Doce Pares is the world's 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 traces its history to Lapulapu.
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 renown 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
defenses 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-offense and eskrima-defense.
NARAPHIL (the National Arnis Association of the Philippines) conducted the First Open Arnis Tournament on March 24, 1979,
in Cebu City and the First National Invitational Arnis Tournament on August 19, 1979, in Manila. In both tournaments, Doce
Pares, emerged as Champion in the Masters Division and most other divisions as well.
During the Third National Arnis Tournament in Cebu City, March 16, 1985, the Doce Pares contestants made a clean sweep
of all championship awards in all categories - Openweight, Heavyweight, Middleweight and Lightweight. Most runner-up honors
also went to Doce Pares players.
Such was the reputation of invincibility of Doce Pares contestants that in the Fourth National Arnis Tournament, which
took place in Bacolod City, on July 26, 1986, Doce Pares officers and members were invited only as observers and officials
- not as contestants!
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 escrido and specialized defenses against knives, pistols, etc.