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   Guro Michael Davis and Grandmaster Angel Cabales

Interview with Guro Michael G. Davis
   Interview conducted by Guro Madeline

     In early 2001, I asked Guro Michael G. Davis for an interview about his time spent with Grandmaster Angel Cabales. Many who train in the art of Cabales Serrada Eskrima have never met Grandmaster Angel. I thought my students and others would appreciate his comments. See special photos of Guro Davis & Grandmaster at

Q1: How did you meet Grandmaster Angel Cabales?

A: I met GM Angel Cabales in 1988. To back up a little, I first met my wife, Lourdes Anisco Davis in 1986 and we got married in Stockton, CA on October 22, 1987. My wife is Filipino and she has tons of relatives who live in Stockton, CA.

One day my wife and I, were in Stockton visiting my wife's Aunt, Mrs. Fe Punao. (Everyone calls her Tita Ping or Tita Ping-Ping). We were all in the kitchen. I was sitting on a bar stool at the kitchen counter . We were talking for several minutes, when the subject of Filipino Martial Arts came up. Tita Ping asked me if I had ever heard of a man named Angel Cabales. I said, "YES!" I had first heard of him in 1981 and that Angel Cabales was a living legend in the Filipino Martial Arts. Tita Ping took out her address book and turned to Angel Cabales' home address & phone number and showed it to me. I almost fell off my stool. Tita Ping then proceeded to tell me that she would call Angel Cabales to set up a meeting at his home. Tita Ping did call Angel Cabales as promised and within two weeks I met GM Angel at his home in Stockton, CA.

I asked Tita Ping how she knew Angel Cabales? She said, "I used to work in a Doctor's office at the Filipino Center and he served on many Filipino Community Service Boards, etc. Angel and I have been friends for over 20 years."

Note: My wife's family came from the same region of the Western Visayas, Philippines near where Angel Cabales was born. When I first met Grandmaster Angel Cabales, my wife Lourdes Anisco Davis, Tita Ping and my Sifu Mark S. Harrell were with me. Grandmaster Angel was a true gentleman; he introduced me to his family, he answered all our questions, he showed us his personal sword and knife collection and he gave us a personal closed door Serrada Eskrima demonstration. GM Angel told us some of his war stories, fights and demonstrated in the air with his Serrada stick, how he countered his attackers and beat them all. He moved with incredible speed and grace; more than words could describe. He is loved and missed.


Q2: When did you start training with Grandmaster Angel Cabales?

A: Let's see, I don't remember the exact date or time, but it was in late 1988. I was still training in Mochi Kune Do/ MKD Kickboxing (a Chinese based martial art, very similar to Bruce Lee's JKD) I was training with Sifu Mark S. Harrell, who was also my best friend in High School and God Father to my son Joseph K. Davis. It was a very difficult decision to leave my training with Sifu Harrell, but I knew that training with Grandmaster Angel Cabales was a once in a life time opportunity. Grandmaster Angel Cabales had given me a personal invitation to become a Private Student. I commuted from San Francisco to Stockton every weekend. Grandmaster Angel Cabales taught me privately in his home. Sometimes we'd train late into the evening and I would be invited to share dinner with the family. Over time we became very close and he was like a Grandfather to me. He was truly one of a kind.

Q3: Being a teacher yourself, what did you appreciate about Grandmaster Angel Cabales' teaching method?

A: There are many things:

  1. Grandmaster Angel Cabales had the most patience of any teacher I've ever trained under in my 24 years of experience.
  2. He started everyone at the beginning. You started with the Serrada Salutation, Basic Footwork, Angle #1, then you'd progress from there.
  3. Grandmaster Cabales would answer "all" your questions. He would explain things in great detail and he would show you how to make the technique work. He'd explain how, when and why a technique either worked or did not, pending the situation. He would share various situations, like, what to do if you had someone holding a knife to your throat or how to deal with a gang member on the street who is trying to bust your head with a baseball bat. He taught many baseball bat & staff disarming techniques.
  4. He would share the history of his martial art. Sit and talk about his teacher in the Philippines (Dizon) and the many war stories or actual fighting experiences that he lived through.
  5. Grandmaster Cabales was open to all martial arts and never spoke against other systems or teachers. He encouraged me to study modern weapons, such as, firearm training.
  6. He taught the Serrada blade translations, empty-hand drills and counters.
  7. After training with GM Cabales, one walked away knowing he truly cared about sharing his art with you. He was a humble man who would relate to each student on a personal level.
Q4: What are your hopes and dreams for The International Serrada Eskrima Society, which you founded in 1992, in honor of Grandmaster Angel Cabales?

A: Well, I'm hoping that my Number 1 student, Guro Madeline will head up T.I.S.E.S as New International Director. I believe that every organization should allow for change. As time goes on, Guro Madeline would hand the torch off to someone deserving. As generations go by, there would always be a rotating director, this keeping T.I.S.E.S. fresh and flexible.

Q5: What did Grandmaster Angel Cabales think about other styles or system of martial arts?

A: Grandmaster Angel Cabales did not have any hang-ups about other martial arts. When I first started training with GM, he told me to show him my martial arts skills. This was at his home in Stockton, CA. We were using his living room to train, so we moved the coffee table and other furniture to clear the way. I just started doing an outrageous mixture of kicks and punches at full speed and power, demonstrating techniques from Tae Kwon Do, Gung-Fu, Kenpo, Western Boxing and Kickboxing. I was moving around like a mad man. After several minutes, GM Angel said, "Good, now I'll teach you my style, SERRADA."

Some of the biggest compliments GM Cabales ever gave me were when several people came to visit him at this home. He told them that my kicks were fast as lightening and that I was a quick learner in Serrada. He said, "I show Mike once or twice and he knows it already." He didn't care if you studied other styles or system of martial arts. Again, he was very open minded toward all martial arts. Grandmaster Angel Cabales did care if you changed or mixed his beloved Filipino Martial Art of Cabales Serrada Eskrima with other styles or systems. Grandmaster Angel would comment, "See they are making spaghetti again! Everything in Serrada has a reason and that every reason has a purpose."

His wish was to maintain Cabales Serrada Eskrima in its purest form. To be taught independent of other systems one might be teaching. If a student knew or practiced another martial art(s), then he wanted them to keep it separate from their Serrada training.

Thank you, Guro Davis, for your time and energy. For many of us who will not have the honor of meeting Grandmaster Angel Cabales, you have given us a very personal look at the man, teacher and mentor. - Madeline

If anyone would like to pose a question to Guro Michael G. Davis, please e-mail me at:


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