What is Balintawak?

Discussion in 'Balintawak' started by Bob Hubbard, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Darth Vindicatus Supporting Member

    What is Balintawak? Who developed it? How did it get the name? Who's the notable practitioners? Where can I study it?
  2. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Here's another place where such an answer would be useful: Wikipedia is an online encycoledia that anyone can edit. Despite the potential for abuses, it's become a very popular resource.

    There is a Wikipedia entry for Balintawak that I created. But, I am very far from an expert in this area, and it needs much more info.! Please consider modifying this entry, and creating new entries on related matters.

    If anyone has difficulty using the system, I can make edits for them. But it's worth learning how to do it yourself. You don't need an account, but it does make for some convenience if you do have one.
  3. pesilat

    pesilat Junior Member

    Here's a brief overview of the genesis of Balintawak (as I understand it).

    GM Anciong Bacon trained with the elder Canete brothers under Lorenzo Saavedra at the Doce Pares Eskrima club. During WWII, the Saavedra family was all but wiped out and the remaining members had a lot of family issues to deal with after the war. The Canete brothers and other senior students took over the Doce Pares club.

    In 1951 Bacon and the Canetes had a falling out and Bacon split from the school. He began teaching his own expression of Eskrima in the backyard of a friend's watch shop ... on Balintawak Street.

    Balintawak was the name of an area in Luzon where the Spanish were successfully defeated and run out. The term Balintawak was later used as a war cry by other Filipinos. Bacon felt that this was a fitting name for his system so he (and others) began calling it Balintawak Eskrima.

    Here are a couple of links to pages with a lot more detailed information:

    http://stevekbs.tripod.com/id2.html - general info about the history of Eskrima in Cebu city

    http://www.visayanmartialarts.com/balintawakarnisescrima.htm - info specifically about the history of Balintawak

  4. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons Member

    My sources said they agree to go separate ways, yet, I agree that there must have been some form of a falling out or diagreement.

    My understanding of Balintawak as a name of what Anciong taught:

    It was the Self Defense Club that was located on Balintawak Street in the back(yard) of a watch and repair store.

    People started calling it the Self Defense Club on Balintawak Street. This lead to people making comments like, " You do that stuff from Balintawak" Meaning the street. Which lead to people just calling it Balintawak.

    I have not checked the links, but will do so when I get a chance.

    Thanks for the info.
  5. Datu Tim Hartman

    Datu Tim Hartman FMA Talk Founder Supporting Member

    I agree with most of your post and as you said Bacon taught on Balintawak Street, hence the name. It was the Balintawak School of Defense, which eventually became Balintawak. Rey Galang recently published Warrior Arts of the PI. There is a large section on Anciong and Balintawak. I highly recommend checking it out.

  6. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    I know very little about Doce Pares--in fact, I had my first lesson in it tonight!--so I wonder, How different was Anciong Bacon's eskrima, that came to be known as Balintawak, from teh Doce Pares he had studied? I have hd the impression that the difference is pretty large. Did Anciong Bacon create many new techniques, organize things differently, train differently, or what? What exactly was his distinctive innovation?
  7. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons Member

    Here is what I know. GM Anciong Bacon was not nice or polite when he practiced the stick and dagger techniques. In particular he would take the kamagong wood knife trainer and poke/stab his opponents or playing partners. Too many of his partners had wounds and or were bleeding from the sharp point of the trainer. So the Savaadra's took away and or told him not to train with the dagger any more. This lead him down the path of investigating and optimizing techiniques for the single stick.

    As to the Doces Pares, it might depend upon the style and or lineage you were introduced too. I have heard the San Miguel (* no personal contact *) is closer to the Balintawak in lines of motion, but still is different, then the other Doces Pares I have seen (* very limited exposure *).
  8. Epa

    Epa Member

    I think the Doce Pares-Balintawak link comes primarily from having common teachers and training partners in the Pre World War 2 Doce Pares club and before that in the Labangon Fencing Club in the 1920s. From what I understand, both Anciong Bacon and many of the founders of the Doce Pares club were trained by the Saavedra family. My question is, which Saavedra trained Bacon?

    I've read some histories that said Lorenzo "Tatay Ensong/Enchong" Saavedra, the uncle of Teodoro "Doring" Saavedra and Frederico Saavedra two other prominent members of the club trained Bacon. The other histories I've read have Bacon training primarily with Doring Saavedra who was reknowned as the fighter for Labangon Fencing Club and the Pre WWII Doce Pares club. I think I've also seen that he trained with both of them. When you get down to it, it's not very important because either way Anciong Bacon's art developed from the Saavedra's family style, but I'm just curious.

    I've also seen a history, by Mark Wiley, that said Anciong Bacon founded the Labangon Fencing Club in 1920


    I've never seen any confirmation of this anywhere else and though I've never seen a birthdate for Anciong Bacon, I didn't think he was that old. Has anyone else heard a similar story?

