Kali – Eskrima – Arnis
Filipino Martial arts (FMA) are how Eskrima, Kali and Arnis are often referred. Eskrima or Escrima originates from the Spanish word “esgrima” which is the term for fencing. Kali is another name mostly used here in America 10 years ago many Filipinos would not know what to say if you asked where the nearest Kali school was located. The term is more widely used today due to the popularity of the art here in the USA. Arnis de Mano (Harness of the hand) is another very common term used in FMA. Eskrima, Arnis, Arnis de mano, Kali and FMA all refer to the same family of weapon-based Filipino martial arts.
Edgar Sulite Explains Kali/Eskrima/Arnis
The teaching of the basic concepts and skills in Eskrima, Kali and Arnis are traditionally simplified. Little time if any is spent on flashy techniques with little or no practical applications. Only skills that could easily be applied in the battle field and that could be taught to large numbers were used. Of course the experts in the field learned more intricate detailed techniques but still were leaning more to the practical side. This allowed the local families and villagers a means to protect themselves against other villages as well as foreign invaders. This philosophy of simplifying the arts is still used today and is where the principles of the art are derived. Even though they start with these basic concepts and skill sets to master the art takes years and years of determined practice. Someone who has mastered or is vary fluent in the art Eskrima or Kali is sometimes referred to as Eskrimador, Kalista, or Mangangali, while Arnisador is used for the fluent Arnis practitioner.
There are many different systems of Eskrima, Kali and Arnis a lot of these styles can trace their origins back to a single family, tribe or region. Some of the most well known systems from and in the Philippines are Lightning Scientific Arnis International/Lema Scientific Kali-Arnis System (LSAI/LESKAS), Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, San Miguel Eskrima, Doce Pares, Balintawak, Modern Arnis, Kalis Illustrisimo/Bakbakan, while in the United States the Lameco eskrima, Inayan System of Eskrima, Sayoc Kali, and Cabales Serrada Eskrima, are well know martial art organizations.
The Weapons of Kali/Eskrima/Arnis
Most teachers of FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) teach a variety of weapons from the double stick, stick and dagga, single stick, single dagga, double dagga, staff and spear, whip, handkerchief, flexible weapons such as nunchaku and a variety of different bladed weapons. When learning the weapons they are taught the concepts of the drills and how to apply these concepts with the understanding that this could be used with a different weapons or combination of weapons. This skill of teaching and understanding of martial arts is something that makes the art so effective for self-defense and leaves room for the student to be creative and grow in the art. Once the student has a good understanding of how the weapons are used they are then introduced to the empty hand techniques of Kali, Eskrima and Arnis and how to apply these same concepts taught from their weapon training with the empty hands. This is why the practitioners of FMA are so well known for being able to fight weapons or empty hands interchangeably. Training that involves the hands and feet is usually referred to as (Panantukan, suntukan, sikaran, and tadyakan), and training with the grappling, throwing, pressure points and locking (dumag). In the old days a warriors training would include intense training in a variety of terrains to prepare them for battle. They would practice in rice patties, under huts where they had to stand low so they had room to move and strike with their bastons. This training helps make them strong and prepare them for the battles to come. One of the areas that is not well known in the FMA martial arts today is the Hilot (a Filipino system of first aid, healing, massage, and herbal medicine) traditionally taught alongside eskrima, but has now almost disappeared.