Throughout history, nearly every culture has come up with some type of martial art in order to defend themselves from their local or foreign enemies. In the Philippines, Filipino knife fighting was developed from an old blade culture, where people used to carry knives to settle disputes using blades.
Some consider Filipino knife fighting as the best knife fighting martial art. Examining the origins of Filipino knife fighting would tell us the basis behind the Filipino knife fighting techniques, styles, principles, and structure.
History of Filipino Knife Fighting
Here’s History of Filipino Martial Arts by seasite to provide us with an excerpt of how FMA and knife fighting came to be:
Filipino stick fighting training traditionally starts with weapons then transitions into shorter weapons and so on to empty hands. The reason for this is of a historical and practical nature given the environment of the Philippine Islands. Throughout the Philippine history, unending wars between rival tribes and invasions from foreign aggressors have imposed the need for combat readiness. Survival did not depend on the strongest, but the smartest. Man used whatever it could to secure the advantage and to fend off and protect themselves against animals and other aggressors. This could have meant throwing an object, using a tree branch, and perhaps poking at their enemy with a sharp object. The weapon was used to equalize the differences of strength, speed and aggression between man and other enemies. Imagine the general make up of the Philippines.
Looking at every war in the history of the Philippines, countless accounts of the natives’ use of knives and blades to battle. During the Philippine-American War, many American servicemen had been exposed to ruthless hackings and injuries caused by blade-wielding guerrilla Filipinos. Additionally, in World War II, many Filipinos had battled the Japanese using solely their hands or blades.
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Due to its historically secretive development, Eskrima did not maintain a set system for how to practice the art. With a large influence from Spanish fencing over decades, this Filipino battling style eventually gained some level of systemization.
Thus, Filipinos were still able to maintain their blade culture even though the Spaniards outlawed their fighting systems. The different blade and kali knife techniques survived through the ages and remain active today and even evolved into an effective and deadly fighting system for modern times.
Filipino Knife Fighting Culture
Rather than guns, the Philippines maintains the culture of swordplay, using blades as a primary tool. In the modern days, many local Filipinos use a large blade as a tool to cut down fruits, meats, and grass.
“Baraw” is a Cebuano word utilized in Eskrima, meaning a knife or a dagger. The word Baraw is more frequently utilized in the Cebu Island in the Visayas, whereas other regions and islands frequently use the word “Daga,” but both words are frequently interchangeable in the community of the list of Filipino martial arts.
The terms Daga and Baraw can be utilized either as Solo Daga or Solo Baraw integrated with single-knife combats as well as defense systems; Doble Daga or Doble Baraw integrated with double-knife combat systems, or even with a mixture of short and long weapons, for instance, stick and dagger fighting, Olisi Baraw or dagger and sword.
The Significance of the Knife in Filipino Martial Arts
Based on historical accounts, we now know how effective Filipino knife fighting truly is. But we want to know more about the art. To understand more about how Filipino knife fighting schools aids a fighter, here’s 13 Brutal Tips, Tricks, And Myths from a Filipino Knife Fighter by survival life providing some guidelines for every FMA practitioner. Here are some:
The Knife is Lethal – Once you’ve become involved in an altercation that has caused you to expose your knife, you need to remember that you are holding a lethal weapon. There is no other way to use a knife in a fight than to strike with fierce lethality. If you intend to use it simply to scare an opponent, you are an idiot. Once a skilled opponent has seen you pull out your knife, the first thing he does is study its length and build. Then he will strategize how to kill you.
Human Anatomy Is The Key To Victory – There are only a handful of places where you can stab someone and make sure that the person ends up dead or permanently incapacitated. The brain stem and other areas I mentioned in the previous tip is a good example. Femoral artery, for one, ensures immediate excessive bleeding. Stabbing someone in the stomach can mean a long way off from death and he or she has a high chance of stabbing you back.
Another thing to take note is the Moros in the Southern Philippines were not conquered by the Americans or the Spaniards; nor were they defeated by other tribes because they were a notorious headhunter tribe with lethal weapons and fighting skills.
For the mainly Christian provinces and the places where the people are not allowed to bring weapons, bolos (a machete-like cutting tool) and other versions of knives are still utilized for everyday work (farming, chopping coconuts, wood, nipa (coconut leaves), and for rare cases of fighting or self-defence.
These weapons are still used and produced today. In provinces such as Aklan, classical knives are produced in rural areas. Balisong or butterfly knives were popular back in the 70s, 80, and even the 90s. They were very common in the streets of Cebu and Manila. They look much like the Swiss box clutters or army knives.
New laws have made the carrying of certain types of knives without any proof or permit, illegal; unless the knives are used for livelihood (e.g. Vendor or Martial Arts instructor). The Balisong or “Butterfly knife” is available and openly sold on the streets of Batangas, Quiapo, martial arts stores and souvenir stores. Street gangs and martial artists still wield them.
Most Commonly Used Knives in Filipino Martial Arts
Here are three of the most commonly sued short blades and knives in Kali Martial Arts Techniques:
1. Cuchillo/Daga: Spanish for knife or dagger. Traditional varieties take in the punyal, gunong, and barong or barung.
2. Balisong: Butterfly knife that can be folded
3. Karambit: Tiny blade formed like a claw of a tiger