Filipino martial arts

Filipino martial arts

Filipino martial arts (FMA) is an umbrella term used to describe the numerous martial art forms that originated in the Philippines, just as Silat describes the martial arts practiced throughout the Malay Archipelago. Filipino martial arts include Panantukan (empty-handed techniques), Eskrima/Kali/Arnis de Máno (blade and stick fighting) and Pananjakman (kicking).


Filipinos have made significant sacrifices to develop their arts. Throughout the ages multi-cultural, multi-national invaders of the Philippines imposed new dynamics for human conflict and combat. FMA, the “system-of-systems” transformed itself as a direct result of an appreciation of their ever changing environment and circumstances. The Filipinos' intrinsic need for self-preservation was the evolutionary genesis of these systems. They learned often out of necessity how to prioritize, allocate and utilize common resources in combative situations. Filipinos have been heavily influenced by the phenomenon of cultural and language mixture. The multitude of languages spoken in the 7,107 islands have not only diverged into dialects, but they have been constantly mixing with one another on all levels: vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and usage (see Languages of the Philippines). As a result, Filipino martial arts and its homogeneous systems comprise a vocabulary of heterogeneous terms. Change is the norm. Some of the specific mechanisms responsible for cultural and martial change extend from phenomena such as war, political systems, social systems, technology and trade.

panish occupation

For over three hundred years the Spanish had control over much of the Philippines. The Spanish regime often enforced royal laws and decrees limiting and prohibiting weapons use by the indigenous people. These restrictions of use were partly responsible for secretive and underground nature of FMA. Spaniards often employed Filipino warriors for various battles and wars. The Filipinos' battle-tested tactics proved strategically effective from angle of old world weaponry and hand to hand conflict. Highly skilled Filipino martial artists are often characterized by a state of "flow" that is decisively responsive, deployable, agile, versatile, lethal, survivable, and sustainable. In 1972, the Philippine government included Filipino martial arts into the "Palarong Pambansa" or National Sports arena. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports also included it as part of the physical education curriculum for high school and college students. Knowledge of the Filipino martial arts is mandatory in the Philippine military and police. Today, the traditional Filipino martial systems continue to grow, new ones emerge, and new transitional FMA stylists continue to arrive on the martial arts scene.

The oldest martial arts in the Philippines were those practiced by the indigenous Filipinos. They were in contact with the aborigines of Taiwan and Borneo which is evident from oral legends and the similarities between their fighting styles. The native tribes focused on combat with sticks, cudgels, knives and broadswords while practicing unarmed combat forms like dumog(trans. - wrestling). Some of these ancient Filipino martial arts still exist but others are either extinct or very rare. Armed training took precedence over empty-handed techniques with the reasoning that a warrior will naturally learn to fight without weapons after gaining enough experience with them. Even today most Filipino fighting arts remain weapon-based. Malays from Indonesia and Malaysia made three separate migrations to the Philippines and brought with them the influence of Silat. Filipinos would later go on to create Silat styles of their own. Early traders from China also had a large impact on the local fighting techniques and certain Filipino styles contain characteristically Chinese movements. Additionally, the Chinese practiced localized forms of kung fu which they called Kuntaw. These Malay and Chinese settlers are considered progenitors of the classical Filipino martial arts.The first western account of Filipino fighting techniques comes from the 16th century when Spanish colonists attacked.Fact|date=November 2007 The invaders failed to defeat the locals in hand-to-hand combat and only managed to arise victorious after resorting to guns. During the period of colonization, Filipinos could only train in secret, and it was this isolation between the practitioners that gave birth to the vast number of Filipino styles today and the reason they were often passed down through family members. Through the Spanish language came the words now used to refer to Filipino fighting arts namely eskrima, arnis and kali.Fact|date=November 2007 After independence, martial arts could be practiced publicly and freely influenced each other. Modern styles use weapons and techniques taken from numeorus sources especially silat, kung fu, karate, and Jujitsu. Today there are said to be almost as many forms of kali as there are islands in the Philippines.


Filipino martial arts is a broad term more detail is covered in specific articles. The three major branches of Filipino martial arts are "Arnis" typically from the northern Luzon regions, "Eskrima" from the central Visayas regions, and "Kali" from the southern Mindanao regions. Within these branches dwell a long line of masters, families, systems and history. Most Filipino systems will associate with one of these terms and their respective Regions of the Philippines.

Ranking systems, proficiency levels and terminology can differ greatly from system to system, organization to organization. FMA instructors employ a wide range of training methods to demonstrate the knowledge, skill and best practices necessary to address a situation and to assess their students understanding and proficiency. Mastery is not identical. Thus, higher or lower levels of proficiency can be applied to each assessment/training method depending upon the maturity of a particular student. These individual exchanges/assessments can then be used to identify gaps in proficiency for individuals within specific areas.Martial arts ranking systems are a modern adaptation that developed during the commercialization eras of karate. For example: Shotokan Karate master Gichin Funakoshi's original ranking system consisted of: white belt: five kyūs; brown belt: three kyus; black belt: five dans.

FMA has not become a highly commercialized art, therefore it has retained its traditional forms hierarchy: master/instructor/student; or grandfather/father/son. Some FMA systems have adopted or created their own ranking systems.Valentin Espiricueta 2x World Champion of Dallas Texas Has his own special Style.

