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Arnis History

ARNIS The Martial Art


            The onset of the twentieth century brought about the demise of Arnis in the country. With the coming of the Americans, the Filipinos were in awe with the new culture, that most indigenous cultures were relegated almost to oblivion. Our very own Arnis, the Filipino martial art, almost suffered the same fate. Once a prevalent martial art of the pre-Spanish natives and the illustrados of the Spanish era, Arnis all but disappeared in the urban areas and was mostly preserved in the provinces. Credit should be given to our traditional guro / maestro or grandmasters, illustrious men who painstakingly preserved Arnis for us.


The rise to popularity of various foreign martial arts also placed our local martial art in the limelight. Suddenly, interest in Arnis began to surge. Popular practice of the art however, also had its share of problems. For one, there was a dire need to consolidate the various forms, styles and strains of Arnis. Arnis is not just one technique nor just one school, it is as varied as the islands of the country, with its more than eighty (80) languages and about one hundred forty-two (142) dialects in an archipelago of seven thousand and one hundred (7,100) islands. Furthermore, there was also a need for a strong leadership to hold such schools or groups together, to steer it towards a direction, so as to prevent Arnis from slipping into oblivion.



Modern Interpretation 


             In 1975, the National Arnis Association of the Philippines (NARAPHIL) was formed by Gen. Fabian C. Ver. This organization acted as the first national organization for Arnis in the Philippines. Its existence however, faded after the radical change and total revamp in the Philippine government caused by the Philippine Revolution of 1986.


            In the meantime, in many parts of the world, popular names and groups have been busy propagating the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) and sports, pushing their teachings and techniques. Some people successfully made their way into martial arts schools, police academies, military schools, educational institutions, government agencies, and even in the entertainment world.