Doce Pares is a world leading organization of the traditional Philippine martial art known as Eskrima or Arnis – stick fighting. Magellan’s sword-wielding conquistadors fell to Maharaja Lapulapu who used Eskrima to defeat the Spanish at the battle of Mactan. Doce Pares is the home of the most renown expert of the art, Grandmaster Ciriaco “Cacoy” Canete.
In the late 1920’s, eskrima attained a high level of popularity in Cebu City, the second largest city in the Philippines (Cebu island is located in the center of the Philippine archipelago). In 1932, the most renowned eskrimadors, mainly from Cebu, founded Doce Pares as a society to promote the only original native martial art of the Philippines. The name Doce Pares reflects the Spanish influence on the Philippines and signifies “Twelve Pairs,” referring to the twelve basic strikes and twelve basic defences of eskrima.
Since its beginning, Doce Pares has produced many champions in eskrima competitions. At the founding of Doce Pares, Lorenzo Saavedra, then recognized as the foremost eskrimador in Cebu City, became its first famous Grandmaster. He was ably supported by three other top-rated masters: Teodoro and Frederico Saavedra – Lorenzo’s nephews – and by Filemon Canete. Later, Master Teodoro Saavedra rose to prominence as the best fighter in the Doce Pares society. Master Eulogio Canete, Filemon’s older brother, was elected first president of Doce Pares and remained in that position until his death in 1988.
During World War II, Master Teodoro Saavedra, an active guerrilla, was captured and killed by the Japanese occupying forces. Shortly after Teodoro’s death, Master Ciriaco Canete, also a resistance fighter emerged as Doce Pares’ foremost fighter and innovator. In the early 1950’s, eskrima techniques and tactics were analyzed, devised, modified and systematized by Master Ciriaco Canete, based mostly on actual combat experience with rival eskrimadors belonging to other associations. Among his many contributions to the development of this martial art is eskrido, a combination of Judo and eskrima techniques, as well as the most modern forms of eskrima-offence and eskrima-defence.
Since its founding, Doce Pares has enjoyed a special reputation among Philippine martial arts organizations as the developer and innovator of the newest styles and techniques in eskrima. The Doce Pares style is now identified as the modern forms of eskrima and variations of eskrima such as eskrido and specialized defences against knives, pistols, etc.
Doce Pares maintains its headquarters in Cebu City, Cebu, The Philippines, just a few miles from the site where Lapulapu used eskrima to defeat the Spanish conquistadors of Magellan in 1521.