Image: Guru Andrew P. Obon
Guru Andrew Pereira Obon started his martial arts journey way back in 1967 in Sabah, Malaysia. He first learned traditional Taekwondo when he was 13 years old. He also studied Indonesian Kuntao and Southern Style Chinese boxing from local masters. Even before he was into formal training, he was engaged in outdoor boxing during his grade school years. The warrior blood started to manifest in him since the early days.
When Guru Andrew returned to the Philippines in early 1972, he started to scout for a martial arts club. He enrolled at the Moo Duk Kwon Tang Soo Do Club in Dumaguete City a few months after his return. It was at this time that his martial arts journey took on a new turn.
Image: APO Self-Defense Club participates in KMP Karate Tournament
He earned several recognitions among them: Best Fighter Award, 1972; Champion Black Belts Division, 1973; and Overall Championship, won by his club, 1973. The aforementioned awards were given during the All Philippine Karate Judo Organization Open Karate Tournament in 1972 and 1973 in Negros Occidental. He became the Chief Instructor of the Dumaguete Central Gym.
A Shift to Eskrima
In 1973 Guru Andrew was initiated into the combative art of Eskrima. He learned the Double Baston and Traditional Single Baston from Master Casimero Espina and AFP Col. Filisisimo Bulfa, respectively. Both Masters were related by affinity to Guru Andrew. He studied for about a year under these two Masters.
Image: Back Row (from 3rd left to right)- Bobby Taboada, Tinong Ibanez, Tiofilo Velez, John Doe, Andrew P. Obon (APO). And Front Row (4th from left) Nick Elizar (Nickelstick) and flunking him are the Velez sons Chito and Ed.
In 1974 Guru Andrew studied Balintawak Eskrima from Master Tinong Ybanes, a notable death match fighter and direct student of Grandmaster Ansiong Bacon. In 1975 Master Nick Elizar took over the Dumaguete Balintawak Chapter. Guru Andrew completed his training under Master Elizar.
In 1977, Guru Andrew moved to Iloilo City to continue his studies at the Central Philippine University where he earned his college degree. There he trained Mr. Melecio Balberde for several years, who would become the Grandmaster and Co-founder of the renowned Combative and Sportive Arnis System, Inc. (CASASAI) based in Iloilo.
Image: Group Technique Demo by APO and M. Balberde
In 1986 Guru Andrew and family returned to Negros Oriental. There he taught Balintawak Eskrima to Mr. Felix Agbon who would later become an instructor of the art and a seasoned fighter against armed gang attacks.
In The Land of Promise
Guru Andrew and family moved to Mindanao in 1987. He opened the APO Self-Defense Club in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental. There he taught Korean Tang Soo Do and Balintawak Eskrima. When Guru Andrew found a fulltime job in 1988 he had to give up training in martial arts.
Image: APO with the APO-Balintawak Self Defense Club Officers
In the year 2001, Guru Andrew became a regular employee of an Agro-industrial Company in Bukidnon. There he returned to teaching martial arts. This time he teaches Balintawak Eskrima Self-Defense System. Under the system, Guru Andrew skillfully integrated the techniques that he learned from other arts into Balintawak Eskrima making it more efficient and effective.
This refinement was aimed to further improve the existing Balintawak Eskrima System as founded and taught by Grandmaster Bacon. During his meditation sessions, Guru Andrew became aware of the need to further develop the system in the aspects of kicking, takedown, throwing, and defense against bladed weapon techniques. He also saw the need to integrate meditation, breathing exercises, and martial value system for a more holistic system of Balintawak Eskrima.
Image: Guru Andrew P. Obon with APO-Balintawak Self Defense Club at Camp Phillips Social Hall
Master Andrew P. Obon and his club is presently holding its regular training sessions in Wyn’s Gym, Centro Damilag, Manolo Fortich Bukidnon. They have expanded their services into two private schools. In early 2011 the club launched its Blogsite. After just a year of exposure on the internet, APO-Balintawak Eskrima is now popular worldwide.
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