Mark Wiley Corrections
I did a search and couldn’t find any threads relating to this so I figured I’d start one. Anyone who’s done much reading on Filipino Martial Arts is probably familiar with Mark Wiley’s Filipino Martial Culture since it is one of the first books in English to really focus on the history and culture around the Filipino Martial Arts.
Overall, it’s a good book and is a decent introduction into the topic, but since it is one of the first such books published it does contain some factual errors. I just wanted to make this thread to point out a pretty major historical inaccuracy in Wiley’s book. While there may be other errors like this, I’d like to say that I respect Wiley’s efforts to write the book and think he wrote an impressive book given the limited resources he had at the time.
In his brief overview of FMA history in the last century, Wiley states that the Labangon Fencing club was founded in 1920 by Anciong Bacon who later formed the Balintawak Self Defense Club (p. 57). He goes on to say that Bacon later changed the name to the Doce Pares Club in 1932 or so and that he later broke with the club in 1939 after the Canetes joined (p. 267).
Venancio “Anciong” Bacon did found the Balintawak Self Defense Club in 1951 after a split with the Doce Pares Club. He did not found the Doce Pares Club or the Labangon Fencing Club (the predecessor to the Doce Pares club). Doce Pares in its current incarnation was founded in 1932. Its predecessor, the Labangon Fencing Club, was founded around 1920.
The Labangon club coalesced around a group of eskrimadors in Cebu City who would get together and practice regularly. This group was headed by Lorenzo Saavedra who was the oldest and most experienced eskrimador of the group. It included such future famous eskrimadors as Momoy and Yoling Canete, Doring Saavedra, Anciong Bacon as well as many others. At the time, Bacon was a student of Lorenzo “Tatay Ensong” Saavedra and studied his close quarter method of espada Y daga, which he later developed into a single stick method that he taught at the Balintawak Self Defense Club.
Eventually, the Labangon Club disbanded around 1931 and the Doce Pares Club was founded in 1932 by many of the same members electing Yoling Canete as their president (a capacity he served in until his death) and Doring Saavedra as the vice president. The club thrived until World War 2 broke out. Many members of the club, including Doring Saavedra were killed in the war. When the club reorganized after the war, the Saavedras were no longer a driving force with the death of Doring and the fact that Lorenzo was in his 90s.
At this point, the Canete family took on more prominent roles in running and administering the club. This led to tension between some of the members, some of which ended in brawls or shootings. Several disgruntled members, such as Delphin Lopez, Jesus Cui, Vincente Attilo and others left and joined Anciong Bacon’s Balintawak club in 1951. This feud between Balintawak and Doce Pares persisted for several years with challenges issued back and forth, but has since ended.
So Wiley is right on some accounts, but presents a pretty inaccurate picture of the evolution of the Labangon Fencing Club, Doce Pares and Balintawak. There is actually a lot more detail than I provided here, but this is a rough sketch intended to provide a more accurate picture because the evolution of the different groups is rather complex. If you’re interested in reading more on the topic you might look at:
Warrior Arts of the Philippines by Reynaldo S. Galang- Information on Balinatwak and a little bit on San Miguel Eskrima (Momoy Canete’s style of Doce Pares).
On a side note, Bacon was actually born on October 15, 1912 on the island of Cebu according to
This means he would have founded Cebu City’s most famous eskrima club at the age of 8 so obviously someone had their facts wrong. Wiley does not list a birth date for Bacon and so was probably not aware of this fact.
If anyone else has noticed inaccuracies in Wiley’s work you should add it to this thread because his book is taken as the final word on FMA history by some people and while it’s a good first start it’s far from complete.
This is an important subject, and if anyone trolls this thread I'll start handing out the temporary bans. That doesn't mean you can't disagree, just don't derail.
I just noticed that I left off some of the links that I meant to include in my post. For more in depth history on Doce Pares/Balintawak. Take a look at
This is from Alfredo Bandalan's website. He is a high ranking member of Doce Pares. The historical background is from Dionisio Canete's book Espada Y Daga. For those who don't know, Dionisio "Diony" Canete is the current head of the Doce Pares multi system style, which is a blending of the different styles of the masters from the original Doce Pares club. Diony is not one of the founding members of the Doce Pares, but is the son of one of the founders Eulogio "Yoling" Canete (if my memory is correct). I think it's a very good presentation of the development of Doce Pares. Though there are some subtle differences, for example they claim that Venancio Bacon joined the group several years after it was founded (1932).
This is from the Visayan Martial Arts club run by John Russell and Henry Jayme. They teach both Balintawak and Doce Pares styles within their school. So they have some historical information on each. It matches with Bandalan's website on most of the major details. They also provide information on some lesser known Doce Pares masters.
This is a more general article about Filipino Martial Arts in the early 20th century, but it mentions a lot of the prominent members of the Doce Pares groups. Interestingly, it places the Labangon Fencing clubs beginnings in 1910 and its ending in 1920. Most other sources have it going roughly from 1920-1930. Though all of the dates for Doce Pares are the same as other sources.
This is an article by Krishna Godhania who is a Filipino Martial Arts instructor in the UK. He has been to the Philippines many times and studied under many Doce Pares masters as well as other Cebuano eskrima masters. I've always been extremely impressed with his articles. He also confirms the general timeline seen in most of the preceding histories.
In my previous post, I mentioned the book Warrior Arts of the Philippines by Rey Galang. Unfortunately, I can't find my copy of this book right now, but there is more information confirming the Balintawak side of things. It only has a short chapter on one style of Doce Pares, the San Miguel style which was founded by Felimon "Momoy" Canete so you won't get much of a Doce Pares perspective from that, but they have a pretty large presence on the web.
In general, I try to give Mark Wiley the benefit of the doubt, but in this case, I've found to many consistent accounts to the contrary. Another minor point that bears attention is that on p. 57 he says that "Following Bacon's lead Johnny Chiuten, Pedring Romo and the famous Canete brothers also began openly teaching." This statement conflicts with the timeline established above because most of the Canete brothers were in fact older than Bacon. Ciricao "Cacoy" Canete was the youngest and I believe he was born in 1919, whereas Bacon was born in 1912. I'm pretty sure Felimon Canete was born around 1900.
Johnny Chiuten on the other hand was actually a student of one of Bacon's students after the founding of the Balintawak club in the 1950s. He was a generation younger than Bacon and the picture of them training together on p. 268 of Filipino Martial Culture shows an age difference. In Galang's book, they trace Johnny Chiuten's martial arts career from its beginnings and he spent most of his early training doing kung fu. Some of his first experiences with FMA happened when he was in Manila, while he was in Manila he met Remy Presas (founder of Modern Arnis) and an early student of Balintawak under Arnulfo Mongcal, Timoteo Maranga and Anciong Bacon. They became friends and Chiuten gained an interest in FMA.
When Chiuten went back to Cebu he decided to seek out eskrima training and ended up working with the Balintawak group, receiving instruction under Atty. Jose Villasin and Teofilo Velez (students of Bacon) and eventually from Bacon himself. This was probably around the 1960s, though I cannot be sure since I can't find my book to confirm the dates, but it was certainly not in 1920 (I don't even know if Chiuten was alive in 1920). Later on Chiuten worked with Lapunti Arnis de Abaniko founder Felimon Caburnay and helped develop that system. So he is an important part of Cebuano eskrima, but Wiley puts him in the wrong era.
I hope that adds some of the evidence that may have been lacking in the first post. If you guys have anything to add or correct please do so.
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