentoy Revilar was Angel’s most senior student. Dentoy taught Rene multiple hitting, speed, and body positioning. Dentoy was a brilliant role model for all the students at The Academy. While watching Dentoy’s workouts, Rene realized that the concept of focus was a major tool of The Filipino Martial Arts. Dentoy was effective, smooth, quick and focused. This is a mandatory concept in the Escrima System.
Leo Giron influence was more than exposing Rene to the Largo Mano System. Leo demonstrated that the length and the size of the weapon and the ability to work off-line were an important and essential phase of the Filipino Martial Arts. His real life experiences and combative attitude toward what he practiced made his system a prime role model.
Great Grand Master Rene Latosa has been teaching his unique style of Escrima (Latosa Escrima Concepts) for over 35 years all over the world. He developed his unique style of Escrima using the fighting concepts from several of his well-known instructors and from his family system taught to him by his Father. He developed a teaching system using concepts instead of techniques, to ensure a high level of retention among the students. He was the first person to introduce the Filipino Martial Arts to Europe and England and still travels throughout the world spreading the martial art of his culture.
Emin Boztepe | EBMAS Founder & World Chief Instructor (Learned from Rene Latosa)
Emir R. Furuhende | EBMAS UAE (Learned from Emin Boztepe and Rene Latosa)