Balintawak Eskrima has a reputation for being incredibly fast, overwhelming, and its practitioners are notorious for their disarming prowess. Buot tries to cover the foundation of the art within 240 pages and I must say I think he does a commendable job. After a brief history Buot dedicates 30 pages to the masters of Balintawak from Anciong Bacon, to Dr. Cres Go. This is the heart of the book. The loyalty and respect Buot displays in his detailed biopic of each teacher is inspiring. To get a glimpse into the lives of any one of these teachers is a treat, but Buot really does an amazing job highlighting the masters of the art, many of whom none of us in the west would ever even know about otherwise.
Buot insists the core of Balintawak is in the defense, which in his opinion is the most difficult to master and why he dedicated three chapters to the subject unto itself. One of the trademarks of Balintawak is their fast response while blocking or covering. The speed in which they grab the weapon and/or their opponents hand can never be properly conveyed in print media, but Buot does an excellent job especially transliterating the Buot Ball Concept.
Throughout the book Buot uses different senior students under him showcasing the various generations of Balintawak who all bring something unique and different to the table. I really like this small detail because it shows the heart and dedication of loyal students as well as an unspoken level of respect and admiration from the teacher to said students. One of the only criticisms I have of the book is once again photography wise where we have two demonstrators wearing the same style and color of clothing and the photos are sometimes cropped too tightly. When it comes to the flow of photographs and the comprehension of the student these minute details are extremely important in this reviewers opinion.
Part 5 which includes chapters 12-14 focus on application and techniques of Balintawak illustrating their renowned disarming arsenal. Buots decades of experience shine through in this section with little nuggets of info sprinkled in between the lines. He speaks of feints, fakes, and what many would call "dirty" tactics but in reality... this is self defense! As an attorney he also offers a short, but concise chapter dedicated solely to knife fighting. It is one page long and worth the cost of the book itself. I am not going to summarize the chapter here to encourage you to seek it out and read it yourself, but may I say in a world of machismo and bravado it is refreshing to hear a voice of reason and common sense in the FMA! Kudos Mr. Buot.
With each book Mark Wiley sends me to review I can see the hard work and effort he puts into each published text. I feel like a broken record but "Balintawak Eskrima" by Sam Buot Sr. is Tambuli's best FMA book yet! I cannot recommend this book highly enough to practitioners of FMA, historians, or just general martial artists looking for a solid read. And for those practitioners of Balintawak I cannot believe you can look at this book as anything less than THE treatise on an amazing legacy that is still growing.
To purchase "Balintawak Eskrima" click here
And for those folks in the Pac NW whom are interested in learning Balintawak, we are fortunate enough to have Prof Bobby Taboada coming to town in October 2015. Check out Seattle Balintawak for more information.