Original Balintawak club members from left to right: Atty. Jose Villasin, Johnny Chiuten, founder Venancio Bacon, and Teofelo Velez.
|Also known as||Balintawak Eskrima|
|Country of origin||Philippines|
|Creator||Venancio "Anciong" Bacon|
|Famous practitioners||Teodoro Buot
Atty: Jose Villasin
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 was formed, headed by Lorenzo Saavedra. The club was composed of three Saavedra eskrimadors and nine from the Cañete family. Venancio Bacon was among the first members of the Doce Pares Club, and a few months later left the club due to skepticisms of the system's effectivity.
In 1952, along with Delfin Lopez, 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. Vincente "Inting" Carin of Doce Pares found himself attacked by multiple assailants, incurring various injuries. While reciprocating lethal injuries on his attackers he was able to adapt the Balintawak style fighting to fend off his assailants. Delfin Lopez was knifed from behind, resulting in his death. Venancio Bacon was ambushed in the dark while walking to his home in Labangon. He killed his assailant.
Bacon was incarcerated for killing the attacker, who was armed with a knife, in self-defense. The judge ruled that Bacon’s martial arts skills could be considered a lethal weapon and should have been used with restraint. 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 Jose Villasin and Teofilo Velez. A few years after, Bacon died.
Bacon developed single stick techniques. With the help of Jose Villasin he developed and optimized his techniques based upon single stick work. Atty. Jose Villasin, under the tutelage of Bacon, developed the twelve basic strikes which are now used by most Balintawak practitioners. Balintawak uses twelve basic strikes because the human body is limited in movement. These twelve strikes form 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 will experience a revelation in the fundamentals of street fighting.
Later, Bacon's successors soon began to systematize the Balintawak curriculum. One was Jose Villasin, who set about to group the style into its various categories so that his students could master one set of related techniques and then move onto the next set of related techniques. At this point, several distinct schools of Balintawak emerged. Many of Bacon’s Balintawak students and some of his and the Saavedra's Doce Pares students continued to teach in the old method of random instruction, while Villasin taught in his "grouping" style.
Today, there are a number of Balintawak groups teaching their versions of the system. Some instructors use a "grouping" method for teaching the techniques while others continue to teach single responses 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 methods. Most notable is Modern Arnis, founded by Remy Presas who studied Balintawak under Arnulfo Mongcal.
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