Martial Arts Philippines



Philippine martial arts

– knife and hand-to-hand combat technique, historically developed in the Philippines under the influence of external and internal factors (geographic location, encounters with invaders, civil strifes, etc.). In addition, the main tool of labor and weapons of the Filipinos has long been a knife, therefore almost all martial arts systems in this region are based on the use of cold weapons for protection.

In different parts of the archipelago, martial arts are named in different ways. In the west of the Philippines (the Panaya and Negros areas), the knife battle is called pekiti-tirsiya kali (from Tagal’sk pekiti tirsia; pekiti – “come close” and tirsia – “cut into small pieces”). It is believed that this is the oldest of all extant areas of the Philippine martial arts – references to it are found in the chronicles of the empire of Sri Vijaya (Malaysia), dating back to the 8th century BC. In Manila, this type of self-defense is called arnis or pananandata, in Ilokos – cabarano, in the province of Pangasinan – karorongan, in the Bisai islands – eskrima, etc.


In May 1993, the World Council of Grand Masters of the World of War (WHFSC) was established in America, which includes not only masters of the Philippines, but also more than 160 representatives of various martial arts from all over the world. In 2005, the Philippine Martial Arts Alliance (PMAA), an alliance of Philippine martial arts, was founded. The mentioned organizations are engaged in spreading the art of knife fighting around the world.

Martial Arts Philippines

To study the Philippine martial arts, special abilities and a lot of time are required.

No, this martial art direction was created in order to train ordinary peasants (both men and women) who had nothing to do with the military business, the ability to protect their lands and homes from invaders. Therefore, the distinctive feature of this system is the philosophy of simplicity and focus on the fastest training in combat skills, effective even when a person does not possess any talents in the martial arts field. For example, in order to master the badge (the style of self-defense created for women), only a few sessions are enough, and in a year of persistent regular training you can achieve master’s level.

All residents of the Philippines masterly master the basics of martial arts.

This is not quite true. Martial arts in the Philippines are included in the school curriculum, but at the end of the school each person decides for himself whether he needs to improve in the art of fighting, or enough of his knowledge. Without fail, the methods of self-defense are studied and brought to perfection only by the military and police.

Philippine martial arts are overly simplistic.

The simplified style of movements does not mean that they will be ineffective in combat, but is just a certain kind of approach to the selection of techniques designed to maximally quickly master this art of self-defense. Because complex and pretentious techniques that in real combat do not provide benefits, simply are not studied.

Martial arts of the Philippines have many significant differences in the technique and tactics of fighting.

Most often, various terms applied to the Philippine martial arts are only meant to indicate the place and time of appearance of this species. For example, arnis and eskrima – now the most common names of the mentioned martial arts direction – have appeared relatively recently (eskrima most likely comes from the Spanish escaramuza – “fight”, arnis is created nowadays), and potassium – a term used much earlier, during The Spanish occupation was banned, so now less used. All the mentioned names are used to refer to a group of styles in which both the methods of training and the techniques of combat are in many respects similar.

In the martial arts of the Philippines, emphasis is placed on the battle with the use of weapons (rattan stick and knife).

Rattan sticks are most often used during training, in a real combat situation a person can meet with both an armed and an unarmed opponent, and not necessarily he himself will have a knife. Therefore, the Filipinos teach techniques that allow one to fight equally effectively with weapons (knife, sword, spear, stick), and without it. The techniques of hand-to-hand combat and work with weapons are closely interrelated, therefore, the Philippine martial arts system should be viewed as a whole, not as narrow fencing using sticks, or simply as a knife fight. At the same time, it should be noted that some styles (sikaran, panantukan) are focused mainly on hand-to-hand fighting.

Martial Arts Philippines

In the style of a dumog battle is conducted with your bare hands.

Indeed, at first glance it may seem that there is nothing in the hands of a fighter practicing this style. However, in fact, this is a delusion. First, between the fingers of the dumoguero (practicing dumog) is placed the insect’s tooth atipalo (apparently, the earwig’s church), a plant spike or a metal pin, smeared with poison. Secondly, the hands of the fighter in themselves are quite dangerous “weapons”, as they are also impregnated with poison in advance. To ensure that the toxic agent does not harm the dumoguero itself, he conducts training for 49 days: first he dips his hands in a hot broth of red pepper, then – beats sand. The procedure is repeated until the sensation of the hands is completely lost. After that, the fighter smears his hands with poison (most often snake) and in battle tries to get into the eyes or into the opponent’s mouth. Even one stroke is enough to lead to death (depending on the type of poison death can occur immediately, and can overtake the struck a few days later). By the way, the impregnation of hands with poison was often used by practitioners of other styles of Filipino martial arts, and even by ordinary citizens who in this way tried to increase their chances of winning in skirmishes of various kinds.

