When I first saw the Eskrima near me, I was fascinated with its beauty and speed. At the same time, I also thought it was challenging to learn because of its seemingly complex and intricate movements. I have never been so wrong.
Kali eskrima, in truth, is easy and fun to learn. It's so easy and fun that small kids and senior citizens can learn and practice it.
In this article, we will share with you what it's like to study Filipino Stick Fighting to help you decide on whether to learn Eskrima or get started in case you've already made up your mind.
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The Best Eskrima as a Weapon's Based System
What's unique about the Filipino Martial Arts of Eskrima Kali is that it begins training with the weapons. There's a historical basis for this because Martial Arts is an Art of War and nobody goes to war without weapons.
In ancient times, Filipino tribal groups would go on a skirmish against each other using spears, shields, poison darts and several bladed weapons. Filipino eskrima has a long and bloody history and has passed on its martial knowledge throughout the decades as a weapons-based system.
Another principle that Filipino Martial Arts follows is that the weapon serves as an equalizer in an encounter. If you are being attacked, you'd have a better chance of defending yourself with a weapon than without one. But if you don't know how to use a weapon, you'd have to use your bare hands, and risk getting injured in the process.
Also, if you are familiar with the movements of the weapon, you can defend against a weapon-wielding opponent better. You'd be familiar with many of the weapons-based moves and counter them.
And lastly, weapons training will develop your reflexes and body coordination. It's true that the weapon is faster than the bare hands. Every stick fighter knows that the stick is faster than the hands. Thus, training with the stick or weapon for both offense and defense will develop your speed and reflexes.
Later on, you will find that the techniques you learned with the weapon can be applied to the empty-hands.
Check out this video to see how Eskrima trainins with different weapons – including bare hands:
Arnis History Training – The Basics
Firstly, the art is introduced to the students through learning the fundamental stick exercises. The student is shown the 12 basic stick fighting strikes. These are extensively practiced before the students can advance to the 12 fundamental defensive blocks or defense. After the defense, they are taught how to counter.
Once the students become well-versed with the basics, the more complicated forms are then practiced, “Doble Baston” (two sticks), “Espada y Daga,” “saboy,” (one long stick, and staff), (two-handed stick).
One exciting training drill is the “one-on-one” training wherein a strike is carried out, blocked by the enemy who chases the blow to the nearest area right away following the block. This fighting form can go on for extended periods and is also the closest thing to real fighting.
Using all weapons – arnis sticks and other techniques
There are several variations, for instance, hand-against-hand and hand-against-weapon. Escrima's most complex forms are the counter-for-counter maneuvers. In arnis kali escrima, it is always assumed that the enemy has skill just like yours. He will counter your techniques. So you must be capable of countering his counters. The one who loses is determined as soon as he or she can't counter the enemy's move.
Empty-hand training include tapi2x (blocking or parrying with the hand), bak-bakan (stirking), and dumog (grappling). These empty-hand techniques follow the same principles as those with the weapon, and so your weapons training serve as a good foundation.
Enough emphasis is placed on the student's ability to progress and learn, rank advancements are based on the student's ability, and the instructors' observation rather than his attendance in classes. One student can advance faster while the other can be slower; however, everyone is granted the same opportunities to learn.
The 3 Main Pointers to Learning Modern Arnis
The three main pointers to the learning of filipino escrima are timing, rhythm, and fluidity. These entail fast, but sharp movements – just smooth, fluid transitions from every action. The most difficult and most essential skills to apply and learn are the fluid ones.
Valuing the instructors, the master, and other martial arts institutions are extremely crucial for your training. Escrima's spiritual and physical aspects are nurtured concurrently. In the early years of eskrima martial arts, self-control and secrecy are stressed.
It's only during public demonstrations that a student is expected to share his/her martial knowledge. In the past, many old eskrima stick fighting Instructors would prefer to die along with their knowledge than to educate somebody that might dishonor the Instructor. Bear in mind to always respect and value the master and the art itself.
The Filipino Stick Fighting is a complete art. Aside from the various weapons used – stick, sword, dagger, it also carries various empty-handed techniques that are delivered by weapons training. But the most important things you acquire from learning kali escrima sticks are speed, timing, coordination, flexibility, and the martial knowledge to help you defend yourself against a potential attacker on the streets.
Learning Eskrima is fun. You'd find those sticks are great to handle and play with.
We hope this has given you a good perspective of the Filipino Stick Fighting Art of Eskrima. Feel free to share this article with your friends if you think it would also give them a fresh start.