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Garrote Larense: Martial Arts Styles

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Also known as the ‘El Juego Del Garrote’, Garotte Larense is a unique martial art from Venezuela, South America. While Venezuela may be considered a small country, it’s capital Caracas is known to have the highest per-capita murder rate in the world, even rivaling the death tolls of war time Iraq and Afghanistan. So clearly any martial art that has proved it’s self on these streets has definitely earned some credibility.

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Garrote Larense is a fighting form combining open handed techniques, stick and knife fighting. But perhaps most notable is Garrote Larense’ machete techniques and defenses. Anyone who has been in some serious real life situations knows that defending against a machete attack is probably one of the most difficult and dangerous situations you can be in. A machete’s length and weight make it much more dangerous than a knife or bat, meaning that one strike can end your life or at least take off a limb.

Garrote Larense training can be easily recognized by it’s use of lemon wood sticks and cross shaped lines of movement. This is definitely no easy martial for those looking to practice some forms and get a colored belts. The masters of Garrote Larense firmly believe that pain is the best way to learn. If you make a mistake and get hit with the stick in class you will be twice as fast and wiser next time.

The lemon wood sticks are also used on combination with knives that are normally held in the back of the belt and used as a surprise last minute shank at close quarters. While there has been more information on Garrote Larense released lately it has mainly been a secretive fighting art. Masters of Garrote Larense where known for keeping their skills secret until the moment of a fight so that opponents could not be able to anticipate their moves.

As with some Filipino martial arts styles, Garrote Larense is also known for it’s effective hand switching techniques and ensuring students are able to use both hands equally well. This adds a unique twist to fights, giving the advantage by way of the element of surprise. However even though there is a lot of weapons training involved practitioners don’t believe in carrying weapons according to a quote by one instructor

“I never carry a stick or a machete — my enemy does.  I will use his.”




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2 Comments For This Post

  1. michael ryan Says:

    Hello;

    It is nice that you think enough of garote to post some information on the art. I do not intend any disrespect with my commentary, but I must say in the spirit of being a fellow martial artist and a scholar that much of what you have written is incomplete and wrong.

    First is the name. Garrote de Lara is a name invented for the practioners of the art from Lara state by an investigator who wrote the first book on garrote in 1984. He latter learned it should more accuratley be called ‘Juegos de Palos’ or stick-play. This is because garrote seems to have been practiced throughout Venezuela and not just Lara state.

    The second problem is that my experience of los juegos de palos de Lara shows the art was much more diverse even in Lara state. For example, the lemonwood stick is written about all too often as the basic wood used to make palo. What would actually happen is that a man would go up in the hills and find a hardwood tree and cut a suitable branch off it to make a palo.

    Second, is the whole macehte and knife material. I do not know what your sources are but they sound like they are trying to hype the art to make money or gain fame for themselves as a really dangerous man. In Lara state, many times my old teachers would tell me that during the days when men carried sticks with them as part of their everyday dress, the stick was never used to kill, only to gain respect. ” Men fought with Sticks and Balls” as one of my old teachers said. Killing a man in Venezuela would lead to a man being hunted down and going to jail while his family starved or having his family subject to a vendetta.
    Not all styles of garrote dealt with machetes. This may be because they lost the machete aspect in the past, they felt they could replace the stick with the machete if need be, or they had no need to work the machete, as fighting with this tool was so rare. Look at the article by Assuncao who researched the criminal archives of Lara state to show the weak presence of the machete.

    The role of the knife as described in los juegos de palos is only part of the story too. Some styles did not work with knives at all, others learned only how to defend stick and knife, others trained stick and knife in combination or knife versus knife moves. In the city of Barquisiemto, the major city in Lara, you would find this type of diversity easily if one would just bother to look.

    It really sounds like your source picked up a few moves from somebody and then started to describe the little he knows as characteriistic of the art as a whole, even the art as it is practiced in Lara. Anything to make a buck or gain a reputation

    If you want to know about garrote I would reccomend the scholarly articles by Mathias Assuncao, or Michael J. Ryan (myself) or find the websites or you -tube videos of Livio Girotto, Hector Ramos or Jeseus Canelon. These three Venezuelans have been studying the art for decades, have a deep knowledge of the art as passed down by a number of garroteros in Lara and are not going around spreading half- baked oracular pronouncements about garrote to try to make a name for themselves as martial artists.

  2. Tony Thacker Says:

    Hi Michael,
    Thank you very much for your comment and your expert knowledge of ‘Juegos de Palos’. We certainly stand corrected and think you have some very valid points. Would you consider writing a few posts on this subject and we can put them on the website for everyone to see? This is a very popular topic with our readers and I think they would love hearing from an expert such as yourself.
    Thanks!!

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