Do you know this Maestro?

Photo taken on 10 August 2013 in Luneta, Manila, Philippines
Photo taken on 10 August 2013 in Luneta, Manila, Philippines

“Pugay, Maestro,” we said to a man with fair skin, long wavy hair,  bushy silver beard, wearing an oversize jacket, piles of necklaces and bracelets, and carrying several canes bound together.

I’ve seen some photos of him on Facebook but the first time I saw him in person was a few Sundays ago when our Arnis Master Cris Pasindo brought our group to Rizal Park. Part of the outing’s goal was to meet different grandmasters. (See that post here.)

The Maestro’s get-up was something I don’t usually see among Filipino Martial Artists or anyone for that matter.  The first words that entered my mind: Weird.  Odd.

So I was a bit taken aback when he spoke. One could immediately tell that he was highly-educated. I was impressed right away. Within minutes our group was chuckling at his wit and caught up with what he was saying.

When I asked permission if I could write about him in this blog he said yes, with one condition:

“Spell my name right: S-I-O-U-X.”

Okay I will, Maestro Sioux.

Maestro Inocencio "Sioux" Glaraga

The above photo is actually posed. In reality, about ten of us were gathered around him, much like an informal classroom.

Oh, if I only knew how to take down notes like a news reporter! I’m sure I would have gotten more information. Anyway, here are a few of the points I got. The way I write makes it look serious but Master Sioux was warm, conversational, and witty. Not preachy at all.

About him: (He wasn’t in the mood to talk about himself so this is all I got)

Inocencio Y. Glaraga a.k.a. Maestro Alibatar EMS a.k.a. Maestro Sioux

  • Academic degrees: B.Crim, A.B., B.S. Ed (Major in PE), M.S. Crim
  • Was a certified NBI, Police, and Military Instructor
  • Native of Negros Occidental, Western Visayas, Philippines
  • prefers to be called Maestro because he says that’s what he is, a teacher
  • he plans to go back to teaching FMA soon but only instructors’ level

His thoughts:

  • Who are we to claim that this art is ours?  What we know, we also got from others
  • Be very careful and always acknowledge those who taught you
  • You cannot mix virtues with vices
  • If you are not disciplined yourself, you have no business teaching discipline to your students
  • Guard your tongue. Do not let a temporary irritation bring permanent damage
  • If you are a master, live as a master. It is the duty of the student to care for his master
  • Build character early on. A skilled practitioner without values is very dangerous
  • You cannot be a teacher unless you remain a student
  • Teaching is learning
  • Practice diligently until the moves come naturally to you, like a reflex. Muscle memory is important because in battle, you don’t have the luxury of time to think
  • Cross studies broaden a student’s horizon. But this is how you should go about it: Learn the fundamentals from your own master first. Then when your master says you are ready, you can go and get cross studies

Sure, there were times when Master Sioux made “weird” statements like a certain mysterious Maestro Sto. Nino teaching him and that one time when he healed an injured Arnis player with a dab of his saliva.

I REALLY don’t subscribe to those things and that’s one part of FMA I don’t want to participate in so I was very conscious and careful. But thankfully, those statements were few and far apart .

And here’s the reason why I think he’s one of FMAs gems: He has a profound knowledge of the Filipino Martial Arts. Ask him anything and he knows the answer: history, personalities, styles, etc. He’s like a walking encyclopedia.

Of all the things he said, this is my favorite:

For twelve years I along with several others tried to unify Filipino Martial Artists but we failed. Now, I think the younger Grandmasters have learned from the mistakes of their elders. So, there’s hope.

In the end, I ask these questions:

“Do you know this Maestro? Have you talked to him lately?” Maybe you can join me in getting to know him…again.  I’m sure we can all benefit from FMA’s walking encyclopedia. And if you’re one of those who appreciate him, maybe you can let him know now. I think even maestros need a pat on the back sometimes.

“Is he weird?” Maybe the better term is eccentric. And mostly only in attire. What he really is, is an enthusiastic teacher who wishes Filipino Martial Artists to be united for their own good.

Maestro S-i-o-u-x, you’re my kind of Maestro. I look forward to seeing you again.



Thank you for taing time to read The Deadly Dance.


Interesting reads from around the web:


1. Maestro Sioux doing a demo with Grandmaster Antonio “Tatang” Ilustrisimo

If you have trouble viewing the video, click here.

2. In this video, you can hear Maestro Sioux’s voice explaining the salient points of the Ilustrisimo style while Tatang Illustrisimo demonstrates his moves before his young apprentice now GM Tony Diego, who many call the legitimate heir of Kali Ilustrisimo. Click here.  

3. Again, Maestro Sioux’s voice in this video explaining the movements of Lightning Scientific Arnis as demonstrated by two late Grandmasters–Ben Lema (the founder) and Elmer Ybanez (the worthy apprentice). Click here.


Thank you to Mr. Mio Cusi for telling me about these videos.


6 thoughts on “Do you know this Maestro?

  1. aminahgarangan2014 September 2, 2013 / 10:17 AM

    Wow! the reflex of lolo was uh-mazeballs! bam! I am getting more fascinated about Arnis. I imagined now how our Datus fought in the past. I thouht Arnis was just a typical martial arts without realizing the rich historical background of it.

    • thedeadlydance September 2, 2013 / 9:29 PM

      That’s Antonio”Tatang” Ilustrisimo, one of the most famous Arnisadors in the country. Did you see how the moves are so no-fuss and effective?
      When you study arnis, you’ll appreciate our heritage. I once read Pres Noynoy Aquino saying that every strike of arnis is laden with the story of our people… oh so profound but I think, so true.

  2. aminahgarangan2014 September 3, 2013 / 7:51 AM

    Yes, All the moves were straightforward. Boom, boom, Pow! so cool.

  3. Gigi Galang July 11, 2014 / 11:06 AM

    oh yes…I’ve studied and worked under Maestro Sioux Glaraga. a long time ago.
    Weird maybe to the point of eccentricity. But his style in the martial arts…whether karate, judo or eskrima…boarders on the Chen Style of Tai Chi Chuan.
    His journey into the esoteric world of Kabala, from the physical to the spiritual…has I believe encompassed his totality as a martial artist. Thus he seems a paradox to the “uninitiated”
    Maestro Sioux would constantly remark to me. “it is so hard to EXPLAIN the esoteric to the uninitiated. It is like “explaining to the carabao herder the mechanics of a jet plane”

    gigi galang..

    • thedeadlydance July 11, 2014 / 11:55 PM

      Hi , Gigi! Thank you for visiting and commenting. Yes Maestro Sioux does seem like a paradox. I’ve met him again several times since this first meeting and I really find him wise and interesting. And his passion for the state of FMA in the Philippines is so strong that during one informal lunch among the grandmasters, he spoke loudly and with conviction that I thought he was angry at the group. But he was not. He was just passionate and frustrated with the way things are going these days… esp. with the implementation of the Arnis Law.
      Anyway, I really hope Maestro Sioux’s ideas will be heard and considered by the influencers. Afterall, he may look weird but his ideas are not.
      I hope to meet you someday.

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