In simple terms Arnis Kali is a real world defensive Fillipino martial art influenced by many styles of other martial arts over centuries, for example; judo, karate, boxing and ancient sword fighting.
There are many styles of Fillipino martial arts (FMA) however most start with weapons based training. Normally stick/baton, knife, machete and either sharp or blunt objects including improvised weapons.
The Maharlika syle uses all of the above techniques and including:
- low kicks (not above the waist to the knees, groin and mid section)
- punches (various locations)
- elbow strikes (jaw, chin, arm and leg)
- knee strikes (face, mid section, groin)
- open hand strikes (ears, eyes, throat, groin)
- locks (arms and even fingures)
- defence and disarming techniques against, knife, stick, gun
Although we start basic training with a stick, a 'stick' could be an umbrella, walking cane or similar. Students will find that at closer range, 'knife skills' can also translate in to a pen, mobile phone, simple ruler and regular household items. Even 'bare hands' are used to strike soft targets of the aggressor. Once each hand or each leg/foot has been eliminated, the agrression will cease. No need to attack a 6'4" attacker head on. A weapon equalizes the fight, no matter size or gender.
You may wonder how can this be a spiritual enhancing system? The simple answer is that the masters teach us non violence. Not just in word, but in deed. Due to our masters having studied as monks in India and are practitioners of yoga and tai chi, they are certainly on the path to spiritual enlightenment and pass their knowledge on to their students.
In real terms we have 5 steps to avoid violence.
- Avoid a troubled situation. Always be aware!
- Use kind words, like 'please', 'thank you', 'please go ahead', 'no problem', etc.
- Negotiate. "Oh sorry, maybe I could....what if I.....How about........"?
- And of course the last scenario once we have used all our options, we have to 'fight'.
The Maharlika system is not a system for violent characters. It is a system to train the body, mind and spirit through martial art training. So we in a sense 'prepare for war', but 'avoid war' at all costs.
Please remember the Maharlika system of FMA was developed for all ages and all capabilities. We take safety during training very seriously, appropriate soft/blunt weapons and protection are used, along with respectful secure strikes and techniques.
- Bruce Lee trained Arnis Kali too
Below is a more detailed history for further reading
Text courtesy of Wikipedia
Arnis, also known as Eskrima and Kali, is the national sport and martial art of the Philippines.
Arnis comes from arnés, Old Spanish for armor
Eskrima (also spelled Escrima) is a Filipinization of the Spanish word for fencing
- Kali has multiple theories on its origin:
- One theory is that the word comes from tjakalele, a tribal style of stick-fencing from Indonesia
- In the Ilocano language, kali means to dig and to stab.
- Practitioners of the arts are called Arnisador (male, plural arnisadores) and Arnisadora (female, plural arnisadoras)
As Arnis was an art usually practiced by the peasant or commoner class (as opposed to nobility or warrior classes), most practitioners lacked the scholarly education to create any kind of written record. While the same can be said of many martial arts, this is especially true for Arnis because almost all of its history is anecdotal, oral or promotional. The origin of Arnis can be traced back to native fighting techniques during conflicts among the various Prehispanic Filipino tribes or kingdoms, though the current form has Spanish influence from old fencing which originated in Spain in the 15th century. It has other influences as well, as settlers and traders travelling through the Malay Archipelago brought the influence of silat as well as Chinese, Arab and Indian martial arts. Some of the population still practice localized Chinese fighting methods known as kuntaw.
It has also been theorized that the Filipino art of Arnis may have roots in India, and came to the Philippines via people who traveled through Indonesia and Malaysia to the Philippine islands. Silambam, a stick/staff based ancient martial art of India influenced many martial arts in Asia like Silat. As such, Arnis may share ancestry with these systems — some Arnis moves are similar to the short stick (kali or kaji) and other weapon based fighting styles of Silambam.
