Garrote Larense ?

Originally posted by moromoro

is anybody in this forum familiar with the Venezuelan stick fighting system, Garrote Larense?

how similar is it to Eskrima??



I've only seen a very brief demo of it. It looked very similar to Eskrima, but with a different flavor. I believe that their footwork tends to be rectangular instead of triangular, which leads to some interesting extrapolations. It appeared to be a largo mano/long medio range system. They use lemon wood sticks in training, but it's a machete art.

As I say, I haven't seen much of it and know very little about it. The above statement is based on the impression I got from seeing a 5 or so minute demo and should in no way be taken as gospel.

I've spent a little time with an instructor in it, Bruno Cruicchi, and he's a great guy. If you have any specific questions, I could probably forward them to him. Or, I may be able to get him into this forum to answer your questions directly.

We do have one practitioner of a South American knife system--Gaucho. I don't think we have any Garrote Larense players but Search will turn up some discussion of it.
Originally posted by moromoro
what does the training include is it only stick (machete)?

That's all I've seen of it. I'll e-mail one of the guys I know who studies it (I'm not sure how "e-active" the instructor is, and I don't seem to have any contact info for him, but I know a guy who studies with him ... maybe he can help).

Hello Listmembers;

Mike asked me to respond to the questions concerning Garrote Larense because of my training in it. Hope this helps. I should also say that I have studied a few different systems of Filippino stick fighting so I do have some experience with both.


Many theories about the origin of Garrote exist. One theory is that it is of African descent and was brought over by the slaves and later adapted and influenced by the Spanish. Another is that it descends from the natives of Venezuela and was later influenced by the Spanish. The last theory of the history that I am aware of is that it was originally Spanish Swordfighting that was influenced by natives and or slave population and adopted for use by the farmers of Venezuela. So... in short, who knows! What can be known is that which can be seen. It definately has Spanish swordfighting influence.

In that regard, there are similarities to the Escrima/Kali/Arnis of the Philippines. The similarities are fairly limited and it is hard to tell if they are simply similar because of the necessity of the tools being used or if they are similar because of origin.

Garrote is the true name of the "genis" of native Venezuelan stick fighting. Terms such as Larense simply designate that a system originates from a specific region of Venezuela. In this case, from the Larense Region. Saying the term Garrote is the equivalent to saying Kung Fu or Karate in that regard. The value of using a term such as Larense as a quantifier is that of denoting regional differences. To be honest though, I cannot tell you much in that regard. Most of the regional differences I have seen stem more from the inclusion of Garrote in the celebration of La Batalla than of Garrote practice itself. (I will try and work in the La Batalla info later.)

TOOLS: The primary tool of Garrote training is the Garrote. A very hard stick made of lemon wood typically, sometimes with a woven handle and other times just a plain stick. They do not practice double stick. The length of the stick is determined by the length of your arm from the palm to the armpit. Sometimes longer sticks are used. It is very dense wood and hurts like crazy from even the slightest blows to the hand, etc.

Ultimately the stick is a substitute for the Machete. As with all things, the more the stick is used, the more variations and departures from the reality of using a machete, that creep in. This can be seen in some tactics of garrote where the garoteer switches end for end, their grip on the garrote.

The use of the dagger or knife does exist in garrote to a limited extent but again, different from the Kali and Arnis, because the primary purpose of the dagger is to surprise the opponent with a quick thrust of the blade. You don't see the dagger until it is being put to use. Prior to that it remains in the belt of the garoteer and usually behind their back. Out of sight - out of mind. Then, when it is tactically feasible, the dagger appears and is quickly driven into the opponent, removed, and replaced in the belt. There are not any Baston y Daga drills as in Kali.

There is only one dagger drill within Garrote that I have been taught with two variations, slashing and stabbing. Essentially the drill is a vital template drill for the dagger. The same drill also teaches displacement on the Cuadro and parrying of the knife as well. It is a pretty simple drill to learn but very difficult to master.

Additionally, I have never seen the dagger or garrote used in an Ice Pick or Reverse grip. It is always a natural grip.

Lastly, open hand fighting is predominant. Once the stick is removed, it is primarily open handed, though some variant systems exist which use a fist. I have never seen kicking done. One could surmise that this has to do with the fact that it is machete based.

FOOTWORK: The only Garrote footwork I have ever practiced is very similar to the Capoeira Jinga (sp?). It takes place on something called the Cuadro. This is essentially a cross on which you practice your body displacement via a jinga like footwork. What differentiates it from the kali and arnis that I have done is that the emphasis is placed on the movement of the target area first. Normally the head in beginning practice. Another differentiation is the emphasis on 180 degree displacement at the foundational level. You actually move from one side of the attacker to the other in one movement. This is in contrast to the Kali and Arnis that I have trained which only moved in 90 degree segments primarily.