Traditional Filipino weapons

Practitioners of Filipino martial arts are noted for their ability to fight with weapons or empty hands interchangeably. Weapons are treated as an extension of the hand, and weapons training is considered to promote proficiency in empty-handed techniques. The weapons vary in design, size, weight, materials and usage.


*Mano Mano, hands, open-handed, fingers, fists, elbows, knees, sipa or kicks, locks, blocks, and disarming


*Baston or olisi, eskrima sticks, traditionally crafted from rattan and kamagong
*Sibat, Tongat, staff
*Tameng, shield


*Daga, dagger or knife - balisong, gunong, punyal
*Espada, swords - kampilan, kris, kalis, ginunting, barong, pinuti, talibong, golok
*Bangkaw, spear


*Latigo, whip, Buntot Pagi
*Lubid, rope
*Kadena, tanikala, chain
*Tabak-Toyok and flails two sticks attached together by rope or chain, aka. nunchaku


*Bow and arrow
*Lipad-lipad, bagakays, Blowgun and darts


*Yo-yo or Yoyo

Basic training and tactics

igns and symbols

The triangle is one of the strongest geometrical structures and stands for strength. Applications of the triangle are found in defensive and offensive tactical stratagem, including footwork, stances, blocking and disarms

:*Salutations and signing, non-verbal, gesture communication and recognition is used in teaching and identification. Eskrimador's sign language, utilizing hand, body, and weapons signals, these various gestures are used to convey ideas, desires, information, or commands.

Basic tactical ranges

The three combat ranges in Filipino martial arts are Corto (Close Range), Medio (Medium Range) and Largo (Long Range).

*Hakbang, general term for footwork
*Corto Mano, close range, short movements, minimal extension of arms, legs and weapons, cutting distance
*Serrada "split step", short range footwork, quick, split action, front and back, low stance.Serrada footwork is the base of a triangular framework methodology
*Largo Mano, long range, extended movements, full extension of arms, legs and weapons, creating distance
*Fraile, short range footwork, hopping action, balanced position, short hop, pushing off from the lead foot
*Ritriada short range footwork, shuffling action, pushing backward by pushing off the lead foot, giving six to eight inches of range per action.
*Banda y Banda, side to side action

Basic training and tactical methods

:*Solo Baston, single stick methods:*Doble Baston, double stick methods:*Bati-Bati, butt of stick methods:*Dulo-Dulo, palm stick methods:*Bantay-Kamay, Tapi-Tapi "guardian hand" or "alive hand", auxiliary weapons tactics used for deflecting, checking, blocking, monitoring, trapping, locking, disarming, striking, cutting, etc. Bantay-Kamay is the auxiliary weapon in the FMA. Examples: Solo Baston (single stick) tactics, it becomes the empty hand, Espada y Daga it becomes the Daga; which used in conjunction with the primary weapon.

:*Mano Mano, hand to hand combat methods:*Baraw, knife and dagger methods:*Mano y Daga, hand and dagger methods:*Daga y Daga, dagger and dagger methods:*Espada y Daga, sword and dagger methods:*Latigo y Daga, whip and dagger methods:*Tapon-Tapon, hand thrown knives and weapons tactics

:*Numerado, striking and blocking by the numbers, refers to the most basic strikes and angles in Eskrima:*Cinco Teros, five strikes, refers to the five most basic strikes, and counters in Eskrima:*Doblete, two-weapon blocking and countering method of doubles:*Sinawali, weaving - rhythmic, flowing, striking patterns and tactics, utilizing two impact or edged weapons.:*Redonda, repeating pattern, double strikes and tactics:*Ocho ocho, repeating pattern, strikes and tactics, example figure 8:*Palis Palis, force with force, force to force method:*Abaniko, to fan, fanning strikes and tactics:*Witik, whipping, snapping back or picking movements and tactics:*Lobtik, follow through strikes and tactics, horizontal, vertical, diagonal methods:*Crossada, cross blocking methods, hands and weapons:*Gunting, scissors - armed and unarmed scissoring techniques aimed at disabling an opponent's arm or hand:*Lock and block, dynamic countering, attacks based on the striking and blocking methods of the system:*Free Flow, live interaction and play, flowing practice, rapid, rhythmic, weapons tactics

:*Mano Mano, hand to hand combat methodologies:*Kadena De Mano chain of hands, close quarters, continuous, hand to hand combat tactics:*Hubud Lubud, to tie and untie, continuous trapping methods:*Trankada, joint locking and breaking techniques:*Pangamut, mano mano, Pamuok, empty-hand techniques:*Kino mutai, a sub-section of Pangamut that specializes in biting and eye-gouges:*Panganaw, disarming techniques:*Panantukan or Panuntukan, Filipino kickboxing:*Pananjakman and Sipat, low-line kicking components:*Suntukan, Filipino Boxing, empty-hand striking techniques:*Dumog, Filipino grappling methods with an emphasis on disabling or control of the opponent by manipulation of the head and neck

piritual or internal practice

*Agimat, an Eskrimador's amulet
*Orascion, an Escrimador's special verse or prayer
*Hilot, Filipino Healing Arts
*Arbularyo, Filipino healers and herbalists
*Kulam, Filipino witchcraft

ee also

List of eskrima systems

External links

* [ The FMA-Eskrima-Kali FAQ]


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