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How to get started in Filipino Martial Arts
Getting started in Filipino martial arts doesn't take much, generally all you need to practice is yourself, a pair of rattan sticks, a training knife and if you plan on practicing on a punching bag or sparring a pair of padded escrima sticks. Rattan sticks and padded escrima sticks are about 20-30 dollars for a pair.
There are a lot of youtube videos online for free that can show you the basic skills and skillsets. You want to learn the basic strikes, blocks, twirling and spinning and some basic "Sinawalis" (meaning weaving and is the filipino equivalent to other martial arts forms or katas). One of my favorite youtube channels that offers a variety of awesome videos is Wmpyr He also has his own website at: http://www.k4s.i8.com/ (he has an ebook and other free resources on there)
I prefer the rattan sticks with the burn marks on them and the etchings at one end of the stick. Not only do I like the look of them but the etchings can help with your grip. On the end you grip, I also put a rubber band wrapped around it 1-3 inches (depending on personal preference) for better grip.
I have more experience personally with using sticks, but getting a cold steel training knife (or a good training knife) is essential to getting good with knife combat as well as not damaging yourself, others or your house. Training knives come in all sorts of sizes and materials, generally though the smaller the knife the more skill it will take to use it, and larger ones will help you transition from sticks to knife combat.
As of now amazon doesn't have any longer burned finish rattan sticks. I find it best to have a variety of a few different sticks and training knives for different purposes. Foam padded escrima sticks are better for sparring and using on a punching bag and/or wing chun dummy (Mook Yan Jongs). Rattan sticks are more for solo practice, training sinawalis with a partner and light sparring (be careful as even padded sticks can hurt a lot!).
A good pair of burned escrima sticks to get (order two of them at the longer length) is here: http://www.martialartssupplies.com/burntescrima.html
Very basic Sinawali tutorial for Heaven and Earth Six striking a Body Opponent Bag
26" Black Foam Practice Escrima sticks
For sparring, or against a wing chun dummy or punching bag. For these you want to superglue the end caps to the end of the stick as they tend to fall off.
History of Filipino Martial Arts
The Filipino people have been practicing martial arts for a very long time. It can in fact be traced back to the Conquistador and Spanish invasion (and even before that). When the Philippines were colonized by Spain a lot of the terms for the filipino martial arts were filipinozied, using spanish words as an starting base but using localized terms. For instance the commonly used term for filipno martial arts escrima is a filipinoization of the spanish word for fencing (esgrima).
Other terms for filipino martial arts are Arnis (from spanish word Arnes for armor) and Kali. The terms used for filipino martial arts often vary considerably based on the system taught, instructor and what region of the Philippines. It is often referred to as FMA (filipino martial arts) for simplicity, and to avoid confusion.
It is debated whether Spanish fencing may or may not have had an influence on filipino martial arts as weapon based martial arts systems were already being practiced before Spanish influence. Western fencing and filipino martial arts in a number of ways.
The Philippines are known to have a blade culture. As opposed to many western societies and other countries, people often use and carry blades or knives for work (such as farming or street vendors) and guns are rarely carried. This is the opposite of what has happened to western societies with the invention of the gun, as fencing is practiced more as a sport and not on a daily basis as it was hundreds of years ago.
The Filipino martial arts were often practiced by the peasant or commoner class, unlike other asian martial arts which were only practiced by nobility or warrior classes. Because of this there aren't many written records of the filipino martial arts and are often passed down from teacher to teacher and by word of mouth.
Revgear Delux Kali/Escrima Stick Case
Carries multiple pairs of sticks, for help carrying escrima sticks when traveling.
Modern applications and usage of Filipino Martial Arts
Filipino Martial Arts differentiate from many other martial arts in that they are very versatile, practical and can be combined with other martial arts. While the Filipino Martial arts are mostly weapon based martial arts, there are empty hand techniques as well as improvised weapon techniques as well.
Often many techniques used with the sticks can be applied to knife, sword fighting and even hand to hand combat. Filipino martial arts also teaches how to defend against multiple opponents, fluidity and how to transition as well.
Also by using both hands, whether using two sticks, one stick, two knives, stick and knife or another combination it helps with coordination and helps you to be ambidextrous.
In filipino martial arts the sticks or weapons are constantly moving, often spinning them and twirling them to keep them in motion. People often mistake the twirling and spinning techniques as flashy and unnecessary but in reality help to keep the weapons in constant motion, to help build momentum and power in strikes (as well as keep your opponent guessing).
There iare also grappling, trapping and disarm techniques as well against opponents with knives, sticks or improvised weapons.
Filipino martial arts are commonly used in television and movies as well. In many Bruce Lee movies he fights with either sticks and/or knives, Bruce Lee was taught filipino martial arts by his friend Dan Inosanto.
It is used in the show Arrow, showing Oliver Queen/Green Arrow training and practicing stick fighting throughout the series (check out my green arrow hubpage at: http://jheldt.hubpages.com/hub/CWs-Green-Arrow-TV-Show) . Aside from western fencing is is often used in movies that involve sword and/or knife fighting, such as the movies "The Hunted" and "300".
While knives are considered a deadly weapon, you are able to carry knives with you to more places for self defense than you are with a handgun. Be sure to check with local laws though so as to not get in trouble with law enforcement. Pay particular care when traveling though, as weapons such as knives aren't allowed onto airplanes either on your person or in your luggage.
Cold Steel Rubber Training Military Classic
A rubber training knife for training in knife fighting
Finding a Filipino Martial Arts school/training locally
While solo training can be very helpful, live training and sparring can help a lot when improving your skills. It is possible to get really good from just solo training but one of the best ways to get better is to learn from an experienced instructor.
You can do a google search for "Filipino martial arts" in your area there are associations with many schools around the united states and around the world. One directory is Dan Inosanto's affiliated schools listed here: http://inosanto.com/?page_id=76
What Filipino Martial Art Have you trained in?
What Filipino Martial Art(s) Have you trained in?
Beginners Eskrima part 1
How to Twirl your Escrima Stick
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Eskrima: Filipino Martial Art
A great book on the filipino martial art of eskrima.
6 Stick Strikes of Paul Vunak by Wmpyr part 1
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