Again, in contrast to the Filippino Systems, Garrote does not use the angle system of striking in appearance, yet when all of the strikes of Garrote are put on a piece of paper they match the most common angles of striking found in Filippino Systems. The primary difference is that each particular strike is given a name, this includes backhand striking elements. So for instance, a strike to the top of the head downward, if delivered as a forehand strike is called Franco. The backhand is called Reves. This is in contrast to the Filippino systems which may call that Angle 12. Still the same angle but given a different name. But again, one cannot know if that is similarity because of the tool or by relationship. Even when Chinese systems use the stick, they hit to the head and every other angle that Filippino systems use. It's of necessity by the design of the tool.

To me this is one of the single largest differences. In Garrote, there is substantially less emphasis on blocking than in the Kali and Arnis systems. The Garroteer practices exclusively without blocking during the learning of the primary four strikes of Franco, Reves, Barricampo, and Puyah. The use of displacement and parrying pervades. Additionally, in later drills the empty hand (live hand in Kali/Arnis) is used as the primary blocking tool and the tool itself as a secondary blocking tool. That said, there is at least a few blocks in Garrote. The primary block is called Topa. This is a two handed block using the stick above the head. Sometimes it is used will squatting and other times will standing. They also use the Topa to the either side and to protect the stomach and groin as well. To my knowledge all of these are still just called Topa.

All of the drills are essentially Give-And-Take drills. In that regard only they are similar. Of necessity, because the footwork is different and the emphasis on blocking is different, so are the drills. Similar to Filippino systems, a garoteer may make drills as necessary and each teacher will have there own list. The only one that seems to show up regularly is the Cuadro which is the primary foundational drill that all the rest stem from primarily. In some lineages (mine) there are also some circle walking drills.

The flavor varies of course from teacher to teacher but overall it is very heavily influenced by Spanish Swordfighting. Some even use a guard that is very similar to the post, thrust movement of fencing, similar to a bow stance, but with the Latin machismo of the chest sticking out. Very defiant looking. However, the lead hand is usually the empty one, while the garrote is hidden behind the leg. Sometimes the lead hand is offerred palm out, as if to say, "hey, I don't have anything. What do you want?".

The amount of posturing and so forth, is dependant on your lineage.

"I don't need a weapon, my opponent has it!"

Though there is no direct ties from garrote to religion, it is interesting to note that religion has direct ties to garrote. Every year their is a festival which takes place in Venezuela called La Batalla (The battle) and it is a Catholic festival for St. Anthony, and in it, there are mock battles of garrote. In most places these mock battles occur to music and are more akin to a type of dance, but none-the-less they do contain at least a portion of the elements of Garrote. Additionally, in certain regions, La Batalla is quite combative becuase it is believed that the patron saint is not happy unless the participants get as close as they can to drawing blood. These ones are fun to watch since it is basically choreographed sparring.

Well, I have spent more time on this than I had hoped, but I hope it answers a few of your questions about this relatively unheard of art.

FYI, to my knowledge, there are only a handful of us practicing it in the states and my maestro will be getting an article in one of the upcoming Journal Of Asian Martial Arts mags. Check it out, it should be interesting.

Take Care.
OBTW You might check out this really nasty old web page I did about 5 years ago, in the middle of the night, with no light by the keyboard, after smoking contraban and drinking straight rum for 52 hours straight. In other words, it's bad, but there are some images and a little different info that I didn't put out here. I have long since left it to die a slow and tragic death....
Thanks, Sean. Good to get an actual Garrote Larense practitioner's input on this thread :)

Just spoke with my Maestro in Garrote on the phone and he has told me the article will be in the May edition of JAMA. FYI and we are potentially going to be doing a demo in Toronto around October. Apparantly there is some type of European/American martial arts gathering up there? Something to do with sword fighters, knights, and that sort of thing. Should be a good time.

I'll keep you posted.
Take care.

My name is Livio Girotto, a direct disciple of Maestro Merc矇dez P矇rez since 1988, and head instructor of the Academia Venezolana de Esgrima de Bast籀n, where we practice and teach El Juego del Garrote (Garrote Larense) in Venezuela. Merc矇dez P矇rez had just a few disciples (no more than ten), and he passed away a year ago, so, I am one of the few Garrote Masters left in Venezuela.

The reason I got into this forum is the curiosity that some of you have in our martial art, I think that this curiosity is dued to the articles and classes done by "Maestro" Bruno Cruichi, I thank him for that, but there are some things that you do not know, and I would like to talk you about.

Ask Bruno Cruicchi for his teacher, I was, how long did he train?, no more than ten lessons, is he a skilled stickfigter?, definitively not, he is a very bad begginer, any of my pupils could defeat him in the first move. Did he ever sparred with sticks?, never, that is why he is telling to his "pupils" in America that Garrote Larense training consist mostly in drills, it is a lie, 90% of Garrote training is free sparring. Please, consider that anyone who is learning from him is learning just fake stick fighting. He was expelled from my training group because we learn in the web that he was presenting himself as a Garrote Master outside Venezuela, he does not teach in Venezuela, do you know why? because he could be challenged in any moment, by any one. and he knows that he would be beaten very ugly.

