Fencing and Balintawak - Taken from Sabre and Modern Arnis

Discussion in 'Balintawak' started by Rich Parsons, Oct 28, 2005.

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  1. G22

    G22 -== Banned ==-

  2. Cruentus

    Cruentus Tactician

    I have nothing more to say on the topic as of now, as I have made my points.
  3. loki09789

    loki09789 -== Banned ==-

    I know I said that I was done posting, but I found some documentation that may seem more credible. I want to thank Tim H. for pointing me in the direction of that resource.

    In the Warrior Arts of the Phillipines book by Reynaldo Galang there is an interesting comment.

    In the bio section on V.Bacon second paragraph, Galang makes the point that Bacon was a direct student of the Saveedras (as spelled in the text) and a close family friend at the L. Fencing club. Bacon went with the Saveedras to the Doce Pares club.

    Sorry I didn't cut and paste a direct quote. The excerpt comes up as a Adobe file and I'm not that versed on how to pull text from that.

    If anyone is good at that, I would appreciate it if they would tell me how. Then I can drop in the quote.

    Now, I can see a logical link that supports that fencing may have influenced Doce Pares and therefore Balintawak. V.Bacon would have studied with the Saveedras for quite some time, possibly picked up some of that fencing influence and carried it with him into Balintawak.
  4. loki09789

    loki09789 -== Banned ==-

  5. Epa

    Epa Member


    I'm assuming that the logical connection is that the Labangon Fencing Club has the word fencing in it, as opposed to Eskrima/Arnis or a more traditional term for FMA. That's certainly one connection, but I think we should address the possibility that the term fencing does not refer to the Western Martial Art of fencing, but the more general activity of dueling with weapons.
    This is similar to the way that Chinese Martial Arts used the term boxing (like Robert Smith's Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods) to refer to the arts and called Chinese Martial Artists "boxers" (as in the Boxer Rebellion). I don't think any of the CMA practitioners would assert that "Chinese boxing" had any relation to western boxing, but they used the same term. This term was not only used by westerners like Smith, but I believe there were several Chinese Boxing organizations that used that term in Taiwan (run by Chinese masters) at the time Smith was studying. I'd have to check my copy of Masters and Methods to be sure, but I believe Chen Pan Ling ran one such organization, though I am going from memory.
    This is certainly a possibility with martial arts, especially when two cultures are mixing. In fact the term eskrima is largely considered derivative of a Spanish word, I think it is esgrima which means fencing. This term came to prominence during the Spanish occupation. With the arrival of the Americans it would make sense that English would override some of the older Spanish term. Since the founding of the Labangon Fencing Club was in 1920, that would give the Filipinos some time to absorb American culture, especially in a port city like Cebu City.
    I've also been told by Guro Dan Inosanto that the Americans formally introduced many western sports to the Philippines, such as boxing, basketball and sport fencing in the hopes that it would give different cultural groups a competitive outlet that wasn't too violent. He also mentioned that his father was the sabre champion of their island. Again in a fairly major city like Cebu City it would seem like there would be at least one sport fencing club. In organizing their own groups, it seems like the Filipinos used western groups as models. You can see it in the early organization of the Doce Pares, the way they had a president, a vice president, a treasurer... So it's possible that they also adopted the term.
    Here's one webresource that confirms some of the linguistic points.
    Now I'm not saying this is how it was because I wasn't there, but I think it's an equally valid possibilty so we're stuck at a point where we need more evidence. I think the best thing would be for us to find any documents from the Labangon Fencing Club, if they exist since all of the original members are dead now. There might be something in old Doce Pares records. Does anyone know of such records, preferably someone in the Philippines that might be able to check?

  6. loki09789

    loki09789 -== Banned ==-

    No, that is not the logical assumption or theory that I am working from on this topic. I am saying that V.Bacon was a close friend and student of the Saveedras. He went with them to the Doce Pares club. At the Doce Pares club, the Saveedras introduced the fencing exposure from a prison term that one of them served with a Euro fencer trained inmate. That training would have been handed down to V.Bacon as student and close friend. As the founder of Balintawak, those influences would have manifested there as well. From there it found its way into Modern Arnis...If you read the link in G22's post above, there are some examples of strong similarities that could support a fencing/FMA link in a modern sense.

