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home : sports : local sports January 22, 2019

11/18/2018 12:01:00 AM
Tre Vella Is Budding Master Of Martial Arts
Ten-year-old among the best at Filipino stick-fighting technique
Ten-year-old Tre Vella shows off his fighting stance. Vella is highly accomplished in the Filipino martial art of eskrima or balintawak arnis. 
(Photos Courtesy of Laura Vella)

Ten-year-old Tre Vella shows off his
fighting stance. Vella is highly
accomplished in the Filipino martial
art of eskrima or balintawak arnis.

(Photos Courtesy of Laura Vella)

(Above) Tre Vella is joined here by his sensei, Alex Ormaza, at his Dallas dojo.
(Above) Tre Vella is joined here by his
sensei, Alex Ormaza, at his Dallas dojo.

Thomas Lark
Staff Writer

LINCOLNTON, N.C.––A local 10-year-old is making sports history.

He is Tre Vella, and according to proud mom Laura Vella of Lincolnton, her son is the youngest eskrimador in history to pass the sixth level and completion of the art in balintawak arnis. Eskrima––or balintawak arnis––is an indigenous sport and stick-fighting martial art of the Philippines.

This week, Mrs. Vella told the Lincoln Herald all about how Tre earned his coveted black-belt status.

“Amazing!” she said of her son’s skill, adding that he has been studying the martial arts since he was just 3 years old.

Vella continued that Tre is a home-schooled straight-A student and very active in his church, Anthony Grove Baptist, in Crouse. There, the young lad is often seen helping deaf congregation members with sign language, which he has studied for two years. He also helps in the deaf and puppet ministries and in the Awanas. (The group’s acronymous name derives from St. Paul’s Second Epistle to St. Timothy, in which the Apostle writes that “approved workmen are not ashamed.”) Tre has been awarded for his work in the Awanas.

At the age of 5, Tre began Taboada balintawak arnis under Colombian martial arts master Alex Ormaza. This version of the sport is named for grandmaster Bobby Taboada. Tre is also a practitioner of the Japanese martial art of jujitsu and is a state, regional and national champion in karate. He trains in Dallas at the Ormaza Family Dojo. The business has earned “Best in Gaston” honors for two years in a row.

Ormaza noted how, as is so often the case with the martial arts, there is also a spiritual or philosophical component to it. This, he observed, is part of his secret to life itself.

“It is better to understand than to be understood,” he remarked.

Vella recommended balintawak and said she hopes more young people will take up this sport, the training for which can come in very handy. Indeed, it might even save your life in a situation in which proper self-defense could make all the difference.

“I would love to call attention to this sport and get it more popular in America for kids,” she said.

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More about balintawak

Vella continued that balintawak means “cry for freedom.” In Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines, there is also a contextual understanding of the term, meaning to “move like a butterfly.” And certainly, the graceful but lethal moves of the sport’s practitioners might be likened to those of a very deadly butterfly indeed, perhaps not unlike the late boxer, Muhammad Ali.

As Vella explicated, an eskrimador will primarily use a stick or blade for self-defense. But practitioners can also easily transfer to open-hand combat.

It can, she said, “really be applied with anything you can get your hands on at the time of an attack.”

She added that her son has benefitted from learning from the best.

“Tre has been blessed enough to have hands-on training with Grandmaster Bobby Taboada,” Vella said, “as he lives locally!” 

She continued that she is very happy for her son.

“We are very proud of Tre,” said Vella, “in that he is a very hard worker. He strives to be the best at everything he does and hopes to one day become a U.S. Navy Seal. We think martial arts will more than prepare him for this goal in his life.  Being home-schooled allows him the flexibility to train and focus on his martial arts. He loves serving in his church and in the community.

“He also loves roller-skating at our local skating rink and riding his bike,” she added. “If he can be active, he loves it! He wants to be a role model for kids his age and hopes to see more young people get into balintawak and martial arts in general.”

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