Filipino Death Matches?

Filipino Death Matches?

Guro Mark Wiley of sent me an e-mail article of GM

Sam Buot, an old school Balintawak practitioner. And by "old school, " I mean he knew Anciong Bacon, the founder of Balintawak. Just recently Fabrizio Filograna was asking if there are any documented cases of death matches. GM Buot says no, and I agree. We know that there were challenge matches. Cacoy Canete was a leader of Doce Pares who participated in challenge matches against Balintawak stylists, such as Ising Atillo. In the Atillo-Canete match, there were no video cameras, and the crowd surged forward, blocking view. There was one picture of the match, with Canete holding Atillo in a headlock, and Atillo’s arm free to strike. A rematch was scheduled, but was canceled at the last minute due to Atillo’s health concerns. Doubtless there were challenge matches and people got hurt, but these were not "death matches" by any means. We also know that there were Barrio Fiesta Exhibition matches, in which a crowd that is well liquored up and even thirstier for entertainment will urge rival eskrimadors to do a "friendly exhibition." GM Estalilla’s father unintentionally blinded a man in such a bout, and regretted taking the bait to demonstrate his art for the crowd. The late GM Jose Caballero of De Campo Eskrima participated in "Juego Todo" or "Anything Goes" matches. These appear to have been no-gear, full contact matches at fiestas. (See here and here). I know that GM Timor Maranga–a peer of Ancion Bacon–fought a mayor’s bodyguard in a full-contact, no-gear match that ended at the table of the mayor, who declared it a draw. From reading the local Cebu newspapers I know that farmers often fight with bolos or men will fight with machetes or knives during a drinking session, but in most cases one man draws or grabs a weapon and attacks an unarmed opponent. I must agree with GM Buot that scores are far more likely to be settled by ambush and assassination rather than an open challenge to a duel.

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