Kali Eskrima Weapons Training

The Filipino Martial art, Kali Eskrima, is a complete fighting system and it is unique in that, unlike other oriental martial arts, students learn how to control and deal with weapons first before moving on to the empty hands training and techniques.


That is because lots of the empty hands techniques come from either the single or double stick, knife, dagger or sword. In particular, drilling with double sticks or stick and dagger increases sensitivity, the ability to use both hands, and improves the co-ordination and skills required for empty hands.


Kali Eskrima does not have forms or katas, unlike other oriental systems or styles, but has a logical progression which is:


  • Single Stick - drilling with emphasis on single direct attack/counter-attack and stick disarms
  • Eskrido - Stick & empty hand grappling & locks
  • Arnis - Single and double stick
  • Knife Fighting - Including disarms
  • Dulo-Dulo - Double edged dagger or knife
  • Mano-Mano - Empty hands drilling and trapping
  • Panantukan - Filipino boxing
  • Sikaran/Pananjakman - Low kicking
  • Dumog - Locks and grappling
  • Bakaw - Long staff
  • Empty hand, knife and stick - sparring unprotected or with body armour as some schools prefer
  • Chuko - Use of nunchuka
  • Balisong - Butterfly knife
  • Whip and chain


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Single Stick

Due to the widespread violence in the world, Eskrima instruction may be limited to the use of sticks and empty hand techniques in some schools (although not at the Reading Academy of Wing Chun & Kali). But as every Eskrima practitioner knows, a stick technique can represent a knife, long blade or empty hand.


During the 1980s some Eskrima schools preferred to join tournaments using body armour and scoring systems. However, if you are only training for sport or competition then the techniques may be diluted. Risks are taken to score points in competitions that would not be encountered in training for warfare or real life threat situations.


Single stick lengths vary but in western training the stick is about 28 inches long.


The prime target with a single stick is the hands and not the body. The reason for this is that if a man is armed with a blade, then it is the blade which is the foremost threat, and attacking the lower arm or hand carrying the weapon is the most logical approach. A disarmed man is much less dangerous. Through the single stick training you learn to attack the hands and arms while also learning the disarming tactics.


Body strikes training follows later. The purpose of the single stick is to smash bones. Distance and timing are the primary skills of single stick training - the reach of your stick and how fast you can move in/out of range. Unless these instincts have been developed to a high skill level they will not come out in a life-threatening confrontation.

The system then progresses from single stick to double stick and to the empty hands.