The Philippines has long been a site of battle and conquest for civilizations passing through the island chain, but the Filipino people adapted and persevered – and the style of combat they developed is one of the most dangerous knife styles in the world.
This style is known interchangeably as Arnis, Eskrima or Kali – it also serves as the national sport of the Philippines, focusing on weapon tactics that use blades or sticks to engage in a rapid-fire sequence of blocks and attacks. Martial arts films have a tendency to focus on martial arts from mainland Asia and Japan, but those with a deep understanding of the whole spectrum know the complex secrets of the Philippines.
Initial Focus is on Weapons
Most Eastern fighting styles teach that you should master hand-to-hand combat before you train with weapons – but Filipino martial arts defy that tradition by teaching the usage of weapons first. In many cases, the first weapon used by practitioners is a lightweight baton called a baston. Only when a fighter has developed their skills with these batons, do they move on to hand-to-hand combat.
Designed for Everyday Use
Filipino martial arts were modeled from their creation on the idea that they’d be useful even when weapons weren’t readily available – for that reason, practitioners train to use anything and everything readily available on the streets in the Philippines. Sticks and knives are the most common, but broken broom handles and even rolled up magazines prove formidable weapons in the hands of a master of Filipino martial arts. Eskrima has even been used to weaponize lengths of fabric into tools known as sarongs, used to ensnare and trap opponents.
Used by Militaries Around The World
Eskrima may be lesser known by film directors, but the militaries of the world haven’t turned a blind eye to this effective knife fighting style – both the United States and Russian armies use elements of Filipino martial arts in their advanced training.
Despite the focus on more traditional styles in modern culture, Filipino martial arts remain one of the most viable styles for police and military to increase their weapons skill.