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Sifu Larry Hartsell and the Lameco Eskrima System
by Guro Dave Gould

Sifu Larry Hartsell became private students of Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite in the Lameco Eskrima System during 1993 under the recommendation of Guro Dan Inosanto. Punong Guro Sulite would go to Sifu Larry Hartsell`s home in Los Angeles and teach him there or sometimes he would train Sifu Larry Hartsell and Guro Dan Inosanto together either at the Inosanto Academy or at Guro Dan`s home. Sifu Larry came to really love both the Lameco Eskrima System and Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite as his Instructor. It was one of his favorite things to train and his favorite weapon was without a doubt the knife and double stick material after that.

Sifu Larry Hartsell really liked the way that Lameco Eskrima was placed together, working more to refine fighting efficiency than anything else. The simplicity of the system was also the beauty of it. It was based on excelling in fighting ability while honing essential combative attributes in defence of random and unexpected exchange all while operating with-in an environment which was governeed by pure uncertainty. Thereby forcing the student to perceive and react to the actual threat faced more-so than to respond against mere speculation shrouded in complacency. As Punong Guro Sulite would tell us: "react against what your opponent actually does, not what he was supposed to do". He trained us to refine our reactions so that we were not overburdened with to much thought in our executation, rather we were to perceive the most immediate threat and react to that threat appropriately in neautralizing the threat completely in an effort to prevent the fight from evolving. The more simplistic the approach the better the results would be gained, minimizing risk while maximizing gain, always taking the most direct route from the point of perception to the point of contact.

From 1994 until 1997 I would go with Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite to the home of Sifu Larry Hartsell to assist him with the Lameco Eskrima lessons of Sifu Larry. We would train for several hours in the backyard of Sifu Larry Hartsell`s home in Carson, California just outside of the City of Los Angeles. After our Lameco Eskrima Class Punong Guro Sulite and I would train in Jeet-Kune-Do Grappling under Sifu Larry Hartsell. He would demonstrate the techniques on me and I would act as the training partner of Punong Guro Sulite, allowing him to work the ground material which Sifu Larry Hartsell had presented during the class. We did this for more than 3 years until Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite was sadly taken from us on April 10, 1997 while training in the Philippines.

Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite was working to create and form a ground fighting curriculum within the Lameco Eskrima System as influenced through these training sessions. The majority of the techniques, concepts and principles that Punong Guro Sulite received from these sessions were primarily translated to the knife curriculum of the Lameco Eskrima System, specifically regarding when the fight would force you to the ground which gave some insights as how to better perform in that environment coming from the perspective of the blade. From time to time Erik Paulson would drop by and he and Sifu Larry would have a blast rolling on the ground and grappling with one-another. A lot of times after Edgar would leave to go home I would hang back and watch Sifu Larry Hartsell and Erik Paulson roll trying various things in an attempt to best the other on the ground. They truly enjoyed each others company and both respected the other greatly and that was obvious by their exchanges with each other on the ground.

The majority of time after we would train the JKD Grappling material with Sifu Larry Hartsell, Edgar and I would spend another hour or so to try and translate the material to see if it could be modified to be utilized with a knife on the ground. Some things were discovered to be well beneficial and others not so much, but Edgar always tried to assess and refine the combative value of everything that he had learned. Some great things came out of this ground curriculum which never was officially launched with-in the Lameco Eskrima System but Edgar was getting closer and closer with every session that we had with Sifu Lary Hartsell. Unfortunately Edgar passed away before he was ready to implement this new sub-system of the Lameco Eskrima System which never made it to fruition, sadly for the world as his ideas were very remarkable regarding that genre of fighting and with knife in hand it made it that much more dangerous. I do train a lot of the ideas that he came up with regarding this trial and research era concerning the Lameco Eskrima ground game which never came to be but only with my most advanced and loyal students and not as a part of the Lameco Eskrima System itself, rather apart from it.

After the Death of Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite, Sifu Larry Hartsell requested that I continue to come to his home and further advance his knowledge in teaching him the Lameco Eskrima System, which I humbly agreed to. I would go over to Sifu Larry Hartsell`s home furthering his knowledge in various aspects of the Lameco Eskrima System on a weekly basis for years after that. Sifu Larry always gave everything that he had when he would train and so it was always an enjoyable experience and after class we would hang out for a couple of hours talking about Lameco Eskrima, Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite, Bruce Lee, Jeet-Kune-do and JKD Grappling in addition to so much more. It was always interesting to spend quality time with him at his home both in training and just talking.

I found Sifu Larry Hartsell to be very attentive during our training sessions when I would go by his home and train him in various aspects of the Lameco Eskrima System. He was very determined and never let anything distract him of break his focus. I remember after one class in specific which we were working single stick material influenced from De Campo 1-2-3 Orehenal, one of the five major influences on the Lameco Eskrima System. I had Sifu Larry striking various "groups" with intention, full power and speed for 15 minute intervals without slowing or stopping. I was keeping a close eye to see how he would focus his attention when his arms would begin to experience fatigue as usually you will find bursts of energy then nothing and then find other bursts of energy. Kind of like hitting plateaus and valleys regarding striking stamina. He struck through with consistency and with full power and speed never slowing to any degree. After I gave him a couple of minutes to recover I noticed something hanging from his hand, so I stopped him and asked if I could see. It was a piece of skin that had come loose from his hand as one blister would form and bust and another would form and bust in its place until the skin just worked itself from his hand and hung leaving exposed tissue to the elements which had to be stinging like crazy with all of the salt that the body releases in sweat.

