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Beginners Guide to the Filipino Martial Arts:

By Sid Stein

The Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) are several thousand years old, though, have only become popularized in the last few decades. They are usually known as Kali, Escrima, and Arnis (de Mano). The various styles are as diverse as the 7,000 islands that make up the Philippine Archipelago. They are a very comprehensive system, that contain up to 12 categories of weaponry. In general, the first training method/weapon is the stick. Any technique done with a stick can be done with an empty hand, knife or any other weapon. Thus, it is a very practical and interchangeable martial art, viewing any weapon as just the extension of the hand.

The 12 Categories of FMA

  1. Single weapon-long (single stick, single sword)
  2. Double weapons-long (double stick, double sword)
  3. Long & short weapons (long & short sticks, sword & dagger, sword & shield)
  4. Double weapons-short (double daggers, double short sticks)
  5. Single weapon-short (dagger & empty hand)
  6. Empty hands-boxing, kicking, grappling, pinching
  7. Flexible weapons-rope, chain, nunchaku, whip, stringray tail
  8. Palm/pocket stick
  9. 2 handed stick style
  10. Spear/staff
  11. Throwing weapons-darts
  12. Projectile weapons-blowgun, bow & arrow




  1. The Filipino Martial Arts - Dan Inosanto. Probably the best overall book, however it is currently out of print. Try to get it through your library.
  2. The Secrets of Giron Arnis Escrima - Antonio Somera. Some good insights, especially on long range (largo mano) tactics.
  3. Books by the late Edgar Sulite - Available on the dogbrothers
  4. Balisong - Campbell, Cagaanan, Umpad. Excellent knife fighting book.


  1. Defensor method   Online Lessons  &    DVDs.
  2. The Flow of Fil. Kali Empty Hands - vol.1-3. Steve Grody. Unique Publications. One of the few resources available on the empty hands of FMA.
  3. The Filipino Martial Arts vols. 1-6 Dan Inosanto. Tortiose Videos.


  1. Filipino Martial Arts Magazine PO Box 413, East Meadow, NY, 11514-0413. 516.486.5167
  2. Online Social Networking Magazine with FMA content, FMA products, FMA online lessons, get free account:
  3. Online Magazine & downloadable in .pdf format:  Filipino Martial Arts Informative
  4. Online  FMA content, vids, pics, store, blogs, chat:
  5. Online FMA blog: