#SEAGames2019: Pinoy arnis champ in 40s didn’t let age get in way of gold

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2019 08:49 PM | Updated as of Dec 03 2019 01:17 AM

Villardo Cunamay used to practice karate before transferring to the indigenous Filipino martial arts. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file

ANGELES CITY—Most fighter athletes slow down when they are in their 40s, but not Villardo Cunamay.

The Philippine Army technical sergeant proved that even at 46, he still can be effective in arnis.

On Sunday, he again defied his age whipping his way to a gold medal win over Mengly Yong of Cambodia in the live stick lightweight division final at Angeles University Foundation.

The victory was special for Cunamay, who had to engage his younger and taller opponent in a tactical fight.

“Tiyaga lang sa training ’yan, basta may determination ka. Mga bata pa ang kasabayan ko sa training hindi ako gumigive up. Dahil may goal ako na gusto kong patunayan na kahit matanda kaya ko pa ring makipagsabayan,” he said.

Cunamay actually started late in the sport. He was already 35 when he picked up arnis after being transferred to the Army’s Special Service Center. 

“Una kong naging sport karate talaga,” he confessed. “Nu’ng umpisa mahirap hindi kabisado ang moves pero pinagaralan ko kasi ito na ang pambansang sport ng Pilipinas. Na-adopt ko rin later on kasi may background na ko sa karate.”

Like most martial artists, he had to go through the painful process of getting his before reaching a certain level of expertise.

Cunamay added that conditioning is also very important especially in competition.

“Tatamaan at tatamaan ka talaga kasi kahit naka armor ka. Kung malakas ang hit ng kalaban mo lalo pag tumama sa may elbow masakit. At sa full contact, ubusan ng hangin, palakasan ng hangin patagalan ng resistensya,” he said.

He is now a second dan blackbelter.

Cunamay became exceptional in arnis that he won gold medals in competitions sanctioned by Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) and World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF).

You can now add the gold medal he won in the SEA Games.

“Nu’ng bata bata ako hindi ko naisip na mararating ko ito. Kung kelan ako tumanda saka ako nakarating,” he said.

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2019 SEA Games