I asked him why he did not say anything to me so that I could have stopped him before so much damage was done and he commented that if he were fighting against a group of people possibly for his life the least of his worry`s would be a little skin that was hanging from his hand. Then he insisted that we continue so I directed the training into another area and had him work with his left hand to give his right hand a much needed rest. He would not let pain factor into how hard that he pushed himself in training. He and Punoung Guro Sulite were very much alike in that regard as neither would ever let you know when they were hurt as they both would say that when your opponent knows that he has you hurt that is when he really increases the attack in an effort to bring you down before you could recover, so it was better to not let your emmotions or facial expressions betray you while you were fighting until after the fight had been won and you are at home reflecting on the days events as you begin to nurture your wounds. His concentration to task was incredible, so when he would speak the term in which he spoke so often: "let pain become your master" it was something that he not only believed but practised as well.

Regardless of what I would choose to cover when I would go by his home and train him in Lameco Eskrima he would always ask at the end of the day if we could do some knife and double stick before we ended the session. He loved the Lameco Eskrima Knife curriculum which was his utmost favorite to train. Only second to that did he love training Double Stick, he could not get enough of either of the two. We had several very interesting classes regarding what Punong Guro Sulite called: "Patibong" with the knife. Which was trapping mixed in with basic entrys with the blade and then having to work beyond any obstructions preventing you from pushing the tip of your blade forward until you found the opening. His trapping was intense empty handed as any one can attest to that has trained with him in Jeet-Kune-Do but his trapping with a blade in his hand reached a whole new level. The power that he would generate when he would push forward through obstructions and then bury the tip of his blade into what ever part of the body that he hit was measured on another scale altogether, impressive would be an understatement.

One thing that I would like to share with you all that Sifu Larry Hartsell shared with me in 1995 comparing Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite with his Instructor in Jeet-Kune-Do, Bruce Lee. He said that Edgar reminded him so much of Bruce Lee in the way that he analyzed the combative equation, the way that he moved when he was sparring or fighting, how he established his system, his views on refining his combative prowess, his stance on eliminating excessive wasted motion, his views of embracing reality regarding the combative equation, his understanding of minimizing center line infractions and violations and how he held center or recovered center once center had become violated during the fight as well as non-telegraphic motion regarding his strikes or counter strikes. Sifu Larry Hartsell really loved both Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite and the Lameco Eskrima System and I was really fortunate to have been placed in such a position as I was. It was without a doubt one of the highlights of my life and something that I will always reflect on with fond memories and cherish for life.

The last class that Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite, Sifu Larry Hartsell and I had together at the home of Sifu Larry Hartsell in Los Angeles, California was on Friday, March 7, 1997. Punong Guro Sulite would leave for the Philippines 3 days later on Monday, March 10, 1997 to host the "Kali, Arnis & Eskrima Masters Tour" in Manila, Philippines where he would soon suffer his stroke and pass away. Neither of us knew at that time that the three of us would never again assemble together and train the Lameco Eskrima System or the JKD Grappling system with one another, that this would be the very last time.

As far as we were concerned it was just the end of another class with many more to come. How sad that this would not be the case. In years after that Sifu Larry Hartsell and I would reflect back on that last day and talk about it with both of us always getting choked up about it. Punong Guro Sulite`s whole family showed up for that day, Felisa and all 5 of their children which was a rare thing as usually it was just PG Sulite and I who would go and train with Sifu Larry Hartsell and Debra Hartsell at their home, but on that day it seemed as if something were a little different and for what ever reason Edgar brought his entire family with him.

We all took plenty of photos on the front lawn of Sifu Larry Hartsell`s home after we had completed our training for what would become the very last time together, as if somehow we did know that this may be the last time that we would see each other again and be allowed to train together. I am glad that we did because those would be the last photos that were taken of Edgar with his entire family as well as the last photos taken of us three together.

I have to say that it was an absolute privilege to consistently be in the presence of two living legends of the Martial Arts World at the same time and at the same place for years absorbing all that each had to offer in their respective fields of expertise. But like so many great things in life it all had to come to an end sometime. Needless to say, I miss them both more than words can express as each were highly noble in their respective expressions regarding their passion for what they did and passed onto their students. I am grateful to both for the honor and friendship which I received by our long established training together. I think of them both fondly almost on a daily basis. They are both dearly missed.

For more information about Lameco and Lameco Eskrima training gear, visit

Photo Gallery

  • Larry Hartsell poses with his representative in Norway, Leif T. Robekk.

  • Sifu Larry and his long time student relaxing after a seminar.

  • Sifu Larry gives a demonstration with Leif T. Robekk. From a seminar in the 1990's.

Larry's Quotes

  • "I always encourage students to attend any seminars they want. When it comes to knowledge, you owe allegiance only to yourself."
  • "The Jeet Kune Do principles apply to grappling when I think of the Attack by Drawing [principle], where you deliberately see an opening for the person to come in so you can counter..."

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