This article were taken from Grandmaster Dionisio Canete's book 'Filipino Martial Arts Espada y Daga'. I found that this was the most informative and comprehensive discription, of the history of the Doce Pares, and revealed many things that was never written down before.
The indigenous and only TRADITIONAL Filipino martial art known as Arnis had existed long before the arrival of the first Spanish colonizers in the Philippines. It has its roots deep in the culture and history of the Filipino people. Otherwise known as Eskrima or Kali, its exact origin and beginning however could not be exactly determined and is still the subject of debate up to the present.
Indisputable, however is the fact that it was Lapu-Lapu, the chieftain of the small island of Mactan who first exposed the art to the world, when he had engaged the great explorer Magellan in that historic battle of Mactan. The tribes of Lapulapu, whose original name was Cilapulapu and that of Humabon the chieftain of Cebu were part of the Sri Visayas empire in the 14 th century. After the empire was vanquished by the Maja Pahit empire of ancient Sumatra and Borneo their tribes were among those who fled and eventually settled in the Visayas in Central Philippines.
It was believed that Lapulapu who was known as the foremost master of "Pangamut" the name by which the Filipino martial arts was then known, had trained his men for a showdown battle with Humabon, his cousin, owing to a long running feud.
The showdown between the two groups did not occur until the arrival of Magellan on April 7, 1521. A few days after Magellan came to Cebu, Humabon allowed himself to be baptized a Christian and was renamed Rajah Charles, Christian king of the Archipelago of St. Lazarus. He also had pledged to obey the king of Spain and promised to pay tribute. But Lapulapu remained recalcitrant forcing Magellan to take action to punish him as example to those who refused to pay respect to the new king. Humabon took advantage of the situation and encouraged Magellan to destroy Lapulapu's enclave, offering to send some of his men to join in the invasion. Greatly underestimating the strength and the fierceness of Lapulapu, Magellan lost his life in the battle of April 27, 1521, where the more "modern" Spanish armor and weaponry was beaten by the primitive weapons of fire-hardened stakes, arrows, stones and spears. Magellan though had shown extraordinary courage and leadership because while already brutally wounded, he covered his men as they retreated back to their ships, many of them fearfully broke ranks to escape the natives' onslaught. When the battle ended, Lapulapu lost 15 men while the Spanish lost 20. Unfortunately, one of the 20 was their captain, the man who was known as the first to have circumnavigated the world.
When Miguel Lopez de Legaspi landed in the Philippines to establish the first settlement in 1565, he and his men immediately found out the Filipinos' exceptional skill and ability in blade or sword fighting. The art was then the favorite sports of the royalties and were always featured in public demonstration during special occasions.
When the Spaniards gained control of the country, they banned the practice of eskrima as they were fearful the Filipinos might later on turn against them and use their skills in the art. Although the reason given was that the natives spent long hours in practice and neglected their works, it was obvious the authorities were more concerned about the threat to their lives. For a while the Filipinos were cowed into obedience and abandoned Eskrima. In the 19th century it resurfaced as the natives found some convenient covers to resume the practice of the art. "Moro-moro" stage plays and some native dances were introduced and became popular with the people. Employing the movements in the plays and dances, the Filipinos were able to circumvent the prohibition and had taken to training with the art again. In order to avoid suspicion and as subterfuge, the natives usd in their training pieces of wood called "bahi" or "kamagong"; or with the use of bamboo-like mateials known as rattan or "oway". Only in special events that blade and sword were used as the Spaniards were quick to spot when the natives violated the rule against the practice of Eskrima.
Due to the Spanish influence the art came to be known as "Arnis de Mano" - derived from the Spanish word "arnes" meaning trappings or defensive armor. It also acquired other names as "estokada", "estoque", "fraile", "arnes". Among the tagalogs, it was known as "pananandata"; the Pangasinan native, "kalirongan"; the Ilocanos, "didya" or "kabaraon"; the Ibanags "pagkalikali"; the pampanguenos, "sinawali" and, the Visayans "kaliradman" or "pagaradman", later on "esgrima" or "eskrima".
