The art is composed of the four basic cuts and one basic thrust. There are varied patterns for the strikes depending upon the teacher or in the system. However, the Cinco Teros is believed to have originated in Pangasinan, Philippines.
Cinco Teros commonly utilizes an "X" pattern in attacking the opponent, but some methods employ patterns resembling a "+" while others use stiking patterns that emulate a "V".
The most common pattern for the Cinco Teros are as follows:
- Downward diagonal forehanded Slash.
- Downward Diagonal Backhanded Slash.
- Horizontal Forehand Slash.
- Horizontal Backhand Slash.
- Straight Thrust.
The Cinco Teros is based upon angles of attack, not specific targets. This allows the practitioner to apply any one of the five striking angles to any target they choose. For example, the fifth strike, which consists of a straight thrust, does not necessarily need to be targeted towards the belly. While it can be targeted towards the belly, it can also be targeted to the throat, the heart, or the eye. Instead of tediuously taking the time to learn individual angles for individual targets, the angles of attack can be applied to any target that is available.
The strength of the Cinco Teros lies in its simplicity. While many systems of Eskrima may have seven, twelve, or seventeen angles of attack, the Cinco Teros are often sufficient for developing combative knowledge and efficiency in the shortest amount of time possible.
While the precise influence on FMA of Classical Spanish Fencing, also known as La Destreza, is difficult to determine, it appears that Cinco Teros may be one of the elements cross-pollinated by one system to the other. Cinco Teros bears a marked similarity to offensive techniques outlined in "Cartilla y Luz en la Verdadera Destreza" written by Don Nicolas Tamariz in the year 1696. The text includes the following dialogue:
"Cuantos modos hay por herrir? Segun Don Luis, cinco. Quales son? Medio tajo, medio rebes, tajo, rebes, y herrida de estocada."
Translated to English:
"How many ways are there to hurt? According to Don Luis, five. What are they? The middle cut, the middle reverse cut, the cut, the reverse cut, and the hurtful thrust."
The putative origin of Cinco Teros in Pangasinan also lends some credence to the theorized cross-pollination, as Pangasinan was the site of a campaign that pitted a Spanish-Filipino force under the command of Juan de Salcedo against an invading force of Chinese pirates under Limahong. Cinco Teros may have been a close combat tactic shared by the troops under Salcedo's command amongst one another for use against the common foe.