Escrima, Arnis and Kali are umbrella terms for the traditional martial arts of the Philippines (“Filipino Martial Arts,” or FMA ) that emphasize weapons based fighting with sticks, knives and other bladed weapons , and various improvised weapons. Escrima also includes hand to hand combat, joint locks, grappling and weapon disarming techniques. Although in general, emphasis is put on weapons for these arts, some systems put empty hands as the primary focus and some okd school systems do not teach weapons at all I will be using the umbrella term Escrima for the rest of this blog.
Escrima students start their instruction by learning to fight with weapons, and only advance to empty-hand training once the stick and knife techniques have been sufficiently mastered. This is in contrast to most other well-known Asian martial arts but it is justified by the principle that bare-handed moves are acquired naturally through the same exercises as the weapon techniques, making muscle memory an important aspect of the teaching. It is also based on the obvious fact that an armed person who is trained has the advantage over a trained unarmed person, and serves to condition students to fight against armed assailants. Most systems of Esrima apply a single set of techniques for the stick, knife, and empty hands, a concept sometimes referred to as motion grouping. Since the weapon is seen as simply an extension of the body, the same angles and footwork are used either with or without a weapon. The reason for this is probably historical, because tribal warriors went into battle armed and only resorted to bare-handed fighting after losing their weapons.
Many systems begin training with two weapons, either a pair of sticks or a stick and a wooden knife. These styles emphasise keeping both hands full and never moving them in the same direction, and trains practitioners to become ambidextrous. For example, one stick may strike the head while the other hits the arm. Such training develops the ability to use both limbs independently, a skill which is valuable even when working with one weapon.
A core concept and distinct feature of Filipino martial arts is the live hand. Even when as a practitioner wields only one weapon, the extra hand is used to control, trap or disarm an opponent’s weapon and to aid in blocking, joint locking and manipulation of the opponent or other simultaneous motions such as bicep destruction with the live hand.
The most basic and common weapon of Escrima is the rattan stick ranging in length from 24″-36″ depending on the system. There are also staff techniques and palm stick techniques that are used as well. Edged weapons are big in the Filipino martial arts with many sizes shapes and attributes for each. One of my favorites being the Karambit.
Some improvised impact and edged weapons that can be used with Escrima concepts : flashlight, rolled up new paper, screw driver, pipes, umbrella, bats of all types, ice pics and box cutters. etc. There are the use of flexible weapons as well.
There are many different systems in the FMA community and depending on the system the focus may be on all or one of the different aspects of Escrima. What you will learn is single stick, double stick, stick and dagger and more. Once a student advances they will learn punches, kicks, locks, throws and grappling ( Dumog) The empty had portion of Escrima is commonly referred to as Filipino Boxing, panantukan, cadena de mano and sometimes Pinoy boxing. . There are different ranges in combat, in Escrima there are usually 3 that are recognized, largo ( long ), medial ( medium ) and corto ( close ) and again depending on the style you may focus on all or just one range.
I could go on and on about Escrima as it is probably my favorite art. There are so many aspects that can be studied, it can be incorporated into other arts with cross training or it can be a well rounded stand alone art. I hope this peaks your interest and for more details check out Wikipedia.
Some arts that incorporate well with Escrima : Wing Chun, Silat, and Jeet kune Do, just to name a few.
Other Profiles :
Keep it real and stay safe.