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Malibu local may become Eskrima black belt

Sage Metzler (left) spars with his father, Rick. Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Sage Metzler holds a mock knife, which can be used during Eskrima stick-fighting matches. Photo by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media.
Pictured is Sage Metzler at 18-months-old, holding a pair of Eskrima sticks. Photo submitted.
Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
11:43 am PDT May 13, 2014

Rick Metzler, chief instructor at The Pit Malibu, likes to think his 14-year-old son, Sage, was sensing the rhythms and patterns associated with Cacoy Doce Pares Eskrima stick fighting while still in his mother’s womb.

“Sharine was earning her second-degree brown belt at the time, so she was fighting, doing rolls and sparing with sticks while she was pregnant with Sage,” Rick said. “You can hear things in the womb, and there’s a lot of rhythm, motion and patterns that are associated with the Eskrima system.”

Just before Sage turned 2 years old, Rick snapped a photo of his young son wielding a pair of Eskrima sticks – almost as long as he was tall – while facing a black punching bag that towered over the toddler.

“It was a pretty natural and organic thing,” Rick said. “It wasn’t something he dreamed of when he was little, but he’s been around Eskrima for so long that he’s just latched onto it.”

It wouldn’t be until a few months after Sage turned 6 years old, however, that he would begin formally learning the Eskrima system at The Pit in Malibu after it opened in 2007; now, approximately seven years later, Sage is on the verge of earning his black belt in Eskrima, but taking his time to master the lessons he’s learned thus far.

“It’s really fun, and I suppose that’s the most important thing for me because I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t have fun with it,” Sage said, adding that he appreciates the self-defense aspect of knowing Eskrima. “It’s not easy, but it definitely involves a lot of patterns and I like math, so it incorporates a lot of geometry like trajectory, angles and trying to enter into openings.”

In August 2012, at 12 years old, Sage became the youngest competitor to represent the United States team at the Cacoy Doce Pares World Championships, where approximately 300 Cacoy Doce Pares fighters met in the Philippines to compete.

“It was definitely a bit intimidating to know there were competitors there who were born into the Eskrima tradition and also that it’s the Philippines’ national sport,” Sage said. “For me, I love soccer and I’ve been doing that for my whole life, but they do it for fun all the time, whereas I practice it a few times a week.”

Sage didn’t place in the single stick events, but told his parents he was more upset at the fact that he only got to participate in two single stick fights.

“I was really upset because I thought I was going to fight at least four or five times,” he said.

Rick said he and Sharine were worried Sage was upset that he lost, but soon realized Sage was upset because he wanted to fight more.

Rick and Sharine approached one of the event organizers and asked if there was a way Sage could participate in more fights, which landed Sage into a type of competition he had no prior experience fighting – the double stick event.

After two more fights in his weight division’s double stick competition, Sage won bronze.

“I wasn’t expecting to place at all because they [the other fighters] had been doing it their whole lives and are probably a lot more experienced and committed than I am, as a matter of fact,” Sage said. “It definitely gave me a lot more confidence and I’d like to do it again this year if I can, but it made me realize that there’s definitely a lot more I can improve on.”

Sage is in honors preparatory classes at Malibu High School and is expected to enroll in honors classes next school year.