The Somewhat Controversial Filipino Martial Arts History

The Philippine Martial Arts have somewhat of a controversial history. The following are from history, research, and also knowledge passed on from experienced eskrimadors. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

Eskrima- the art of fencing; fighting with swords in a skilled.

Arnis- Filipino sword fighting martial art.

The Philippines warrior arts are deeply rooted in the history
and culture of the Filipino people. They are the products of a highly developed
civilization which flourished long before the arrival of the West upon its
shores, and of centuries of warfare against a variety of oppressors. Both these
factors are responsible for the highly technical and pragmatic outlook of the
Filipino Martial Arts.

The History of the Philippines is a long one, with records stretching back to as far as 900AD.
In the case of the Filipino martial arts, when examining the history of the Philippines as a nation, it is clear that fighting arts have always been an integral part of the Filipino society. The fighting arts of the Philippines, like in many other places, were influenced by many different cultures and made uniquely Filipino by the Filipinos and there weapon systems and surroundings.
Spanish rule in the Philippines lasted until 1898 when Spain was defeated in the Spanish-American war. During this long period of colonization, the Spanish had some important effects on the Filipino culture. Firstly, most of the population was converted to Roman Catholicism except for the Muslim Moros of the Sulu archipelago. Spanish fencing also had a direct effect on the fighting arts of the Philippines, with the introduction of angles of attack, and the use of Espada y daga (sword and dagger). When the Spanish imposed a ban on the practice of all native fighting arts and the carrying of bladed weapons during their occupation of the islands, the Filipinos were forced to substitute the use of the sword with that of the rattan. In the beginning the rattan was used to deliver strikes in the same manner as the blade i.e. slashing and thrusting, and the knife (or short stick) was still held in reserve as a back up weapon in case the opponent closed the distance, typical of it’s use by the Spanish. Hardly ever was it used to block or parry an oncoming strike. However through time the Filipinos began to realise that because the stick had different handling qualities, certain lines of attack were open to them that were not available with the swords, curved and snapping strikes. Once they began to appreciate the combat effectiveness of the stick the use of the knife also changed and began to be used more aggressively in terms of blocking, parrying, checking, scooping, thrusting and slashing. This in turn led to the creation of Olisi y baraw (stick and dagger).

I have heard that the term eskrima was derived from the spanish word esgrima, or possibly from the word skirmish(a short unexpected fight). Arnis de mano was said to be derived from the Spanish word “arnes” meaning trappings or defensive armor. Other literature said the term Arnis is a bastardised form of the word Arnes which refers to the decorative harnesses used by the actors in moro-moro stage displays. De mano simply means hands, and so a literal translation of Arnis de mano turns into ‘harness of hand’. The manipulation of these harnesses during the stage plays impressed the Spanish who dubbed it Arnes de mano. The style Arnis, a Spanish term itself, uses many Spanish terms to describe its techniques such as Espada y daga.

The last term Kali is always the most controversial. Many martial arts schools and instructors believe the word Kali to be a combination of the words Kamut (hand) and Lihok (movement). It is also believed to be the mother art of Arnis or Escrima but there is a lack of evidence to support this. Kali or Kahli as it is sometimes written, in Visayan is a type of stick, but not used to refer to the fighting art. Kali is also the Hindu Goddess of destruction, and the Moros of the Sulu archipelago would often go into battle dressed like the goddess of destruction. The more believable explanation is from the Tagalog word for a large bladed weapon, Kalis. This was shortened simply to Kali to refer to all bladed weapon. Its use in the West stems from the use of the word by Floro Villabrille who used this term to describe his art, and this was eventually popularised by Dan Inosanto. An interview with Antonio Illustrisimo in 1993 revealed that he only used the word out of convenience because foreign students recognized it, although he preferred the term Escrima because this is what it was called when he was learning from his uncles.

Regardless of the controversy of names, terms, and history the effectiveness has been proven many times over. It is not the art that needs to be questioned but the individual practitioners and their ability to express the functionality of the system they practice. The U.S. special forces have implemented the Philippine warrior arts into their military training regiments for many years and still to this day.

It is well known that these arts were usually tightly guarded secrets and usually passed on from father to son. Fortunately it has been opened up to the world and stands as its own legacy. Find a system that works for you and stick with it, also explore other systems and expressions(there are many). Try not to be close minded or you risk limiting your own knowledge and may fall short of reaching higher aspirations.

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School Trips Through the Art and Art History of Boston

As the largest city in the American state of Massachusetts, and one of the oldest in the country, Boston is brimming with history that can fill the itinerary of school trips focusing on many subjects. It is the unofficial capital of New England, and one of the hubs of East Coast economics and culture. While exploring the famous quads of Harvard and learning about the history of the Puritans who first settled here in 1630, one cannot ignore the city’s wonderful array of museums and collections of art. The Museum of Fine Arts, The Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, are great places to visit to get a sense of the art and art history of the city.

The Museum of Fine Arts – The museum was originally opened in 1876 in Copley Square with over 5,000 works of art; in 1909 it moved to its current location on Huntington Avenue. With art collections and exhibits ranging from Egyptian to the contemporary, the museum currently houses over 450,000 works. School trips taking in the museum are especially exciting since The New MFA was opened in 2010. The New MFA contains new wings for art from the Americas, European art, new teaching facilities, and wings for contemporary art. For those interested in studying arts at university, a visit to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, right across the street from the MFA, should be the next stop. Affiliated with Tufts University, the SMFA offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in a variety of artistic disciplines.

The Institute of Contemporary Art – The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) was founded in 1936 as the Boston Museum of Modern Art. It was created as a space to identify and foster new and upcoming artists, and, as such is a great place for students. School trips here can reveal how the museum has been pivotal in the careers of Vanessa Beecroft, Ellen Gallagher, Oskar Kokoschka, Edvard Munch, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein. Currently, the ICA is growing its support of (and educational programs dedicated to) filmmaking and documentaries, and is doing exciting work. The ICA is conveniently located at 100 Northern Avenue and is a very easy landmark to find.

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology – The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is a part of Harvard University and is located at 11 Divinity Avenue. Founded in 1866, it is one of the oldest museums in the world dedicated to the history of human culture. School trips to the museum will enable students to explore some of the six million objects, 500,000 photographs, and records within. The collections of archaeology, ethnography, osteology, painting, drawing, and prints are particularly strong in regards to North, Central, and South America as well as Oceania.

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