Arnis de mano-kali, “harness of hand”, is the best known and most systematic fighting art of the Philippines. Originally known as kali, arnis centers around three distinct phases: stick, blade, and empty-hand combat. As a fighting art arnis had three forms of play: espada y daga (sword and dagger), in which a long wooden sword and a short wooden dagger are used; solo baston (single stick) where a single long stick made of wood or rattan cane is employed. And sinawali, a native term applied because of the intricate movements the two sticks resemble the criss cross weave of a pattern used in walling and matting.
“Arnis/kali is most effective in close-range combat,” explained Grand Master Carlito Lanada. “In training we have three principal methods. One is the pansalag which teaches the artistic execution of the swinging movements and striking for offense and defense. The sanga at patama is next.
Wherein the striking, thrusting, and parrying in a prearranged manner are taught.
Finally the labanan totohanan, fighting for real. Locks and takeaways are a major part of this art and lend themselves to be used in self-defense applications.
Striking and parrying skills must therefore be developed with the utmost dexterity. The expert use of the legs to offset balance and throw an opponent must be perfected.
Unlike other martial arts that make use of the entire body, early kali as well as modern arnis emphasizes the use of the stick and hand-arm movements.
Many of the ancient techniques and weapons have been modified to prevent injury to students.”