Amara Arkanis
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The Founder of Amara Arkanis
How It Pertains to the Filipino Martial Arts Education

Amara Arkanis is a complete martial art. On the surface it looks like there are two different arts- an unarmed art using the hands and the feet and an armed art using sticks, knives, and other alternative weapons.

But a close examination will reveal that it is one and the same complete martial art. All the techniques may be executed with or without any weapon. The fact is, weapons such as sticks or knives are regarded as an extension of the hand.

For educational and learning purposes, the unarmed techniques and the armed techniques are presented separately so a better understanding of the art is achieved. The student, however, must always remember that all and every technique, particularly hand techniques, may be executed with or without weapons.

Twenty-six years ago, in 1980, Luis Rafael C. Lledo, Jr., in his desire to bring back the original mandirigma spirit to the fighting arts, established Amara Arkanis, a product of the continuous evolution of the fighting arts he has learned.

Lou Lledo

When Lledo Founded the Amara Arkanis style of Filipino fighting arts, he held the rank of Ika-Amin Na Antas Sagisag Na Itim (6th degree Black Belt), and the title of Punong Guro (head instructor) in the Filipino fighting arts and in Japanese Karate.

The first seeds of Amara Arkanis were born in 1959 in Zamboanga City on the island of Mindanao, in Southern Philippines. Lledo was first introduced to the rudiments of the fighting arts by his grandfather, his father and his uncles.

His great grandfather, Antonio Marquez Alvarez, a descendant of the Spanish conquistadors, taught him the European style of fencing. His father, Luis Lledo, Sr., then an intelligence officer of the Philippine Air Force, taught him the military, albeit dirty style of hand-to-hand combat. At an early age, Lledo also became an expert in combat shooting, both with rifles and handguns. After school, Lledo, apprenticed in a boxing gym operated by his uncles Ramon and Antonio Lledo, local boxing promoters and champions of Zamboanga City, where he learned the manly art of boxing.

Lledo, although not of royal heritage, but nonetheless from an influential family, was also schooled in the secret fighting arts of Kuntawan and Silat. He became adept in the arts of Kuntawan and Silat. At the same time, Lledo took up Karate under Joe David of the Kyokushinkai style of Karate and was awarded his 1st Degree Black Belt as he celebrated his 18th birthday.

In his desire to learn more about the fighting arts and to pursue a degree in Medical technology, he went to Manila and trained further in the different arts and styles of fighting. He sought the instructions from the masters.
Due to his diligence and skills in the fighting arts, he was promoted to the 4th Degree Black Belt in Karate in 1972. It was then that he became acquainted with Remy Presas, who was in the initial stages of establishing the Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines.

In 1974 Lledo was named head referee during the International Invitational Karate Championships, hosted by the Philippine Karate Association, the ruling body of Karate in the Philippines, of which Remy Presas was also an official.

Lledo trained directly with Kali Grandmasters Tatang Illustrisimo and Porfirio Lanada. He also trained and received a Master’s Certificate in Brokil (the Pampanga School of Arnis) from Grandmaster Delfin Bernarte.

Masters of Arnis de Mano found a way to treat and temper a type of hardwood known as bahi, making it tough and strong as steel. It was a popular belief that the master imbues the bahi with his spirit, personality and his anting-anting (amulet). This bahi and anting-anting were passed on to the successor in a highly secret ritual just prior to the master’s demise. It is said that unless the anting-anting is passed on to the successor, the master’s final moment will be agonizingly long in coming. It was also rumored that Bernarte’s bahi and anting-anting were passed on to Lledo, something that Lledo neither denies nor confirms.

He trained in Tai Chi Chuan under Ed Cayetano. Fortunato Sevilla and Francisco Alvina were Lledo’s instructors in Judo and Ju-jitsu. He learned the concepts of Korean Tang Soo Doo and Japanese Goju-ryu Karate from Grandmasters Hwang Kee and Gogen Yamaguchi respectively. Lledo learned Sikaran, various Japanese styles of unarmed combat and Soong Leong Kwan, King Fu, from Emmanuel Querubin, who learned it from Chan Keng Wan, the last living Master of Soong Leong, Kwan.

