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What is the Filipino martial art "Arnis" that Bruce Lee also learned? | Sarai.jp | Shogakukan's magazine "Sarai" official website

Written by Michiko Fukuda (Overseas Writers Club/Writer living in the Philippines)

In Asia, where we live, we can see a wide variety of martial arts. Boxing is famous in the Philippines, where I live, and many people may think of legendary boxers such as Manny Pacquiao. However, traditional martial arts are still alive and well in the Philippines.

The most representative one is "Arnis". It's not as well known as karate, but Bruce Lee actually practiced it for many years, and even showed off his sharp technique using two sticks in the action movie "Enter the Dragon". Also, Matt Damon has incorporated it into the movie "Jason Bourne" series.

Arnis is well-established as a sport, and in addition to the Philippines, the United States, Canada, Germany, etc. have a large number of players, and there are sports organizations and ranks. As for the events, there are things that use sticks such as rattan "bastons", large swords and dagger knives like machetes, and bare hands. There are also kata competitions, but the atmosphere is completely different from karate. At the Southeast Asian Games (SEA GAMES) held in the Philippines two years ago, athletes from various countries wore national costumes and performed acrobatic performances to music. I thought of figure skating because of its gorgeousness. This form, which is currently mainstream, is called Modern Arnis, and was established as the national sport in 2009 under the Arroyo administration. This led to Arnis being introduced into school education.

There are many videos of Arnis training and matches on the video posting site, and the beauty of the movement is captivating. It is also highly useful as a practical self-defense technique and is used by the police and military in the Philippines and abroad. The practice of kata using two sticks is the basis of Arnis, but the sticks can be substituted with various everyday objects such as umbrellas, pens, and rolled up magazines. You will also learn how to face opponents with weapons such as knives, so it can be said that it is a martial art that is easy to apply in the real world.

For that reason, it is popular with the general public. When I asked Noel Salazar of Arnis Training Grounds Makati, a dojo in Makati City, Metro Manila, "Children who learned Arnis in physical education at school, people who want to learn how to protect themselves, and people who want to stay fit. , Some women want to learn how to use a knife."

The history of Arnis is complicated, perhaps reflecting the history of the Philippines. There are actually three names. Besides "Arnis", it is also called "Eskrima/Escrima" and "Kali".

Kali is the oldest of these. Long before the Philippines was ruled by Spain, martial arts were practiced everywhere, and Kali was a term used to describe it. It is said to have taken one syllable from the words Kamot, which means hand, and Lihok, which means movement, in the Cebuano language spoken from central to southern Philippines. Others attribute it to a 75 cm long wooden sword called a Kalis.

Filipino martial arts learned by Bruce Lee What is

Escrima is derived from Esgrima, the Spanish word for fencing. It is based on the history that elements of fencing in Spain, which became the colonial country, were added to the martial arts practiced in various parts of the Philippines to form the current form. The term is used more in the Visayas region (Central Philippines), including Cebu, which is said to be the home of this martial art.

Arnis comes from the Spanish word Arnes de mano, which means "hand armor," referring to the martial arts' characteristic of using weapons to protect oneself. This is mainly used in Luzon Island where the capital Manila is located. Although there are minor differences in technique, these three are generally treated as the same martial art.

When Spain first started colonizing the Philippines, this martial art was highly valued. However, as rebellions against colonial rule broke out in various places, the Spanish side began to regard it dangerous for residents to be armed with knives and practice swordsmanship, and it was banned in the late 16th century. The reason Arnis has a way to use sticks is because of his history of having his blades taken away.

The history of Spanish suppression of Filipino martial arts parallels the suppression of Filipinos and Filipino culture. During the 333-year long period of colonial rule from 1565 to 1898, the people took various actions such as land grabbing, forced hard labor on the inhabitants, prohibiting the use of the unique Filipino script called "Baybayin", and burning books. suffered from tyranny in many ways. Even so, people continued to protect the fire of Filipino martial arts by incorporating Kali movements into traditional dances.

Probably due to this historical background, Mr. Salazar, mentioned above, describes the characteristics of Arnis as follows. “Filipinos are, of course, very hospitable people, but there is also an eat-or-be-eaten aspect of our culture. is a very Filipino martial art. Arnis is a martial art that is not about fairness and honor, but about 'you're the one who survives, not the enemy'."

"If you want to learn how to use your body's mechanics in a straightforward martial art, defeat enemies in non-traditional ways, or learn to wield sticks, knives, and swords, try Arnis." ' said Salazar. Many dojos, such as Arnis Training Grounds Makati, offer online classes. For those who want to learn new things while moving their bodies during the corona crisis, it would be fun to challenge Arnis.

Photo courtesy of Arnis Training Grounds Makati

Text/Michiko Fukuda (writer living in the Philippines): Coordinating media and writing articles while living in downtown Manila. She has been living in the Philippines for about 6 years. A member of the Overseas Writers Club (https://www.kaigaikakibito.com/).

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