Filipino Martial Arts

Kali, Eskrima & Arnis are umbrella terms for the traditional martial arts of the Philippines that emphasize weapon based fighting with sticks, knives, other bladed weapons and various improvised weapons. It also includes hand to hand combat (Panantukan, Dumog, etc.) and weapon disarming techniques. Though Filipino martial arts are practiced by people of all sizes, they are especially well suited for women or smaller individuals, since a weapon tends to equalize size differences.

The Filipino Martial Arts are some of the most street-smart, battle-worthy and  graceful flowing systems in the world today. Filipino Martial Arts have been honed thru centuries of tribal warfare and defense from invading forces. These arts have continued to evolve in modern times with multitudes of practitioners all over the world and are now featured in the fight choreography of many popular action movies. Kali and Filipino Martial Arts are unique  in that training normally begins with basic weapon training.

The movements learned can be used empty hand or with any improvised weapon. Though this may sound counter intuitive, if you think about it, this is the way basic training works for soldiers. They first train with their weapon. Empty hand combat is considered a last resort.


Silat is a collective word for indigenous martial arts of the Indonesia, Malaysia and Southeast Asia, it is also traditionally practiced in parts of the Phillipines.
As with Filipino Martial Arts, there are hundreds of different styles but they tend to focus either on strikes, joint manipulation, throws, bladed weaponry, or some combination thereof. Some of the Silat styles that we practice focus on techniques from standing position others incorporate striking, locking and throws from standing, kneeling or from the ground.


Kali is commonly taught with rattan sticks and many types of blades (we often use blunt training blades or padded sticks for training), but also often includes soft weapons such as sarongs. Kali techniques range from empty hand striking, to locks, chokes throws and take-downs. Filipino boxing is sometimes called Panantukan. Because these are combative arts, there are no rules, so techniques can include head butts, eye gouges, etc. Filipino Martial Arts training should always stress respect for instructors and training partners along with safe training practices.

At Kensho, Kali and Silat training provide the keys to applying our various Muay Thai and kickboxing skills to real world combative situations. As with JKD, the idea is to learn to “go with the flow”.

If you can’t defend yourself with a weapon, does it really make sense to think that you’d be able to defend yourself without a weapon?

Roger Luri

Try Kensho Chicago’s Filipino Martial Arts classes.

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