The art of pottery originated in the Philippines.

This is not true. According to historians, the mentioned military equipment was imported to the Philippines by the rulers-date from Kalimantan (Borneo).

Kali is the goddess of death, it is in honor of her that one of the types of Filipino martial arts is named.

Opinions of researchers on this issue diverge. Some argue that the art of possession of cold steel came to the Philippines from Indonesia, where it was called jakalili, and the Filipinos simply shortened the word for ease of pronunciation. Others believe that the art of kali originated on the island of Kalibo, in honor of which it was named.

Kali is used by the military and police only in the Philippines.

No, this system is adopted in many countries of the world. In particular, in the United States, where the director of the Association for the Training of the Staff of the Justice System and the Technical Adviser of the Tactical Defense Police Association is the grand master (Grand Tuchon) of the pekiti-tiriya kali Leo Gaye.

Badzhak is a small knife specially created for self-defense of women.

This is not quite true. Initially, the badge was just a spearhead, which could be used in a fight in the event that the weapon for any reason was broken. Over time, the shape and size of the badge changed, it ceased to resemble a dangerous weapon (which was especially valuable during the Spanish occupation, when arms were kept banned), without losing its effectiveness. But the badjakak or badyaakan technique is one of the sections of potassium bilge potassium – indeed it was designed specifically to train the representatives of the weaker sex to defend themselves from a stronger and higher enemy. At the same time, a small elegant knife was used, which women always carried with them as decoration, and very useful (ladies were often attacked, even in their own house).In the process of training, other characteristics of the psychology and manners of the fair sex were also taken into account, even that sometimes clothes (for example, a tight skirt) can become a significant obstacle to the performance of one or another technique that works well for men.

An experienced fighter knows a huge number of different techniques – so it differs from a beginner.

Wrong opinion. Filipino masters like to repeat: “more does not mean better” – this saying reflects the principle of simplicity, which is the basis of the martial arts of the Philippines. After all, at the initial stage of training a person gets almost all the techniques, chooses the most suitable for him personally, and on their basis develops individual tactics of combat, in the process of training, applying the acquired knowledge and honing skills. Only in this case he will be able to apply the acquired skills to practice. The main difference between an experienced fighter and a newcomer is not in the number of learned techniques, but in virtuoso possession of several universal techniques, various combinations of which can be effectively used in almost any situation.

Martial Arts Philippines

The same techniques for different masters of the Philippine martial arts can be called differently.

This is true, and for several reasons. First, the foundation for all the Filipino martial arts is one, but each master creates his own variation of one or another method, which gives rise to some differences, sometimes quite noticeable. Secondly, it is necessary to take into account the geographical features of this region. After all, the Philippines – is 7 100 islands, each with its own dialect, sometimes having nothing to do with the language of people living on the neighboring islands. This also causes the appearance of different names used to designate the same technique.

Philippine martial arts borrow some tricks from other systems.

Yes, because this system is designed for maximum effective self-defense, therefore borrowing the most effective methods is constantly, and not only in our days. Cultural exchange between different nations was facilitated by the geographic location of the islands (the Philippines – a place of intersection of important trade routes). In addition, the Filipinos were constantly forced to defend themselves against internal and external enemies. It was in the fights of this kind that they honed their military equipment, and sometimes borrowed and assimilated new, most effective methods of struggle.

Circle and triangle movement is a characteristic feature of the Philippine martial arts.

This type of movement is typical for potassium pepsi-tirsia and some other areas of the Philippine martial arts. The triangle included in the emblems of many schools is a symbol of strength and stability, and is also used to more clearly describe some of the fundamental principles of theory and practice (struts, movements, disarming the enemy, etc.). Circular aspects are often used in the process of disarming the enemy and to counteract the attacking corners. But for the combatant arnis characterized by movement along the V-shaped trajectory and the movement in a straight line – the same as in traditional Filipino dances.


Sparring is always conducted between peers of equal strength and experience.

Not necessary. In some styles (for example, in Eskrima De Campo JDC-IO), exercises are conducted only in instructor-student pairs, since it is believed that one should initially prepare for a possible battle with a fighter of a higher level.

Martial Arts Philippines

Hand with weapons in martial arts is used most effectively, the role of the same unarmed hand is extremely small.

In some styles, technical actions with the naked hand are really not very active.But most often the secondary hand, that is, the opposite of the one in which the main weapon is located, in the opinion of the Filipinos, helps to survive in a real battle, because it provides the protection of the fighter, and is also a great help during the capture and disarming of the enemy. The secondary hand is called bantai-kami, which in the translation from Tagalog means “the hand that protects.” In addition, in many areas of the martial arts of the Philippines, the battle is fought by two weapons simultaneously (for example, in espada and dag (sword and knife), a minor hand holds a knife, and in the technique of double bastor – a second stick).

