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Baraw Sugbo

Euro-Pinoy Knife Defense Art

I have been researching, learning and teaching Baraw Sugbo since 2015. Go to for more information and read my journey in Baraw Sugbo.

Baraw Sugbo History

Baraw Sugbo (Arnes Diablo) is the secret knife combat system of

 Great Grand Master


“Tatay Ensong”


(1852 – 1944)

The Greatest Arnis Grand Master and father of numerous Arnis & Kali Systems such as Balintawak, Doce Pares, etc.

Go to my othe website for more information:

I am one of only a handfull of instructors in the world that are authorized to teach the complete Baraw Sugbo System.

Baraw Sugbo

Arnes Diablo

Baraw Sugbo is a Euro-Pinoy martial art concentrated solely on unarmed knife defense, yet one learns to be an elite knife fighter as you learn the art in order to attack the defender with aggressive high level knife offense skills. Baraw Sugbo is a comprehensive unarmed system designed specifically to knife disarming and surviving a knife wielding attack. Besides numerous situational knife disarms, Baraw Sugbo includes punches, elbow strikes, stomping, tripping, sweeping, and take downs. Baraw Sugbo is considered a specialty system in that the entire system concentrates on empty hand versus knife attacks.  This allows you to add this system to another you may already know and have experience with to enhance your unarmed tactics.

When the Spaniards first came to the Philippines, Filipino warriors were fighting them with bladed weapons, sometimes using single or double sword. Eventually, Spanish firearms and their use of local rivals (divide and conquer) were able to overwhelm the Filipinos and this resulted in 400 years of Spanish rule. The Spanish imposed a ban on the use of bladed weaponry and anyone caught using them or practicing Filipino martial arts were thrown in jail and accused of being a rebel.

The island of Cebu in the Central Visayan Islands of the Philippines is considered the home and motherland and birthplace of the Filipino Martial Art of Escrima, Arnis, Kali, etc. It is the countries oldest city, the first Spanish settlement, the first Capital of the Philippines and considered the birthplace of Christianity in the Far East. Cebu was the home of Philippine histories greatest warrior hero Lapu-Lapu. Lapu-Lapu killed the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the battle of Mactan on April 27th, 1521. It was said that if you were a true eskrimador, you would prove yourself in Cebu.

The most prominent and influential Escrimador in the history of Cebuano Escrima was the great, Lorenzo “Tatay Ensong” Saavedra,(1852-1944), the creator of our system, Arnes Diablo (Baraw Sugbo). Lorenzo Saavedra is also considered the father of a number of existing Eskrima-styles we have today such as the Doce Pares and Balintawak.

In his early years, Lorenzo “Tatay Insong” Saavedra (born 1852) was arrested by Spanish soldiers on suspicion of being a rebel and thrown in jail for many years. While in prison, Saavedra met a Frenchman who was a master of French combat fighting arts of the 12 Peers, (which are arts used in battle by European knights and body guards to the King).

The 12 French Paladins, also known as the 12 Peers were the foremost warriors of King Charlemagne's court. Referred to as The Twelve Peers, these soldiers were Charlemagne's elite Paladins or Knights - the corps d'elite. They were the French equivalent to Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. For Charlemagne, each Paladin was a formidable warrior and had a companion to fight along side him. This was done not so much to defend each others back, but to kill as many

of their enemies, matching the prowess of their companion. For a Knight or Paladin, courage and glory are paramount to them. The Twelve Peers commanded Charlemagne's first division in the army. They were the crack troop and advance-guard, meant to spearhead in any attack of a battle.

Over a period of time Lorenzo and the Frenchman became good friends and compared their styles and techniques. When they sparred, Tatay could not counter the Frenchman’s techniques. Eventually, the Frenchman taught his style to Tatay, who later mastered the Frenchmans art.

