Tag Archives: Philippine martial arts

#108 Balisong

Balisong, also called butterfly knife or fan knife, is a folding pocket knife with two handles counter-rotating around the tang such that, when closed, the blade is concealed within grooves in the handles (From: Wikipedia).

It is sometimes called a Batangas knife, a province in southern Luzon island where the natives were formerly known for manufacturing these handmade and deadly weapons. In the hands of a trained user, the knife blade can be brought to bear quickly using one hand. Manipulations, called “flipping”, are performed for art or amusement.

The balisong is commonly used by Filipinos as a pocket utility knife. It is so popular in the Philippines that an urban legend exists about every Batangueño (native of Batangas) carrying it everywhere he goes as a form of self-defense. There are speculations that the balisong knife was used by Filipinos way back in 800 AD, and was probably employed as an ancient weapon in the Filipino fighting system of eskrima.

The urban legend and nasty reputation of the balisong was further reinforced during World War 2 when  US soldiers deployed in the Philippines or the Pacific returned home with handmade balisong knives and tales of horrific duels among so-called ‘savage’ Filipino tribes who used the balisong to redeem lost honor.

Mabuhay ang balisong!


Filed under Arts and Culture, Traditions

#85 Arnis

Arnis and eskrima are the most common among the many names often used in the Philippines today to refer to martial arts that involve the use of sticks. Eskrima or escrima (from the Spanish esgrima or fencing) refers to a class of Filipino martial arts that emphasize weapon-based fighting with the stick, staff or knife.

Common usage include kali and arnis. In arnis de mano the most basic and common weapon is the stick or yantok (rattan vine). Yantok is hard and durable yet lightweight, and it shreds under only the worst abuse and will not splinter like other woods do – thus making it a safe training tool.

The basic defense techniques in arnis may look deceptively simple but it takes years to master the movements for the arnis sporter to effectively defend himself or thwart an experienced attacker. There are some variants of the arnis such as the Garimot arnis and the rapid arnis, the latter developed by two European arnis masters in 1993.

Mabuhay and arnis!


Filed under Arts and Culture, Traditions