It is providential that Balintawak Eskrima founded by the Supreme Grandmaster Venancio “Anciong” Bacon in the early 1950s was named after the Street in Cebu City, Philippines. Balintawak is a small street in the now bustling Queen City of the South of the Archipelago.
Naming a “would be” renowned combat self-defense system, as it is known today throughout the world, after a street, is like focusing on that finger pointing to the moon. By this definition alone, the martial arts world specifically the advocates of Balintawak Eskrima are deprived of its true meaning and philosophy of its name sake.
Looking beyond the finger pointing to the moon, we should instead give credit to the history of its name – The Cry of Pugad Lawin (eagle’s nest) = The Cry of Balintawak, in a sitio of Balintawak in Quezon City. This was where the Philippine Revolution1 of 1896 had its beginning. The Katiponeros (revolutionaries) led by Andres Bonifacio protested against imperial rule of Spain over the Philippines. They tore their cedulas as a symbol of their protest and took up arms against Spain. The action of Andres Bonifacio is similar to the thinking of the old school of Balintawak where combat and death matches were the norm to prove one’s style over the other. Those were the days of death matches. It was here that Grandmaster Bacon was proven invincible with over one hundred victories under his belt. He was undefeated during his time.
Image: Apolinario Mabini; at the right (the Yin) and Andres Bonifacio; at the left (the Yang) of the 1896 Philippine revolution – The Cry of Balintawak (image taken from jesusabernardo.blogspot.com)
The Yin as manifested in Apolinario Mabini was complimented by the Yang in Andres Bonifacio. Mabini was considered the brains of the revolution. It was Mabini who gave the Philippine Revolution a Philosophy. Mabini stressed that a revolution was not only taking up arms against the oppressor. He believes in the need for people to change their attitudes, relationships with one another, and nurture positive thinking. He further emphasized that an internal and moral revolution must take root in the hearts and minds of the people to ensure the faith of a new social order.
Following the Philosophy of Mabini, APO-Balintawak instills in its practitioners the state of being mild outside but strong within to bring about a new breed of eskrimadors – those who uphold and practice the values of self-discipline, self-control, and respect. And reinforced that with the ten Virtues of B-A-L-I-N-T-A-W-A-K, namely Benevolence, Altruism, Loyalty, Integrity, Nationalism, Temperance, Awakening, Wisdom, Attitude (positive), and Kindness.
True to its name’s sake, APO-Balitnawak Eskrima System has re-oriented itself to its origin and continues to rationalize its future towards attaining its goal in balancing between the elements of the yin and the yang. Knowing your roots and history in your martial arts would keep your feet grounded and gives you the sustained enthusiasm to live out its legacy.