Guro John is a student of Tony Diego, the heir apparent of Grandmaster Antonio “Tatang” Ilustrisimo, and was himself able to spend quite a lot of time with the Grandmaster before he passed in 1997.
The Ilustrisimo family style of stick, dagger and sword fighting goes back at least five generations before Tatang. However, it is because of Tatang that the art was named as such and became infamous, as he was a consummate fighter. Among his exploits were gang fights, defending the Philippines against the Japanese army invasion and a government job as an ‘ambassador’ between warring clans. He does have kills to his claim and they are verified.Grandmaster Ilustrisimo taught very few people in his life, but fortunately those well-chosen students were able to decipher and systematize his fighting style. Guro John presented the basics on the first day of the seminar, to concrete the foundation of ‘what is Kalis Ilustrisimo?’ On the second day, he presented the male/female triangle patterns of footwork. Combinations were added to make different attack angles and openings. Throughout the seminar Guro John emphasized that the core of Kalis Ilustrisimo is rooted in economy of movement, negating your opponent’s attack or superceding it, and finishing a fight in a very small number of moves.
After the last seminar, we all joined Guro John for yumcha, during which he talked about the history of the style, the progression of it all over the world, and some of his own experiences. His knowledge of Kalis Ilustrisimo is very deep, and we are proud to have his instruction. The Kali Brotherhood of Hong Kong looks forward to hosting another seminar with Guro John Chow later this year.