Venancio Bacon or Anciong as he was known by his Filipino nickname, was the first to call his school/club Balintawak, but he was not initially the major inspiration behind the Cebu Escrima movement. To find the beginning of the Balintawak school, you must look at the early twentieth century innovators and originators of the collective, Arnis/Escrima movement in Cebu.
One of the first major Escrima schools in Cebu was the Labangon Fencing Club of the 1920's. The Saavedra family, especially Lorenzo Saavedra and his nephews Teodoro and Frederico Saavedra and the older Cañete brothers were the main influence and force behind it. Venancio Bacon was one of the Saavedra's students and also, was a close family friend.
the 20's, because of what some say was due to political infighting between
In World War Two the Saavedra family was all but wiped out by the Japanese and after the war the Escrima school was far from the remaining Saavedra family members minds. One family group developed the leading major role in the Doce Pares. A political division broke out, with this family and the deceased families instructors and students. Anciong Bacon', one of these disgruntled instructors, due to personal and political reasons, decided to break away and opened his own club. He opened his first gym in Balintawak street in Cebu City in 1951.
One of Venancios
successors to Balintawak was a Lawyer called 'Attorney
Jose Villasin'. He set about to systemise
and 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. This is the juncture where several
distinct schools of Balintawak
emerged. Many of Venancios Balintawak students and some of Venancios
and the Saavedra's older Doce Pares students continued to teach in the
old style of random instruction, while Attorney Villasins family
and close friends/students used his unique grouping method.
Some instructors from the different instructional styles state the grouped method is modified Balintawak. This is not so. The techniques and principles of Grouped Balintawak have not been made different in form, restricted, varied, or limited in any matter and have been observed to be still, all the same. It is simply the method of teaching that has been examined and refined. Even some older Doce Pares Grandmasters (whom we have had the privilege to have trained with), whose lineage comes from Bacon and/or the Saavederas all have the same style and moves, (if their instructor had any length or high degree of training) but they simply do not have the same teaching system.
Another Balintawak student of Venancio and then instructor for Venancio, Timoteo E. Maranga formed his own school of the 'Super Kuwentada Escrima System' ('Kuwentada' or 'Cuentada' or counting as it translates into English was a name Venancio sometimes called his style) and taught in the special regimen of his own school. Most of Attorney Villasins family and close friends/students however used Jose's unique grouping method.
There are now a number of Balintawak schools scattered throughout the Philippines as well as Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and the U.S.A. Some of these Balintawak schools are from both methods of random instruction and grouped instruction. All of these schools have the right to call themselves Balintawak, if they or their instructors can trace their instruction back to Venancio Bacon. The Visayan Martial Arts school teaches both the grouped method of instruction of Balintawak as taught by Teofilo A. Velez and the method of instruction of Timoteo Maranga's form of Balintawak.
Video of the Balintawak section of the Arnis Escrima Kali 1st World Instructors Seminar of 1987 was received in 1998. It's old video but those that were there may be interested. See if you can see your face in the video freeze frame captures. Go to the Rare Video Balintawak page to see these captures.