Eskrima – The Filipino Martial Art

Eskrima, also known as kali and Arnis, is the Philippine martial art system of weapons-based techniques. It is highly practical, effective and dynamic, and it’s practised worldwide by civilians, law enforcement and special military units. It is a sister discipline to silat.

There are many different eskrima styles and a wide range of improvised weapons that can be used in practice such as wood planks, metal bars, flashlights, rolled up magazines/papers and books. The kata (forms) that are practiced in eskrima are designed to develop a variety of hand-eye coordination skills, including fluidity, timing and body mechanics. They are also great exercises for increasing power and flexibility.

It is common to find eskrima practitioners cross-training in other traditional Asian martial arts such as Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do and Kajukenbo. It is important to note that while this can be beneficial, cross-training does not replace the study of a dedicated eskrima style.

A well-rounded eskrima practitioner will learn to use the “live hand” as a weapon of its own. The live hand is the opposite hand that does not contain the main weapon, and in eskrima it is used for trapping, locking, supporting weapon blocks, checking, disarming and striking. It is not to be confused with the off-hand in other weapon systems such as fencing.

The eskrima skills that are taught in training include evasive movements such as the deflecting strike and the roof or umbrella block, which is good against attacks towards the crown of the head. There are also a number of blocks and throws that are effective against fast, powerful strikes.

Eskrima is a highly pragmatic martial art and it incorporates a variety of weaponry from both sword and spear-based to bladed axes, knives and machetes. It also incorporates a large number of grappling techniques.

In modern times, eskrima competitions are held in various parts of the world. Winning a medal in one of these competitions is considered to be the greatest achievement in this art. In the Philippines, eskrima is practised mainly by military and law enforcement personnel as well as civilians.

The martial arts of the Philippines are rich and diverse, and eskrima is no exception. It has been practised by a number of prominent celebrities, including Denzel Washington, who used eskrima as the basis for his character in the film ‘The Equalizer’. The film ‘Enter the Dragon’ also featured Bruce Lee using an eskrima double baston technique, which he learned from his instructor Daniel Arca Inosanto. Other stars who have practised eskrima include Lucy Liu and Forest Whittaker. You can learn more about eskrima and the other Filipino martial arts by attending classes or joining a gym that teaches it. The instructors will be able to help you decide which style and school is the best fit for your training needs. They will also provide guidance on the correct equipment to purchase and how to train correctly. This will ensure that you get the most from your eskrima training and improve your chances of success in any real-life combat situation.


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