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History of Modern Arnis


The Philippines are an island nation in the Western Pacific with over 70 dialects of spoken language. Over the centuries, the Philippines have been a crossroads for countries and empires trading and fighting amongst each other. It has been a country of two classes - the rich, and the poor. To survive life on the streets and in rice fields, one must have skill in the use of bladed weapons. In some regions today, many men carry swords to the field for use as a cutting tool as well as for protection.


The Philippine martial ars assume different names in different regions of the country. Over 50 styles exist or have existed until recent times. Regardless of the style, the most common names of these arts are Kali, Eskrima, or Arnis.


The evolution of Arnis from a bladed weapon into its present systematic martial art form spans a history of over a thousand years. Due to lack of written records, it is difficult for researchers to determine the precise evolution of the art to modern times. Much of the ancient art of Arnis remains shrouded in mystery.


The term 'Kali' can be derived from the native fencing/war dance of Tjakalele (cha-ka-lee-lee) found in Indonesia. According to historians, the Ten Datus of Borneo brought their martial art style to the central Philippine island of Panay while fleeing from Datu Makatunaw of Java in the 12th century. Later, during the 16th century, Filipinos incorporated European fencing methods intoArnis under the influence of Spanish colonization.


Originally, fighting was done with a spear and shield. Hoever, fighters learned that using two canes or swords was more mobile and superior to the shield and spear. Eventually, fighters adopted a single cane or sword with a check hand to defeat double cane fighters. Thus Solo Baston (single cane fighting) became the foundation of Modern Arnis training.


Today, Modern Arnis has three forms of fighting. They are Espada y Daga (sword and dagger), Sinawali or Doble Baston (double cane fighting), and Solo Baston. Traditionally, in the Philippine martial arts, the student first learns to handle and defend against weapons, eventually training to defend with their feet and hands. The rationale is that (1) training cane to cane is safer than taking punches and kicks to the body. (2) If you can defend yourself against a weapon, then defending against punches and kicks will come easily because training with canes reduces the chances of making errors in self defense.


This martial art springs from the need of people in the Philippines to defend themselves and their families in a modern world. Some of the most well known styles of Kali, Escrima, or Arnis known today are Arnis de Mano, Modern Arnis, Pekiti Tersia, Doce Pares Eskrima, Balintawak, Cabales Serrada, and Pananandata. Numerous other systems have developed especially from those especially who emigrated to the United States this century. Modern Arnis is a composite of various classical and modern fighting systems used in the Philippines.


Our curriculum offers the Presas System of Modern Arnis developed by Grandmaster Ernesto Presas and Grandmaster Fred Lazo of the Philippines.


Modern Arnis is a safe and effective way of practicing the traditional martial arts of the Philippines. This art includes cane handling, footwork drills, self-defense releases, traps, cane disarms, joint locks, and empty-hands techniques.

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