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What is Filipino Martial Arts?
Filipino martial arts (FMA) (Filipino: Sining panlaban ng Pilipinas) refer to ancient Indianized and newer fighting methods devised in the Philippines. It incorporates elements from both Western and Eastern Martial Arts, the most popular forms of which are known as Arnis, Eskrima and Kali.
1. Sticks are an extension of the hands; without the hands, there can be no sticks. This is worth knowing because people still like to ask, sometimes sarcastically, “Why do you practice stick fighting — it’s not like you carry sticks everywhere you go?” It’s good to be able to answer them, and it’s good to be able to remind yourself when you need to. Although practitioners of many styles do lip service to this statement, only practitioners of the Filipino martial arts back it up by doing the same exact techniques with and without weapons.
2. The Filipino martial arts (kali, escrima, arnis) teach weapons first, after which come the empty-hand techniques. Although it may seem backward to some martial artists, most, if not all, FMA hand-to-hand combat techniques originate from the principles that underlie the historical stick and sword movements.
3. The Filipino martial arts represent the most well-rounded and practical fighting techniques in the world. How so? They’re well-rounded in that they cover all distances in which combat takes place: long range (kicking), middle range (boxing, elbowing, kneeing) and short range (grabbing, poking, biting, grappling). They’re practical in that they don’t focus on fancy or complicated moves that are likely to fail under duress. Even the forms (anyo) used by some Filipino systems are composed of actual fighting moves. Historically, those components were hidden in a dance (sayaw) for a variety of reasons.
The practicality of the Filipino arts is enhanced by the versatility of the weapons. At long range, you can use the tip of the stick or sword; at middle range, you can use the body of the stick or the blade of the sword; and at short range, you can use the bottom part of the stick (punyo) or handle of the sword
4. The Filipino martial arts are the only ones that can complement any other fighting style. They don’t conflict with other styles; they actually strengthen them. That includes kicking arts, hand-based arts, pure self-defense arts, and grappling and throwing arts.
5. Stick fighting is suitable — and beneficial — for everyone. For children, sinawali is appropriate. This form of double-stick fighting strengthens the limbs and develops hand-eye coordination as well as any sport. Kids also benefit from the character training that occurs when they learn how to safely handle weapons that are potentially dangerous. For many, this setting is preferable to the old way
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