Friday, January 08, 2010

‘Arnis’ is now national martial art

Well this is certainly welcome news.

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MANILA, Philippines—It’s time Filipinos learned the basics of the native martial art arnis.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed a law declaring arnis as the national martial art and sport and mandating that an arnis competition be the first to be played at the annual national games.

Arnis—derived from the Spanish word “arnes,” which literally means armor—is known nationwide and even in other countries. But it often plays second fiddle to the foreign martial arts taekwondo, judo and karate in terms of prominence.

This martial art involves the use of one or a pair of wooden sticks as a weapon and a training tool meant to simulate a knife or a sword.

Also known as eskrima, kali and garrote, and by various other names in the Philippine regions, it is characterized by the use of swinging and twirling movements, accompanied by striking, thrusting and parrying techniques for defense and offense.

Bare-hand fighting is also an integral part of the art.

Even in Hollywood

Filipino action star Ronnie Ricketts is a known advocate of arnis, often featuring it in his movies such as “Mano Mano 3 Arnis ... The Lost Art.”

It has also made a mark in Hollywood. The renowned Filipino-American martial arts instructor Dan Inosanto used it in the movie “The Bourne Identity,” where he was the fight choreographer.

“Mission Impossible 3” and “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” also featured fight scenes with the lead stars—Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie, respectively—“using Filipino fighting sticks.

In June 2008, the Discovery Channel came to Manila to feature arnis for its show “Fight Quest.”

At a briefing in Malacañang, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde told reporters that he trained in arnis during his youth in Cebu.

Grandmaster Cañete

“I’m particularly happy about [Republic Act No. 9850] because arnis or eskrima is quite popular in Cebu. In fact, the most prominent arnis grand master is from Cebu in the person of Mr. Ciriaco Cañete,” Remonde said, adding:

“I was able to train in arnis. I’ve forgotten about it, and it warms my heart because this is something that’s our own, which has made a name in international martial arts. And so in recognition of this, we’ve made arnis the national martial art or sport.”

RA 9850, which was signed by Ms Arroyo on Dec. 11, conforms with the state policy to inculcate patriotism, nationalism and appreciation of the role of national heroes and symbols in the Philippines’ historical development.

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Read the full article here.
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