After the Spanish colonized the Philippines, a decree was set that prohibited civilians from carrying full-sized swords (such as the Kris and the Kampilan). Despite this, the practitioners found ways to maintain and keep the arts alive, using sticks made out of rattan rather than swords, as well as small knives wielded like swords. Some of the arts were passed down from one generation to the other. Sometimes the art took the form choreographed dances such as the Sakuting stick dance or during mock battles at Moro-moro (Moros y Cristianos) stage plays. Also as a result, a unique and complex stick-based technique evolved in the Visayas and Luzon regions. The southern Mindanao retains almost exclusively blade-oriented techniques, as the Spaniards and Americans never fully conquered the southern parts of this island
Although Arnis combines native fighting techniques with old Spanish fencing and other influeces, a degree of systematization was achieved over time, resulting in a distinguishable Philippine martial art. With time, a system for the teaching of the basics also evolved. However, with the exception of a few older and more established systems, it was previously common to pass the art from generation to generation in an informal approach. This has made attempts to trace the lineage of a practitioner difficult. For example, Antonio Illustrisimo seemed to have learned to fight while sailing around the Philippines, while his nephew and student Floro Villabrille claimed to have been taught by a blind Moro princess in the mountains; a claim later refuted by the older Illustrisimo. Both have since died.
The Philippines has what is known as a blade culture. Unlike in the West where Medieval and Renaissance combative and self-defense blade arts have gone almost extinct (having devolved into sport fencing with the advent of firearms), blade fighting in the Philippines is a living art. Local folk in the Philippines are much more likely to carry knives than guns. They are commonly carried as tools by farmers, used by street vendors to prepare coconuts, pineapples, watermelons, other fruits and meats, and balisongs are cheap to procure in the streets as well as being easily concealed. In fact, in some areas in the countryside, carrying a farming knife like the itak or bolo was a sign that one was making a living because of the nature of work in those areas. In the country of Palau, the local term for Filipino is chad ra oles, which literally means "people of the knife" because of Filipinos' reputation for carrying knives and using them in fights.
The arts had no traditional belting or grading systems as they were taught informally. In fact, it was said that to proclaim a student a "master" was considered ridiculous and a virtual death warrant as the individual would become challenged left and right to potentially lethal duels by other Arnisadores looking to make names for themselves. Belt ranking was a recent addition adopted from Japanese arts such as Karate and Judo, which had become more popular with Filipinos. They were added to give structure to the systems, and to be able to compete in attention for students. Filipino martial arts were at the brink of extinction via obscurity with the general populace by the mid to late 20th century due to urbanization, modernization and colonial mentality (Filipinos' tendency to look down on things of local origin).
With regards to its spread outside the Philippines, Arnis was brought to Hawaii and California as far back as the 1920s by Filipino migrant workers. Its teaching was kept strictly within Filipino communities until the late 1960s when masters such as Angel Cabales began teaching it to others. Even then, instructors teaching Arnis in the 1960s and 70s were often reprimanded by their elders for publicly teaching a part of their culture that had been preserved through secrecy.
In recent years, there has been increased interest in Arnis for its usefulness when defending against knives and other street encounters. As a result, many systems of Arnis have been modified in varying degrees to make them more marketable to a worldwide audience. Usually this involves increased emphasis on locking, controls, and disarms, focusing mainly on aspects of self-defense. However, most styles follow the philosophy that the best defense is a good offense. Modern training methods tend to de-emphasize careful footwork and low stances, stressing the learning of techniques in favor of more direct (and often lethal) tactics designed to instantly end an encounter.
One of the most important practices in classical Arnis was dueling, without any form of protection. The matches were preceded by cock-fighting and could be held in any open space, sometimes in a specially constructed enclosure. Arnisadores believe this tradition pre-dates the colonial period, pointing to similar practices of kickboxing matches in mainland Indochina as evidence. Spanish records tell of such duelling areas where cock-fights took place. The founders of most of the popular Arnis systems were famous duelists and legends circulate about how many opponents they killed. In rural areas throughout the Philippines today, modern Arnis matches are still held in dueling arenas. In bigger cities, recreations of duels are sometimes held at parks by local Arnis training-halls. These demonstrations are not choreographed beforehand but neither are they full-contact competitions.
In modern times, public dueling with blades has been deemed illegal in the Philippines due to potential injury or death. Duelling with live sticks and minimal protection still occurs during barrio fiestas in some towns such as in Paete in Laguna.
Most systems recognize that the technical nature of combat changes drastically as the distance between opponents changes, and generally classify the ranges into at least three categories. Each range has its characteristic techniques and footwork. Of course, some systems place more emphasis on certain ranges than others, but almost all recognize that being able to work in and control any range is essential. The Balintawak style for example, uses long-, medium- and short-range fighting techniques, but focuses on the short-range.