The word "eskrima" was derived from the Spanish word "esgrima", which means "a game between two combantants with the use of blunt instruments". The name of the stick or piece of wood as its principal weapon which could either be rattan or hardwood is called either "olisi", "baston" or "garote". The word "eskrima" became popular in the early years of the American rule in the Philippines when the first Arnis organization was organized in Cebu City in 1920, the Labangon Fencing Club. The group used the name Eskrima in their practice of the art until its dissolution in 1931. In 1932, Doce Pares association was founded by the all the well known masters of Cebu. In years to come this group became so popular that its name was almost synonymous with marital arts or arnis itself and, it was to its credit that arnis was practiced and accepted as sort of competitive sport. Its rule on sparring matches had received broad acceptance, that in early 1970 was widely accepted by big arnis schools and organizations in the country. In fact, the present tournament rules adopted by the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) had been substantially lifted from the Doce Pares rules.
The revival of Anis to its present level of popularity is credited to the National Arnis Association of the Philippines (NARAPHIL) which was organized in 1975 mainly to promote and propagate the Filipino art. Having been given the sole responsibility of reviving the interest of the people towards Arnis, NARAPHIL implemented major programs which, in a short time, catapulated arnis to a level of acceptability and popularity at par with the other well known martial arts. Among these projects were the staging in 1976 of the First Asian martial Arts Festival in Manila and the First National Arnis Festival held in Cebu City, the First national Arnis Open Championships March, 1979, in Cebu City; the First National Arnis Invitational Tournament in August, 1979 in Manila and, the First World Eskrima Kali Arnis Championships in Cebu City on August 11 - 13, 1989. It was during this world tournament that the 78 delegates coming from ten (10) countries, spearheaded by the author had approved the founding of the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF). WEKAF had, since its founding, carved a name for itself and has proven its worth as the world governing body in the study, promotion and practice of the Filipino martial arts. It has now a membership of more than 30 countries where the art has gained foothold and tremendous following. The world championships in Los Angeles, California in June, 1996, the one in Cebu City in August, 2000 and the 8 th world championship in London in July, 2002 and the resounding success of the 8 th edition of the event in Cebu City in June, 2004 are strong indications of the immense popularity of the art. With the unflinching loyalty and wholehearted support of its members, it will not be long, this pride of the Filipino people, a part of their cherished cultural heritage may soon find its way to all martial art loving countries.
The arrival of the Americans following the victory of the US forces over the Filipinos proved providential for the Filipino martial arts. Banned by the Spaniards during the more than 300 years rule, Eskrima resurfaced and began to blossom again in the early 1900 under the American regime.
As history recorded, the Americans came to the Philippines after learning of the presence of the Spanish Armada that had assembled at Manila Bay in apparent support of the beleaguered Spaniards reeling under the relentless offensive of the Filipinos. The US had just declared was against Spain on account of the sinking of the ship "Maine" off the coast of Havana in Cuba. Seeing revenge, a US squadron sailed into Manila Bay one summer morning of 1898. Spain whose global power was crumbling, had sensed the helplessness of the situation as its local army was almost in total collapse. Fearful to surrender to the Filipinos and to save face, it offered to sell and cede the Philippines to the US, thus preempting what could have been a sweet victory for the natives. Naturally, the United States, to make sure it had legal basis for its colonial design for the Filipinos agreed to purchase them and their country for a few thousand dollars under the treaty of Paris signed on April 11, 1898.
Soon after, the Americans under President William McKinley, invoking divine inspiration declared war against the Philippines. The Filipinos were eventually overpowered and subjugated through the superior firepower and technology of the Americans when its saw the surrender of General Emilio Aguinaldo at Palanan, Isabela in Northern Luzon in 1901. Once again the Philippines was dominated by a foreign country after having just freed itself from almost 400 years of Spanish rule. The Americans ruled the country for almost half a century until July 4, 1946 when it granted total independence. This was immediately after the end of World War II which saw the Japanese Army occupying the islands form 1942 to 1945.
