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Hallmarks of the Tabimina Style

Bob Silver Tabimina’s Balintawak acknowledges the good in all martial arts but observes that most of them assume: a) the adversary is unskilled; b) emphasize learning many techniques, to the detriment of proper execution; or c) suffer from the fallacy that their style is unbeatable.

He therefore seeks to correct these possibly fatal flaws by balancing knowledge of technique with development of the attributes one needs to be a superior fighter: speed, power, timing, body mechanics, posture, balance, etc. Hence, all fighters, regardless of martial arts style, stand to benefit from Tabimina Balintawak training.

Tabimina Balintawak uses the single olisi to train its fighters. The olisi however is only a tool. The movements of the olisi are directly translatable to empty-hand movements. Because of this, practitioners of Tabimina Balintawak are equally adept fighting with various weapons (stick, blade, knife, etc.), or without.

In Tabimina Balintawak, the student is always taught to assume his (or her) adversary is skilled and will not stand still for him. Hence, it emphasizes the development of a strong defense in its training.

Tabimina Balintawak also recognizes that most fights are spontaneous and finish up-close leaving little or no opportunity for an individual to arm himself. Hence, it stresses close-range fighting, and equips its students with the skills and attributes needed to be superior in this range.

Finally, Tabimina Balintawak recognizes that every individual is unique and that one’s personal outlook in life, inner-strength and self-determination are integral to shaping his or her martial approach. Therefore, learning never ends in Tabimina Balintawak. Every fighter possesses individual strengths and attributes which result in a personal fighting style that can range from hard and forceful to soft and snake-like, and student and instructor invariably walk away from every “fight” wiser and better.

Very Personalized Instruction

The first stage of training in Tabimina Balintawak is called the “healing” stage. Here, the aim is to replace the instinctive human reactions that are inimical to effective defense and offense.

The eyes are usually the first to be healed. Eyes that instinctively focus on a threatening object (this could be a stick, punch, kick, elbow, knife, etc.) are trained to maintain instead a holistic view, alert and open to any attack that can literally come from anywhere. The trained eye is central in Tabimina Balintawak and is the reason the eye dominates the Tabimina Balintawak logo.

Posture, movement and distancing shortly follow. For example, the normal human reaction to an incoming strike, is to move away from the threat. In Tabimina Balintawak, the opposite is taught. The student is trained to vector into, while parrying the threat. This allows him to avoid the attack, yet stay at a distance where he can control his attacker.

Once there is improvement in a student’s eyes, movements, posture and distancing, the speed and number of attacks are keyed up, to refine the student’s movements. This is called the “sharpening” stage.

As the student progresses, stronger, faster and more advanced techniques and movements are added, to further provoke the student to improve, leading to an exciting and free-flowing counter-to-counter contest of speed, power, timing, and skill between instructor and student.

At all stages, instruction is conducted within a flowing form of play called agak wherein the instructor, using the olisi, randomly delivers a series of attacks which a student must defend against and counter (What makes Balintawak Arnis different ...) . The “dummy” approach typical of other styles where the attacker upon delivering a strike freezes or poses in the attack position so the defender can deliver multiple counters is never used.

Because Bobby trained under several Balintawak masters, his understanding of the art is deep, and the way he trains his students reflects the depth of his knowledge. On top of his own unique style, Bobby can effortlessly fight using the forceful style of Maranga, the weaving style of Teofilo Velez, or the twisting and evading style of Anciong Bacon, enriching his students in the process.

© 2001 Jose Virginio R. Martinez