Lledo’s associates and training partners, particularly Inocencio Glaraga of the Kalaki School of Kali, Yaming and Arnis, Yoli Romo of the Philippine Pamantukan Penjakali Stick Boxing Society and Rodel “Smoking Sticks” Dagooc of Modern Arnis Philippines, further enriched his experience with other systems of fighting.

In 1975, Lledo was accredited as an international referee by the World Union of Karate-do Organizations. (WUKO), the world ruling body in Karate and was called upon to officiate in the Third World Karate Championships held at Long Beach, California.

While in Long Beach, Lledo became closely associated with Ed Parker, father of American Kempo. Parker played host to Lledo and other officials of the Philippine National Karate Team, whom he chauffeured around in the Cadillac given by Elvis Presley.

Parker became an honorary member of the Philippine National Karate Team and was always present during the training sessions of the Philippine Karate Team. The Philippine team placed fourth in the team competition in the 3rd World Karate Championships.

The exchange of information and techniques with the various martial arts leaders and practitioners during his foreign travels and in their visits to the Philippines further enriched his understanding and experience in the fighting arts.

In 1980, Lledo established an eclectic system of fighting geared towards an individual’s psychological and physiological makeup. It is not a new combative art. Rather, it is a further evolution of the various martial arts that Lledo trained and learned.

Lledo’s ultimate goal in establishing the system is to develop a person’s character through the rigid and strict discipline required in training in the fighting arts. To give the system his personal touch and to reaffirm its ultimate goal, Lledo name the art Amara Arkanis.

When Lledo formalized the curriculum of Amara Arkanis, he called on his experience both as a martial artist and a physical education teacher. He knew that in order for the art to flourish and expand, the traditional way of teaching must give way to the modern way of propagation.

Lledo’s expertise in teaching the fighting arts was recognized when he was appointed chief defensive tactics instructor of the Headquarters, Philippine Integrated National Police Training Command, and National Capital Regional Training Center at Fort Bonifacio in Metro Manila. He later was made chief unarmed combat instructor of the National Bureau of Investigation (the Philippine version of the FBI). He also headed a team of security agents for then Mayor Bagatsing of the City of Manila, and trained the Civil Intelligence and Security Unit of the City of Manila in the combative arts. The State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA) voted Lledo president of the SCUAA Martial Arts Organization.

Lledo holds a rank of captain in the Philippine Air Force Reserves. He travels around the Philippines giving instructions and seminars in the Amara Arkanis School of the Filipino Fighting Art.  He is also Chief Combat Instructor of the 1st Air Division and the 304th Security Squadron of the Philippine Air Force.

On May 8, 2002, Lledo was appointed Regional Commissioner (SCUAA, Region IV) by the International Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines, which was founded by Grandmaster Remy Presas.

Shortly thereafter, Lledo migrated to the United States carrying with him the title of Ambassador Plenipotentiary of the Department of Tourism’s Office of Philippine Indigenous Fighting Arts.

In January 2003, Lledo was bestowed the Grandmaster of the Year Award of the Filipino Fighting Arts, by the Action Martial Arts Magazine published on the east coast.

On December 2005, Lledo was sworn in by Senator Lito Lapid, Chairman of the Philippine Senate Committee on Sports as National Coordinator of the Philippine Indigenous Games, Sports and Arts and the International Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines (PIGSAI-IMAFP) for New Jersey, USA.

Founders of the Kapisanang Dunong at Lakas
(Later renamed Tabak ni Bonifacio)
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© Amara Arkanis Copyright by Luis Rafael C. Lledo, Jr. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this text may be used or reproduced in part or in whole without the express written consent of Punong Guro Luis Rafael C. Lledo, Jr.