At about the start of the American regime, the Canete siblings began their training in Eskrima. Brothers Florention and Eulogio Canete (later to become the principal organizer and president of Doce Pares) started their initial education from their father Gregorio and uncle Pedro Canete. Thereafter, joined by another brother Felimon, they trained with other well known masters among them, Tenyente Piano Aranas, Goriong Tagalog, Juanso Takya, Juanso Takya, Andres Suares, Tito de goma and Cesario Aliason. But the Canete's quest for more Eskrima knowledge brought them to meet the more famous eskrimadors at that time, Lorenzo Saavedra and his nephew Teodoro Saavedra at San Nicolas district in Cebu City where the Canete family moved from their original residence in the town of San Fernando, some thirty kilometers south of the city.
In 1920, the Canetes joined the Saavedras when the latter founded the Labangon Fencing Club, the first ever Eskrima organization in the Philippines. (The group used the word "fencing" because of the influence of the Americans who referred the art as such, being similar to the European sport or art of fighting with the use of saber, foil or epee. The American influence would later become more apparent when Doce Pares used and adopted more English words to identify and describe techniques or forms. During the founding of the two organizations the Filipinos were proud to learn and be able to speak the English language. Because unlike the Spaniards which did not want the Filipinos to learn their language, the Americans encouraged the natives to learn and to speak English.
"Tatang Ensong" as Lorenzo was fondly called and Teodoro nicknamed "Doring" guided and helped the Canetes in their ardent desire to expand their understanding and knowledge by teaching them advanced techniques of Espada y Daga and close quarter style of fighting (corto). The close association and friendship of the Saavedras and the Canetes further strengthened even after the dissolution of the Labangon Fencing Club in 1931.
Doce Pares Officers and Members in 1951 (left) and 1931 (right). Identified by numbers (1) Eulogio Canete (President), (2) Lorenzo Saavedra and (3) Filimon Canete.
On January 11, 1932, the Canetes and the Saavedras together with the other well known masters founded the Doce Pares Club. The founding of the organization was originally conceptualized by only twelve people but during its inauguration on January 21 of the same year, the membership rose to twenty four. The name Doce Pares was taken and adopted in reference to the famous twelve bodyguards of Emperor Charlemagne of France (A.D. 768-814). These twelve people all top swordsmen were recorded in history to have fought and killed hundreds of enemies in battles. Doce Pares which means "twelve pairs" in Spanish was also meant to honor the twelve masters who founded the organization, and when the membership rose to twenty four at the time of its inauguration, it indeed became more significantly fitting.
In the election of officers in that fateful day of January 11, Eulogion "Yoling" Canete was elected as President with Teodoro Saavedra as Vice President. Other officers were: Fortunato Penalosa (Secretay) Marcelo Verano, Diogracias Nadela, Felimon Canete, Federico Saavedra, Strong Tupas, Rodolfo Quijano, Pio Deiparine, Florentino Canete, juanito Lauron and Magdaleno Cabasan. Composing the advisory board were Lorenzo Saavedra, Lawyer Cecilio dela Victoria, Margarito Revilles and Dr. Anastacio Deiparine. During the next 55 years, Eulogio was reelected 55 more times as President and served the position until his death on June 26, 1988 at the age of 87 years old.
To encompass a much broader scope and meaning, the name was later changed to Doce Pares Association, and after its incorporation and registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Republic of the Philippines, it acquired its legal name as Doce Pares , Incorporated, a non-stock, non-profit organization aimed to promote and perpetuate the Filipino martial arts. Despite the proliferation of various organizations bearing or using the name Doce Pares, there is only one recognized and duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and that is, Doce Pares, Inc. which was issued Certificate of Registration No. 1373
A couple of years later, more prominent masters joined the group amog them were Jesus Cui, Pedro Villaro, Claudio Kalinawan, Venancio Bacon and Pastor Villagracia.
