Filipino Martial Arts

There are various terms for Filipino Martial Arts. The most often used are Kali, Arnis, or Escrima. It is an art which came from real life, where the main goal is to survive. So there is no ethical code, and if someone has a moral block in his mind, it is a great disadvantage in a fight. This is a weapon-based art, because the Filipinos believe if you have any tool which can be used as a weapon, you should use it. They usually carry at least one knife, and they are also very creative in using ordinary objects as a weapon.

Using a weapon you can increase your range, and you don’t have to risk as much damage to your body’s striking surfaces. If you do not have a weapon you can use your dirty boxing skills. Your lack of weapons doesn’t mean your opponent is unarmed, or that he is your only opponent. So you have to keep this in mind when you fight, and while you prepare and practice.

The weapons most often used by Filipino warriors are sticks (single or double), swords (usually a shorter kind of sword) and knives. But there are many variations of these weapons and other weapons as well, for example the axe. Each weapon gives different opportunities in combat depending on their length, weight, material, shape and surface.

It is hard to master all these weapons. This is why an understanding of the primary principles of combat is emphasized in Filipino Martial Arts. Different schools usually specialize in one or two main weapons, and there are masters who specialize in empty hand as well.

Bruce Lee was introduced to Filipino Martial Arts by Dan Inosanto, who was one of his closest friend and finest student. Guro Dan Inosanto – who is recognized as one of the world’s most knowledgeable martial artists – taught Bruce Lee the art of nunchaku (known in the Filipino language as tabok-toyok).

The nunchaku was Bruce Lee’s favorite weapon, but he also liked to fight with sticks. In “Enter the Dragon” there is a scene – fighting with the guards –  where he simply picks up two sticks from the ground and uses them in the fight. This is “very Filipino”.

And in “Game of Death” Bruce Lee fought with Dan Inosanto – to this day one of the most famous fight scenes in action film history.