Cañete, founder of world-renowned ‘eskrima,’ dies
CEBU CITY—Ciriaco “Cacoy” Cañete, a world-famous Filipino martial artist and the last of the great original teachers and developers of the unique Filipino martial arts “eskrima,” died here on Friday at the age of 96.
He died of prostate cancer at Chiong Hua Hospital, two weeks after he was admitted, his grandson, Chuck Anthony Cañete, disclosed.
“He was the last of the Mohicans,” wrote grandmaster Catherine Kitty Cañete Knight, executive vice president of Cacoy Doce Pares World Federation, said in her FaceBook account.
Cañete was one of the founders of the world-renowned eskrima or “arnis,” which traces its roots to the time of Lapu-Lapu, the Mactan chieftain who killed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. He was also an expert of ju-jitsu, boxing, judo, freestyle wrestling, shorin-ryu karate and aikido.
He became famous for fighting over a hundred no-rules eskrima matches, which earned him respect and popularity in the martial arts community and earned him the title of supreme grandmaster.
Together with eight of his 12 siblings, he founded the world renowned Doce Pares Club in 1932. The club now has several chapters in more than a dozen countries around the world.
Born on Aug. 8, 1919, in San Fernando town in southern Cebu province, Cañete was raised by his father, Gregorio, and uncles, Gavino and Juancho, who also trained him in martial arts. An older brother, Filemon or “Momoy,” gave him lessons in eskrima when he was only 7 years old.
Cañete developed his own personal system of eskrima, which he named “eskrido,” in 1951. Eskrido is a combination of Doce Pares, aikido, ju-jitsu and judo, with lesser influence from other Japanese systems. It features standard eskrima stick techniques mixed with ju-jitsu style locks and throws. With the stick as a strong influence, the use of the the sword, knife and other Filipino weapons are also taught in eskrido.
Cañete’s eskrido earned him the title chief instructor of empty-hand techniques of the eskrima and eskrido. He was a 12th-degree black belt in eskrima and and dominated the first Open Arnis Tournament held in Cebu at the age of 60. He also won first place in the National Invitational Arnis Tournament in Manila held in 1979.
In 1997, he was enshrined to the Cebu City Sports Hall of Fame and was chosen one of the “Most Outstanding Cebuanos of the Century” by the Cebuano Studies and Historical Association for having received 18 awards from the United States Martial Arts Association.
“Sad to hear the loss of a true old school grandmaster of the Filipino martial arts. This guy was a legend!” Kevin Hand wrote on his Facebook account. Hub Gerritsen of the HG Attack and Defence System said: “I had the honor of meeting SGM Cacoy Canete in 2015 during my training at the Philippines. I remember him as a kind, strong and charismatic man. He will be missed!”
According to Chuck, his grandfather was admitted at the hospital for prostate cancer, which was first diagnosed in 2008. He had undergone surgery, but the cancer recurred, he added. He died at 8:08 p.m. on Friday.
‘Kumbati’ is over
“The kumbati (fight) is over,” Chuck posted in his Facebook wall. “Rest in peace, Papa Cacoy. Missing you already.”
Cañete is survived by six of his seven children, several grandchildren and great grandchildren. His wife, Herminia, died in 1999.
His body lies at St. Peter’s Memorial Chapel on New Imus Road in Cebu City. A requiem Mass will be held at 1 p.m. on Feb. 15 at San Nicolas Parish Church before the funeral procession to Queen City Memorial Garden on Don Andres Soriano Avenue.
Cañete, who served in the US Army Forces in the Far East during World War II and held the rank of captain, will be given a 21-gun salute, Knight said in her post.
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