I first met Bobby through his wife, Luz Quinio, a co-alumna of the
University of the Philippines, at the main social event of the
Filipino-Americans in the Carolinas, the 13th Annual Gala Night,
which was held in October at The Oasis that year, where then NC
Congresswoman, now Senator Sue Myrick was Guest Speaker. Little did
I know that within the next two years, I would be chairing the same
event where a record crowd of over 600 attended, as 1st Vice
President of the Filipino American Community of the Carolinas in
2002, and eventually taking over the helm the following year as
FACC's 13th President Bobby and Luz are among the staunchest
supporters and tireless volunteers of the Filipino community in
My husband Manolo and I got to know them better when we relocated
Madrid, Spain & Vienna, Austria, where we have lived while I was
working for more than 15 years with the United Nations International
Atomic Energy Agency, first as an Area Officer for Asia & the
Pacific for Technical Cooperation projects in Atomic Energy, and
later as Nuclear Safeguards Inspector of nuclear installations &
facilities in Japan, Korea & China.
We have often visited the World Headquarters of the Balintawak
International established by Bobby in 1991 in Charlotte, with his
closest friend and student, Mecklenburg Deputy Sheriff Irwin
Carmichael. We discovered that aside from being Grandmaster,
developer and foremost exponent of the "Balintawak Arnis Cuentada"
which is a collateral system of Filipino Martial Arts, Bobby is a
wonderful singer and a great cook.
Bobby would tell us about the hard knocks he received while still a
fighting in the streets of his birthplace, Cebu City, the oldest
city in the Philippines, and home to the oldest religious relic of
Filipino Catholics, the blessed Santo Nino or Child Jesus, a gift
of Magellan, the "discoverer" of the Philippines, to the King and
Queen of Cebu, on their conversion to Catholicism in 1521. His
father Sergio, taught his eldest son the Filipino martial art, "arnis"
when he was only 12 years old, and eight years later, Bobby embarked
on a difficult and often brutal training under the tutelage of
Master Teofilo Velez of the Balintawak Self Defense Club in the same
It is based on Bacon's Balintawak system, so named after the street
in Cebu City where the first Balintawak Arnis Club was founded.
(Balintawak, now Caloocan, is a significant name in Philippine
history as the place where the secret revolutionary society, the
Katipunan under the hero Andres Bonifacio, had a general meeting on
23 August 1896 to decide when to start the fight for freedom from
the almost 400 years of Spanish colonial rule, with the signal cry,
"Mabuhay and Filipinas, Mabuhay ang Katipunan" or "Long Live the
Philippines, Long Live the Katipunan". Two years after the
successful revolution, the first republic in Asia was proclaimed in
Kawit, Cavite on June 12 , 1898, with General Emilio Aguinaldo as
its first president).It is a fitting name for a worthy Filipino
martial art form, which as been popularized worldwide by Grandmaster
The Balintawak arnis method focuses on the use of a single stick and
empty hands, concentrating on close range fighting tactics, and can
be classified as a "modern system' , a composite of several fighting
methods, as opposed to the ancient and classical methods.
His "cuentada" system (from the Spanish word, "cuentar" or "to
counter") somehow follows a basic principle of physics and
mechanics: the equality of force and counterforce. For every
resultant force, there is an equal and opposite reacting force. As
applied to the practice of Balintawak arnis cuentada, this mastery
of the offensive and defensive movements requires a series of well
planned movements, wherein the opponent cannot but reply with a
corresponding set of forced movements and reactions. In this way,
the opponent is always kept under complete control. A true master
of the art can therefore predict with precision, which part of the
body of the opponent he will target and hit.
Grandmaster Bobby and his Filipino martial arts form has been
written up in various national & international publications: among
them, a several page spread article illustrated in color in a
popular US national sports magazine. _ _ _ _? _ _ _ _ a full page
article in a regional newspaper, The Asian Herald, several book &
magazine citations, and a whole chapter in an outstanding Filipino
martial arts book, "Filipino Martial Culture", by Mark V. Wiley.
Wiley gives an interesting and scholarly treatise of Bobby and his
Balintawak Arnis Cuentada, as well as all known Filipino martial
arts. His research spanned a period of 18 years of "participant
observation", whereby he was able to obtain direct information from
the actual living masters and practitioners of the art, traveling
around the world in search of his original info sources.
Furthermore, he was able to obtain oral historical information on
the evolution, development and techniques of existing Filipino
martial art systems.
This is quite a feat considering the paucity of written
documentation on Filipino martial arts. Much of the possible sources
like records, writings (pre-Hispanic writings were done on
perishable materials like bamboo cylinders), cultural artifacts like
weaponry, etc., must have been destroyed due to the various
invasions of the Philippines, cultural or otherwise, by the Spanish,
Dutch, British, Japanese and Americans..
On the other hand, research writers can still have access to
Chinese classical texts for the Chinese martial arts; still extant
family-owned manuscripts for the Indian martial arts, and the well
guarded and highly prized densho transmissions scrolls for the
mere twelve years ago, he begun the official worldwide promotion of
the system which he developed, the "Balintawak Arnis Cuentada",
principally at the Martial Arts Training Center of the Balintawak
International Headquarters in Charlotte, NC, holding regular classes
there, with select local and foreign students, who are either
martial arts instructors themselves, black belts or advanced
students of other styles. His strict criteria for acceptance at his
schools are maintained: maturity, discipline, and the capacity to
absorb his skills & techniques. He also teaches at the various
Justice Academy of Law Enforcement agencies with Dep Sheriff
Carmichael, which has gained more value and importance in the light
of the aftermath of the massive national tragedy of September 11,
2001 and the ever imminent danger of terrorist attacks. He conducts
frequent seminars all over the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand,
Australia and Asia, demonstrating the
technique at international tournaments. A popular complement to his
actual classes are the training videos which he has produced and are
in much demand.
The odyssey of the young warrior boy, bloody and exhausted, but
persevering, training under expert but strict masters in his native
Cebu City, getting his first break when he caught the eye of a
martial arts master who wanted him to teach his impressive skills at
his school in faraway New Zealand he knew nothing about, embarked on
the journey of his life with only the flimsy tropical shirt on his
back in the dead of the winter in the land down under, with empty
pockets and hardly knowing a few words of English.
Today, bestowed with several distinguished awards and international
recognition, the culmination of his saga was when he was inducted
into the International Hall of fame of the prestigious worldwide
Martial Arts Grandmasters Council, the World Head of Family Sokeship
Council, for his numerous outstanding accomplishments in the art.
Aside from the many schools based on his system established by his
students worldwide, as further proof of his mastery and success,
eleven of his students were also given awards in different
categories by the distinguished world body, in the same ceremony on
August 31, 2002 in Orlando, Florida.
Acclaimed in matches with the best martial arts masters of the
receiving their highest praise for his excellent mastery of his art,
Bobby, soft spoken and ever modest, gives this piece of advice to
would-be masters: dedicated training and constant workouts to give
you fast reflexes, perfect coordination and top agility. And that is
the practical essence of the Balintawak Arnis Cuentada system
epitomized by Bobby Taboada: "the tactical awareness, continuous
anticipation and selective follow-through with a conscientious and
unfolding tactical mind".
In this book, he shares this wisdom earned with his blood, sweat &
tears, and the remarkable secrets of a true Grandmaster, disciplined
and devout to his art, at the same time compassionate and caring.
More power and success to you, Bobby!