    As far as 'Boxing' between Western and Chinese...whole 'nother can of worms, but consider the amount of Euro/Chinese contact in port cities where arts like "Wing Chun" would have evolved. Again, possibility, not fact.
  7. Epa

    Epa Member

    Sorry, I misunderstood your post.

    Do you happen to know which Saveedra was serving the prison sentence or have a rough idea of when it happened or where he was imprisoned? I'd be interested in following up on this research, but at the moment there's not a lot to go on for research. You mentioned that Bart Hubbard confirmed this story for you. Do you remember which Doce Pares instructors confirmed it for him? If we could trace it up the lineage, it might be easier to get more facts to work from.

  8. loki09789

    loki09789 -== Banned ==-

    You could contact Bart Direct for that info as he is a member and Mod on MT and at least a lurking member here if I remember correctly. He also has a great website if you do a search with Bart Hubbard, Doce Pares that would get you in email contact with him very quickly.
  9. PeteNerd

    PeteNerd Member

    You have an interesting theory, but you are pretty much grasping at straws and i think this next quote is where you go wrong.

    Bacon's style of was all random attacks. The groups and method of teaching were added later by Attorney Villasin and Teofilo Velez. Other people added the systematic approach to teaching after the fact. That's just my two cents. I also don't think there is a huge link from Balintawak to Modern Arnis.

  10. PeteNerd

    PeteNerd Member

    Here is an interesting article about the origins of arnis. There might have been fencing influence in the origins of escrima and arnis, but most likely it was hundreds of years ago. I don't think there is any recent and very direct influence on Balintawak, but it's probably there in Eskrima in general from way back

    here is a quote from http://www.cebueskrima.s5.com/custom3.html they have some interesting theories on the origins of arnis

    "1.) Eskrima / arnis / estokada did not pre-date the arrival of the Spaniards as earlier claimed by Filipino American FMA practitioners but was actually developed during the Spanish colonization of the archipelago. It was a hybrid martial art combining Spanish Renaissance rapier fencing with a plebeian form of stick fighting by the native Filipinos and was developed primarily in the Christianized coastal villages of the Visayan islands of Cebu, Bohol, Panay, Leyte Negros, and coastal provinces of Luzon namely, Zambales, Pampanga, Ilocos and Batangas that were vulnerable to sea-borne Moro attacks."

  11. Cruentus

    Cruentus Tactician

    Just to address this point, the link is definatily there. I train in both systems so I can see the connection; it would be one I would have to demo for people though rather then adequetly explain it.

    By training Balintawak, I came to better understand where Professor got a lot of his stick work from. Prof. did not move like Anciong, though. This is not a slam, as Prof. was a respected and skilled fighter in his own right. Stylistically, Prof. Remy's Balintawak is more closely associated with Timor Maranga from the accounts of what I heard of how Timor fought, and from learning and playing with Remy. This is fitting, as Timor was one of Remy's instructors. A lot of this had to do with body type; both Mr. Maranga and Professor Remy being very strong compared to their peers. Both liked to overpower their opponents by grabbing to control the stick, and fighting in close with puno's as if to overwhelm their opponent.

    But, if you had a chance to play with Professor you would see that when his skills were tested a little and he had to ramp it up a notch, he clearly resorted to his Balintawak training. His tapi-tapi was definatily influenced by that training as well.

    Just my take on it...

  12. Cruentus

    Cruentus Tactician

    I think that there is sufficent evidence to support the idea that European methods had an influence on Filipino fighting methods far back. There just is no sufficient evidence to prove that there was a direct influence in the 1900's on Savaadres style, Doce Pares, or Balintawak. And, the idea that one of the Savaadre brothers spent time in prison and trained with a french fencer, and the rest is history.....well, it sounds like more blind princess stories to me. I can't buy that... not without sufficient data to support it.

  13. Datu Tim Hartman

    Datu Tim Hartman FMA Talk Founder Supporting Member

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Loki himself is a 4th generation student of Balintawak. His lineage is as follows:

    Martin - Taboada - Velez - Villisan - Bacon

    This may explain his ideas. I've been very fortunate to have GM Remy bring me to Manong Buot, A first generation student of Bacon. With all of the handing down of material, changes as well as outside influence are bound to happen.

