Stick Fighting in Arnis was also called Eskrima

Discussion in 'Balintawak' started by Soncen, May 19, 2006.

  1. Soncen

    Soncen Teovel Balintawak

    Stick fighting was also called Eskrima

    In Cebuano dialect stick fighting was called “BINUNALAY”, but we also adopted the word eskrima or escrima as the other Cebuano dialect and the word was taken from the Spanish word esgrima, which in the French language was called escrime, which meant to be in English as Fencing for the sword fighting art. Our stick fighting art was attributed to the bladed weapon fighting or bolo wielding. This fighting art was commonly applied in a warfare against the enemy in contrast to the sword fighting in the medieval time that in the 15th century was proven to be more sophisticated when Lapu-lapu a Cebuano expert in bolo wielding defeated Magellan a Spanish conqueror who was also an expert in sword fighting in the battle of Mactan in April 27, 1521. The reason why Cebuano adopted the word Eskrima or sometimes spelled as Escrima as the second terminology in Cebuano dialect is because stick fighting was an inherent brand of fighting from a bolo fight handling where, in the fight engagement, there is contact of two weapons from both fighters, which also be found the same thing to happen in the swords fighting. But the style was too different from the other as we observed in the Olympic game of fencing, we only noticed one thing in common on the two fighting arts and it was the contact of the two objects from the protagonists. Another thing to note is that the English word of our Eskrima was Stick fighting while English word for Spanish Esgrima or the French dialect Escrime was fencing or swords fighting.

    Lorenzo Saavedra was an Arnis fighter who was expert in Bolo fight brandishing and stick fight handling that he learns from different Instructors when he joined the secret revolutionary movement that fight against the Spanish authorities in the Philippines particularly in Cebu. He was then very young at the age of about sixteen or seventeen, but at the age of twenty he was already an expert in stick fighting, as it was a stick as their usual tool to conceal their activities in the practice of bolo fight brandishing. He was captured and put in jail for about thirty years and while in the prison cell, he continued to practice the art using only some kitchen utensils to enhance his craft through frequent sparring with his co-prisoner who became his friend a Frenchman who was also an expert in sword fighting. When he was freed from prison, he taught the art of stick fighting to his two nephews Teodoro and Federico Saavedra and there were others who also trained with him. In 1920 Lorenzo Saavedra established the “Club Lantay” the organization of Stick fighters (Ekrimadores) together with his two nephews and the Canete’s. The training was taught one-on-one and while others are waiting for their turn in training, they ordered them to observe the mechanics while sitting on the bamboo bench that are mounted around the training venue. The bamboo bench was called in the Cebuano dialect as “LANTAY” hence the club was so named, but the Americans who governs on that period in the Philippines did not understand, so Lorenzo change the name into the Labangon Fencing Club.

    Because the fencing or sword fighting was more popular to the Americans and they understand it easily because stick fighting as they see it had a contact on two objects from both fighters, the same thing they know about sword fighting. So they must be thinking the word FENCING CLUB was suitably more fitting than that of the CLUB LANTAY, which meant only as sitting on the bamboo bench doing nothing but only watching and waiting for their turn in the training. This is the exact story on account of Anciong Bacon that I heard and re-heard and has been circulated here in Cebu ever since way before I started training with Teofilo V. Roma in 1987. Anciong was the son of Lorenzo’s close family friend and he himself was very close to Anciong treating him to be his youngest son while the other whom he treated also to be his own children were his two nephews Doring and Pedring who was born in the mid-1870’s, Anciong did not mentioned about Lorenzo’s wife and children but others only speculated that he remains unmarried until his death. It was in 1929 that Lorenzo who was then at the age of 77 teach Anciong of the art of Arnis fighting who was then at the age of only seventeen years old. Anciong has still had a vivid memory of his teacher whom he said he had a special training with him because he was the smallest and the youngest among the group and had more conversation with him than that of the other members.

    It is there that he learns values that motivates him to acquire his own principles though lack of formal education, he values life above all but do not let others to oppress him and he has all this story told to my teacher Teofilo V. Roma. There were articles in some International Magazines that do not coincide with this story and I expect any reactions in the coming days. I am only appealing to all to be open and just examine the story whether or not there is truth in it. May God bless all our endeavors and us!!!

    Wilson R. Ceniza
    Teovel Balintawak Self-defense Club
    Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines
  2. Robert Klampfer

    Robert Klampfer New Member

    Arnis or escrima?

    I seem to recall hearing/reading somewhere that arnis is used more in the Visayas (Cebu) and escrima is used more elsewhere. Is arnis a Visayan word, and escrima Tagalog?

  3. PeteNerd

    PeteNerd Member

    Actually i think escrima is used more in Visayan areas and Arnis is used more in the tagalog regions.