During World War II, from 1941 to 1945, most of the Doce officers and masters joined the resistance forces which fought underground the Japanese occupation army. Sometime in 1943, Teodoro Saavedra, its Vice President and chief instructor was captured and subsequently executed by the Japanese soldiers. Since the founding of Doce Pares up to the time of his death, he was the undisputed kingpin of Eskrima, who had won a big tournament in Argao, Cebu in September, 1939. In 1944, Tatang Ensong Saavedra died of notural cause. He was wellover 90 years old.
After the end of the second world war in October, 1945, Doce Pares regrouped and resumed its program of promoting the Filipino Martial art. The Saavedras having gone, new names emerged and reverberated in the Eskrima circle, among them were Felimon Canete, Jesus Cui, Venancio Bacon, Ciriaco Canete, Delfin Lopez, Timoteo Maranga, Maximo Canete, Vicente Carin, Lorenzo Lasola amd Artemio Paez. Later such names as the brothers Arsenio and Felimon Caburnay (these two were the favorite students of Grandmaster Felimon Canete during the early years of the author's training with his uncle), Santos Dinampo, Isidro Bardilas, Benjamin Culanag, Arnulfo Mongcal, Benjamin Pahimutang, Jose Villasin, Vicente Atillo, Teofilo Velez and the young Iluminado "Mado" Canete cropped up.
In 1951, Doce Pares was rocked by constant bickerings and intrigues, Jealousies among followers of the different masters notably those of Venancio Bacon and Ciriaco Canete were not contained by the continued mediation of the club's elders led by its President Eulogio Canete. The feud came to a head in November, 1951 when, an altercation between Delfin Lopez and Vicente Carin resulted in a gunplay that caused a near fatal unjury to the former. Lopez was a known Bacon ally, in fact was considered his right hand man, while Carin belonged to the Canete camp. Early in 1952, the 40-year old Bacon, together with Lopez, Timoteo Maranga and others broke away from Doce Pares and formed the Balintawak Self Defense Club. The word Balintawak was adopted in reference to the name of the street where the group's original headquarters were located at the Balintawak street in downtown Cebu City. On the other hand, Ciriaco Canete together with lawyer Juanito Cabaluna, Vicente Carin, Nicolas Javelosa and Luciano Cabanero among others founded the Cebu Mutual Security Association which was later became popularly known as CEMUSA. Unlilke Balintawak, CEMUSA understandably maintained close ties with Doce Pares which remained under firm control of Eulogio and Felimon Canete both older brothers of Ciriaco. In later years the bitter rivalry became publicly known as between Doce Pares and Balintawak which was personally painful to Eulogio who, some years back was responsible in landing Bacon with a good job at the Cebu Portland Cement Company in Tina-an, Naga, Cebu where the former worked as a department Manager.
The decade following the births of Balintawak and CEMUSA was perhaps the most exciting period in the history of Eskrima. While some dubbed it as the golden years of the art, others regarded it as the most chaotic era in which Eskrima had undergone radical development as the masters competed in introducing, inventing and formulating more fighting techniques designed to beat opponents and reign supreme in "challenge matches". During this, a number of top masters were involved in "juego todo" but surprisingly none of the big names had faced each other in real fights. While some well known masters had claimed to have a number of fights, they were all against lesser known opponents. Inspite of the numerous attempts to match the big names, no fight had taken place among and between them. Obviously the so-called "balance of Power" had something to do with it, each being wary of the power and skill of the other that none of them had ventured to really push hard for the bout to happen. For there was no denying that Venancio "Ansiong" Bacon and Ciriaco "Cacoy" Canete had hated each other so much that their publicly known mutual hate and dislike had infected their loyal followers, yet, during the span of more than three decades they lived within the same district in Cebu City, they somehow managed to avoid facing each other in "jugo todo". It would have been a great match to watch how the tiny Bacon, barely five feet and three inches in height and weighing less than 120 pounds would have fared against the much bigger and younger Ciriaco who stands five feet and five inches and packing some 160 pounds weight. Bacon died of natural cause in 1980 at age 67 years old. The deep animosity between Balintawak and Doce Pares notwithstanding, most of their loyal followers had continued to bear respect and reverence to Eskrima patriarch, Eulogio, who almost always played the role of a peace maker and diplomat patching up conflict and differences among the masters.