After Tatay was released from prison, he started teaching his new and improved Filipino combat art which was a combination of 60 % European Fighting Arts and 40 % Filipino Arts. The Labangon Fencing Club was then started by Saavedra as the first “commercial” eskrima club in Cebu. It was later disbanded and he formed the Doce Pares (12 Peers) to honor the Frenchman he learned from. He based the club structure upon the 12 Peer Structure with the 12 best Eskrima Grand masters of the Philippines as club members. The Doce Pares Club started in 1932, is now the most well known Eskrima club in the world.

Lorenzo “Insong” Saavedra was particularly known for his Corto Linear style of Eskrima and was considered the foremost eskrimador in Cebu. Lorenzo Saavedra was described as a secretive man who did not teach his skills entirely to all his students and other instructors. This also applied to his Baraw Sugbo knife defense system, which he taught only to his few close selected disciples because this was and is still considered highly advanced combat knowledge that is not to fall into the hands of nefarious people.

As Lorenzo Saavedra was old, he had taught his stick fighting system to his nephew Teodoro “Doring” Saavedra who had fought many death matches and became one of the most feared and respected Eskrimadors in the Philippines. His legendary exploits and hard-hitting aggressive style of Escrima made him an icon and legend of Cebuano martial arts and the top Eskrimador on the Island of Cebu.

Later on, Doring Saavedra was captured at a time he was a rebel leader fighting against the Japanese during World War II and executed by the Japanese. Lorenzo Saavedra died of natural causes at the age of 92. Venancio “Anciong” Bacon, a student of Lorenzo Saavedra and life-long family friend and training partner of Doring Saavedra broke from the Doce Pares and started his new Balintawak Self Defense Club.

"Tatay Insong’s" complete knife defense system Arnes Diablo (Baraw Sugbo), was taught exclusively to Simeon "Simo" Saavedra. Simo then instructed Lucresio "OKIT" Ceniza Albano. Albano, then taught the system to his nephew Gregorio Ceniza (also known as: "Noy Oyong") (1925-2007). Grandmaster Oyong specialized only in the deadly business of knife fighting. The system was then passed from Gregorio "Noy Oyong" Ceniza to his son Eduardo "Boy" Ceniza the current Grandmaster in Cebu, PH.

From the Cebuano eskrima history point of view, it is noteworthy to point out that renowned Balintawak stylists, such as Venancio Abella Bacon, Delfin Lopez and Eduardo Baculi Sr., had close connections with Baraw Sugbo practitioners and Eduardo Baculi even trained Gregorio Ceniza in “dos manos” Eskrima. Venancio Abella Bacon (the founder of Balintawak Eskrima) in turn was a close friend of “Oyong” Ceniza, and also practiced the Baraw Sugbo art of the Ceniza family but did not teach their family art. Despite these connections, the training and teaching of Baraw Sugbo was not ever widespread in Cebu, but rather kept as a secret skill among the Ceniza family and close training friends. The practice sessions were done in complete secrecy to make sure that the techniques could not be seen or copied. It was Gregorio “Oyong” Ceniza, who started to teach those interested in the art publicly.

The prior name of Baraw Sugbo was Arnes Diablo. It was suggested to Gregorio Ceniza that the name of Arnes Diablo to be changed to Baraw Sugbo in 1998. The purpose of the name modification was to adjust it better to the profoundly Catholic culture of the Philippines and to enable the tradition to be taught to police officers. Despite this fact “Oyong” Ceniza did not usually use the name of Arnes Diablo or Baraw Sugbo since the training of Baraw Sugbo was mainly done in the family circle, but rather mostly referred to the art simply as “tuon ta ug kutsilyo” [Cebuano] which means training with the knife (derived from verb “pag-tuon” [Cebuano], meaning to study or learn something).

Arnes Diablo Meaning

Accordingly, there are at least two interpretations of the term of Arnes Diablo. The first interpretation is "To tie [Arnes, not Arnis] the demon's hands (the demon referring to the opponent)". The second interpretation is "To Harness [Arnes] the Evil Intent". It should be also taken into account, that the interpretation and the translation of the name is ambiguous because of the Spanish influences, and because Cebuano language transliteration difficulties (no precise spelling of Cebuano language) and as the understanding of concepts differ by islands and provinces. There is also another interesting connection to the Arnes Diablo name I have researched and discovered that can not be coincidental, as the art of Arnes Diablo is considered essentially a blade grappling art.

