Several nations around the world have birthed native martial arts. These martial arts have been used for self-defense, war, and even personal expression as they become an integral part of that nation’s culture.

The Philippines are no different. The martial art of Eskrima hails from the Philippines, and has quickly become popular around the world. Here, we’ll talk more about Eskrima and provide an introduction to this fighting art.


What Kind of Fighting Style is Eskrima?

Eskrima, also known as Arnis or Kali, emphasizes armed combat over hand-to-hand fighting. The primary weapons used in Eskrima are sticks, knives, other bladed weapons, and open hand techniques used to fight armed opponents.

The hand-to-hand aspect usually involves joint locks, gripping, and grappling, similar to jiu-jitsu (and the more modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu).

Typical Escrima fighting also included unprotected dueling. Duels would be preceded by cock fights, after which practitioners would enter a circular ring and fight to the death. Classical Eskrima masters would be revered for the number of people they killed in the ring. Modern Eskrima still holds up the tradition of dueling, but fights are not to the death (or even full contact).


Where is Eskrima From?

Eskrima was invented in the Philippines. It’s not known exactly when it was invented, but Spaniards colonizing the islands in 1521 came across the locals practicing an early form of the art.

While there aren’t any records of Eskrima prior to the Spanish conquest, it is assumed that the martial art was practiced by commoners as a way to protect themselves from attack. Also, assuming that Eskrima was also built on a concept of dueling, it isn’t a far reach to assume that sport fighting also occurred.


Where is Eskrima Practiced Today

Eskrima is one of the national sports of the Philippines. Eskrima is the national martial art of the Philippines in 2010, and organized tournaments and competitions flourish there. Several national organizations, such as the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Foundation (WEKAF) and the ARPI system of fighting. Both systems govern fights, rankings, protection, and national standings.

Eskrima, while not the most popular martial art in the world, has a following. This is particularly the case in countries in Southeast Asia, like Malaysia, China, and Thailand.

Eskrima uses a colored belt system to denote experience and rank. Starting at white for a novice, an Eskrima practitioner moves through yellow, green, blue, and brown belts on their way to mastery and a black belt. There are several levels of black belt in Eskrima, with each level denoting a level of “master,” and the 10th level conferring the honor of “Grandmaster”.

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