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What are the Filipino Martial Arts?

Its is said that there are just about as many fighting methods in the Philippines as there are islands (there are over 7,000 islands in the Philippine archipelago). Whether or not this is true, remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure....the Philippines is a "blade culture".

Natives of the Philippines developed their fighting styles based on situations that needed self preservation (invaders, local warfare, etc), years of cultural exchange and trade (China, Malaysia, Spain, etc) and even developed methods based around agricultural tools.

Some Filipinos believe that these influences, while contributing to the principles of Filipino fighting methods, are not considered to be the "base" of the Filipino fighting arts; but rather principles that contributed to the already established fighting styles of each region of the Philippines.

Filipino martial arts incorporate 5 categories of practice; each style placing emphasis more on one or more, or all five categories, depending on the style:

Some examples:

Empty Hand:

Suntukan (Pangamot, Panantukan) Punching and striking.

Sikaran: Kicking

Dumog and Buno: Grappling ,wrestling

Mano-Mano: Anything goes in unarmed combat, punching, striking, kicking, eye gouging, kneeing, elbowing, etc.

Hand held impact weaponry:

Baston or Olisi: Stick

Bangkaw: long staff

Dulo Dulo: short stick-Palm stick

Improvised weapons: bottles, pens, canes, umbrellas, etc


Daga, Cuchillo, Punyal: Dagger

Balisong: folding knife, aka "Butterfly knife"

Karambit: curved knife

Swords: Bolo, kampilan, Pinuti, Talibong, Ginunting, Keris, golok, Espada etc

Flexible weapons:

Malong (sarong): fabric tube garment

Latigo: whip

Lubid: rope

Cadena: chain

Tabak-Tayok: two-piece flail, similar to nunchaku ("chucks" or "numchucks")


Sibat: spear

Sumpit: blowgun

Bagakay: throwing darts or dirks

Tirador: slingshot

Some styles of Filipino systems primarily employ the empty hand, impact weapons and blades weapons into their curriculums, while some styles involve all five methods.

The Filipino martial arts offered at Seattle Wushu Center comprise of Doce Pares Eskrima/Pangamot/Eskrido under the lineage of Grandmaster Cacoy Canete (of the renowned Canete family of Cebu, Philippines), and the system of FMAA Kali-Silat-Eskrima under Grandmaster Christopher Petrilli, one of Cacoy Canete's top students. Our Instructor, Restita DeJesus, holds a 5th level black belt in Cacoy Doce Pares Eskrima-Pangamot, a 4th level black belt in Cacoy Doce Pares Eskrido, and a 6th level black belt in FMAA Kali-Silat-Eskrima.

Juniors classes learn stick drills, disarms Pangamot drills. In the Adults/Teens FMA classes, Restita includes instruction in Sumpit (blowgun), Bagakay (throwing dirks) and Tirador (slingshot), Latigo (whip), and Malong, making our classes involved in the 5 categories of fighting methods. Also included are Sayaw (forms) and traditional Filipino dance to enhance footwork and timing.

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