What is Arnis (also known as Eskrima or Kali)?
The art of Eskrima was developed in, and predates the Spanish invasion of the Philippines in the early 1500’s, where it was taught as a recreational sport and fitness regime alongside various other subjects.
When the Spanish invaded the Philippines, Filipinos wielded their skills and weapons, particularly sticks, daggers and the bolo style machete in their resistance. This led to the Spanish banning the carrying and use of bolos and other melee instruments during their rule, as well as the practicing of Eskrima.
Filipino’s continued to practice their art in secret however, through makeshift dance to the backing of indigenous music and practice with sticks in paddy fields. Ensuring that their culture was not lost due to outside rule. Even after the islands were uplifted by the United States and lifted the ban on FMA, the Philippine people maintained the now secretive nature of the art and ensure it was passed between Filipino people only until the 1960’s where it was opened to the western world.
During WWII Eskrima won the respect of many Americans due to the bravery and ferocity of the master escrimadors fighting alongside the allied powers against Japan with just sword and stick. It was around this time that Filipino immigrants then worked to bring Eskrima to the American martial arts scene, which was where Bruce Lee took up the art and brought it to the mainstream masses through his films like Enter the Dragon. Today Eskrima is practiced all over the world, particularly within places that have a high Filipino population. It is also now recognised as the national martial art of the Philippines.
What will I learn from Eskrima classes?
Eskrima is fought using sword, stick, knife and hands.
Basic Eskrima principles and concepts are easy to learn and tend to be simple due to the fact that it was created through battle and often had to be taught to farmers and other civilians quickly and effectively. The more advanced skills within Eskrima and eventual mastery of the techniques can take years to obtain thanks to the complex nature of the art that has been developed.
It is one of the very few martial arts that teach the student to use weapons before they are taught to use hands, this is done because the style was originally developed with the use of sword and stick in mind, the moves are inter-traceable however allowing for techniques learned with stick to be replicated using empty hand and vice versa. Each technique helping to refine the movements of others.