When Did Arnis Become National Sports? A Historical Overview

When did arnis become a national sport? This question has been on the minds of many people who are passionate about this Filipino martial art. The answer to that question is not as straightforward as one might think. Although arnis has been a part of Filipino culture for centuries, it was only recognized as a national sport relatively recently.

Arnis, also known as Eskrima or Kali, has a rich history that dates back to the pre-colonial era in the Philippines. This martial art was once a way of self-defense and a means to protect one’s community from invaders. Today, arnis has evolved into a popular sport that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. But it was not until 2009 that arnis was officially declared a national sport by the Philippine government.

The decision to recognize arnis as a national sport was a significant milestone for the Filipino martial arts community. It brought a newfound respect and credibility to the sport and helped preserve its traditional techniques. Since then, arnis has gone on to gain international recognition and is now even being considered for Olympic inclusion. All of this would not have been possible without the efforts of the arnis community and their unwavering commitment to the sport they love.

History of Arnis

Arnis is a type of martial art that originated in the Philippines. It involves using sticks, knives, and bare hands to fight. The history of arnis can be traced back to the pre-colonial era in the Philippines when the natives already had their own form of fighting using weapons. The Spaniards who colonized the country banned the practice of arnis by the natives, as they saw it as a way to resist their authority. Despite the ban, arnis continued to be practiced in secret.

It was only during the American occupation that arnis was introduced to the world. A number of Filipinos who were skilled in the martial art were asked to showcase their abilities during the 1904 St. Louis Exposition in Missouri, USA. This event helped to spread the popularity of arnis not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world.

Key Events in the History of Arnis

  • Circa 900 AD – The natives in the Philippines already had their own form of fighting using weapons.
  • 16th Century – The Spaniards colonized the Philippines and banned the practice of arnis.
  • 1904 – Filipinos showcased their arnis skills at the St. Louis Exposition, helping to popularize the martial art worldwide.

Revival of Arnis

It was not until the 1970s that the Philippine government recognized arnis as their national martial art. This recognition led to a renewed interest in the practice of arnis by Filipinos. The Philippine Sports Commission was created in 1978 to help promote arnis and other traditional sports in the country. In 2009, the Philippine Senate passed Republic Act No. 9850, declaring arnis as the National Martial Art and Sport of the Philippines.

This move by the government has helped to further promote the practice of arnis, not only in the Philippines but also in other parts of the world. Today, arnis is not only recognized as a form of self-defense but also as a competitive sport. There are now international competitions and tournaments organized to showcase the skills of arnisadors from all over the world.

Arnis Championships

In the Philippines, the most prestigious arnis championship is the National Arnis Open Tournament. It is an annual event organized by the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) and is held in honor of the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal. Outside of the Philippines, the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) holds an annual World Championships that attracts competitors from over 30 countries.

Event Location Year
National Arnis Open Manila, Philippines 1982
WEKAF World Championships Various 1989-present

The popularity of arnis as a sport continues to grow. It is now included in the Southeast Asian Games, which is an international multi-sport event held every two years. With arnis now recognized as the national martial art and sport of the Philippines, it is poised to gain even more international recognition in the years to come.

Popular Arnis Techniques

Arnis is a martial art that originated in the Philippines and is now recognized as the national sport of the country. It is practiced widely throughout the Philippines and other parts of the world and offers numerous benefits to those who practice it. One of the reasons why Arnis gained popularity is because of its diverse set of techniques, which can be adapted to different fighting styles and scenarios. Here are some popular Arnis techniques that you can learn:

  • Single Stick Techniques – This involves using a single stick in various defensive and offensive techniques. Its primary aim is to disarm or strike the opponent with maximum efficiency. The most commonly used techniques in this category are the corto or short-distance strikes and the largo or long-distance strikes.
  • Double Stick Techniques – As the name implies, this involves using two sticks simultaneously for defense and offense. The most popular techniques in this category are the sinawali or “weaving” style and the abanico or “fan” style. The double stick techniques are preferred by those who want to enhance their hand-eye coordination and dual-stick mastery.
  • Knife Techniques – This aspect of Arnis focuses on the use of knives as weapons. You will learn techniques such as the abaniko or fan strike, the punyo or hilt strike, and the sikaran or kick techniques. Knife techniques in Arnis are designed to help you develop your knife fighting skills in close quarters.