To control the range, and for numerous other purposes, good footwork is essential. Most eskrima systems explain their footwork in terms of triangles: normally when moving in any direction two feet occupy two corners of the triangle and the step is to the third corner such that no leg crosses the other at any time. The shape and size of the triangle must be adapted to the particular situation. The style of footwork and the standing position vary greatly from school to school and from practitioner to practitioner. For a very traditional school, conscious of battlefield necessities, stances are usually very low, often with one knee on the ground, and footwork is complex, involving many careful cross-steps to allow practitioners to cope with multiple opponents. The Villabrille and San Miguel styles are usually taught in this way. Systems that have been adapted to duels or sporting matches generally employ simpler footwork, focusing on a single opponent. North American schools tend to use much more upright stances, as this puts less stress on the legs, but there are some exceptions.
Many Filipino systems focus on defending against and/or reacting to angles of attack rather than particular strikes. The theory behind this is that virtually all types of hand-to-hand attacks (barehanded or with a weapon) hit or reach a combatant via these angles of attack and the reasoning is that it is more efficient to learn to defend against different angles of attack rather than learn to defend against particular styles, particular techniques or particular weapons. For instance, the technique for defending against an attack angle that comes overhead from the right is very similar whether the attacker uses barefists, a knife, a sword or a spear.
Older styles gave each angle a name, but more recent systems tend to simply number them. Many systems have twelve standard angles, though some have as few as 5, and others as many as 72. Although the exact angles, the order they are numbered in (numerado), and the way the player executes moves vary from system to system, most are based upon Filipino cosmology. These standard angles describe exercises. To aid memorization, player often practice a standard series of strikes from these angles, called an abecedario (Spanish for "alphabet"). These are beginner strikes or the "ABC's" of Arnis.
Some angles of attack and some strikes have characteristic names:
- San Miguel is a forehand strike with the right hand, moving from the striker's right shoulder toward their left hip. It is named after Saint Michael or the Archangel Michael, who is often depicted holding a sword at this angle. This is the most natural strike for most untrained people. It is commonly referred to as "angle #1," in systems where striking angles are numbered for training purposes, because it is presumed the most probable angle of attack.
- Sinawali is the signature double-stick weaving movement associated with Arnis named after the woven coconut or palm leaves called sawali that comprise the walls of nipa hut dwellings. It is commonly seen in double-stick continuous attack-parry partner demonstrations.
- Another signature technique is the Redonda, which is a continuous circular downward-striking double-stick twirling technique.
- A redonda (Spanish for "round") is a strike that whips in a circle to return to its point of origin. This is especially useful when using sticks rather than swords, such a strike allows extremely fast strikes but needs constant practice.
- An abanico (Spanish for fan) or witik is a strike that is executed by flicking the wrist 180 degrees in a fan-shaped motion. This kind of strike can be very quick and arrive from unexpected angles.
- Pilantik is a strike executed by whipping the stick around the wrist over the head in a motion similar to the abanico, but in alternating 360 degree strikes. It is most useful when fighters are in grappling range and cannot create enough space for normal strikes.
- Hakbang (Filipino for "step") is a general term for footwork. For example, hakbang paiwas is pivoting footwork, while hakbang tatsulok is triangle stepping.
- Puño (Spanish for "fist", "hilt", or "handle") is a strike delivered with the butt of the weapon. It usually targets a nerve point or other soft spot on the opponent but in skilled hands, the puño can be used to shatter bones.
Note that many Arnis techniques have Spanish names, because Spanish was the lingua franca spoken during colonial times among the natives who spoke over 170 different dialects in the archipelago's 7,100+ islands.
Arnis techniques are generally based on the assumption that both student and opponent are very highly trained and well prepared. For this reason, Arnis tends to favor extreme caution, always considering the possibility of a failed technique or an unexpected knife. On the other hand, the practitioner is assumed able to strike precisely and quickly. The general principle is that an opponent's ability to attack should be destroyed rather than trying to hurt them to convince them to stop. Thus many strikes are aimed at the hands and arms, hoping to break the hand holding the weapon or cut the nerves or tendons controlling it (the concept of defanging the snake), but strikes to the eyes and legs are important. A popular mnemonic states that "stick seeks bone, blade seeks flesh".