The tension brought about by the rivalry between these two groups had considerably eased in the beginning of 1970, and it was about this time the Cebu Eskrima Association (CEA) was born. Spearheaded by lawyer Dionisio "Diony" Canete, the youngest son of Eulogio, all the fourteen Eskrima groups/organizations in Cebu joined as members. "Diony" was subsequently elected as charter President with Jose Villasin of Balintawak as Vice President, and event considered by many to have virtually ended the bitter rivalries among the eskrimadors in Cebu. Shortly thereafter Balintawak had split into four different factions. Bacon headed one group called the Balintawak original while Villasin and Teofilo Velez named theirs as Balintawak Internatinal Self Defense Club. Timoteo Maranga who then held the rank of Major in the Cebu City Police Force baptized his club as Tres Personas Eskrima. Vicente Atillo and son Crispulo headed another one known as New Arnis confederatin of Visayas an Mindanao (NACVAM) and was later changed to Atillo Original Balintawak Eskrima Association. Subsequently, Villasin and Velez also parted ways with Villasin adopting the name Joevil Balintawak and that of Velez, the Teovel Balintawak Eskrima.
In 1975, the National Arnis Association of the Philippines (NARAPHIL) was organized by a group headed by Romeo Mascardo of Bacoor, Cavite, who had as its President, General Fabian Ver, Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the administration of President Ferdiand Marcos. Doce Pares and the Cebu Eskrima Association just like most of the Arnis clubs in Metro Manila affiliated with NARAPHIL. Not long after, a decision was reached to hold formal organized tournaments as proposed by Diony Canete who averred that the best and fastest way of promoting Arnis is " to make its sparring matches into a popular sporting event", just like some other form of martial arts. Hence, a committee composed of top instructors and masters was formed, tasked to formulate and draft the governing tournament rules. When the group failed to come up with the draft within the specified time, Diony himself volunteered to do the job and, within a couple of weeks, he submitted the proposed rules which were subsequently accepted and approved "en toto" by Doce Pares, Cebu Eskrima Association and NARAPHIL. This is exactly the same rules that are enforced in tournaments sanctioned by the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) which also adopted it during the First World Arins Championships held on August 11-13, 1989.
To complement the tournament rules, Diony Canete also designed and devised the various protective gears such as the headgear, body protective jacket, hand gloves and arm pads. The formulation of the tournament rules and the creation of the protective gears finally made possible the staging of the historic First National Arnis Championships on March 24, 1979 at the Cebu Coliseum in Cebu City. This was imeediately followed by the First National Arnis Invitational Tournament on August 19 of the same year held at the Philippine Normal College Gym in Ermita, Manila. These two tournaments were dominated by Doce Pares whose players captured all the titles at stake except one where the judges committed an error in scoring a disarming in favor of the other player when it should have been the other way around. Tournament officials while acknowledging the mistake did not reverse the decision inasmuch as the same had already been announced and the other player's hand raised in victory. In subsequent tournaments including the national championships in March, 1985, Doce Pares consistently showed its class by sweeping all gold medals at stake.
The formal "organized" tournaments put an end to the traditional "death matches" with the exception of that fight between Ciriaco Canete and Crispulo Atillo on September 17, 1983. This bout had all the trimmings of the traditional "juego todo" except that holding, grabbling, throwing and takedown as well as punching and kicking were prohibited as agreed by the protagonists prior to the fight. An inconclusive and riotous ending occurred just seconds into the fight when the fighters found themselves cinching and holding each other forcing the referee, lawyer Luciano Babiera to intervene. Both claiming victory, although neither had scored even a single clean blow, a rematch was arranged to settle the dispute. The rematch scheduled four days later on September 21 however did not materialize as Atillo was found by the medical team physically unfit to go on with the match. This bout had totally closed the chapter of "death matches" in the history of Eskrima.
