Arnis, also known as Kali or Eskrima/Escrima, is the national martial art of the Philippines. The three are roughly interchangeable umbrella terms for the traditional martial arts of the Philippines (“Filipino Martial Arts”, or FMA), which emphasize weapon-based fighting with sticks, knives and bladed weapons also includes hand-to-hand combat, joint locks, grappling and weapon disarming techniques.
Arnis comes from arnés Old Spanish for “armor” (harness is an archaic English term for armor, which comes from the same roots as the Spanish term). It is said to derive from the armor costumes used in Moro-moro stage plays where actors fought mock battles using wooden swords.
Eskrima (also spelled Escrima/Eskrima) is a Filipino term of the Spanish word for fencing, esgrima.
Kali has multiple theories on its origin: Most likely, Kali derives from the pre-Hispanic Filipino term for blades and fencing, Calis.
Practitioners of the Arnis arts are called arnisador (male, plural arnisadores) and arnisadora (female, plural arnisadoras). For those who practice Eskrima/Escrima are called eskrimador (male, plural eskrimadores) or eskrimadora (female, plural eskrimadoras), and kalista for those who practise kali.
Balintawak Eskrima or Balintawak Arnis is a Filipino martial art created by Grandmaster Venancio”Anciong” Bacon in the 1950s to enhance and preserve the combative nature of arnis which he felt was being watered down by other styles of Philippine martial arts. It is named after a small street in Cebu where it was founded.
Bacon developed single stick techniques. With the help of Villasin he developed and optimized his techniques based upon single stick work. Villasin, under the tutelage of Bacon, developed its basic strike and defence patterns which are now used by most Balintawak practitioners. This pattern forms the basis from which a practitioner can develop basic, semi-advanced, and advanced movements. All techniques must be demonstrated with power, control, and body mechanics.
In Balintawak, the stick is only used to enhance and train the individual for bare hands fighting, and to achieve perfection in the art of speed, timing and reflexes necessary to acquire defensive posture and fluidity in movement. It aims to harness one’s natural body movement and awaken one’s senses to move and react. It guarantees its practitioner to experience a revelation in the fundamentals of street fighting.
Later, some of Bacon’s successors soon began to systematize the Balintawak curriculum. One was José Villasin, a self-defence instructor at University of Visayas who grouped the techniques in various categories so his students could master one set of techniques and then move to the next set of related techniques.