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History of Eskrima Kali Arnis
 
Doce Pares Multi-Style System Eskrima Kali Arnis
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Arnis, the only known traditional Filipino Martial Arts, has its roots deep in the culture and history of the Filipino people. The exact date of its origin, however, remains unclear. Traces of historical evidence reveal that this manly art of self defense involving the use of a single stick, two sticks, a long and a short stick, a dagger, or some other blunt instruments no doubt existed long before the arrival of the first Spanish colonizers in the country. The first known Filipino hero, Lapulapu, was believed to be one of the foremost masters of Arnis, which was known during that time in the native dialect as pangamut. In fact, Lapulapu had vigorously trained and prepared his men for "showdown" fights against his enemies long before his historic battle with Ferdinand Magellan on April 27, 1521, in Mactan Island. It was no surprise then, that when the first circumnavigator of the world tried to subdue the recalcitrant Lapulapu, who refused to come and meet him in Cebu, Magellan and his men were met not with a hail of bullets but with wooden instruments, spears, and bolos. It was ironic that when the smoke of the epic battle cleared, the Spanish conquistadors more "modern" weapons were no match for the crude wooden arms of Lapulapu and his warriors. Magellan lost his life in that battle. 

In the book DeLos Delitos, printed in 1800 by Don Baltazar Gonzales in Madrid, Spain, the author tells that it may have been Datu Mangal, the father of Lapulapu, who brought the stickfighting to Mactan Island, and Sri Batugong and his son Sri Bantug Lumay who brought the art to the neighboring island of Sugbu (Cebu). Bantug Lumay was the father of Sri Humabon or Rajah Humabon. Humabon was the chieftain of Sugbu at the time when Magellan arrived in 1521.

The tribes of Lapulapu and Humabon were part of Sri Visayan Empire in the 14th century. After the Empire was defeated by the Maja Pahit Empire of ancient Sumatra and Borneo, the tribes became part of a group who fled and eventually settled in the islands of the Visayas Central Philippines. Another group of those Sri Vasayans, that included the tribes of Datu Puti and Datu Sumakwel, went out and settled in Panay Island. 

Lapulapu, even before his momentous meeting with Magellan, had been training his men because of his bitter rivalry with Rajah Humabon, whom he accused of having grabbed a portion of his father's land, particularly the sea area between the Mactan Island and Cebu. The feud between these two local chieftains contributed significantly to the early development of the "old" Arnis. The showdown between Lapulapu and Humabon, however, was never realized. Rather, it was in the battle of Mactan where the native martial art was put to a real test against the modern weapons of the foreign invaders. The rest is history. 

When Miguel Lopez de Legaspi landed in the Philippines and established the first settlement in 1565, he and his men noted that the Filipinos were a class by themselves in the art of stickfighting and blade or sword fighting. He had his first glimpse of the natives
exceptional skill and ability during his landing in Leyte in 1564 when he was entertained with an Arnis demonstration by the warriors of Chieftain Malitik. Similar demonstrations were
made upon his visits in Limasawa, Camiguin, Cebu and other places. 

Arnis was then the favorite sport of the royalties that every time a demonstration or competition was held, people usually came in droves to watch. Its popularity spanned well up to the Spanish times. However, when the Spaniards gained substantial control of the country it discouraged the practice of Arnis. Fearful of the Filipinos exceptional skill, they imposed a total ban in the practice of the art.  Although the reason given was the unusual long hours spent by the natives in the practice and training, hence, neglecting their work it was obvious the authorities were fearful of the threat to their lives at the hands of the very skillful and well trained people. Hence, the Filipinos put aside their  training devices and
abandoned the practice of Arnis. 

It was not until the 19th century that Arnis began to surface again into popularity among the natives. The rapid growth was attributed to the introduction of the Moro moro plays and dances which became popular among the Filipinos and gave them the opportunity to circumvent the rule which prohibited the display and carrying of bladed weapons. It was believed that the Moro-Moro plays and dances were invented to primarily give the Filipinos
an excuse or a cover to resume the practice and training of Arnis. As a result, the people concentrated in mastering the art known as "oway". Through some kinds of subterfuge behind the disguise of performing stage plays and dances or dance movements, the
Filipinos were able to practice and continue their Arnis training with the use of bladed weapons known as "kali". "Kali" is a type of broad sword still popular among the Filipinos particularly those in the southern part of the country including the Muslim provinces. 

Due to the Spanish influence this Filipino Martial Art came to be known as "Arnis de Mano" - derived from the Spanish word "arnes",  meaning trappings or defensive armor. It also acquired namesakes such as "estokada", "estoque", "fraile", "arnes de mano", or simply "arnis".  Among the tagalogs, it is known as "pananandata", the Pangasinan natives, "kalirongan", the Ilocanos "didya" or "kabaraon", the Ibanags "pagkalikali", the Pampanguenos "sinawali" and the Visayans "Kaliradman" or "pagaradman" , later "esgrima" or "eskrima".

The word "eskrima" is derived from the Spanish word "esgrima" which means "a game between two combatants with the use of blunt instruments". The name of the stick which could either be rattan or a piece of hardwood used in "eskrima" is called either "olisi", "baston" or "garote". The word "eskrima" became popular in the early years of the American regime, when the first Arnis club organized in Cebu City, Central Philippines in 1920, the Labangon Fencing Club used the term in their practice of the art. Although this group was dissolved in later years due to serious political conflicts among it officers. In 1932, Doce Pares Association, with all the well known grandmasters based in Cebu as a nucleus, came into being. This organization in years to come became very popular that its name was almost synonymous with martial art of Arnis and it was to its credit that Arnis was widely practiced as sort of a competitive sport. Its rule on sparring matches had received broad acceptance, that in early 1970, was generally accepted by all the arnis clubs, schools and organizations in the country. In fact, the present tournament rules adopted by the World Eskrima Arnis Federation (WEKAF) had been substantially lifted from this old rules of Doce Pares. The development of the Filipino stickfighting art, more widely known as Arnis or Eskrima, has grown to spectacular proportion, making it today one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Major events held in the Philippines as well as in the USA, England, Australia, Germany and other countries in the world more than confirmed the universal acceptance of Arnis as a popular sporting event.





 


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