How does an eskrimador insure his legacy? Some form large organizations and teach seminars the world over. Others put their personal history and their art down in writing. Sam Buot, the author of the Tambuli Media book, Balintawak Eskrima, did just that—and there was so much to share, it took him 20 years from start to finish! Buot’s book, which comes out on February 28, 105, is the work of decades of preparation. Little by little Manong Sam wrote down his stories, remembrances and the nuances of every technique he could recall.
In this dense 260-page volume featuring 700 photographs, Grandmaster Sam Buot takes the reader on a deep journey into the belly of Balintawak Eskrima, laying the foundation with a look at Philippine martial history before jumping right into the formation of the Balintawak style in the 1950s. That was an important yet volatile time in Eskrima history, especially in Cebu, where entrenched eskrimador clans like the Saavedra, Romo, Ilustrisimo, and Canete families tried to stake their claim of prominence. One name rose from these times, and that is Anciong Bacon and his Balintawak Eskrima, an art that has had many fabled masters, including Bacon himself, as well as his top disciples Jose Villasin, Teofilo Velez, Ted Buot, Delfin Lopez, Bobby Taboada and Sam Buot, among others.
After enticing the reader with an intimate discussion of the history of eskrima and Balintawak’s place in it, Buot tells the stories of the great masters of the art. He was a participant observer and is uniquely qualified to set the true history. His narrative style is compelling and makes the reader feel like they are by his side hearing tales of old first hand. We feel like we are in the old clubs, watching the masters perfect their skills. Their poverty and dangerous living quarters bringing us chills and a close look at the many rare historical images reveals the conditions. We are then treated in several chapters to Manong Sam’s eskrima secrets: the principles and strategies he has developed and perfected over a half-century in this dynamic art.
While no book can hope to be “complete,” this book by Sam Buot is comprehensive and does more than any other to establish the legacy of Anciong Bacon, Balintawak Eskirma and the book’s author, himself. Balintawak Eskrima by Sam Buot is available now.