Grandmaster Bob Silver Tabimina
Understand me Like I Understood Anciong
Sir Bob Tabimina
Bob Silver Tabimina was introduced to Balintawak in 1967, at the age of 17, when his father was looking for a Filipino martial art for his son around Cebu. Two came highly recommended: Doce Pares and Balintawak.
Bob’s father was advised to avoid Balintawak, as its practitioners were considered to be foolhardy due to their tough and painful training regime - which could appear very violent to the casual observer.
Bob was already a karate black belt, and his father knew that his son would only be interested in a direct and true fighting art.
Balintawak was founded by Anciong Bacon. Arrangements were made for Bob to train with Atty Jose Villasin, one of Anciong’s more well-known instructors. Bob trained for 6 months under Atty Villasin before being passed on to Teofilo Velez for the continuation of his training.
Like Villasin, Teofilo Velez taught Balintawak using the “grouping” system. His personal variation was known for its fast, tough and hard hitting approach.
Bob was trained as a fighter under Velez. After four years or more, Velez advised Bob that he had nothing more to give, and that it was time for him to seek further instruction from Anciong. This shows the unselfish approach of a true teacher.
This presented a problem for Bob as Anciong was incarcerated for killing a man who had ambushed him. Undeterred, and with his father’s contacts, Bob was able to arrange a meeting with Anciong in prison.
Wasting no time, as soon as they met, Bob told Anciong the purpose of his visit and asked him to evaluate his Balintawak.
Using cut broom handles as sticks, and with his father, the warden and guards as the audience, Bob and Anciong engaged and ‘played’.
It was at this point, in his pursuit of further knowledge and skills in Balintawak, that Bob realized that his destiny was to learn from Anciong. Bob learned very quickly why Anciong was Balintawak’s grand master. He was diminished easily and found himself on the receiving end of Anciong’s random and painful strikes.
Anciong continued to train Bob further, refining his skills and later revealing that his Balintawak had evolved from his original version. This is why Bob had difficulty in coping with Anciong despite all his previous training.
When Anciong was released from prison, Bob continued to train intensively with him, in this enhanced method. Bob had to learn to understand Anciong, and what he meant when instructed “sniff me” (sense me) - learning through the senses rather than being spoon fed on techniques.
Bob trained under several Balintawak masters, Villasin and his systemized method, the forceful style of Maranga, the weaving and powerful style of Velez and the twisting, evading and surgical style of Anciong Bacon. His understanding and knowledge of his art is deep, and in educational terms I would align it to that of a doctorate degree.
Sir Bob, as he is known by students, is a very humble man and excellent teacher. He is willing to pass on the skills he has obtained over many decades to those who are truly interested.
It is he who choses you, not you who choses him. As students, we must understand him, as he understood Anciong.