"Maestro Sonny" Umpad
"Maestro Sonny" Umpad, a Philippine born American citizen, peacefully passed away in his sleep on Thursday, August 24, 2006 following a courageous battle against lung cancer. He is remembered by his brother, Bobby Umpad; daughter, Jackie; son, Brian; grandchildren, David, Jordan, and Neena; nephew, Benji Jr.; nieces, Maryann and Paulette, and his many students.
Sonny began his lifelong passion for Philippine martial arts during his youth spent near Cebu City in the Philippines where he would train with local and visiting masters. This is where he began forming his own style which he would go on to perfect and teach after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. Sonny fulfilled his lifelong desire of creating and propagating his unique style of Visayan Eskrima characterized by its constant flowing movement. His teachings led him throughout the world including Germany and Switzerland where many of his students today practice his art.
Sonny also used his creativity to carve the handles and fashion the blades for the weapons of his art. These weapons include knives, spears, swords, and darts. Sonny has co-authored a book illustrating his unique martial arts style and has had a role in a martial arts film. However beyond these accolades, he is respected and revered for his selfless devotion to his art and its growth often providing lessons with no expectation of compensation and hosting many training sessions in his own home.
In addition to his talent and skill as a martial artist, Sonny enjoyed creating music. He played the bass, piano, and guitar. His love of music and movement bore his second great passion, dancing. Sonny was well known for his "Hustle" dancing and competed at many Bay Area dance spots during the 70's and 80's.
Sonny's warmth and humor remains with his family, friends, and students in their hearts. The timelessness of his art remains for all to appreciate through his teachings, his weapons, and his music.
Memorial services will be held on Friday, September 1, 2006, 7:00 p.m. at the Wedgewood Banquet Center at Metropolitan Golf Links located at 10051 Doolittle Drive, Oakland, California 94603.
Published in the Oakland Tribune on 8/31/2006.