Saavedra Escrima

Saavedra Escrima

The island of Cebu in the Central Visayan Islands of the Philippines is considered the home and motherland of the Filipino Martial Art of Escrima.  The most prominent and influential Escrimador in the history of Cebuano Escrima was the great, Lorenzo “Tatay Ensong” Saavedra (1852 – 1944).

The Saavedras are arguably are among the most famous practitioners of the arts in the last 100 years. However, they are not widely known outside of Cebu.

Lorenzo “Tatay Ensong” Saavedra was a Senior member of the Saavedra clan. Saavedra founded the Labangon Fencing Club in 1921 and taught his unique style of Escrima the “Corto Linear Style” to his nephew Teodoro “Doring” Saavedra (1911 – 1944) and Venancio “Anciong” Bacon (1912 – 1982).

Lorenzo Saavedra was an original member of the famed Doce Pares Club in 1932 and continued teaching his unique style of Escrima until WWII and the Japanese invasion of Cebu on April 10, 1942.

It was during this time that Teodoro “Doring” Saavedra rose through the ranks and became one of the most feared and respected Escrimadors in the Philippines.  His legendary exploits and hard-hitting and aggressive style of Escrima made him an icon and legend of Cebuano martial arts.

During the war in 1944, while serving alongside Doce Pares Club original students, Vicente “Inting” Atillo and Delfin Lopez, Doring Saavedra was captured and summarily executed by the Japanese.  Soon after, Lorenzo Saavedra died of natural causes at the age of 92.

After the war, many of the original Doce Pares Club members reunited and resumed training however the post-war club was shadowed by the deaths of Lorenzo Saavedra and Teodoro “Doring” Saavedra.

Venancio “Anciong” Bacon, a student of Lorenzo Saavedra and life-long family friend and training partner of Doring Saavedra prior to the war was becoming frustrated with the politics of the Doce Pares Club and eventually split off and started his own group in order to propagate the pure art of the Saavedra system and get back to the combative applications of Escrima.

During this time Vicente Atillo, a lifelong friend and student of both Saavedra and Bacon, taught the hard-hitting Saavedra Style of Escrima to his son Crispulo “Ising” Atillo. In addition to his father, Crispulo Atillo spent his youth learning from many of the original founding masters of Balintawak Escrima to include Venancio “Anciong” Bacon and the notorious and feared Escrimador, Delfin Lopez.

The original Saavedra system is now taught under the names “Atillo Balintawak World Arnis – Escrima Original Saavedra Style” and “Applied Escrima.”


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Doce Pares (12 Pairs)

“Doce Pares” is an Eskrima/Arnis Martial Arts Club that was founded in Cebu City in January 12, 1932. Originally it was a breakaway group of students and instructors from the ‘Labangon Fencing Club’ of the 1920’s which was influenced heavily by the Saavedra and Cañete families.

The original instructors of the Doce Pares taught their own particular family, island or region styles of Eskrima.

Lorenzo Saavedra, who was recognized as the foremost eskrimador in Cebu City founded Doce Pares along with his nephews Teodoro and Federico Saavedra,  and Eulogio and Filemon Cañete.

Eulogio Cañete, Filemon’s older brother, was elected first president of Doce Pares and remained in that position until his death in 1988. A younger Cañete brother, Ciriaco “Cacoy” Cañete, concentrated on boxing but later became an eskrimador while also training in Judo and other arts which he incorporated into his system, one component of which is called “Eskrido”.

Teodoro ‘Doring’ Saavedra rose to prominence as the best fighter in the Doce Pares society. Saavedra, an active guerrilla fighter, was captured and killed by the occupying Japanese forces in World War II.

Venancio Bacon was also among the first members in the club, but after a short time he left due to disagreements over the effectiveness of the Doce Pares system and founded Balintawak Eskrima.

Doce Pares is a form of Arnis, Kali and Eskrima, or a Filipino martial art that focuses primarily on stick fighting, knife fighting and hand-to-hand combat but also covers grappling and other weapons as well.

In reality, the stick is merely considered an extension of the hand, and is meant to represent almost any weapon, from sticks to swords to knives to anything else you can place in your hand and use as a weapon in the modern context.

Doce Pares was brought to prominence in the international scene during the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s by the Cañete family, especially Ciriaco ‘Cacoy’ Cañete.

Following the death of Ciriaco Canete in February 2016 there are only two surviving Doce Pares Supreme Grandmasters, Dionisio Canete and Danny Guba.

Doce Pares means “twelve pairs” in Spanish, the name was meant to honor the twelve people who originally planned to form the organization.

There are seven (7) main components of the Doce Pares multi-style system:
Single Stick Eskrima (Solo Olisi)
Double Stick Eskrima (Doble Olisi)
Long Stick Fighting (Bangkaw)
Long and Short Weapon Fighting (Espada y Daga)
Knife Fighting (Baraw)
Long Blade / Sword Fighting (Estokada / Sundang)
Empty Hand (Mano-Mano)

The three (3) ranges of Mano-Mano are:
Corto – Close Range
Media Largo – Medium Range
Larga Mano – Long Range

Also within the Mano-Mano section is:
Sumbag-Patid – Punching and Kicking
Lubag-Torsi – Locks and Immobilizing
Layog-Dumog – Takedowns and Grappling

Specialized Subjects:
Sinawali – to Weave
Tapi-Tapi – Alive Hand (a method of moving and flowing)
Sayaw/Karanza – Kata or Forms

All the above subjects are incorporated under the comprehensive 5-year training curriculum of the Doce Pares “Multi-Style” system.


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What is Kali-Escrima?

The Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) are commonly referred to as Kali, Arnis and Escrima or Eskrima. Obviously this can be confusing to a lot of people. The truth is that they are basically different words for the same art.

The Philippines are made up of over 7,000 islands and divided into 3 regions, the North, Central and Southern regions.

Arnis, is a Spanish term derived from ‘ Arnes de mano’ which translated to ‘armor of the hands’ referring to the warrior’s ability to protect themselves with their weapon. It typically shortened to Arnis. The term Arnis is used in the northern parts of the Philippines.

Escrima/ Eskrima, is from a Spanish term which means ‘fencing’. The term Escrima/Eskrima is typically used in the central or Visayan region of the Philippines.

The word Kali has multiple theories as to it’s origin:
Some say that it comes from the word Tjakalele which is a style of stick fencing from Indonesia.
Others claim that the name was coined by Dan Inosanto in the 1970’s
Most likely it comes from the Filipino term for blade which is Calis.

Regardless of the true origin the easy way to remember the three terms is Arnis in the north, Escrima in the central region and Kali in the south.

Kali is the term most commonly used for Filipino Martial Arts especially in the USA.

When many people think of FMA they envision ‘That Stick Fighting’ art, but the Filipino arts are much, much more and are world renowned for their ‘blade culture’. Even though most styles use sticks for safety reasons, the techniques are actually based on the sword.

FMA also includes punching, kicking, joint locks, grappling and weapon disarming techniques. The techniques are the same whether it is empty hand, stick or knife. They are considered ‘extensions’ of the hands which is why weapons are taught from the very beginning.

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