  9. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons Member


    My Understanding was Lorenzo was the older and instructor. Doring was his training partner, and that both were scrapers, and would fight, although I think from what I have read and heard that Doring as you stated was more recognized as such pre-WWII.

    As to Mark Wiley, I am not sure he checks all his sources properly. Anciong was a founding member, which is much different then founding the whole club. I believe Anciong was in his late teens when the club was founded.
  10. Cruentus

    Cruentus Tactician

    Hi Jeff.

    From what I have seen of Doce Pares, it is very different then Balintawak. This is great, though, because we have a living example of how combat systems can evolve into clearly different systems over time, even when they come from the same basic origin. It was also my understanding that Savaadre's did not have a systemized art in the same sense that we see martial arts that are systemized today - so it is only natural that systems with different focuses would evolve over time rather then old methods being preserved.

    I had a much more complete answer, but I spent 20 min. typing only to be automatically logged out and to have my post lost. Friggin exciting....that makes me so happy when that happens that I could s**t. Oh well, with limited time to be here to begin with, I guess this is all we are left with till next time...

  11. bart

    bart New Member

    Hey There,

    The Balintawak that I've experienced has emphasized the single stick. That being said I have seen practitioners use double sticks, stick and dagger, and knife alone. However, those have been mostly demo and not to a large extent.

    Doce Pares is an umbrella for a large body of styles. Different styles emphasize different things. However, generally Doce Pares styles commonly encourage regular use of many different weapons including stick, knife, bullwhip, various swords, and even shields, spears, long and short staff, brass knuckles, and nunchaku. There is also an emphasis on empty hand fighting and grappling.

    Balintawak doesn't appear to be an umbrella. There are many different types of Balintawak, but there seems to be some contention concerning who has THE Balintawak.

    I would hesitate to say that Doce Pares is more comprehensive but in general, Doce Pares when compared to Balintawak, has a broader curriculum and is more accepting of individualized systematized expressions of the art.
  12. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons Member


    I believe in honesty.

    Villisin and those under him teach Balintawak, yet they openly admint the Groupings or templates were added to ad the student in learning. This is honesty.

    If someone adds sinawali's or something else to market or add in training references this is fine, but since you are standing up and making the change, stand up take the credit so your students understand that it was added and why. This way the respect can be made to someone who has added to a branch of the family.

    I personally do not think it is bad to say that an art does not cover everything. If it does not, then be honest and say in Traditional Balintawak there is no knife work. Yet, from the stick work you can see this empty hand translation and now you can see the blade translation. And for those who have specifically put this in, then they should be given credit for such work.

    Recently I have heard that some people are not happy with how Balintawak is perceived or presented by some. I try to state what I know, and if someone contradicts, then I try to ask questions on why, to gain better insight and possible a different point of view.

    Such as recently someone made a comment to someone else about The Savaadra's and that they are the TRUE GM's of Balintawak. I agree that they were the leaders and thereby GM is you will of the Lebanong Fencing Club and the Doces Pares as well. Yet, even today there are many people who have title GM in the Doces Pares and they teach differently with different techniques required. So, when the Club or Savaadra's had the training dagger removed from GM Anciong Bacon's hands for training, he started to optimize his single stick training. To further this point, Manog Ted Buot tells a story about how GM Anciong Bacon did not even know any sinawalis. So, while he trained in teh Doces Pares he is an example of someone who trained differntly then some of the others. Therefor, back to my point at the beginning is that GM Anciong Bacon optimized his single stick training and created his Abecedario and Seguidas, and kept them the same, no matter how much he added later in technique. Yet he changed it from what he learned, and thereby I think he should get the credit.

    Just as I mentioned Atty GM Villisin also added int he groupings as did some others, and even GM Moncal who referred to his as modified as he taught some things that GM Maranga and GM Bacon did not. Yet he was able to make his stuff work for him and taught it as such, but he also said it was modifed.

    These modifiactions do not make is less, nor do they make it more based upon the additions only. As many have said before, There are no superior Martial Arts, only Superior Martial Artists.

    So, Bart, if I have offended you or someone else that you know, please let me know, so I can address it. If you comments were about some others on the public scene recently, then I understand, and no hard feelin either way. :)

    Thank you and best regards
  13. bart

    bart New Member


    I wasn't offended by anything that you said, nor was I intending to counter anything. As a Doce Pares person I have to be careful about how I state things in terms of the Balintawak style and its relationship to Doce Pares. I believe in honesty too. And I didn't mean to infer that anyone else did not.

    When I was pointing out the differences one was that Balintawak is a distilled style, like Wing Chun, and like San Miguel Eskrima. It focuses on some particular things and doesn't attempt to cover too much.

