Filipino Escrima Now at the Academy

Sifu Dana Wong and the Qian Li Dao Academy are proud to announce a great new opportunity, the first ever in Melbourne and Australia, to learn and train the unique Filipino martial art, Visayan Style Corto Kadena Larga Mano Eskrima (VSCK), under the direction and guidance of Guro Mario Fernandez Quiroz, of Bauan, Batangas, Philippines.

VSCK was the creation of the late great Filipino Eskrimador, Maestro Santiago “Sonny” Umpad. Maestro Sonny was a low-profile, but much sought out Filipino knife fighter who was born in the Philippines, but made his fame in Alameda, California (USA) during the 1970’s through to the early 2000’s. Famed martial artists such as Professor Wally Jay, Datu Kelly Worden, JKD students Jesse Glover and Ed Hart, Sid Campbell and others sought to train with Maestro Sonny, despite his low-key approach to publicity. He never taught commercially, selecting his students carefully and teaching them from his apartment only.

Guro Mario Fernandez Quiroz – head instructor of VSCK, Bauan, Batangas Philippines branch

Maestro Sonny was born in Cebu, his mother was an accomplished eskrimador and he first got a taste of the Filipino arts from his best friend’s grandfather at the age of 11. When he grew older and moved to the US, he trained with many Filipino masters in the California area near Stockton such as GM Angel Cabales (Serrada Eskrima), GM Leo Giron (Larga Mano), Guro Dan Inosanto and GM Raymond Tobosa among many others. Combining these learnings with his innate ability to analyse movement and timing, Maestro Sonny created his own style, VSCK, which is known for its flow and adaptation, along with a ‘different’ kind of footwork that he called the Moro-Moro footwork, which he was exposed to during a loss to another trained in such footwork in a teenage scuffle he had, growing up in the Philippines.

Late Maestro Santiago “Sonny” Umpad – founder of VSCK Escrima

Guro Mario met Maestro Sonny accidently one day, when Maestro Sonny came in to eat at Guro Mario’s aunt’s restaurant in Alameda, California. Maestro Sonny became a regular, and soon befriended Guro Mario, who began his training in VSCK in 1989. He trained until 2004, often in one-on-one private lessons with the Maestro, or in small groups with him. In 2010, Guro Mario returned to the Philippines, where he continued to train what he learned in those fifteen years that he trained with Maestro. In 2015, Guro Mario began teaching privately himself, here and there, and officially began the Bauan, Batangas branch of VSCK in 2018. Guro Mario is also currently training with famed GM Rodel Dagooc, a Senior Instructor of Modern Arnis, who now has developed his own interpretation called DAS (Dagooc Arnis System). GM Dagooc is also the founder of Arnis Association International Inc (AAII), and is known in Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) circles as “Smoking Sticks”.

Guro Mario (left) with GM Rodel Dagooc – known as “Smokin’ Sticks” for his amazing Arnis and Escrima skills.

Sifu Dana has his own history of learning Filipino Martial Arts, learning from the late Professor Remy Presas, founder of Modern Arnis. He trained in the late 1980’s when he still lived in Boston, USA until he left for Australia in 1988. He continued to train with various martial artists, over the ensuing years, including meeting the late Guro Roland Dantes, and training with some of his Melbourne students. Through coincidence, Sifu Dana met Guro Quiroz and was reminded of an urge to seek out Maestro Sonny when he was younger. It is now Sifu Dana’s great pleasure and honour to be able to train and to share Maestro Sonny’s unique and creative VSCK through the Academy.

VSCK is a most unique system of Filipino Martial Arts. Beginning with set drills, exercises and patterns, it moves to a dynamic environment where the practitioner eventually learns to train and hone one’s skills through the movement with a partner. Self-discovery is a large part of VSCK, allowing for individual interpretations of a situation, much like Wing Chun does, and demands a special and discerning practitioner to embrace the personal journey that late Maestro Sonny Umpad expected of his students. It was his ultimate goal that each practitioner would expand and grow VSCK such that it would become a system that would continue to evolve, one that would never die. The concept of play is essential to the growth of a VSCK practitioner, so it’s not for everyone, but rewards those who will take the path.

Classes in VSCK have now begun. If you are interested in becoming a part of this unique art and training group, please indicate your interest by emailing us at: Due to a need to allow space for weapons clearance and in keeping with social distancing and other current Covid safety protocols, we are limiting this first intake of students wanting to learn the VSCK system. Inquire now to find out about the current state of available openings for this course.