Mano Mano is the empty-hand component of Filipino martial arts, particularly Arnis. The term translates as "hands" or "hand to hand" and comes from the Spanish word mano (hand). It is also known as suntukan or panununtukan in Luzon and pangamot in the Visayas, as well as De Cadena or Cadena de Mano in some FMA systems. American colonists referred to it as "combat judo".
Mano mano also includes kicking, punching, locking, throwing and dumog (grappling). Filipino martial artists regard the empty hands as another weapon and all the movements of mano mano are directly based on weapon techniques. In Arnis, weapons are seen as an extension of the body so training with weapons naturally leads to proficiency in bare-handed combat. For this reason, mano mano is often taught in the higher levels of Arnis after weapons training has been mastered because advanced students are expected to be able to apply their experience with weapons to unarmed fighting. This not always the case though, as some systems of Arnis start with (and at times only consist of) empty hands fighting.
Some notable masters of Mano Mano include:
Paninipa, Pagsipa, Pananadiyak, Pagtadiyak, and Sikaran (all terms for "kicking" in various regions, dialects and styles) are components of eskrima that focus on knees, tripping, low-line kicks, and stomps. Pananjakman is also a term used in Filipino-American-developed and Western FMA systems, usually referring to the system from the Lucky Lucaylucay, Floro Villabrille and Dan Inosanto blend lineage. Except for the distinct style of Sikaran from the Baras area of the province of Rizal, which also uses high kicks, kicking as a separate art is never taught by itself in the Philippines, and this practice is only done in the West with Pananjakman. Pananjakman is usually taught together with Panantukan.
Paninipa can be regarded as the study of leg muscles and bones and how they are connected, with the goal of either inflicting pain or outright breaking or dislocating the bones. Most striking techniques involve applying pressure to bend the target areas in unnatural ways so as to injure or break them. Such pressure may be delivered in the form of a heel smash, a toe kick, a stomp, or a knee. Targets include the groin, thighs, knees, shins, ankles, feet and toes. The upper body is used only for defensive maneuvers, making pananadiyak ideal for when combatants are engaged in a clinch. When used effectively, the strikes can bring an opponent to the ground or otherwise end an altercation by making them too weak to stand.
Fundamental techniques include kicking or smashing the ankle to force it either towards or away from the opposite foot (severe supination or pronation, respectively), heel-stomping the top of the foot where it meets the lower leg so as to break or crush the numerous bones or otherwise disrupt the opponent's balance, and smashing the opponents knee from the side to break the knee (with severe supination and pronation as the desired result).
Several classes of exercises, such as sombrada, contrada, sinawali, hubud-lubud and sequidas, initially presented to the public as a set of organized drills by the Inosanto school, are expressly designed to allow partners to move quickly and experiment with variations while remaining safe. For example, in a sumbrada drill, one partner feeds an attack, which the other counters, flowing into a counterattack, which is then countered, flowing into a counterattack, and so on. The hubud-lubud or hubad-lubad from Doce Pares is frequently used as a type of "generator" drill, where one is forced to act and think fast. Initially, students learn a specific series of attacks, counters, and counter-attacks. As they advance they can add minor variations, change the footwork, or switch to completely different attacks; eventually the exercise becomes almost completely free-form. Palakaw, from the Balintawak style, are un-choreographed and random defensive and offensive moves. Palakaw in Cebuano means a walk-through or rehearsing the different strike angles and defenses. It may be known as corridas, or striking without any order or pattern. Disarms, take-downs, and other techniques usually break the flow of such a drill, but they are usually initiated from such a sequence of movements to force the student to adapt to a variety of situations. A common practice is to begin a drill with each student armed with two weapons. Once the drill is flowing, if a student sees an opportunity to disarm their opponent, they do, but the drill continues until both students are empty-handed. Some drills use only a single weapon per pair, and the partners take turns disarming each other. Seguidas drills, taken from the San Miguel system, are sets of hitting and movement patterns usually involving stick and dagger.
