The island of Cebu in the Central Visayan islands of the Philippines is considered the home and motherland of the Filipino Martial Art of eskrima. The most prominent and influential eskrimador in the history of Cebuano eskrima was the great, Lorenzo “Tatay Ensong” Saavedra (1852 – 1944).
Saavedra founded the Labangon Fencing Club in 1921 and taught his unique style of eskrima to his nephew Teodoro “Doring” Saavedra (1911 – 1944) and Venancio “Anciong” Bacon (1912 – 1982). Saavedra later founded the famed Doce Pares Club in 1932 and continued teaching his unique style of eskrima until WWII and the Japanese invasion of Cebu on April 10, 1942. It was during this time that Teodoro “Doring” Saavedra rose through the ranks and became one of the most feared and respected eskrimadors in the Philippines. His legendary exploits and hard-hitting and aggressive style of eskrima made him an icon and legend of Cebuano eskrima.
In 1944, while serving alongside Doce Pares Club originals, Vicente “Inting” Atillo and Delfin Lopez as a Recognized Guerilla (RG) and member of Lt. Col. James Cushing’s famed “A” Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry, Cebu Area Command (CAC) of the United States Armed Forces Far East (USAFFE), Doring Saavedra was captured and summarily executed by the Japanese Kempeitai. Soon after, Lorenzo Saavedra died of natural causes at the age of 92.
After the war, many of the original Doce Pares Club members reunited and resumed training however the post-war club was shadowed by the deaths of Lorenzo Saavedra and Teodoro “Doring” Saavedra. Venancio “Anciong” Bacon, a student of Lorenzo Saavedra and life-long family friend and training partner of Doring Saavedra prior to the war was becoming increasingly frustrated with the politics and direction of the new club and grew progressively more disinterested in maintaining his association with the post-war Doce Pares Club. These feelings were shared by many of the original Doce Pares Club members who had been students of the Saavedras to include Delfin Lopez and Vicente “Inting” Atillo among others.
On June 28, 1952, Anciong Bacon teamed up with other disgruntled Doce Pares Club eskrimadors and founded the Balintawak Self Defense Club. The purpose of the new club was to propagate the Saavedra Style of eskrima and practice the true combat applications of eskrima. The formation of the new club marked the beginning of an intense rivalry that was intensified by local and national level political corruption and resulted in years of violent confrontations, dishonest political agendas, and even murder. It was during this turbulent time however that the art of eskrima developed into one of the deadliest martial arts in the world. This period later became known as the Golden Age of Eskrima.
It was during this time that Vicente Atillo, a lifelong friend and student of both Saavedra and Bacon, taught the hard-hitting Saavedra Style of eskrima to his son Crispulo “Ising” Atillo. In addition to his father, GM Atillo spent his youth learning from many of the original founding masters of Balintawak eskrima to include Venancio “Anciong” Bacon and the notorious and feared eskrimador, Delfin Lopez.
The combination of these influences, coupled by GM Atillo’s experiences in numerous full contact challenge matches, evolved into the Atillo Balintawak Eskrima – Original Saavedra Style.
In 2001, GM Atillo renamed the PAC to the Atillo Balintawak World Arnis – Eskrima Original Saavedra Style and relocated to the United States to spread the art of Atillo Balintawak Eskrima – Original Saavedra Style throughout the world.
Today, GM Crispulo “Ising” Atillo maintains an extremely busy schedule teaching his beloved art to students throughout the world at his training facility in Beaumont, CA and through his tremendously popular seminars throughout the United States.