Excerpt From Black Belt’s First Major Coverage of FMA: July 1967
The great Spanish explorer Ferdinand MagelODQ ZDV WKH ÀUVW :HVWHUQHU to have the misfortune to run up against the self-defense weapons of the Philippines. Magellan and his crew were on their history-making voyage around the world when they stopped in the Philippines in 1521. $IWHU D VKRUW EXW YLROHQFH PDUNHG VWD\ 0DJHOODQ·V FUHZ set sail again and eventually arrived back in Spain to FRPSOHWH WKH ÀUVW JOREH JLUGOLQJ YR\DJH LQ KLVWRU\ EXW they landed there without their captain.
Magellan never made it any farther than the small island of Mactan in what is now the province of Cebu, several hundred miles south of Manila. There, he ran LQWR D ÀHU\ FKLHI QDPHG /DSX /DSX ZKR UHIXVHG WR surrender to the would-be Spanish conquerors. Armed with rattan clubs, tabaks DQG ODQFHV /DSX /DSX DQG KLV men fought off the Spaniards, humiliating and killing the proud Magellan at the end of the battle.
The use of rattan clubs in this battle is interesting. The weapon is an ancient one in the Philippines and certainly the oldest martial arts weapon still used for selfdefense and sport in these islands.
The particular form of self-defense with these sticks is called arnis. (It is also referred to as escrima in SpanLVK $UQLV LV WKH 3KLOLSSLQHV HTXLYDOHQW WR :HVWHUQ VW\OH fencing or Japanese-style kendo except that arnis is usually fought with two sticks, one in each hand.
The longer stick, which is about 30 inches in length, is usually held in the right hand. The shorter stick, about 11 inches, is held in the left hand. Thus it can be seen that arnis bears certain similarities to the form of selfdefense called espada y daga, or “sword and dagger,” which used to be a favorite style of fencing in Europe and especially in Spain.
However, the Europeans used sharp steel blades for their swords and daggers, of course, while the Filipinos used only sticks. But the great effectiveness of a stick against the sword was demonstrated not only in the HQFRXQWHU ZLWK 0DJHOODQ·V PHQ EXW ZLWK ODWHU 6SDQLDUGV who came in force.