Filipino Martial Arts (FMA)

There are three main recognized styles of Filipino martial arts: Arnis, Kali, and Dumog. Arnis is essentially a modern day stick fighting style that teaches a wide range of techniques using wooden sticks or rattan sticks to fight off an opponent.

Kali also uses sticks sometimes by themselves, other times as a low-risk training tool to teach fighting with blades. Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) is often used as the umbrella term for Arnis/Eskrima, Kali, and Dumog. Some FMA schools only teach one style, while other schools/gyms incorporate elements of all three.

Today, Arnis (or Eskrima) is the national sport of the Philippines. The art and practice of Arnis is deeply-rooted in the culture of the Philippines, much like Muay Thai is in Thailand.

Arnis/Eskrima - Modern Day Stick Fighting

Arnis is a martial art with relatively unknown origins. It is considered to be one of the oldest forms of stick fighting in history, dating back to as early as 14th Century with its origins possibly being linked to ancient Indian warriors known as Sikhs. The word “arnis” comes from the Spanish word "arnes," meaning arms or armor.

Two rattan sticks used for Filipino Martial Arts.

Arnis is both a martial art and self-defense system. Practitioners of Arnis (called an Arnisador or Arnisadora) use weapons such as sticks, knives, and other similar items for fighting instead of relying solely on one's bare hands like in many other martial arts.

Kali - Sticks and Blades

Kali is a Filipino martial arts that incorporates elements of other martial arts, particularly Eskrima (Filipino stick fighting), Arnis (Filipino knife fighting), and Panantukan (Filipino boxing). The name of the art Kali when loosely translated means "the body in motion with a blade".

The art was developed over time through constant addition and revision over time as a result of defending the country from foreign invaders. Traditional swords used in Kali, like the barong, have been used to cut off heads, arms and legs against invading forces during times of war in the Philippines.

The art is still used today and many of its techniques are taught to elite military units in the United States and other countries. It is also practiced by law enforcement officers and soldiers in the Philippines who use it to defend themselves against criminals and terrorists while on and off the job.

Dumog - Grappling With (And Without) Weapons

Dumog also falls under the umbrella of FMA. Dumog (as opposed to Kali or Arnis) incorporates the missing link, so to speak. Grappling. The addition of Dumog to a Kali-based weapons style makes the practitioner much more well-rounded and equipped for self protection.

Dumog techniques can be incredibly effective for fighting with weapons in close quarters, hand-to-hand combat. Most, if not all, Dumog techniques are designed to maim. Limbs are targeted for destruction as a means to paralyze or seriously injure an aggressive attacker.

Unlike many Kali-based self defense systems, Dumog is taught and learned both with and without the use of weapons. Watch the video for a quick demonstration of a Dumog-style takedown.

The Essence of Filipino Martial Arts

In the beginning, Filipino Martial Arts were created as a way to train people how to defend themselves both with and without weapons in order to keep them safe while they were out working on their farms. Kali and Dumog were born out of the need to protect the Philippines in times of war.

Filipino martial arts are combat-effective fighting styles with deep history in the Philippines. When appropriately applied, Eskrima, Kali, and Arnis are extremely effective fighting styles for self protection and a lot of fun as a sport or hobby!