  4. Soncen

    Soncen Teovel Balintawak

    Hello Robert,

    Arnis is a Cebuano dialect of our self-defense system, but other regions in the Philippines also adopted the word. In Tagalog region although they called their self-defense as the PANANDATAHAN and KALIRONGAN OR PAGKA KALI-KALI but they also adopted the word Arnis.

    Eskrima is another Cebuano term for stick fighting (binunalay was the other term). In Tagalog, it was called PALU-AN but they also adopted the word eskrima, because eskrima was more popular. Eskrima or stick fighting was one of the components of our Balintawak Arnis.

    Wilson R. Ceniza
  5. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Escrima is originally from the Spanish, of course; some variation of escrima/scrima means 'fencing' in most of the Romance languages. For example, the Federation Internationale d'Escrime (FIE, French) is the international fencing organization.
  6. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons Member

    Manong Ted Buot has always called it Balintawak as the art and the practitioner was an Escrimador. Manong Ted does not speak Tagalog (* or wishes not too *), so I find this a little confusing that he would use a term not from his local language or dialect.
  7. Soncen

    Soncen Teovel Balintawak

    Ya!!! Our Martial art system was Balintawak and we always called it that way and we the practitioners of Balintawak was an Eskrimador too (stick fighter) because Eskrima (Stick fight) was a major component of the Balintawak Arnis. People here in Cebu viewed Balintawak Arnis practitioner and eskrimador as synonymous or of the same meaning only because Balintawak practitioner was popularly known to be an eskrimador.

    Balintawak was a Cebuano dialect of our Martial art system and Noy Teddy is correct when he says that his style is Balintawak and because he is a Balintawak practitioner where the major component was stick fighting, then he is also to be called as an eskrimador or Stick fighter. Eskrima is a Cebuano term of stick fighting synonym to BINUNALAY the other Cebuano dialect of stick fighting.

    Noy Teddy was not using a term that was not from his local language like the KALIRONGAN which is the Tagalog dialect of stick fighting synonym to PANANDATAHAN OR PAGKA KALI-KALI because he didn't know the Tagalog dialect of Stick fighting and he is not speaking Tagalog language unlike me where I can also communicate with the Tagalog people.

    Wilson R. Ceniza
  8. Soncen

    Soncen Teovel Balintawak

    That's correct Mr. Arnisador, Eskrima or Escrima was originally taken from the Spanish word Esgrima and the French word Escrime, which is in English translation was Fencing. But the Cebuano uses also the word Eskrima or Escrima (not the Spanish esgrima or the French escrime) as the Cebuano translation of stick fighting as our forefathers adopted it long time ago as the Cebuano dialect synonym to BINUNALAY the other Cebuano translation of stick fighting.

    Wilson R. Ceniza
  9. Robert Klampfer

    Robert Klampfer New Member

    Still trying to get my brain wrapped around the information from the replies...

    So, arnis, escrima, and other words (all Visayan) mean essentially the same thing? I assume that there's something different between all of the words; or is there no difference and it becomes a simple matter of preference as to which word is used?

  10. Soncen

    Soncen Teovel Balintawak

    Yes Robert!!! Arnis and Eskrima are all Visayan (Cebuano) dialect, but as I said earlier that Eskrima which is synonym to BINUNALAY (stick fighting in English language) is only a component of Arnis. Arnis was the Visayan (Cebuano) dialect of our Filipino Martial art, so when we say Balintawak Arnis it would mean for us as Balintawak Self-defense art or Balintawak Martial Art and it comprises with the Eskrima or BINUNALAY (stick fighting), the bare handed combat fighting (sinukmagay in Cebuano dialect), the bladed weapon fighting (dinunggabay in Cebuano dialect), grappling fight (dinumogay in Cebuano dialect) and etc.

    The major component of our Balintawak Arnis martial art was the stick fighting (Eskrima or binunalay in Cebuano dialect), that’s why people here in Cebu also called all of us who are practitioner of the art as the Stick fighters or Eskrimadores (plural of eskrimador) although the truth is that we are not only an eskrimador (stick fighter) because we are also a bare handed combat fighter, and a bladed weapon fighter and etc. So in general we could also to be called a Balintawak Arnisador (Balintawak martial artist or Balintawak Self-defense fighter in English language) but most people here in Cebu seldom uses the word arnisador, because they got used to say the word eskrimador.

    Robert, I hope I had explained it wills enough. God bless!!!

    Wilson R. Ceniza
  11. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    I really appreciate getting this info. Thanks for sharing! Binunalay is a word I very seldom over here in the States.

    I don't think I know dinumogay but of course I do know of dumog.
  12. Soncen

    Soncen Teovel Balintawak

    Thanks for the appreciation Mr. Arnisador. I really want to share what I know in my heart was honestly the most credible.
  13. Robert Klampfer

    Robert Klampfer New Member


    That was a great explanation. Thanks very much for that!

  14. Soncen

    Soncen Teovel Balintawak

    Thanks Robert!!!

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