Training and Sparring Techniques

Apart from the different techniques, there are also different training and sparring techniques that you can learn in Arnis. These include:

  • Drills and Forms – These are repetitive movements designed to help you develop your muscle memory and coordination. The drills and forms patterns incorporate various techniques and allow you to practice them without a partner.
  • Sparring – This is a simulated combat with a partner that enables you to apply the techniques that you have learned in a real-life scenario. Sparring in Arnis is usually controlled and involves protective gear such as headgear and gloves.

Philippine Arnis Federation Techniques

The Philippine Arnis Federation (PAF) is the governing body for Arnis in the Philippines. The PAF has developed its techniques that are used in competitions and demonstrations. These techniques are based on the traditional Arnis techniques and are shaped to suit the competitive format.

Technique Description
Solo Baston Page A one-minute demonstration of basic stick strikes and footwork.
Doble Baston Page A two-minute demonstration of double stick techniques.
Anyo or Form A pre-arranged sequence of strikes and movements that demonstrate the fighter’s control and coordination.

Overall, Arnis is a highly versatile martial art that offers a wide range of techniques and styles. Whether you’re interested in self-defense, improving your coordination or looking for a new sport, Arnis may have something to offer you.

Health Benefits of Arnis

Arnis, the national sport of the Philippines, isn’t just about self-defense, it’s also an incredibly healthy physical activity. Here are some of the health benefits you can gain from practicing arnis:

  • Improved cardiovascular health: Arnis is a high-intensity workout that gets your heart pumping and improves your overall cardiovascular health. It’s a great way to burn calories, which can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
  • Increased flexibility: Arnis involves a lot of stretching and twisting movements, which can help improve your flexibility over time. This can make everyday activities easier and reduce your risk of injuries related to stiffness and immobility.
  • Improved coordination and balance: Arnis involves a lot of footwork and hand-eye coordination, which can help improve your balance and coordination over time. This can reduce your risk of falls and related injuries as you age.

Aside from these physical benefits, arnis can also have mental and emotional benefits. For example:

Reduced stress: Arnis can be a great way to blow off steam and reduce stress. Its fast-paced nature and physical demands can help you release tension and feel more relaxed afterwards.

Boosted confidence: Arnis can help you feel more confident in your ability to defend yourself and handle physical challenges. This can carry over into other areas of your life and improve your overall sense of self-worth and resilience.

If you’re interested in trying out arnis, keep in mind that it can be a physically demanding activity. Be sure to start slowly and work your way up to more intense training as you build your strength and endurance.

Health Benefit Explanation
Improved cardiovascular health Arnis is a high-intensity workout that improves overall cardiovascular health and can aid in weight loss.
Increased flexibility Arnis involves a lot of stretching and twisting movements, which can help improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries related to stiffness and immobility.
Improved coordination and balance Arnis involves a lot of footwork and hand-eye coordination, which reduces the risk of falls and related injuries as an individual ages.

In summary, practicing arnis can offer a wide range of health benefits for both the body and mind. It’s a challenging and rewarding activity that can help you stay fit, flexible, and confident, both in and out of the dojo.

Arnis as a Self-Defense Martial Art

Arnis is an ancient martial art developed in the Philippines that uses a variety of weapons including sticks, knives, and swords. While it was traditionally used in warfare, it has also been used for self-defense. In fact, arnis is becoming increasingly popular as a self-defense martial art because of its practicality and versatility.

  • Practicality: Arnis is a highly practical martial art that focuses on realistic scenarios. Practitioners are trained to defend themselves in real-life situations, whether the attacker is armed or not.
  • Versatility: Arnis is a versatile martial art that can be adapted to a range of situations and environments. Practitioners learn how to use a variety of weapons and techniques, which makes it easier to defend themselves against different types of attackers.
  • Effective: Arnis is an effective martial art that has been proven in combat. Practitioners learn how to strike with speed, power, and precision, which can disable an attacker quickly and efficiently.

Arnis is also an ideal martial art for those who are not physically strong or have limited mobility. Because it emphasizes technique over strength, it can be used by people of all ages and physical abilities.

Arnis was recognized as the national sport of the Philippines in 2009, which has contributed to its growing popularity as a self-defense martial art. This recognition has helped solidify arnis’ place in Filipino culture and has allowed it to spread to other countries as well.

Benefits of Arnis as a Self-Defense Martial Art
Improves reaction time and reflexes
Increases confidence and self-esteem
Enhances physical fitness and coordination
Develops mental focus and discipline

Overall, arnis is an effective and practical martial art that can be used for self-defense. Its growing popularity as a national sport has helped to promote its use as a self-defense tool and has enabled it to spread to other countries. Whether you are interested in self-defense or just want to improve your physical and mental abilities, arnis is definitely worth considering.