    In my other statement I was trying to point out that while Doce Pares entertains multiple grandmasters without much internal contention, the same is not true of Balintawak. A few years ago I was in a discussion where I disagreed that Ted Buot as the only GM of Balintawak. There is no question he is a Balintawak GM. My contention was that he wasn't the only one. I got a lot of heat for that. But I think that everybody got where I was coming from in the end. I make statements about Doce Pares GM's all the time and don't get any heat at all. To me, that's a difference between the systems.
  14. PeteNerd

    PeteNerd Member

    Doce Pares is really a collection of different styles and techniques. I visited with them when i was in Cebu. I think their training curriculum is like 5 years and they try to cover a little bit of everything. I believe their are 3 major eskrima styles in their curriculum and none of them are that similar to balintawak. They also tend to do a lot more "flashy" moves and stick twirling. Balintawak is simple, direct, single stick. It's all strike counter-strike. They also teach that everything can be countered. When I visited Doce Pares they liked to tell me that a lot of moves were unstoppable or undefendable. Balintawak's is very simple and straightforward. The idea behind it is that once you learn the techniques then you can apply them with minimal change to different weapons, ie stick and dagger, empty hands, dagger and sword, swords. Really its just a matter of changing the angle or target of your attack depending on your weapons. It's also a matter of slightly changing your response according to your opponents weapon. Once you train for awhile you can really tell that it's applicable with just about any weapon combination you can think of. There is also a lot of emphasis on using the empty hand to feel and check your opponents weapon hand. Once you get good you can just feel where they are going and just follow and block them accordingly. It's quite extraordinary once it starts to "click." All the training is one on one. Some people do some warm up exercises, but if you are not doing mostly one on one training with a skilled instructor you are not doing real balintawak.

  15. PeteNerd

    PeteNerd Member

    I also want to comment on this. This is really a political issue. Ranks and succession is western convention and isn't traditional to filipino martial arts. Traditionally you were either teacher or student. Depending on who had better skills you could be both at the same time. You were tested and established your place by your skill. There is no one group that is the successor to Anciong Bacon. Back in the old days there were many clubs operating at the same time, Villasin's Group, Velez's Group, the Original Group. They were all skilled and checked and got together for events to make sure they were all up to par. I know the Velez group split at people got assigned to colored chapters and some of them still exist. At this time people just trade on skill and reputation. I know there are people that claim to be masters that probably shouldn't, and people that should be called master that aren't. There are also people that have titles that are well deserved. I just try to evaluate people on their skill and knowledge.

  16. bart

    bart New Member


    My suspicion is that you went to the Doce Pares Multi-style gym in Banilad. The goal of the multi-style system is to give a broad introduction to the major styles of Doce Pares. This broadness is to encourage students to dig deeper and later specialize in one of those styles, but guarantee that they have a broad base of knowledge. It is also to honor the contributions of the many Doce Pares GM's. You are right, none of them are too similar to Balintawak.

    Next time you go, I'd suggest that you look around a bit more. There are individual teachers that can offer different aspects to see. Although you may be dedicated to Balintawak, understand that by stopping at one school, the biggest and most accessible to foreigners, you have not seen the whole show.

    I've heard that myself and as you have obviously figured out, it is an overstatement when taken literally. A thing to keep in mind is the language. Filipino English tends toward the superlative. Most likely they were referring to curved strikes. They are sneaky and when used effectively are hard to block, but they are not unstoppable. They most likely meant "difficult to stop". Doce Pares teaches only that "serra todo" may be indefensible.

    As for the stick twirling, some of it of course is flashy. It's purpose is to strike but it also builds up wrist flexibility and strength which is useful in curved striking and palusot.

    But those are part of the difference that I was attempting to point out earlier. Balintawak has less technique in its body of knowledge when compared to Doce Pares.

    It could be said for all FMA that if you're teacher is not working with you one on one pretty often, then you might not be learning real FMA.

    After stating my points here I think it best that we not drift any further off topic in this thread. My apologies for those who were looking to have this thread define what Balintawak is. It's regrettable that this definition has been painted in how Balintawak is not Doce Pares. I would like to request from the Mods that this thread be split and that the part about Doce Pares be moved over to the Misc. Stick Arts.
  17. Cruentus

    Cruentus Tactician


    You seem to know a fair amount about Balintawak...who is your teacher?

  18. PeteNerd

    PeteNerd Member

    I was in Cebu Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer for 2 years. For the second year of my time there I trained with Henry Jayme at Visayan Martial Arts. I learned Balintawak, Tat Kun Tao, Combat Judo and some Knife techniques. I also met Bobby Tabimina and had one lesson with him just to see how his style was different. If you have any other questions let me know. I trained a lot and know quite a bit about the system.

  19. Cruentus

    Cruentus Tactician

    Thanks for the offer. I always like to hear perspectives from others of different lineages then mine.

    As to Henry Jayme, his name isn't ringing a bell. Who was his instructor? I am familiar with Mr. Tabimina of course.

  20. Cruentus

    Cruentus Tactician

    Never mind Pete;

    I did some more reading and I see that Mr. Jayme is from the Velez lineage. Cool, thanks again!


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