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.”