Arnis Competitions and Tournaments

Arnis is not just a form of martial art, it has also become a popular national sport in the Philippines. The rise of arnis competitions and tournaments can be attributed to the government’s efforts to promote Filipino culture and tradition through sports.

One of the most significant events in the history of arnis as a competitive sport was the First National Arnis Championship in 1979. This tournament paved the way for more arnis competitions, bringing together the best arnisadores from different parts of the country.

  • Since then, arnis competitions have become a regular feature of Philippine sports, with national and international events being held annually.
  • The Philippine Olympic Committee recognized arnis as a priority sport in 1986, opening the door for arnis competitions to be included in national sports meets such as the Palarong Pambansa.
  • The World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF), an international organization dedicated to the promotion of arnis, has been organizing world championships since 1989, bringing together arnisadores from all over the world.

Arnis competitions and tournaments come in different forms, ranging from sparring matches to choreographed demonstrations. Some of the most popular events include:

Event Description
Full-Contact Sparring Competitors use padded sticks to strike each other and score points through clean hits. Protective gear such as helmets and gloves are required to ensure safety.
Forms Competition Also known as solo baston, competitors showcase their technique and proficiency by performing a series of choreographed movements with a stick or sword.
Dueling Demonstration Two competitors perform a synchronized routine with knives or swords, engaging in a mock duel that emphasizes control and skill over brute force.

With arnis competitions and tournaments gaining more popularity in the Philippines and around the world, it’s clear that arnis is no longer just a martial art, but also a thrilling sport that showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Filipino people.

Different Styles of Arnis Practiced Worldwide

Arnis is a martial art that originated in the Philippines, but it has since spread throughout the world. As a result, different styles of arnis have emerged with varying techniques, philosophies, and cultural influences. Here are six of the most popular styles of arnis:

  • Eskrima – Also known as Escrima or Kali, Eskrima is the most well-known form of arnis outside of the Philippines. It emphasizes stick and knife fighting, and practitioners are taught to use both weapons interchangeably. Eskrima also incorporates empty hand combat and grappling techniques.
  • Doce Pares – This style of arnis was founded in the 1930s and is known for its use of twelve basic strikes. Doce Pares places a heavy emphasis on sparring and is commonly used for self-defense and competition purposes.
  • Pananandata – Pananandata is a style of arnis that emphasizes blade work and footwork. Practitioners are taught to move in and out of range quickly, and to use their surroundings to their advantage. This style of arnis is often used in military and law enforcement training.
  • Akijitsu – This Japanese-influenced style of arnis focuses on joint locks, throws, and grappling techniques. It also incorporates the use of traditional Japanese weapons such as the katana and bo staff.
  • Buno – Buno is a style of arnis that incorporates grappling, joint locks, and throws. It also emphasizes the use of improvised weapons, such as umbrellas and canes, in addition to traditional arnis weapons.
  • Lameco Eskrima – Lameco Eskrima is a modern form of arnis that emphasizes practical self-defense techniques. It incorporates various martial arts philosophies and techniques, including boxing, kickboxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Different Styles of Arnis Practiced Worldwide

While these six styles of arnis share a common origin, they each have unique techniques and philosophies. Some emphasize weapon fighting, while others focus on grappling or self-defense. Nevertheless, they are all rooted in the centuries of martial arts tradition and culture of the Philippines.

Different Styles of Arnis Practiced Worldwide

Here are some additional styles of arnis that are practiced worldwide:

Modern Arnis – A modernized version of arnis that incorporates techniques from various martial arts, including judo, karate, and boxing.

Serrada Escrima – This style of arnis emphasizes close-quarters fighting, and the proper use of timing and distance. It also incorporates various throwing and locking techniques.

Style of Arnis Origin Techniques
Eskrima Philippines Stick and knife fighting, empty hand combat
Doce Pares Philippines Sparring, emphasis on competition and self-defense
Pananandata Philippines Blade work, footwork, use of surroundings
Akijitsu Japan Joint locks, throws, grappling techniques, use of Japanese weapons
Buno Philippines Grappling, joint locks, throws, use of improvised weapons
Lameco Eskrima Philippines Practical self-defense techniques, incorporation of other martial arts philosophies and techniques
Modern Arnis Philippines Techniques from various martial arts, including judo, karate, and boxing
Serrada Escrima Philippines Close-quarters fighting, emphasis on timing and distance, throwing and locking techniques

Regardless of their differences, all styles of arnis share a dedication to discipline, respect, and self-improvement. Practitioners are encouraged to develop not only their physical abilities but also their mental and spiritual growth, making it a holistic and fulfilling practice.

