Welcome to the Filipino Martial Arts program at Renton Martial Arts Center!

what is balintawak, and why should i try it?

Balintawak is great for self defense, coordination, and striking and weapons training. It is designed to develop your speed, timing, control, and maintaining focus under pressure. Additionally, emphasis is placed on economy of motion, flexibility, natural body movement, and delivery of direct line strikes to produce lightning fast counter attacks. Click here to view the full gym schedule

Instructor Raul Tabile

Instructor Raul Tabile

About the Instructor

Raul's martial arts journey started with the Universal Kempo Karate Association. The Kempo/Kajukenbo System introduced him to the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), commonly referred to as Arnis, Eskrima, and Kali. He trained in different FMA styles until he met Guro John Soriano, chief instructor for Balintawak Seattle. His love for Taboada Balintawak Cuentada began!

Raul is a Completion of Arts (Level 6) practitioner in Grandmaster Bobby Taboada's Balintawak Arnis/Eskrima Cuentada System under Full Qualified Instructor (Level 7), Guro John Soriano. He is passionate about spreading the Filipino culture through FMA.


Balintawak Class

Instructor Raul and Guro John Soriano

Instructor Raul and Guro John Soriano

Frequently Asked Questions

What are classes like?

Our classes consist of light warmups, repetition drills, technique, and live sparring.

When are classes?

Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:30-7:30pm, in our back classroom.

What should I wear?

Anything you are comfortable working out in. A tshirt and pants are fine. They do not need to be athletic pants. We train barefoot on the mats, or if you have designated “mat shoes” that you do not wear outside, those are fine.

what other equipment do i need?

Nothing! We have sticks and anything else. It is recommended to bring some water with you.

i have no martial arts experience at all, can i do balintawak?

Yes! Everyone, beginner to advanced, are encouraged to come to our class.

do i have to fight people?

No, you do not have to fight anyone.

how many classes can i come to?

Your first class is free. If you sign up, you can come to both classes every week if you like. It is up to you.

Who is the founder of Balintawak?

(writing Credit to Guro John Soriano, Balintawak Seattle)

Standing at 5 feet, 2 inches tall, and no more than 120 pounds, he was dimunitive in physical stature, a giant in terms of his influence and impact in Filipino Martial Arts history. Venancio "Anciong" Bacon was born in 1912 in Carcar, Cebu.  He started his training at the Labangon Fencing Club, learning the Corto Linear style from Lorenzo "Ensong" Saavedra, his only teacher. In 1933 the Doce Pares Club was established, Anciong Bacon was one of the first twenty-four members. In 1952, fed up with the personal bickering and internal politics of the Doce Pares Club, Bacon left, starting his own club.

The newly formed club began training in the backyard of a watch shop owned by one of Bacon's students. The shop was located on a small side street in Colon, called Balintawak, which eventually became the name of the style.  He was described as lightning fast and surgical with a stick. He had a rare talent to be able to employ varying force to his exact targets on his adversary's body, and exploiting their balance and coordination. 

Bacon was a veteran of a great many death matches in Cebu, but his greatest virtue was his constant desire to improve his art, diligently discovering techniques throughout the years, never ceasing his path. He taught his art to anyone who desired to learn it. The 1950's and 1960's saw the "Golden Age" of eskrima in Cebu - Eskrimadors from various camps tested each other's skills in all out challenges.  These resulted in injuries and sometimes deaths. Some were under honorable circumstances, while others treacherous. Venancio Bacon was ambushed in the dark while walking to his home in Labangon. He killed his assailant in self defense, but he was incarcerated for murder, the judge considered that his martial skills were lethal weapons and should have been used with restraint.

Venancio Bacon was paroled from prison in the mid 1970's.  When he returned to Cebu he continued to check up on students, making sure the quality of Balintawak was up to his standards. He regularly attended training sessions led by Jose Villasin and Teofilo Velez. It was here that Bacon saw the next generation of Balintawak fighters, he was satisfied. A few years after, Venancio Bacon died, leaving a legacy known around the world as BALINTAWAK.

Instructor Raul and Grandmaster Bobby Taboada

Instructor Raul and Grandmaster Bobby Taboada

Who is Grandmaster Bobby Taboada?

(writing Credit to Guro John Soriano, Balintawak Seattle)

As a young student of Balintawak Eskrima, Bobby Taboada made a bold statement to his teachers that one day he would promote the art to the world. Today he is recognized as one of the pioneers and most visible proponent of introducing Balintawak outside of the Philippines. His International Balintawak organization based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is global.

Known for his dynamic and explosive brand of eskrima, GM Bobby was a veteran fighter of combat and tournament competition.  He was trained by all the Balintawak masters in the practical aspects of combat fighting, including: Great Grandmaster Anciong Bacon, Grandmaster Jose Villasin, and his primary teacher Grandmaster Teofilo Velez.  GM Bobby's mission is the same as when he left the shores of the Philippines in 1979 - to promote Balintawak Eskrima worldwide.

Having experienced violent and deadly fights and taught the "old school" way, which was often brutal, he emphasizes training safely. GM Bobby conducts training for law enforcement officers,  martial arts instructors (of all styles), and those individuals who he thinks have attained maturity, discipline and the capacity necessary to learn his art. He states,  "in my 50 years of experience in martial arts,  I believe the hardest thing to learn is how to defend, the easiest is how to strike, hit, punch or kick."  Based on this philosophy he places primary emphasis on defense and the counter. His advice to students of all martial arts:  "All martial arts have something good to offer, take it, study it, practice it, think about the counter, then it is yours - then one day you will be one of the masters."

What is the Taboada Balintawak Cuentada Eskrima System?

(writing Credit to Guro John Soriano, Balintawak Seattle)

The term Cuentada refers to "calculation" or "to counter."  It is the principle that guides Balintawak Eskrimadors. The assumption is that the opponent is skilled and attacks will be countered - for every counter there is another counter. The Taboada Balintawak System also known as "Balintawak Cuentada,"  was created by Grandmaster Bobby Taboada. It is based on classic Balintawak close quarter stickfighting - originated and tested in the streets of Cebu City, Philippines. Identified by it's use of the single stick and close quarter play, it is designed to develop combat attributes: speed, timing, control, and maintaining focus under pressure. Additionally, emphasis is placed on economy of motion, flexibility, natural body movement, and delivery of direct line strikes to produce lightning fast counter attacks.


Although it is viewed as primarily a close range style, training in the Taboada method prepares the practitioner for varying ranges of combat;  full-power, body torquing swings and blocks are Taboada Balintawak signature characteristics and can be employed for medium to longer range engagement. Some Balintawak purists argue it is not original or classic Balintawak but GM Taboada states, "I did not change Balintawak, I added to it."  The basic Balintawak core is still the same but the Taboada curriculum includes drills and techniques to enhance power with emphasis on explosive counter attacks.  The stick is the primary training tool but the theory is that the stick is only an extension of the arm.  Whether it is with the baton, blade, improvised weapons, and empty hand fighting - the goal is to produce adept, functional fighters.