As there are over 7,000 islands that make up The Philippines, and over 120 distinct languages, the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) have come to be known by various names. The arts we study are from the Visayas, the middle region of the archipelago, where the most widely used term is Eskrima (the local pronunciation of Esgrima, the Spanish word for “fencing”).
In Luzon, the Northern region, the most popular term is Arnis (the local pronunciation of Arnés, the Spanish word for “arms” or “armour” and commonly used locally as a term for the sticks used in the art).
Adopted by ex-pat Filipinos in California and Hawaii during the 1970s and 1980s, the term Kali (derived from an old Tagalog word Kalis, meaning “skill with blades”) is commonly used among the Filipino-American Martial Arts (FAMA) community.
Regardless of the term used, what FMA systems have in common is a focus on the use of single stick and/or double sticks, cutlass-style swords and daggers, and unarmed weapon-control methods against a stick or blade wielding opponent.
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