LAMECO: Legacy of Steel By Steve Tarani

This article was reprinted with the author’s permission from the Souvenir Edition of Arnisador Magazine published by Goodwill Publications Limited. More information about the magazine can be obtained by calling Peter Morgan in London at +44 (0) 171-895 0800.

Saturday, June 1st, 1996
LAMECO: Legacy of Steel
By Steve Tarani

Swollen knuckles, bleeding forearms and battered shins – two warriors face off in a clearing. Sharp strikes of clashing rattan mix with the drawl of heavy breathing and shuffling feet. Intensely focused and alert, both combatants melt into the sweltering humidity. Glistening beads of sweat roll down to fingers wrought with open blisters. Ignoring the searing pain, each man continues fighting. Skillfully, cautiously – each life hinges upon immediate reaction to a deadly salvo of crushing blows.

Such is the way of life of an Arnisador – a path chosen by Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite. Since and before the days of Magellan, the Filipino martial arts have proven themselves highly effective standing in defiance of determined warring tribes, rabid Conquistadors and greedy foreign hordes.

The LAMECO system, systematically structured and easily assimilatable according to modern training methods, is the stainless steel link in an unbroken chain of training succession.

Great-grandfather to grandfather to father to son, a continual succession of knowledge and commitment breathes life into the ancient art from those very early days of foreign aggression to the current days of domestic violence. The heritage of combat-ready warriors runs deeply through the bloodline of the Sulite family tree.

Born on September 25, 1957 in a rural province on the Visayan Island of Leyte, Tacloban City, Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite was raised by a family of martial arts devotees in a rugged barrio neighborhood where deadly brawls and Bolo knife skirmishes were commonplace.

In other martial arts, the attainment of a certain level automatically designates the title Master or Grandmaster. In the Philippines, there are certain norms to be satisfied before one can be called and accepted as a Master or Grandmaster.

After expressing great interest in the Filipino fighting arts at a very early age, young Edgar was introduced to the rigorous training by his own father – Grandmaster Helacrio Sulite Sr.

Grandmaster Helacrio first studied with his father Grandmaster Timoteo Sulite in the 1930s. Grandmaster Helacrio went on to further enhance his skills under the tutelage of several other Arnis masters of varied styles (such as the late Grandmaster Melicio Ilustrisimo and Master Almario of Cebu among others.)

Grandmaster Timoteo Sulite’s instructors were active in the mid-19th century and their grandfathers recalled stories of their grandfathers which included the defeat of several infamous Spanish conquistadors using the very same styles of Arnis that have been meticulously passed down to Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite who, in turn, continues the solemn tradition to this very day.

While simultaneously training under his father and coming to master the family system known as Sulite Rapelon, Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite continually expanded his skills and combat technology by training intently with several other masters and Grandmasters all across the Philippine Islands.

Punong Guro devoted his entire life to the study of the ancient systems and masters who transformed him from young eager aspirant to the refined physical embodiment of technical perfection that he has become today.

Among the long list of such distinguished curators of the ancient ways is Grandmaster Antonio Ilustrisimo of Bag-on Bantayan – founder of Kali Ilustrisimo, Grandmaster Jose D. Caballero of Ozamis City, Western Mindanao – founder of De Campo 1-2-3 Orihenal and Grandmaster Leo T. Gaje Jr. of Negros Occidental – founder of Pekiti Tirsia (a close quarters combat system that specializes in knife and Espada y Daga.)

Punong Guro sheds further light on the methods of his masters in a series of educational books and video tapes available to the general public. Especially in his third book, MASTERS OF ARNIS, KALI & ESKRIMA, Punong Guro provides a rare glimpse into the arcane and mystical world of the traditional Filipino warrior class. Punong Guro is also the author of ADVANCED BALISONG: FILIPINO BUTTERFLY KNIFE and THE SECRETS OF ARNIS and has produced a total of ten instructional video tapes.

Punong Guro Sulite believes that the ancient tradition of keeping the sacred art only in the family is a double-edged sword. On the one hand the art is kept pure and in accordance with tradition. On the other hand, as modern times erode the interests of today’s youth, (who would much rather play video games rather than listen to grandpa tell old war stories,) the passing of the torch becomes more and more limited to only a select few. Unfortunately, when such masters pass away, so goes with them, forever, the art which they possess.

Thus, with the bold risk of changing the course of tradition, Punong Guro accepted the responsibility of both preserving the ancient teachings in the exact way in which he was taught, as well as disseminating this teaching in a modern platform of instruction.

In this modern age of automated organizational skills, combined with his uncanny ability to analyze with the precision of a high-tech computer, Punong Guro Sulite has heavily exposed the western world to the LAMECO system. Punong Guro currently has a number [of] schools in such varied corners of the globe as the Philippines, Germany, Australia and the United States. As a result of his unique modern approach and personal dedication through the LAMECO system, the proliferation and integrity of the ancient teachings is sustained.

What is the LAMECO system? LAMECO is a perfectly balanced synthesis of the many effective teachings and styles which Punong Guro has come to master in the span of his life.

There are some systems which specialize in long range fighting (known as “Largo Mano” or “Long Hand”) and others specializing in medium range fighting (known as “Medio”) and still others which specialize in close quarters combat (known as “Corto”). Thus, an acronym for the synthesis of the three ranges of combat LARGO, MEDIO and CORTO, the first two characters of each combat range LA, ME and CO were combined to form LAMECO.

In an interview, Punong Guro said, “I wanted to preserve the ancient teachings… but bleeding forearms and knots on the top of the head is not a good way… [there is no] safety. So a good compromise is safety equipment… [and] gradually, we can remove [the protective armour].”

When asked how he had planned to preserve the old teachings without dissipating the potency of the original art, and simultaneously combine the best of each system without offending each of his teachers, Punong Guro Sulite replied, “Grandmaster Ilustrisimo entrusted me with his [lifetime of knowledge] and wanted me to carry his name… the same with Grandmaster Gaje, Grandmaster Caballero, Grandmaster Abella, and all the others. So I have systematised and presented [the arts in a modern context easy to assimilate through a synthesis of multiply effective systems].” Thus the LAMECO system was born.

What further separates LAMECO from all other contemporary systems is its emphasis on the totality of the human being – mind, body and spirit – not only the physical elements. Attention, intention, visualization and complete focus are the integral components of the LAMECO training system. Drills and processes which develop the vital constituents were developed as the result of intense study and detailed analysis of countless ancient systems.

As modern day martial artists, we should consider ourselves most fortunate to have the opportunity to train under a renaissance thinker such as Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite. He is one of the very few who has brought the ancient traditions out of the darkest jungles and into the light of modern day martial arts training, by sharing with the rest of the world – his legacy of steel.

Punong Guro is a Tagalog title which is comprised of two words. The first, Punong, literally translates to “trunk” or “base of”, for example, a tree. Combined with the second word, Guro, which translates as “one who leads another out of ignorance” (or “teacher” in Western terminology,) this title can be translated as “Primary master instructor” or more readily, “Grandmaster”.

lameco eskrima arnis kali

Punong Guro in front of the Lameco H.Q. in Los Angeles.


Lameco Eskrima

Punong Guro Sulite on the July 1995 Inside Kung Fu Cover  with Lameco SOG Member Phil Rapagna.



Punong Guro Sulite on the March 1993 Martial Arts Masters Cover  with Lameco SOG Member Mar Elepaño.


Grandmaster Ilustrisimo Punong Guro Sulite Grandmaster Ilustrisimo Punong Guro Sulite

Punong Guro Sulite in Luneta Park, Manila, Philippnes with his teacher Grandmaster Antonio Ilustrisimo.