Escrima - The Filipino Martial Art

Health & FitnessExercise & Meditation

  • Author George Royal
  • Published December 3, 2005
  • Word count 500

Escrima is a popular Filipino martial art dating back to the

1500s, during the colonization of the Philippine Islands by the

Spanish. Escrima is a very simplified but practical form of

combat technique originally designed as a self-defense tool.

Escrima is also known by many other names such as Eskrima,

Arnis, Arnis de Mano, Kali and FMA (Filipino Martial Art).

Because of its effectiveness, Escrima is also taught

extensively in many Special Forces including the Navy Seals and

Army Special Forces.

Brief History:

Many believe that Escrima or Filipino Martial Art originated

from Chinese influenced Indonesian fighting tactics such as Kun

Tao, Chuan Fa and Tai Chi double stick forms. Others believe the

Escrima art form to be wholly developed by the Filipino people.

However, the most plausible explanation seems to be rooted in

the history of the Spanish colonization.

When the Spanish occupied the Philippine Islands, a form of art

similar to Escrima had already existed but was only

recreational. However, this art began to develop into a more

martial discipline when the Spanish prohibited indigenous

Filipino weapons such as the Bolo (machete), daggers and

fighting sticks in the 1700s. It remained a clandestine art

until the Americans took over in 1898. From then on, the

Filipino Martial Art started to gain recognition and

popularity.

In the West, Escrima was introduced and popularized by Filipino

immigrants after the Second World War, particularly in the

American states of Hawaii and California.

Weapons and Footwork in Escrima:

Unlike other forms of martial arts, the primary tool to learn

the basic concepts of Escrima is focus on weaponry, which is

followed by empty-hand techniques. The Rattan stick is the most

common weapon used in Escrima training, which includes hand and

head protection when sparring. Other weapons include burned and

hardened stick made of hardwood, such as Molave or Kamagong

(ebony). Modern versions may be made out of aluminum, other

metals, or high-impact plastics. The Nunchaku (also known as

Kung Fu sticks or Double sticks) weapon was popularized by

actor Bruce Lee, an avid practitioner of Escrima.

Each range - the distance between opponents - in Escrima has

its own characteristics and footwork techniques. Good footwork

enables efficient control of these ranges. The footwork is

demonstrated in terms of triangles with two feet occupying two

corners of the triangle and the step to the third corner. The

shape and size of the triangle is dependant on the particular

situation.

Escrima Facts:

  1. Escrima is mixture of hard (like Karate) and soft (like Tai

Chi Ch’uan) styles.

  1. Escrima is taught on ideal street-fighting settings without

the need for uniforms.

  1. Restraining techniques are not focused on but rather on

offensive, combat styles.

  1. There are no official rankings in Escrima except for titles

to recognize seniority of instructors.

  1. Most of the power in Escrima is derived from body movement

and economy of motion, rather than strength.

  1. Escrima is a complete martial art, focusing on weaponry and

empty-hand techniques.

  1. Escrima provides effective training in sparring against

multiple opponents.

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