The national sport of Philippines, this martial art form is called Eskrima in the central islands, Arnis in the northern islands and Kali in the southern islands of Philippines. Kali is the name used for eskrima in USA and Europe. It is also known as FMA - Filipino Martial Arts. Eskrima is a weapon based martial art form that lays emphasis on stick and sword fighting.
Unlike other martial arts, sticks are used from the start of training as it is believed that when a student improves speed, coordination and timing with a stick, he would excel when fighting without the stick. Practitioners of this art form develop dexterity to fight with or without weapons simultaneously. Eskrima originates from the Spanish word esgrima which means fencing.
Quick stealthy moves characterize escrima steps. Intense powerful strikes with economy of movement are the basics of eskrima practice. In addition to being a self-defense art, eskrima offers a healthy workout for toned upper body and improved aerobic capacity. Your elbows, hands and forearms will benefit from the movements making them flexible and better coordinated. No special uniform is needed for an escrima workout. Students are taught indoors.
Students of eskrima begin using weapons from the start of their practice, in the advanced level they fight empty handed. Weapon is considered to be an extension of empty hands as the same angle of footwork is employed with or without a weapon. The common weapons used in eskrima are stick and knife. The techniques involved in eskrima while using the stick, knife and hand are the same and are known as motion grouping.
Most systems of eskrima begin training with two weapons; they could be a pair of stick or a combination of wooden stick and knife. A student trains to become ambidextrous, meaning he can use his/her limbs independently. The three main aspects to eskrima learning are fluidity, rhythm and timing. The flowing skills are highly important.
Common weapons used in eskrima
Yantok: is a stick used in eskrima training made from the rattan vine; commonly found in Philippines. This wood though lightweight is hard and durable; it can also be hardened using fire.
It does not splinter like other types of wood and so is considered the best tool for martial training. All these qualities make this stick apt for defending against blades. Eskrima sticks are available in different sizes depending on the eskrima system and the range for which training is being offered. Common lengths range from 6" to 96" and the range varies from 24" to 36".
Baraw: means a knife or dagger. There are many types of edged weapons like Balisong, a fan or butterfly knife and Barang, flat headed blade etc.
Impact weapons: Impact weapons include long stick, wooden dagger, shield, long stick, medium size stick etc.
Students progress in the art based on their ability to learn. The basic eskrima techniques are learnt in the following stages:
After the basic escrima techniques are mastered, the student moves on to advanced stages:
This quick escrima move is aimed at the opponent but correct wielding of the weapon helps build self confidence.
Twirling helps in distracting and disorienting the opponent. Coordination can be improved by simultaneously twirling the sticks in opposite directions. Speed, timing, accuracy and coordination are of the essence.
Those seeking to strengthen their core muscles and building a strong cardio workout can choose eskrima workout. This martial arts form is highly flexible and suitable for people of all age groups. Eskrima workouts last for about an hour. Eskrima is a physically demanding martial art as it employs quick paced moves. Physical fitness is important as the strikes are powerful. One needs to remain in good physical condition with the right kind of exercises and training routine. A basic escrima workout includes: