How many Filipino Martial Arts can you name?


Yesterday I can name only eight, with difficulty. Now, 20 easily.

Thanks to my new, big, and heavy coffee table book, The Way of the Warrior: Martial Arts and Fighting Styles from Around the World by Chris Crudelli, 2008.

Reading an overview of the hundreds of martial arts from all over the world and seeing the beautiful, well chosen photos made me feel like an eager student again — I took down notes!

Although I suspect that Crudelli’s list may not be 100% complete, he discussed 20 FMAs and that’s 100% good enough for me.  Afterall, where else can I find such a list?

For that, I’ve decided that this is now one of my favorite martial arts books.

Well, classmates, would you like to look at my notes?

Name and Explanation Date of Origin and Founder Notes
1.    Balintawak Named after a street in Cebu 1950s, Venancio Bacon
  • Motto: economy, elegance, strength, and speed”
  • Influenced by the Doce Pares systems
  • Also known as Balintawak Eskrima
  • Developed from the founder’s experience of fighting death matches
2.   Buno “To throw” or “to kill” in Tagalog Indigenous art, No known founder
  • A wrestling art similar to Dumog (see below)
  • Has throwing techniques with controlled locks, joint manipulations, strikes, ground wrestling, and takedowns
  • Also has weapons like knives, spears, bows and arrows
3.    Dumog “Brawling” in Tagalog Indigenous art, No known founder
  • A wrestling art
  • Often taught alongside Eskrima (see below)
  • Techniques – unbalancing techniques, weight systems, and joint locks many of which can be performed from the clinch position
  •  Somewhat similar to western wrestling and the weight shifting principles of Aikido
  • Head- often used as a lever (“where the head goes, the body follows”)
4.    Escrido Filipino Mixed Martial Art 1980s, Ciriaco Canete
  • Has Eskrima stick, sword, and knife fighting techniques with locks and takedowns commonly found in jujutsu
  • Covers all fighting distances from long- and medium-range, to close quarter and grappling
  • Trains with one or multiple attackers
5.   Eskrima       From “Esgrima”, meaning “Fencing” in Spanish Indigenous art, No known founder
  • Emphasis- weapons based-training followed by empty hand movements
  • Battle-proven techniques
  • Also known as Escrima, Kali, or Arnis
  • Uses any method that might work in a fight like hand and foot strikes,  grappling, throwing, and shoving
  • Common weapons – solo stick, double stick, sword and stick, stick and dagger
  • Some systems specialize in other weapons  like whip, staff, and projectile weapons
  • Footwork generally follows a triangular pattern
6.    Espada y Daga “Sword and dagger” in Spanish 16th Century, No known founder
  • Have roots in Spanish swordsmanship
  • Stronger hand usually holds the longer weapon
  • Weaker hands fends off and stabs with the shorter weapon
  • Footwork is usually geometric
7.    Gokusa   A mix of Kuntao and Balintawak 1960s, Jose “Ju Go” Millan (A student of Anciong Bacon, a well known Filipino stickfighter)
  • Emphasis – shifting body weight and aligning the spine correctly
  • Has 12 strikes and defenses
8.    Jendo “The economical new fist way” in Tagalog 1973, Jonathan Makiling
  • Empty hand techniques plus traditional Filipino weapons like stick and knives
  • Recognized in 1996 as a Filipino Martial Art by the Philippine Sports Commission
  • Central philosophy – “tres energies” or three forces: the forces of normal, the unexpected, and the exceptional
9.    Kadena de Mano“Chain of hand” in Tagalog Indigenous art, No known founder
  • Combines empty hand and knife techniques
  • Most important aspects- combination techniques and reaction flow
  • Usually a series of short, fast movements delivered with both hands and elbow serve as simultaneous blocks and strikes
10. Kali Sikaran Filipino empty hand martial art Indigenous art, No known founder
  • Blends indigenous stickfighting, empty hands techniques with fencing techniques introduced by the Spanish
11. Kombatan Filipino Mixed Martial Art 1970s, Ernesto Presas
  • Largely based on the teachings of the founder’s brother Remy
  • Mixes Eskrima, eclectic elements of judo, karate, jujutsu and Japanese and Filipino weapons systems
  • Also influenced by Espada y Daga, Dumog, Bangkaw, Sinawali and Palit-palit
  • Well known for its double stick techniques
  • Highly organized collection of diverse techniques – stickfighting, knife fighting, grappling, throwing, chokes, holds
12. Kuntaw “Sacred strike” in Tagalog“Kuntaw” is a generic name for hand and foot fighting techniques Indigenous art, No known founder
  • One of the oldest fighting systems in the Philippines
  • Contains a number of open-hand and foot-striking combinations and holds and locks
  • Has a complex system of hitting vital points like nerve centers and sensitive bones
13. Kuntaw Lima-lima “Complete sacred strike” in Tagalog 1950s, Carlos Lanada
  • Also known as Kuntaw Arnis
  • Heavily influenced by kuntaw
  • Uses hands, feet, elbows, stick, and dagger
  • “Lima” (or “five”) – number of weapon forms used by brown belt or higher lever practitioners
  • “Lima lima” means “complete”
  • 25 Basic moves: 5 strikes, 5 thrusts, 5 blocks, 5 disarms, 5 locks
14. Lameco Eskrima  Stick and dagger martial art 1980s, Edgar Sulite
  • Heavily influenced by Eskrima systems taught by Jose Caballero and Antonio Ilustrisimo.
  • Main weapon – “baston“  which varies in length, weight, and thickness, according to the preference of the practitioner
  • Other weapons – stick and dagger, daggers, sword, staff
15. Modern Arnis    Stickfighting art 1960s, Remy Presas
  • A self defense system that is holistic, friendly, and injury free yet still preserved many of the traditional Filipino fighting techniques
  • Emphasis – correct body alignment  and shifting before  striking
  • Has 12 striking techniques
  • Also has the stick and knife training of espada y daga
16. Pangamut “Unarmed fighting” in Tagalog Unknown, No known founder
  • Has grappling, hand strikes, kicks, leg sweeps, foot traps, biting, gouging
  • Sticks, knives, daggers skills taught
  • Teaches weapon techniques with an empty hand
17. Sagasa      “Running over” in Tagalog 20th Century,     Guillermo Lengson (of the Philippine Karate Federation)
  • A kickboxing art
  • Techniques – boxing, arnis weapon fighting, throwing, striking, grappling
  • “Bakbakan” – a subsystem that favors full-contact sparring as primary training method
18. Sikaran      “To kick” in Tagalog Indigenous art, No known founder
  • A kickfighting martial art
  • Resembles karate
  • Predates the arrival of the Spanish
  • Probably developed by farmers
  • Signature move: “biakid” — player pivots his body in a somersault movement, flailing one leg in a vertical arc over his head
  • Two kinds of attack: “panghilo”, a paralyzing blow usually aimed at the thighs, kidneys, chest, knees, or feet
  • “pamatay”, a lethal blow to the neck, head, groin, heart, or spine
19. Suntukan         “Boxing” in Tagalog Unknown, No known founder
  • Involves empty hand, flowing, and striking drills which include chopping maneuvers and close range “chaining” where punches flow naturally in short bursts
20. Yaw-yan  “Dance of death” in Tagalog 1972, Napoleon Fernandez (a well-known kickboxing champion from Quezon Province)
  • An external fighting style (driven by speed and muscle power)
  • Follows many muay thai principles but differs in its downward cutting kicks and its hip-torquing motions
  • Has 40 basic kicks
  • Training usually full contact sparring using elbows, knees and shins
  • Has grappling and throwing techniques
  • Also trains in weapons mainly bolos, machete and balisong (butterfly knife)

Pretty cool, right?

Well, what do you think of this list? Did you know all 20?

Pugay 🙂


Look: My first FMA books

After that tantrum in my last post where I lamented the scarcity of Arnis books in its land of origin, let me share with you my meager but very valuable collection.

1. Modern Arnis: Philippine Martial Art “Stick Fighting” 

by Remy Amador Presas  (Philippine Copyright 1974)

162 pages


This book is a good foundational read. Even though the paper is dark and rough making reading somewhat hard, I appreciate it that the basics were explained in simple language and accompanied by full illustrations.  Considering the fact that cameras were not digital yet, I salute the enormous effort invested in making this book. Every single movement was described. I also like it that Grandmaster Presas took the time to explain the necessity of moral values.

2. The Practical Art of Eskrima 

by Remy Amador Presas (Philippine Copyright 1994)

248 pages


In many ways, this book is like the first one above–  both deal with the basics and provide full illustrations. But there are more advance techniques like knife defense, women’s self defense, and police techniques reminding everyone that FMA is one of the world’s most practical martial arts.

3. Sikaran. The Fighting Art of the Filipino Farmer

by Emmanuel del Espiritu Santo Querubin (Philippine Copyright 2009)

268 pages


This is a well written, intelligent, and articulate book and I finished it in one sitting! Printed on high-quality paper the book is easy on the eyes. My favorite part is The History of the Filipino Fighting Arts  spanning six delicious pages! But really, each page is full of interesting information. I also like it that there are many photos and that they included a very useful glossary of Filipino terms and weapons.  I highly recommend this book.

To read about the fascinating things I learned from this book click here.

4. 100 Filipino Martial Artists

by Garitony C. Nicolas (Philippine Copyright 2013)

This has proven to be a useful book for me although, with due respect, I think it could use some more editing and proofreading.  Anyway, when I’m on Facebook and someone suddenly pops up to chat and I remember that he is one of the persons featured in the book, I refer to it for some background information about my FB friend. So nice.

5. The Way of the Warrior. The Paradox of the Martial Arts

by Howard Reid and Michael Croucher (Copyright 1983, Great Britain)

240 pages

P1060445The paradox of the martial arts — studying a lethaI skill can make us peacemakers. This is a well-researched, insightful, conversational yet so informative book. I had many attitude changes after reading it — changes that would help me become a better person in and outside the martial arts world.

After reading this book’s chapter about the almost unknown martial art of Kalaripayit, India,  I also developed a more positive attitude about the fact that Arnis is not so popular. The “secretiveness” somehow brings a sense of exclusivity and worth.

The book devotes a special section for Arnis, mainly discussing Doce Pares and Cocoy Canete.

Cacoy Canete, shows a back-hand striking motion

6. Mastering Eskrima Disarms 

by Mark V. Wiley (Copyright 2009 & 2013)

241 pages


This is my newest acquisition and it’s special because I got it personally from GM Wiley himself.

Several Grandmasters met with GM Wiley. My master GM Pasindo went and I came along  to watch.
Several Grandmasters, including my master Cris Pasindo, met with GM Wiley. I came along to watch their exhibitions.

I sometimes worry that there isn’t enough written documentation of FMA techniques and they will just die with the masters. Now, a new instructional book with lots of photos and written descriptions lessens that anxiety.  I appreciate it that it does not deal with just one style but more than 30 FMA styles. This is an intelligent and very credible reference book.  I’m glad it’s in my collection.


So friends, these are my precious books so far. There will be more, I know.

How about you? What’s in your collection?


Thank you to fellow blogger Rick Vagas for showing his books. Both of us wish we had more.  FMA Books / Better Living Personal Development and Martial Arts

Where, oh where, are the Arnis books?

Look at this masterpiece that greets you at Fully Booked in Bonifacio Global City.

Fully Booked Display
A floor to ceiling book art
Did you notice? They’re books. So beautiful

Like a child in a candy store, all my senses perk up when I’m in a bookstore. I just love being in the company of pages and pages of wisdom, knowledge, adventure, drama, etc, etc.

A few weeks ago, hubby and I went and he gave me the whole afternoon to scour the goods.

I went straight to the martial arts section.

Two big shelves of martial arts books! Yay!
Two big shelves of martial arts books! Yay!

Now, look for Arnis books.

No Arnis book here
No Arnis book here
None here either
None here either
Not even one here
Not even one here


Previously, I also checked several branches of National Bookstore and Powerbooks and they carried only three– GM Presas’s Modern Arnis and Practical Eskrima; and Emmanuel Querubin’s Sikaran!

Krav Maga, Aikido, and Karate books overflow in shelves but where are the ones about my beloved Arnis? In But I want them in bookstores! I want them to be as accessible as the other books!!!


I’m ready to have a tantrum!!!

Excuse me.