Eskrima Stickfighting

Jul 27, 2007 on HISTORY at 10:00 PM

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Eskrima (or Escrima), a fighting style indigenous to the Philippines, is believed to have evolved from Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian martial arts forms brought to the islands by South China Sea traders around the 2nd century. It is a mostly weapo... (more)ns-based fighting style that combines punches, kicks, takedowns and joint lock techniques with stick and sword or knife fighting techniques. Eskrima was first introduced to the non-Filipino world in 1521, when Spanish explorers led by Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the South China Sea to stake their claim on the Philippine islands. Soon after the invasion, Magellan himself was killed on the small island of Mactan by native resisters armed with hardened sticks and led by the island’s chief, Lapu-Lapu. Spain eventually gained control of the Philippines and outlawed all indigenous martial arts. Over the next several centuries, many fighters continued their practice in secret, by disguising Eskrima techniques in what they pretended were ceremonial dance-like rituals. The ban was lifted after 1898, when the United States won control of the Philippines from Spain, but an air of secrecy remained around Eskrima and its practitioners. During World War II, Filipino fighters used the stick-and-sword techniques to resist Japanese invaders, compensating for a lack of firearms with powerful, swift movements of their sticks and knives. By the 1970s, however, organizations such as the Doce Pares association and the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) had managed to turn Eskrima from a martial art used primarily for killing into a sport, with organized competitions and generally sanctioned rules and regulations. Eskrima techniques are still employed by the Filipino army, especially in its struggle against guerrilla members of the militant Islamic organization Abu Sayyaf, related to Al Qaeda. Adapted from the Spanish word esgrima (fencing), Eskrima is variously referred to as Arnis (from the Spanish word for harness) and

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