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Filipino Martial Art Using Eskrima Fighting Sticks

Updated on January 24, 2015

Training Sticks


History of Eskrima

Eskrima, Kali and Arnis, all refer to the weapons based martial art from the Philippines, originally a martial art that focused on using blades ( swords and knives ), but when the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines and prohibited the natives from carrying swords, the art went underground and blades were replaced with sticks, so that the practitioners were still able to practice the art.

It is thought that the origins of eskrima can be traced back to India, which practices a very similar form of martial art called Silambam, although there is no definitive proof of this and to this day, the origin of eskrima is still a strongly debated topic among the practitioners of arnis.

Historically eskrima was a martial art that was practiced by the common people, At the time the majority of commoners were uneducated, and most of what we know about eskrima has been passed down from master to students verbally.

To this day many Filipinos study this ancient martial art.

Filipinos the People of The Knife

The Filipinos have always had an affinity to knives, and while the rest of the world has moved away from knives to guns, in the Philippines, blade fighting is still a practiced art. The locals are more likely to carry knives then guns, in fact one can see roadside stalls selling knives in most parts of the Philippines. ( I got a very nice Bali song knife at one of these stalls ).

Home Of Eskrima the Official Philippine Martial Art

Grading System of Eskrima

Until Recently Eskrima had no grading system ( belt rank system ), and to be called a master was considered dangerous, like in those old western T.V. Shows we used to enjoy watching, a master would be challenged to a duel at every turn, and the chances of injury or death were fairly high.

Traditional vs Modern Eskrima

The main difference between the traditional version of eskrima is what part of the art the teacher focuses on.

The traditional system focused on terminating an opponents ability as quickly as possible, very often with lethal force, with the practitioners being the aggressive party, crippling or lethal strikes were encouraged.

The modern version focuses more on defensive moves, disarms, locks and holds.


Dueling is an important component of traditional eskrima, in days gone by, duels were often held in in open spaces, or enclosures build for duels, the matches were often preceded by cock fights and were held to prove one's abilities. Many of the founders of eskrima were famous duelists, legends tell of their lethal abilities, and the high death count during duels.

In modern times, dueling is illegal in the Philippines, due the high number of injuries, deaths and the legal complications that arose after the duel.

Filipino Martial Art Using Eskrima Fighting Sticks

I covered my eskrima sticks with rubber to deaden the sound during training.
I covered my eskrima sticks with rubber to deaden the sound during training. | Source

The National Martial Art and Sport of the Philippines

On December 11, 2009, after decades of lobbying, eskrima has finally been proclaimed the official National Martial Art and Sport of the Philippines.

Competition Systems

WEKAF ( World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation ) established in 1989, this is the most common system used internationally, a 10 point system with the opponents wearing padded gear and a helmet. Hitting below the thigh is not allowed. Focusing mainly on offense, a person who has no knowledge of the art, may mistake a match for a pummeling competition. Injuries are common as live sticks are used.

Arnis Philippines ( ARPI System ) established in 1986, used prominently during the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. Using heavily foam padded rattan sticks, some light padding, a helmet similar to kendo practitioners, the scoring system resembles fencing, the major difference being that stabs to the face are banned, as the inner core of the padded rattan stick may penetrate the helmet and cause irreparable damage to a competitors eyes. Strikes to the back of the head are also prohibited as the padding on the back of the helmet is not as protected. The ARPI system focuses on safety and hopes to become recognized as an Olympic sport.

Personal Rant

My problem with both these system is that they do not really show the full potential of the art. I much prefer the unrecognized system of using false blades smeared with lipstick to mark strikes.

A Weapons Based Martial Art

Unlike most Eastern Martial Arts where a student is taught barehanded fighting techniques and then advances to weapons based training, eskrima teaches its students to fight with weapons, after they are adapt at using the sticks and knives, they are taught bare handed fighting techniques, the theory being that the same techniques can be applied barehanded, as with holding a blade or stick. Training usually begins with two weapons ( usually sticks), teaching students to be ambidextrous.

Ermac Eskrima de Mano ; The Filipino Combative Martial Arts

Live Hand Technique

The live hand technique, Unlike fencing and many other bladed weapons based martial arts, the off hand (the hand not holding the main weapon), is used to trap, disarm, strike, block or control the opponent. The advantages of learning this technique are numerous and most apparent when using makeshift weapons ( car keys, rolled up magazines, bottles, pens, etc ) and when having to fight barehanded.

Footwork and Stance

The modern way usually teaches a simplified version of the traditional footwork, using a varying size triangle as a guide of where to place your feet, with the legs never crossing each other while moving.

While the traditional footwork is much more complex requiring the practitioners to use low stances with intricate footwork designed for a battle with multiple opponents.

As with all martial arts, footwork is essential.

My Eskrima Sticks

Eskrima Sticks
Eskrima Sticks | Source


Essentially there are 3 ranges.

Long Range : Where you can clear the incoming weapon, but you are too far away to use your live hand.

Medium Range : Where you can deflect the incoming strike, and use your live hand to block, trap disarm or hold.

Short Range : Your opponent is close enough for you to use the punyo ( back of your weapon ).

Eskrima Sticks ( Training Sticks )

Rattan is the most common stick used for training, it is light, durable and does not splinter like most other types of wood, making it a fantastic weapon for training and as a weapon against a bladed opponents.

Filipino Martial Art

Have you ever seen a demonstration of Escrima

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Eskrima in the Media

Escrima is rapidly gaining popularity in the west, a long list of T.V. Series and Movies have used eskrima for their fight scenes.


The Bourne Identity and its two sequals starring Matt Damon

Quantum of Solace starring Daniel Craig

Chronicles of Riddick starring Vin Diesel

Blade: Trinity starring Wesley Snipes

The Sensei starring Diana Lee Inosanto

T.V. Series


Stargate Atlantis


© 2013 ketage


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