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Mastering Balintawak: The Legacy of Jemar Carcellar and the Art of Filipino Martial Arts

Jemar Carcellar training a lady

Black Belt Plus

Growing up in Cebu City, Philippines, the heartland of Balintawak, Jemar Carcellar’s early life seems like a martial artist’s dream. From a young age, Jemar trained under the tutelage of esteemed masters, deeply immersing himself in this practical and distinct Filipino fighting style.

Balintawak is a martial art known for its efficiency and direct approach, emphasizing well-honed skills over hidden secrets. This approach mirrors the teachings of Jemar in Atlanta, Georgia, where he highlights the art's adaptability and tactical prowess. Practitioners adopt a stance similar to Jeet Kune Do but with the unique addition of a stick, readying themselves with an open hand to strike, block, or maneuver seamlessly.

Balintawak training is structured yet dynamic, beginning with basic strikes and defenses and advancing through partner drills that emphasize fluid movement and reaction. This method ensures that skills are practical and applicable, rather than theoretical.

Jemar emphasizes that the essence of Balintawak training lies not just in physical techniques but in developing the right mindset. He introduces students gradually to various strikes and defenses, building up to freestyle interactions that foster quick reflexes and strategic thinking under pressure. This nurturing approach helps students grow in confidence and skill, avoiding the pitfalls of harsh training that can lead to both physical and mental scars.

Anciong Bacon

The narrative of Balintawak cannot be told without mentioning its founder, Anciong Bacon, whose innovative techniques and strategic insights established the foundations of the art. Despite the adversities of World War II and personal losses, Bacon’s legacy endured through the establishment of the Balintawak Self Defense Club, which continues to influence and inspire practitioners worldwide.

Jemar’s philosophy extends beyond Balintawak. His experience with other martial arts like Yaw-Yan, Tat Kon Tou, and Wing Chun has enriched his understanding and teaching, emphasizing that martial arts should enhance inherent human attributes such as speed, timing, and accuracy.

More than just a teacher, Jemar views his role as part of a larger community of martial artists who respect and support each other. His goal is not to amass a large number of students but to cultivate meaningful relationships, which he considers the true measure of his legacy.

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