Philippine martial arts are taught to fight at close range.

This is not true. Masters train and combat weapons (long distance), and kicks (the distance typical for karate), and strikes with elbows, knees and head (closer distance), and wrestling and capturing (close combat). In some styles, there are more than 16 kinds of different kinds of distances and positions for combat. In Kali, 12 directions of attack (12 corners) and, correspondingly, 12 counterattacks are studied. Yes, at the initial stages it is. This classification is designed to demonstrate to the student all possible directions of attack. However, over time, the practitioner notices the identity of some angles, because the longer the person moves forward in comprehending this martial art, the more laconic the classification of attacks and counterattacks becomes.

There is no rank system in the Philippine martial arts.

Indeed, until recently in the mentioned martial arts system there was no division into ranks and levels, however much has changed today. Since potassium is extremely popular all over the world, as a result of which many instructors appeared and wanted to understand the Philippine self-defense system, it became necessary to systematize knowledge and develop a methodology for assessing the acquired skills. Accordingly, it was necessary to create a system of ranks and ranks (which in different types of martial arts can be very different), taking into account not only the degree of preparedness of the student, but also his leadership qualities. However, it should be mentioned that in some styles, adhering to traditions, there is no system of ranks even today.

The moral shape of a person has a strong influence on how deeply he can advance in the development of the Philippine martial arts.

It should be noted that potassium can be practiced in two ways: mastered and applied as a working tool (for example, if a practitioner preferred a military profession), or learn as a tradition. In the first case, a person is initially oriented toward killing his opponent, in accordance with the nature of the chosen type of activity. In this case, he is unlikely to be able to reach great spiritual heights, although he is quite capable of masterfully mastering the martial art mentioned above. If Kali is practiced as a tradition, while paying homage to the masters and god, and the main task is to position the defense – spiritual growth is indeed possible. Such a person eventually becomes a real calisto (ie, a skilful practitioner of the mentioned martial art), devotes a lot of time to performing rituals and ceremonies, and reaches a certain level of enlightenment. But even in this case, he is quite capable of destroying his opponent’s life; moreover, he poses an even greater potential danger to his enemies than a professional military man.

Filipino martial arts can only deal with people of certain religious beliefs.

Wrong opinion. In the Philippines, most of the population are Christians, and there are also many Muslims and Buddhists and adherents of shamanism among the islanders. All of them, regardless of their religion, study the potassium-pepper-potassium, since this art of self-defense does not impose on the students any conventions or prohibitions on matters of belief.

It is customary to start training in the Philippines with a rather complex and lengthy ritual.

Not necessary. Much, of course, depends on the instructor, but most often before the training, no rituals are held.

For training, you will have to purchase special clothes.

No, there is no specific, standardized form in the Philippine martial arts. Suits both a kimono, and the usual sports form. In this case, it should be noted that classes are held only in shoes (in contrast, for example, from karate and aikido, where the tatami go barefoot). This is done, firstly, to protect the foot from possible damage (for example, when striking with a stick), and secondly – to maximize the conditions of the training match to the realities of life.

Martial Arts Philippines

Since the clay is most often used for cutting strikes, this system is inefficient in the northern regions, since it is effective only in countries with mild climates, where people wear light clothing.

Wrong opinion. In the martial arts system of the Philippines, there are many different kinds of strikes, not only of secants, but also of thrusting, very effective, for example, in skirmishes with an enemy dressed in a military uniform sewn from a rather dense fabric.

In the beginning, students are fighting without weapons.

No, in the Filipino martial arts, they prefer to train with weapons from the very beginning (most often it is a rattan stick). First, a stick hit is not as dangerous as pushing a hand or a foot. Secondly, having learned the methods of working with weapons, a person will easily learn the methods of protection without using a knife, a sword or a stick. And it will be easier to defend himself against blows inflicted by arms and legs – sparring with an armed opponent reduces the number of erroneous movements to a minimum, since every mistake in a real battle can cost a person life.

Smooth change of distances is one of the fundamental principles of the Philippine martial arts.

Yes, the ability to correctly choose a distance, moving smoothly from one movement to another is the most important skill. It is this ability to move continuously, anticipating the movements of the enemy – a pledge of victory in the fight.

Philippine martial arts can be studied by everyone.

This is indeed so. However, until the middle of the last century, these arts were kept in strict secrecy, only members of the families that kept the Kali tradition could study it.



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