“The only constant within Eskrima, is change”

S.G.M. Cacoy Cañete.

History and looking back…..Cebu and the Visayas, the cradle of Filipino Martial Arts.

Throughout history, warfare and the sometimes ritualised and sometimes structured practice of Martial Arts has accompanied the evolution of societies around the world.

The Philippines has often been referred to as the cross roads of Asia, a link in the trade routes used by ancient fishermen, pirates and traders for mellinia before the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century.

And as with any cross roads the trade in goods and ideas has always been plentiful and constant, so it is with the Martial art systems native to this nation of islands that we practice and propagate to this day.

The Portuguese explorer Magellan, sailing under the Spanish flag, named these islands the ‘Philippines’ in honour of King Phillip of Spain upon his arrival in April of 1521, he was surprised by the war-like nature of the natives found here, it seems the Spanish had become accustomed to the ’shock and awe’ that their advanced Ships, Armor and Weaponry had when subduing people in the outposts of colonisation that they established around the world.

Magellan, and several of his battle hardened Conquistadors died at the hands of a ferocious warrior Rajah Lapulapu and his men on the morning of April 27th 1521, the native warriors were so successful in this action that the Spaniards withdrew to the Northern islands and did not succeed in establishing a military foothold here till some 40+ years later.

Because so much of the recorded history of the early people and their customs was lost and later retold by the Spanish colonial priests then what was truly ‘native’ or indigenous to the islands and what was introduced by the colonisers has often been lost over the centuries.

Article bySenior Grand Master Anthony Kleeman

The practice of ‘Espada y Daga’ (or sword/stick and dagger) can directly be attributed to the native Martial Artists adopting the Spanish technique as used by the Spanish in the 16th/17th centuries, their were also a series of Spanish priests who used native men as soldiers and used Spanish military doctrine in developing these men into useful troops for the Spanish empire.

But many Native weapons and fighting techniques predated the Spanish colonisation and intervention and indeed the continued development and propagation of these arts continued through the Spanish colonisation through to the present time.

At the conclusion of WWII and the cessation of hostilities in 1945 the Filipino Martial Arts underwent a renaissance and one particular Club that had formed in Cebu in the early 1930’s, became known throughout the nation, the ‘Doce Pares Eskrima Club’ became the yardstick by which many other Filipino martial arts were measured.

Ciriaco ‘Cacoy’ Cañete emerged as the leading innovator, practitioner and champion and throughout the turbulent 40’s, 50’s ,60’s, 70’s and into the 1980’s he became it’s leading defender, champion and ultimately Grand master.

The practice of challenge matches or duels became very commonplace during these decades and pushed the evolution of these arts forward.

Cacoy in particular pioneered and developed the fighting style of Corto Kurbada and incorporated the advanced evolution of Eskrido – a lightning fast combination of blitzing strikes, spontaneous disarms and overwhelming lacks, throws and controls.

Even though Supreme Grand Master passed away in February of 2016, We continue his mission of propagating and evolving GM the art.

We now find ourselves treading a fine line whilst teaching the arts as we learned them, and simultaneously as we we honor and preserve the core elements and principals that will be remain eternal we strive to to innovate so that what we teach remains valid in the present time, and for current circumstances.