By Mary Tan
AAP Staff Writer
Robert Castro is a man of many talents. Very few people can say they were once a rock ‘n’ roll musician and the creator of a unique form of Filipino martial arts. But out of his many skills, only one is his true passion.
The San Francisco resident is the creator and grand master of ESKABO Daan, a combination of various Filipino martial arts stick fighting with empty-handed systems. Castro says his art form “came about after 25 years of training in other Filipino martial arts. It does everything from locks to take-downs all with or without the use of weapons.”
On his website’s videos, one can see the master fight with everything from sticks to knives to nothing. He can even be seen fighting with no weapons while his opponents wield knives.
Despite looking rather intimidating to some, Castro believes his art is very versatile and can be learned by anyone. “The only limitation in ESKABO Daan is if the student doubts themselves and gives up. The art is individualized and personalized. We all don’t look the same and we’re not built the same.”
So why is it called ESKABO Daan? ESKABO is actually an acronym for other martial arts – Eskrima, Serrada, Kali, boxing and Jeet Kune do, all of which are reflected in the system.
Castro began his love of martial arts as a young boy, when he studied karate under the great “Cat Man” Yamaguchi. But soon that activity took an unexpected backseat to a singing career.
While attending the City College of San Francisco, the Filipino American worked part-time as an usher at the American Conservatory Theater. One day he was overheard singing in the hallway and he was urged to audition for the original production of HAIR. He got the role and that launched his musical career.
But after several years in the entertainment business, Castro realized a musical career was not for him and he longed to pursue martial arts.
After years of thoughtful practice, he created his love of ESKABO Daan and has been slowly spreading his passion through the years. Starting with only a handful of students in his San Francisco garage, he now has master instructors all over the United States, including in New York, Oregon, Saint Louis, Texas and Philadelphia. ESKABO Daan students are often invited to perform at festivals, parades and on television.
While there is no chapter in Minnesota, he urges martial arts enthusiasts here to come to San Francisco and take one of his classes. “All I request is that you be good natured and have fun!” He believes you can get the basics in just a few classes.
The martial arts expert says his enthusiasts come from all walks of life. Much like the art itself, students are versatile. “We have blue collar and white collar workers, all nationalities and cultures, Republicans and Democrats, young and old and men and women. In most cases, their only common ground is their love for the art.”
Castro says he can’t believe the attention EKABO Daan has gotten. It was something he never imagined. Up until two years ago he was still using his garage as a studio. “I’m extremely happy with what the art has been able to accomplish thus far. Everything from here on out will just be icing on the cake.”
If you are interested in learning more about ESKABO Daan, go to www.eskabodaan.org or call 415-674-4388.