“True refinement seeks simplicity.” – Bruce Lee
When I fist learned the Balintawak Eskrima System under then Master Tinong Ibanez in 1974, I was impressed with its simplicity and blowing movements.
It looks simple but I find it quite difficult to learn at first. This was because I had to undo my adopted posture and footwork which I acquired from other martial arts during my youth. In addition to that, I had to empty my cup of tea and learn with an open mind.
As I gradually familiarize myself with the natural movements of Balintawak, I began to realize that I was transforming back to the time I knew nothing about structured martial arts. I felt like a toddler learning to walk again. This is because Balintawak is anchored on simplicity of form and movement.
Image: Andrew P. Obon and Rojelio Pepito Jr.
It’s emphasis on short and shallow footwork, economy of movement – add up to its State of being Simple. This enhances flexibility and effectiveness. Amid its simplicity, there are a few exception such as its “kawayan” maneuvers also known as “bambooing” – mimicking the pliant quality of a bamboo flowing in the wind. The maneuvers, however, is situational and occasionally used.
Another simplicity trait is its generally linear Strikes. It is a truism that the nearest distance between two points is a straight line. It is out of practicality that its strikes are delivered along a linear place; to hit its target at the shortest time possible. Its strikes are direct, short, and stemless.
Defensive maneuvers are also simple, direct, and natural in their movements. Although blocking technique are somewhat structured, its ultimate simplicity is either a direct hit to the weapon hand or side step away from the line of attack, and simultaneously deliver a strike as defense.
Its simplicity allows technique to flow as if they are one Continuous sequence. This is called “decadena” or chain like movement – where one technique follows another in a continuous fashion.
In the words of Master Ibanes, “Master the basics of Balintawak Eskrima and you will discover the rest of the techniques in due time.”
Yes, Master the basics in simplifying the process in the learning curve. And, this may be its secret to simplicity.
Video – Guru Andrew P. Obon and Rojelio Pepito Jr. performing Balintawak Eskrima Corridas:
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