Importance of Arnis in Philippine Culture

Arnis is a Filipino martial art that has played a vital role in Philippine culture for centuries. It is a form of combat training that has been passed down from generation to generation, and has become a cornerstone of Filipino identity.

The importance of Arnis in Philippine culture can be seen in several ways, including:

  • Preservation of tradition: Arnis is one of the oldest martial arts in the world, and has a rich history that is deeply connected to Philippine culture. It has helped preserve the traditions of the Philippines by passing down fighting techniques, cultural practices, and values from one generation to the next.
  • Symbol of resilience: Arnis is also a symbol of Philippine resilience and resourcefulness. The martial art has faced many challenges over the years, including attempts at suppression during the Spanish colonial period. Despite these challenges, Arnis has managed to survive and flourish, maintaining its importance in Philippine culture.
  • Source of pride: Arnis has become a source of pride for Filipinos all over the world. It is a tangible reminder of the strength, agility, and fighting spirit of the Filipino people. It has also become a symbol of Filipino identity and a way for Filipinos to connect with their cultural roots.

Arnis has also played a significant role in shaping the way Filipinos view themselves and their place in the world. It has helped develop a sense of national pride and identity, and has served as a symbol of strength and resilience through the ups and downs of Philippine history.

Arnis Becoming a National Sport

In 2009, the Philippine Congress passed Republic Act No. 9850, which declared Arnis as the country’s national martial art and sport. This was a significant achievement for Arnis, as it helped elevate the status of the martial art and increased awareness of its importance in Philippine culture.

The law also mandated the development and promotion of Arnis as a sport, with the goal of increasing participation and improving the competitiveness of Philippine athletes in international competitions. This has led to the creation of various programs and initiatives aimed at promoting Arnis, including the establishment of the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) and the inclusion of Arnis in the Southeast Asian Games.

Overall, the recognition of Arnis as a national sport has helped further solidify its importance in Philippine culture, and has helped increase awareness of the martial art on a global scale.

Arnis in Modern Times

Today, Arnis continues to play an important role in Philippine culture and identity. It is still widely practiced throughout the country, and is gaining popularity around the world. Arnis has also continued to evolve and adapt to modern times, with the development of new techniques and training methods.

New Developments in Arnis Description
Integration with other martial arts Arnis has been integrated with other martial arts, such as taekwondo and judo, to create hybrid martial arts that combine the strengths of each discipline.
Use in self-defense training Arnis has become a popular form of self-defense training, with many people learning the techniques to protect themselves from potential threats.
Competitive sport Arnis is now a competitive sport, with various tournaments and competitions held around the world.

Despite these new developments, Arnis has remained true to its roots, maintaining its status as a symbol of Philippine culture and identity. It is a unique and valuable part of Filipino heritage, and will continue to be passed down from generation to generation.

FAQs about When Did Arnis Become National Sports

1. What is arnis?

Arnis is a martial art that originated in the Philippines, also known as Eskrima or Kali. It involves the use of different weapons and empty hand techniques.

2. When did arnis become a national sport in the Philippines?

Arnis became a national sport in the Philippines on December 11, 2009, when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Republic Act 9850 into law.

3. What does Republic Act 9850 entail?

Republic Act 9850 is the law that declares arnis as the national martial art and sport in the Philippines. It also promotes the development of arnis as a sport and strengthens its identity as part of the Filipino culture.

4. How is arnis played as a national sport?

Arnis is played in different formats as a national sport, including solo baston, doble baston, and espada y daga. Athletes compete nationally and internationally in tournaments organized by the Philippine Sports Commission.

5. What is the importance of arnis being recognized as a national sport in the Philippines?

Arnis being recognized as a national sport in the Philippines helps preserve and promote the country’s cultural heritage. It is also an opportunity for Filipino athletes to showcase their skills and compete at a national and international level.

6. Can non-Filipinos play arnis as a national sport in the Philippines?

Yes, non-Filipinos can play arnis as a national sport in the Philippines. The sport welcomes participants from different countries and promotes cultural exchange through competitions and training.


Thanks for reading this article on when did arnis become national sports. Arnis is not just a martial art, but also a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines. The recognition of arnis as a national sport in the Philippines is a significant step towards promoting and preserving the country’s unique culture. If you are interested in learning more about arnis, you can visit our website for more information. Stay tuned for more exciting content!