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Dr. Mike Timpone
During all the war and strife, the art
of Arnis de Mano struggled along. In early times, it was not known as
Arnis de Mano. It was called Escrima and was practiced primarily for
self defense by the pre-Spanish Filipinos. These people were noted for
their friendly nature and legendary hospitality. The older Filipinos,
who made stick fighting an art, preferred to hit bone and preferred a
stick to a blade. The stick left shattered bone instead of a clean cut.
The hitting end of the stick can travel many times the speed of the
empty hand. It feels nothing, whether it hits bone or flesh.
migration of the Malays, about 200 B.C., came the long knife. They were
experts with daggers, swords, spears, and the bow and arrow of both the
reflex and long bow design. Other bladed weapons were brought when the
second migration of Malays occurred in the early years of the Christian
era and continued until the 13th century. The third Malay migration
began at the start of the 14th century and continued until the middle of
the 15th century. This migration brought religious fanatics, steeped in
Mohammedanism. They favored bladed weapons but were skilled with sticks,
bows and arrows, and explosive projectile weapons. Early trade relations
with China brought T'ang dynasty Martial Arts skills.
When the war with Japan broke out in 1941, the
Filipinos enlisted in the American services. During one training
session, a Filipino enlistee used his Arnis techniques against the
American fighting techniques. The instructors were so impressed that
they permitted the Filipinos to train their own style of fighting
instead of using the American techniques.
During the war with Japan, and
afterwards, Escrimadors and Kali men traveled to Hawaii and California.
Once they arrived there they had to take any job they could get. They
were forced to give up their proud heritage and resign themselves to
They could not forget their art altogether though. They
would rise early to practice and stay up late at night to practice their
art. Their children knew little of the art. Their practice brought
curious onlookers, some of which were their own children. The offspring
soon demanded to learn what was rightfully theirs by heritage. They
wanted to learn the art of Arnis de Mano. The old .'masters" began
teaching the art once again. That basically was the beginning of Arnis
de Mano in America.