  14. loki09789

    loki09789 -== Banned ==-

    1. But, the point that you are neglecting to acknowledge is that I also referred to the lineage/association link between Bacon and the Saveedras. They went from the L.Fencing club to the Doce Pares school. Bacon as a student of the Saveedras. They were the ones with the Euro fencer in the mix. That influence would have been handed directly to Bacon. What others did to it may have made it look more like 'structured' fencing, true.

    Also, if you remember my conversation with B.Taboada that I referred to, I was talking about systemic similarities in the ONE on ONE elements as well. As I said, when it really clicked for me was when B. Taboada was using me to demo the training of the basics. It went from the strikes, to the defense/counters to the 'random' feeds. The next level was to add lifting and clearings in a 'what do you do now' unstructured format. The structural elements are there, but are not ALL that is there. THere is just as much 'random' play as there is structured play.

    THe majority of drilling that I experienced one on one with B.Taboada, and his assistant instructors was very much 'random.' But even then it really isn't 'random' so much as 'unexpected' by the student being fed. The instructor would decide what is or is not appropriate to throw at the student depending on the student's skill, level of understanding, experience, demeanor, character....so even the idea of 'random' isn't really random.

    2. I made this point before but wouldn't a seeminlgy 'random' approach in a one on one instructional style be the result of having a euro fencer and an FMA Saveedra stuck in a prison cell exchanging material? Wouldn't it make sense that there would be no need to formalize, organize or repackage anything when all you had was the two of you and no immediate purpose like instructor certification. Just two trained fighters killing time?

    The older, more ancient links to historical interaction is common knowledge. The specific influence of fencing on Doce Pares and then Balintawak is in the prison story and the information on Doce Pares/Saveedras as a root to Bacon's instruction. He would have been a teen/early 20's at this point. He spent a long time with them and then went on to start Balintawak.
  15. loki09789

    loki09789 -== Banned ==-


    Check out the second paragraph in the bio on V. Bacon in the Reynaldo Galong book you cited earlier. That is were the information about the Saveedra/Bacon relationship came from as well. It would be very hard to NOT have any fencing/Doce Pares/Saveedra influence in Balintawak if these guys were this closely bonded as Teachers (Saveedras) and student (Bacon) as well as family friends.

    If nothing else, that would seem pretty 'evidencial' to me.
  16. loki09789

    loki09789 -== Banned ==-

    Glad to see your back.

    I agree that it isn't solid or verifiable evidence in any hard scientific fashion. But, then again, we aren't in a lab or court room. "Speculation" is still a form of "Theory." It is as good as some of the sources in the soft sciences have used to support theories about anything. Look at the 'incredible evidence' that scientists use to form speculations that led to the discovery of ancient cities like Alexandria or Biblical locations. Who knows what will pop up over time to prove/disprove my theory?

    As I said anecdotal evidence still has a place in credibility - especially if you consider the 'credibility' of claims all over these forums. Has anyone tried to contact anyone in Doce Pares (Bart Hubbard or others) or emailed any Cebu Based folks to either disprove or substantiate the Fencer story or any other points I have made? I am waiting on some email replies myself, so if any responses come through, I'll post up what I can get.

    As Tim has mentioned, past claims that proved to be inaccurate have been addressed and removed when they were found to be 'incredible.'

    The information I have found is still there (from folks in Cebu BTW) and NOT removed, so even Cebuano peoples are accepting its credibility. THese are people that live and work in the very neighborhoods that Balintawak/Doce Pares were founded. I would think that the credibility check would be pretty easy, immediate and quick given how much honor and integrity play a part in Phillipino culture and specifically in FMA's.

    FMA martial arts is far less 'formal' about lineage proof or documentation. You made that point a while ago in one of your points on belt ranks in FMA and martial arts in general.

    I have yet to see any more substantial information than Tim, PeteNerd, G22, or anyone else has posted here anywhere else on forum discussions. I would say that there are many examples of far less substantial claims out there as well.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2005
  17. Datu Tim Hartman

    Datu Tim Hartman FMA Talk Founder Supporting Member

    It will have to wait until I get back from Sweden.
  18. G22

    G22 -== Banned ==-

    In the long run what is there to be gained or lost if its discovered that fencing/boxing IS or ISNT an influence on Balintawak anyways?
  19. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    It always seems like a point of pride--did our art influence yours, or did your art influence ours?
  20. Datu Tim Hartman

    Datu Tim Hartman FMA Talk Founder Supporting Member

    It's called history. Whether we like it or not it tells us about who we are.
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