Original Balintawak club members from left to right: José Villasin, Johnny Chiuten, Venancio Bacon, and Teofelo Velez.
|Also known as||Balintawak Eskrima|
|Country of origin||Philippines|
|Creator||Venancio "Anciong" Bacon|
|Famous practitioners||Teodoro Buot
Nicomendes "Nick" Elizar
Balintawak Eskrima or Balintawak Arnis is a Filipino Martial Art developed by Venancio Bacon in the 1950s to enhance and preserve the combative nature of arnis which he felt was being watered down by other styles of Philippine martial arts. It is named after a small street in Cebu where it was founded.
In 1932, the Doce Pares Club Pares was formed, composed of eskrimadors from the Saavedra and the Cañete family. This was headed by Lorenzo Saavedra. Venancio Bacon was among the first members of the Doce Pares Club and became one of its best fighters. According an interview in Bladed Hand, a Filipino documentary about Filipino martial arts, Grandmaster Ciriaco "Cacoy" Cañete said there were two best fighters in the Doce Pares Club, and Bacon is second (first is "Doring" Saavedra, until he was captured amd executed by Japanese forces during World War 2). However, a few years later he left the club due to skepticisms of the system's effectivity.
In the 1950s, along with Delfin López Timoteo Maranga, and a few others, Bacon established a new club, calling it the Balintawak Street Self-Defense Club. The newly formed club started training in the backyard of a watch shop owned by Eduardo Baculi, one of Bacon’s students, in a small side street in Colon St., called Balintawak Street, thus the name of the group.
During the 1950s and 1960s, eskrimadors from various camps, mainly Doce Pares and Balintawak, tested each other’s skills in all-out challenges. These resulted in injuries and sometimes deaths. Some were under honorable circumstances, while others treacherous. Balintawak-oriented Vincente "Inting" Carin of Doce Pares found himself attacked by multiple assailants, incurring many injuries yet survived and killed some of his attackers. Delfin López was knifed from behind, resulting in his death. Venancio Bacon was ambushed in the dark while walking to his home in Labangon, and killed his assailant by snapping his spine.
Bacon was thereafter imprisoned. The judge ruled that Bacon’s martial arts skills could be considered a lethal weapon and should have been used with restraint. While in prison, he met Bob Silver Tabimina who became his student. Bacon was paroled from prison in the mid-1970s. When he returned to Cebu, he continued to check on students, making sure the quality of Balintawak was still up to his standards since he left. Bacon regularly attended training sessions conducted by José Villasin and Teofilo Velez. A few years after, Bacon died.
Bacon developed single stick techniques. With the help of Villasin he developed and optimized his techniques based upon single stick work. Villasin, under the tutelage of Bacon, developed its basic strike and defense patterns which are now used by most Balintawak practitioners. This pattern forms the basis from which a practitioner can develop basic, semi-advanced, and advanced movements. All techniques must be demonstrated with power, control, and body mechanics.
In Balintawak, the stick is only used to enhance and train the individual for bare hands fighting, and to achieve perfection in the art of speed, timing and reflexes necessary to acquire defensive posture and fluidity in movement. It aims to harness one’s natural body movement and awaken one’s senses to move and react. It guarantees its practitioner to experience a revelation in the fundamentals of street fighting.
Later, some of Bacon's successors soon began to systematize the Balintawak curriculum. One was José Villasin, a self-defense instructor at University of Visayas who grouped the techniques in various categories so his students could master one set of techniques and then move to the next set of related techniques. At this point, several distinct schools of Balintawak emerged teaching the "grouping method".
While those like Villasin taught using the "grouping method", some of Bacon’s students and his associates continued to teach in the old method of random instruction.
Today, there are a number of Balintawak groups teaching different versions of the system. Most instructors use the "grouping" method for teaching the techniques while others continue to teach in the traditional way, as Bacon used to teach.
The principles and concepts of Balintawak have, however, found their way into many different Filipino martial arts. Most notable is Modern Arnis, founded by Remy Presas who studied Balintawak under Arnulfo Mongcal.
Tat Kun Tao is created by Joe Go, one of Venancio Bacon's earliest students. This is a unarmed form of Balintawak with influences from Chinese martial arts such as Tai Chi and Five Ancestors Boxing.
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