Arnis- the Filipino Martial art of Stick Fighting (aka Eskrima or Kali)- is most recognized for its impressive use of double weapons in the form of sticks, knives, and/or swords. But hidden within these weaving motions is a complex lexicon of combative techniques and drills that can be used by any individual for self-defense or advanced combat.
The origins of Arnis are largely lost in the shrouds of time. Most likely originating with the axe and shield tactics of the native negritos and then refined through generations of interaction with some of the most advanced combat systems of the medieval, late, and modern eras, Arnis survived, adapted and evolved with each passing invader and influence.
The Philippines, positioned as they are at a crossroads in the asian world, experienced many cultures over the centuries and adapted to each, absorbing flavors and making them their own. The Rajput empire of India and Malaysia, the Shaolin from China, the famous Samurai of Japan, and the European fencing styles of the Spanish Conquistadors all contributed to the development of Arnis over the ages.
But what made Arnis different from all others was that it remained… simple.
Passed-on through family lines from generation to generation, Arnis evolved into a series of drills – and even dances – that could be practiced (colloquially called “playing”) by anyone, whether farmer or fisherman, merchant or landowner.