The first National Arnis Championships held on March 24, 1979 in Cebu City.
The decades 1970 and 1980 saw the emergence of the new breed of masters who benefited from the "multi-style" training program introduced by Diony when he assumed as the Dean of the instructional staff in early 1970. The program provides for the comprehensive teaching of all the component styles of Doce Pares as introduced and taught separately and distinctly by the founding masters. So the Saavedras, Eulogio an Felimon Canete, Jesus Cui, Vicente Carin and, even Ciriaco and Maximo Canete to name a few, had varied and different styles of either corto, media largo, largo mano or Espada y Daga, then so with the training curriculum to comprehend and cover each style separately and, to treat each within the realm of the philosophical and theoretical concept of the principal advocate. It was concluded that the program gave recognition to the founding masters as well as broaden the horizon of knowledge and skill of the students. It also afford them better perspective in understanding the entire system, a conglomeration of the various styles of Eskrima.
When the First World Eskrima Championship was held in Cebu City in August, 1989, Doce Pares once again was able to demonstrate the essence of the system and showed the quality of the training program that made possible for the outstanding performance of its players who accounted for a number of gold medals. But amid all these monumental successes, the organization lost its guiding light. One June 26, 1988, Eulogio died of natural cause at the age of 87 years. And on August 12,1995, Felimon, the last surviving founding master also died. He was 91 years old.
Despite the loss, Doce Pares remains in safe hands and, as wished by the founder Eulogio, his children have taken over the reins of leadership. In December, 1989, Eulogio Jr., was unanimously elected as President, while younger brother, Diony, who in 1988 was elevated to the rank of Grandmaster had assumed the position of Chairman, Council of Masters, the post held by Grandmaster Felimon (Momoy) until his death. Sworn in along with them who are tasked to carry on the torch of preserving and perpetuating the honor, dignity and tradition of Doce Pares are the new generation of Masters, officers, country Directors and heads of chapters and affiliates from the different member countries.
Doce Pares World Congress on April 25-27, 2003 in Las Vegas Nevada, USA
Evolution and Development
The "old" or the so-called classical or "original" Eskrima were mostly in long and medium ranges. These were only natural because the art was derived from the natives' original fighting art using sword or any long bladed instrument. Banned by the Spaniards during most of its 400 years rule, the Filipinos found ways of circumventing the rule by creating some kind of stage plays and form of dancing that simulated the movements and techniques of Eskrima. Using a stick or piece of hardwood, they used to cover their training in the form of oing some "moro-moro" stage plays and dance sequences. While the disguise served their purpose, they soon found out that the art could very well be practiced with the use of sticks or any blunt instruments which posed less danger to the practitioners, this mode of training started to mold, what a strictly sword and blade fighting art into some sort of sport as the duel otherwise known as "buno" could be less brutal by using only hardwood or rattan sticks as weapon. Many incidents then occurred with the protagonists employing only blunt instruments or dull-edged weapons. Thus the stickfighting art came into being.
My father and his elder brother Florentino were first initiated to long range or "larga mano" and to Espada y Daga. However during their long period of association with and under different teachers, they somehow managed to understand and learn to fight in medium rage as many techniques were pretty much applicable in both. The favorite drill or "bansay-bansay" as known in the Cebuano dialect was called the "hulog-saka" which literally means, "striking downward and upward". This is an exercise in which the student performs a series of downward and upward striking patterns while constantly moving forward and backward or to the left or right side. Much later, this drill was improved, expanded and turned into a beautiful yet exhausting "form" or "sayaw", now popularly known as "San Miguel" karanza. Identified as Form 12 in the "Multi-Style" system, this form takes more than five minutes to perform.
