Kali, Escrima, Arnis


Kali, Escrima, and Arnis are the terms for the fighting arts of the Philippines. Kali is a South Term, Escrima more Central, and Arnis is from the North. There are 12 areas of combat in Kali, with Escrima containing 8 or 9 of them, and Arnis 4 to 6.

These areas are :
- Single Stick (or long blade)
- Double long weapon
- Long & Short (sword & dagger, e.g.)
- Single dagger
- Double Dagger
- Palm Stick/Double-end Dagger
- Empty Hands (punching, kicking, grappling)
- Spear/Staff, long weapons (two-handed)
- Flexible weapons (whip, sarong, etc.)
- Throwing weapons
- Projectile weapons (bows, blowguns)
- Healing arts

The sticks used in Arnis are usually made out of wood, or rattan (a special bamboo from the Philippines), 70 cm long and about 2 cm in diameter. The length can vary from 30 cm to 220 cm. Escrima and Arnis are designed to work with sticks, and Kali is a blade art. A common feature of all these arts is their use of geometry. In strikes/defenses and movement, lines and angles are very important. The independent use of the hands, or hands and feet, to do two different things at the same time, is a high-level skill sought after a fair amount of experience.

Filipino martial arts allow the use of the elbow and knee, as well as low kicking and punching in close-range fighting. Head butting is allowed, along with grappling techniques carried out from either a standing position or from the ground and including strips, takedowns, and throws. Other moves include chokeholds and various locks on the hands, elbows, shoulders, ankles, and knees.


Kali is the mother art of the modern Filipino Martial Arts. When Filipino society was under Spanish colonial control, all martial arts were banned. Elements of Kali were hidden in folk plays and native dance. Under Spanish influence, the native art became known as eskrima, estocada, arnis de mano or arnis. The first World Arnis Championship was held in Cebu in 1989.

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