Filipino Kombatan Arnis

ipmafLogo smallKombatan Arnis is a composite of various classical and modern fighting systems used in the Philippines. The student of Kombatan Arnis is introduced to the various systems in the full range of fighting. An emphasis is placed on drills to train the student to react instinctively. Students are encouraged to develop their own “style” of techniques within the Kombatan Arnis framework. Most other Asian martial arts are taught today in a framework of fixed-position techniques. While this does provide the beginner with a simple structure to learn, it requires many years of practice to become proficient at using these structures in a free-form fighting situation where the opponent or assailant may attack at almost any angle.

In contrast to many other oriental martial arts, the Kombatan Arnis student first learns how to handle and defend against weapons. This philosophy is to a large degree culturally bound, but also has a practical application. The Philippines has traditionally been a blade-oriented society. Even today, in many rural areas both men and women use swords and knives in their daily work. Self-defence using a weapon is the preferred method.

In a practical sense, the rationale for training a student with weapons first and then later with hands and feet are:

  1. Training stick to stick is safer than taking punches and kicks to the body and
  2. If you can defend against a weapon then fighting against punches and kicks will come easily because training with sticks conditions one to avoid errors in judgment.

Kombatan Arnis is a complete system of hand to hand and weapon combat incorporating empty hand moves based upon the same motions used in weapon fighting. The weapon is just an extension of the hand. This modern system embodies all the different martial arts, emphasizing to react instinctively encouraging you to develop your own style of techniques. It is called “an art within an art”.

Kombatan Arnis incorporates the aspects of the ancient arts of Judo, Ju-Jitsu, Karate, Kendo, Wing Chun, Muay Thai and Kick Boxing. It is a system that puts it all together! It supplements most other styles by learning to understand ‘the flow’. Martial artists studying other systems, such as Karate or Tae Kwon Do will be able to learn how to make their systems flow using the principles. The flow is where the body and weapon movement blend to achieve one’s most natural individual fighting style. Students of Kombatan Arnis learn very quickly how to defend themselves through the full-range of fighting- kicking, punching, trapping and grappling ranges.

The system is based around 12 angles of attack on the human body and 12 basic ways of dealing with each angle by hand, foot or weapon. In order to do so, you will learn – a variety of strikes, kicks, blocks, locks, holds, sweeps, throws and takedowns, covering many martial art styles. Weapon training involving blocks, counters and disarms. Unarmed combat, armed combat, unarmed verses armed and armed verses unarmed.

Filipino Kombatan Arnis combines the following styles and weapons:

Abaniko, Hirada, Sungkiti, Palis Palis, Doblete, Doblada, Banda y Banda, Otso Otso, Rompida, Redonda, Solo Baston, Doble Baston, Daga, Daga sa Daga, Espada y Daga, Dos Puntas, Tres Puntas, Dulo Dulo, Bankaw, Walking Cane, Mano Mano, Sipa-An & Dumog.

Filipino Fighting Arts History

The Philippines is an island nation in the Western Pacific of almost 70 million people where more than 70 dialects are spoken. Over the centuries the Philippines has been a crossroad for various cultures trading and fighting. The fighting arts have been a prominent part of Philippine history. From the beginning, Filipinos have defended their homes and villages with the fighting skills passed from generation to generation. In some ways, elements of these arts and skills still survive in many parts of the nation. Influenced by the movies and TV, most people have looked to other Asian martial systems for self-defence training. Until recently, few people, inside and outside of the Philippines, realized that the indigenous fighting arts of the Philippines represent some of the most effective hand-to-hand and bladed fighting methods in the world today. I have seen first hand, the effectiveness of the Filipino fighting systems.

Kali is the mother art of the modern Filipino Martial Arts. Records from the Malay Sri-Vishaya Empire dating to the 8th century A.D. refer to Kali as the art of the Philippines. According to historians, the Ten Datus of Borneo brought there fighting methods to the island of Panay. Here, basic reading, writing and Kali were taught in the schools. Due to the loss of written records, the exact techniques of Kali remain a mystery today although elements of Kali remain alive in the foundation of today’s Filipino Martial Arts. The Spanish began a near 400-year occupation of the islands late in the 16th century. To suppress opposition to their rule, the Spanish banned the teaching of Kali. With bladed weapons declared illegal by the Spaniards, Philippine fighters switched to wooden hardwood sticks. These sticks were said to be so hard that they could break a sword blade with one blow. Before long they had become so accomplished with their sticks, they centered entire fighting systems around stick fighting alone. Much the same way as Okinawa, where bladed weapons were forbidden, stick fighting developed to an advanced martial skill unseen in other Asian arts. Elements of the art were hidden in folk plays and native dance. However, over time, Spanish fencing methods were blended into the indigenous fighting framework. Under Spanish influence, the native art became known as eskrima, estocada, arnis de mano or arnis.

The Filipino martial arts assume different names in different regions. In the Manila area, the art is known as Arnis or Pananandata, in Pangasinan as Kalirongan, in the Ilocos region of Luzon as Kabaro-an, and in the Visayas as Eskrima. Arnis historians have cited as many as 200 systems or styles of Arnis-Eskrima-Kali. Names describing the range of fighting include Largo (long-distance), Medio (medium-range) and Corto or Serrada (close, in-fighting). Names based on movement include Abaniko (fanning), Palis-Palis (go with the force) Sungkiti (thrusting), Otso-Otso (figure eight) and Lastico (snapping). Systems can be called by the choice of weapon, e.g., solo baston (single stick), doble baston or sinawali (double stick), espada y daga (sword and dagger), mano-mano or de kadina (empty-hands).

Fortunately, there have been a few men who have come forward to pass on their Filipino fighting arts to the global martial arts community. One of the most prominent and innovative of these men is Grandmaster Ernesto A. Presas, founder of Kombatan Arnis. After years of study under his father, Jose Presas, a well-know stickfighter in his own right, Grandmaster Ernesto Presas was among first to modernize the classical Filipino systems to include traps, disarms, takedowns, grappling and translate the movements into a formidable weapon (kali or arnis), hand-to hand (mano-mano) and grappling (dumog) fighting system called Filipino Kombatan Arnis “Presas Style”.