"Corto" or close range started to gain recognition when Doce Pares was formed in 1932 being the favorite technique of Teodoro Saavedra who was then the most feared yet respected master of Eskrima. Together with his uncle, Lorenzo, they form the most dominant duo in the practice of Eskrima.
Doble Baston (double stick) and the art of "Bangkaw" (spear or long stick) also emerged at that time as some masters introduced and incorporated them in their training routines. "Mano-Mano" and "Baraw" fighting techniques were part of the growth and development of the art, an affirmation of the concept and principle that the "stick is a mere extension of the hands".
In the 1950's, Corto began to create waves. This was mainly due to the intense rivalry among the various organizations. It was at this time that a group of masters led by Venancio Bacon left Doce Pares to form their own organization, the Balintawak Self Defense Club. The establishment of a rival club made the already tense situation to a more heated-up atmosphere that triggered the frequent occurrences of "Challenge matches", the traditional sparring engagements between two stickfighters without any protective gears. Popularly known as "juego Todo", this was the singular reason that revolutionized Eskrima and turned into a deadly and devastation close quarter fighting art. As most encounters were in close range, although sometimes it began with both fighters well far apart, almost always they ended up in close quarter exchanges. Doce Pares came to develop its own version of "corto" called "corto kurbada", a mainly snap-wrist or wrist twisting type of striking. This capitalizes and maximizes the function of the function of the wrist in the execution of strikes as compared with the classical style, the linear striking pattern which mostly characterizes the style of other Eskrima organizations.
Corto Kurbada's popularity surged in the years to come but it did not dampen the interest of the practitioners nor diminish the acceptability, practicability and effectiveness of the other component styles of Doce Pares. Hence, together with corto kurbada, larga mano, media largo, Doble Baston, Espada y Daga and Mano-mano, they are equally and wholly treated as complete subject by themselves in the Doce Pares "multi-style" system.
The present popularity of Espada y Daga could well be credited to two prominent masters, Felimon Canete and Jesus Cui. Considered as class by themselves, they were mainly responsible in passing on the new generation the traditional style that even up to the present still retains its substance. Their highly selective policy of choosing students and very meticulous way of teaching while it produced real good talents, they were in trickle as compared to the number of followers with the three styles of Corto as well as those who specialized in Mano-mano and Knife Fighting. This is precisely one reason that today there are not too many people who can really be considered skilled enough and competent to teach Espada y Daga.
Espada Y Daga
Espada y Daga and Larga Mano were the first types of Eskrima that my father together with his two brothers, Felimon and Florentino learned from their original teachers. Though the techniques were basic and very limited, it was good enough to arouse their interest to seek further knowledge and understanding about the Filipino martial arts. More commonly called "punto y daga" or "olisi y Baraw", most of the movements taught by the old masters were more of dance-like sequences with so much body and foot movements accentuated by low and deep stances. It was not uncommon that outsiders and on-lookers mistook them to be performing the "sinulog" as the movements highly resembled this traditional ritual dance of the Cebuanos.
"Sinulog" is a dance ritual performed by devotees and worshippers in honor of the Holy Child Jesus, the partron saint of Cebu City, which is deemed the Philippines "link between its pagan past and its Christian present". The image was brought by Ferdinand Magellan when he arrived in Cebu on April 7, 1521 and he gave it as gift to Hara Amihna, wife of the reigning Rajah Humabon shortly before the two were baptized as Christians and were given the names, Queen Juana and King Carlos. At present, the Sinulog dance festival, a mardi gras like affair is being held in January each year in Cebu City highlighting the feast of the Holy Child Jesus which usually draws hundreds of thousands of spectators, tourists and pilgrims alike to watch people dance on the street for one whole day. The dance was patterned after the movement of "sulog" (waves) of the old Pahina river in Cebu City, consisting of two steps forward and one step backward.
These original Eskrima footworks are still very much in practice today, and are largely found in the "Sayaw" (Forms).