Rhythm, while an essential part of eskrima drills, is emphasized more in the United States and Europe, where a regular beat serves a guide for students to follow. To ensure safety, participants perform most drills at a constant pace, which they increase as they progress. The rhythm, together with the southern Filipino attire of a vest and sashed pants, is commonly mistaken for some sort of tradition when practicing eskrima in the Philippines—perhaps incorrectly derived from traditional rhythm-based dances or an attempt to add a sense of ethnicity. Eskrima is usually practiced in the Philippines without a rhythm, off-beat or out of rhythm. The diversity of Filipino martial arts means that there is no officially established standard uniform in eskrima.
The Live Hand
The live hand is the opposite hand of the practitioner that does not contain the main weapon. The heavy usage of the live hand is an important concept and distinguishing hallmark of eskrima. Even (or especially) when empty, the live hand can be used as a companion weapon by eskrima practitioners. As opposed to most weapon systems like fencing where the off-hand is hidden and not used to prevent it from being hit, eskrima actively uses the live hand for trapping, locking, supporting weapon blocks, checking, disarming, striking and controlling the opponent.
The usage of the live hand is one of the most evident examples of how Eskrima's method of starting with weapons training leads to effective empty hand techniques. Because of Doble Baston (double weapons) or Espada y Daga (sword and parrying dagger) ambidextrous weapon muscle memory conditioning, Eskrima practitioners find it easy to use the off-hand actively once they transition from using it with a weapon to an empty hand.
Doble baston, and less frequently doble olisi, are common names for a group of techniques involving two sticks. The art is more commonly known around the world as Sinawali meaning "to weave". The term Sinawali is taken from a matting called sawali that is commonly used in the tribal Nipa Huts. It is made up of woven pieces of palm leaf and used for both flooring and walls.
This technique requires the user to use both left and right weapons in an equal manner; many co-ordination drills are used to help the practitioner become more ambidextrous. It is the section of the art that is taught mainly at the intermediate levels and above and is considered one of the most important areas of learning in the art.
Sinawali refers to the activity of "weaving", as applied Eskrima with reference to a set of two-person, two-weapon exercises.
Sinawali exercises provide eskrima practitioners with basic skills and motions relevant to a mode of two-weapon blocking and response method called Doblete. Sinawali training is often introduced to novices to help them develop certain fundamental skills—including: body positioning and distance relative to an opponent, rotation of the body and the proper turning radius, recognition of one’s center of gravity, eye–hand coordination, target perception and recognition, increased ambidexterity, recognition and performance of rhythmic structures for upper body movement, and muscular developments important to the art, especially, the wrist and forearm regions. It helps teach the novice eskrimador proper elbow positioning while swinging a weapon.
The Chinese and Malay communities of the Philippines have practiced eskrima together with kuntaw and silat for centuries, so much so that many North Americans mistakenly believe silat to have originated in the Philippines.
Some of the modern styles, particularly doce pares and modern arnis contain some elements of Japanese martial arts such as joint locks, throws, blocks, strikes, and groundwork, taken from: jujutsu, judo, aikido and karate as some of the founders obtained black belt Dan grades in some of these systems. Some eskrima styles are complementary with Chinese wing chun, or Japanese aikido because of the nervous system conditioning and body mechanics when striking, twirling or swinging sticks.
In Western countries, it is common to practice eskrima in conjunction with other martial arts, particularly wing chun, jeet kune do and silat. As a result, there is some confusion between styles, systems, and lineage, because some people cross-train without giving due credit to the founders or principles of their arts. For example, American kenpo and kajukenbo cross-training traces back to the interactions between Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants in territorial/pre-statehood Hawaii, and to a lesser extent in other parts of the United States. In the United States the cross-training between eskrima and Jeet Kune Do Concepts as headed by Dan Inosanto of the Insosanto Academy in California, goes according to the maxim "Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless".
Proponents of such training say the arts are very similar in many aspects and complement each other well. It has become marketable to offer eskrima classes in other traditional Asian martial arts studios in America but some practitioners of other eskrima styles often dismiss these lessons as debased versions of original training methods.
The Arnis Law
Republic Act No. 9850 of the Congress of the Philippines, approved on December 11, 2009 declares Arnis as the national sport and martial art of the Philippines for promoting patriotism, nationalism and appreciation of the role of national heroes and symbols in the historical development of the country. Because of this law, Arnis becomes a pre-requisite for P.E. classes in most colleges in the Philippines.