The Grandmaster of the Black Eagle Arnis Eskrima club is Carlos Navarro. The club was founded in Cebu City in the 1960’s and to this day remains a very respectable style. Carlos Navarro was born in 1926, son of Olipio Navarro, and grandson of Mariano Navarro. Both his father and his grandfather taught Carlos eskrima, evident in the hybridisation of their respective styles into the creation of Carlos’ own “New Generation” style.
Throughout his childhood, Carlos trained very hard under his various teachers. He was trained so hard in fact that he would frequently return from training sessions with his grandfather covered in bruises, and his mother would beg him to stop training. He lived in Cebu throughout the Japanese occupation and like many eskrimadores of his time, he was a guerilla, fighting against the Japanese occupying forces. He served in what he called ‘The Volunteer guards’, perhaps an independent creation or advised by the United States Forces of the Far East. Many local Filipino groups contained US military advisors, escapees or personnel and many joined the local guerilla groups. After the initial battle for Cebu city, Carlos and these guerillas fled to the mountains. There he instructed them in the use of the bolo. It is difficult to ascertain how much contact with the enemy was experienced in the volunteer guards. Carlos only says that the war was a long time ago and that he bears no grudges against the Japanese people of today.
As the Grandmaster of his school Carlos was always open to challenge and during his life he has dealt with a number of such incidents. At the age of 52 Carlos accepted the challenge of fighting in the masters division of the first national Arnis tournament held in the Cebu Colosseum in 1979. Unlike other competitors Carlos declined to wear any padding on his hands or arms. After three successive victories over well respected masters he was the last fighter to face Cacoy Canete on that day. Sadly in a recent autobiography Cacoy has given a denigrating account of his final fight with Carlos. It is unfortunate that he has chosen to do so. Out of respect we ourselves have chosen not to name or comment on the other masters that Carlos defeated. Before the final fight Carlos was led to believe that his life would be in grave danger if he won. Despite this he charged forward aggressively using de Llave techniques to actually push Cacoy out of the ring. Shortly afterwards the fight was stopped and awarded to Cacoy. As Cacoy himself recently pointed out to Carlos, today he is known around the world and lives in a large house while Carlos is unknown and lives very modestly. There is no point in debating these sad affairs. Cacoy has his recollections and Carlos has his. Carlos migrated to Australia in the late 1980’s and started a school there, which is now closed to the public, but still trained students and instructors privately until he passed away. As a man and master, he has earned the undying respect of many who have trained with him and become his students.