Do you want to have information, or learn, on Garrote Larense, contact me trough [email protected], or

Sorry folks, for my very sour post, but I have to take care of the art that I inherited, because it is fading along with the old masters that didn't teach it to preserve the secret, the endeavor that a very little group of people, me included, are making is to hard, this is why I get very angry to see a fake teacher of this art.


Maestro Livio,

Thank you for posting on martialtalk.

I am a Balintawak Eskrima player, which is a filipino stickfighting style, and I would like to some day see authentic Venezuelan stickfighting and make the comparison in the spirit of learning. Although I doubt you will ever be up this way, feel free to contact me via this forum or my website below if you or your compadres are ever in Michigan (U.S.).

Also, the Filipino forum as well as the Western one are good places to discuss stickfighting arts.

Talk to you later,

Hello Tulisan:

Thanks for your post, I was glad to see it, it also makes me glad that you are interested in our stick fighting system, so let me tell you about it.

I respect Kali/Arnis de Mano a lot, my fourteen years old son is practicing phillipines martial arts, and many of my pupils are also phillipine stick fighting practitioners.

There are several points of diference between Kali and Garrote Larense, the first one is the weapon used. The phillipine stick is thicker and shorter than the garrote (stick that is a little bit heavier in the striking tip than in the handle tip), while kali uses bambu or rattan, the garrote is made from the trunk of a little tree, this material vibrates less than rattan.

Most people should think that these diferences are not important, but in fact they are:

1.- Garrote is about 6 inches longer, then you will see a lot of attacks to the legs, that force the fighters to assume wider stances, and movements, also the distance between the fighters is affected by this condition, it is longer than the distance range assumed by kali practitioners.

2.- The lack of vibration when garrotes meet, makes the sparring a little bit more fluid.

3.- Being the wood of the garrote very hard, garrotes are very slim (about half the kali stick diameter), making more difficult to see them coming, this condition forces the garrote fighters to improve their reflexes to the max.

Soon I will have short videos on my web page, I hope they could illustrate the garrote sport better.


The difference isn't in the material used for sticks...the sticks are practice for edged weapons (so don't get so hung up on that). The real difference is in the blocking and delivery of strikes. While they are both influenced by spanish fencing (and Gorrete Larense may be influenced by escrima brought to latin america by the spanish) the actual systems are very very different. In truth its as different as Muay Thai and SanShou (which to none martial arts enthusiast look simular).

They just arn't the same thing.

For my money, eskrima. It's just better.

P.S. what racist son of a ***** made the asian icon for this?
The reason I got into this forum is the curiosity that some of you have in our martial art, I think that this curiosity is dued to the articles and classes done by "Maestro" Bruno Cruichi, I thank him for that, but there are some things that you do not know, and I would like to talk you about.


He was expelled from my training group because we learn in the web that he was presenting himself as a Garrote Master outside Venezuela, he does not teach in Venezuela, do you know why? because he could be challenged in any moment, by any one. and he knows that he would be beaten very ugly.
Mr. Girotto.

Thank you for your efforts in promoting Garrote Larense. I am excited that another element of Western Martial Arts is receiving positive interest.

I met Mr. Cruichi a few years ago at a Western Martial Arts seminar. I did take his class.

I can not attest to his skills as a stick fighter. I did not fence him, nor did I see anyone else fencing him.

What I can definitively say is that, at this time, he did NOT present himself as a Maestro. He told us that he was a student, gave us his Maestro's name in Venezuela (though I don't recall who), and said that he was interested in promoting the art here in the U.S.

Outside of saying that he was a student of Garrote Larense, the only title he laid claim to in my presence was that of a Linguist (working at a University, ims), and a polyglot.

I have exchanged less than a handful of emails with him since, because I am on a list which he also reads. Again, in none of those emails did he purport to me to be a Maestro of Garrote, only a student advanced enough to communicate the basics to neophytes.

I will, at this point, freely admit that I do not know the ins and outs of the politics of Garrote, the various lineages, nor the disputes between said lineages (which are natural and innevitable). Therefore, there may be quite a bit which I am missing.

I also admit that I, personally, despise intra-style politics and stay away from it as far as possible. The Furey/Cecchini/Shannon catch wrestling dispute, for instance, irritated me no end and I would have felt the same about the Hackenschmidt/Gotch dispute had I been around for it. Perhaps it is because I've had a front row seat for the John Hurley incident in the Irish Martial Arts movement. But whatever the case, it colors my feelings on these (natural and inevitable) disputes.

Again, thank you for promoting this important element of WMA and I wish you great success.

Peace favor your sword,