[2] Baraw [Cebuano]: knife or dagger; Sugbo [Cebuano]: The island of Cebu

Oyong’s son, master instructor Eduardo “Boy” Ceniza, continued referring to the art as Baraw Sugbo, along side the older name Arnes Diablo. Training groups outside the Philippines use both Baraw Sugbo and Arnes Diablo interrelated.

Training of Baraw Sugbo

Baraw Sugbo training is mostly done in one-on-one manner between a teacher and a student. Instead of memorizing separate single disarm techniques as in most martial arts, a Baraw Sugbo trainee will learn to adapt and apply techniques in a flow manner from counter to counter. The training style is similar to stick based eskrima styles interactive “palakaw“ or “agak” drills.

One-on-one teaching method also partly limits the numbers of Baraw Sugbo practitioners. In the Philippines, Baraw Sugbo is mostly taught in a one-on-one manner though in recent years outside the Philippines, the teaching methods have adjusted more or less to the group training culture of the target country

Besides being a situational disarm and survival method, Baraw Sugbo can also be seen as a strongly progressive training continuum, where the student is continually subjected to more rapid, more difficult and more complex knife defense situations. As the training situations get more complicated, the defensive tactics and techniques are also modified for more efficient results. Besides the knife defense, an important part of training Baraw Sugbo is of course to study the use of knife in fighting. When attacking with a knife, the live or checking hand has an important role in enabling fluid countering of the defender’s disarm attempts. Accordingly, Baraw Sugbo can be considered as a clear derivative of eskrima because it shares common principles and strategies of eskrima and can be traced back to eskrima-masters.

The trademarks of Baraw Sugbo can be considered the following:

•Tactical trademarks: Immediate attempt to grab a hold of the attacker’s knife hand and disarm, in contrast, to attempt to parry, control or pin down the attacker (Ceniza 2014).

•Training trademarks: One-on-one counter-to-counter flow in a knife defense setting. Emphasis on situational control rather than single techniques (Ceniza 2014).

•Historical trademarks: Concentrated purely in unarmed knife defense and not developed as a multi-style.

During the days of “Oyong” Ceniza and “Okit” Albaño, training was done in a closed circle and in an informal setting without fixed relations to other eskrima groups. Thus Baraw Sugbo was not influenced by the general eskrima formalization, where external customs were adopted to the training of many publicly taught eskrima styles. Therefore, unlike many other styles, the trainees of Baraw Sugbo do not use any training uniforms or have a belting system. Neither is there so called dojo etiquette, familiar from for example Japanese arts. Even today, Eduardo Ceniza does not include any calisthenics or exercises, that are not directly related to the training of Baraw Sugbo style knife defense.

This is the most practical empty hand against a weapon system that I have seen.  There is  reason this system was kept secret for so long.  There is no unrealistic application of combat theory or techniques that is rampant in some popular combat martial arts.  I call that type of training blade ballet.  You have seen this type of training as the pretend attacker executes an attack and just stands there and lets the defender apply all kinds of unrealistic follow up attacks, holds and strikes with no resistance from the attacker.  As a student of Baraw Sugbo, you will start directly learning and applying knife sparring tactics and disarming with training blades in unrehearsed defensive situations.

I have nearly 30 years working inside a Prison and over 40 years in martial arts training acquiring at least 8 different martial arts instructor rankings and many other lesser ranks in other martial arts styles. I have witnessed countless assaults and attacks and have developed training programs for Law Enforcement Agencies. My knowledge, education and experience gives me an insight to combat arts that few have.  You will benefit greatly as a student under my instruction.

I am a direct teacher under Master Eduardo Ceniza in the Philippines and honored to be his student.  Join our club to be a part of this rare and devastating Filipino knife combat system.

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