Eskrima: Filipino Martial Art

Rey Pineda
Knoxville News Sentinel
February, 2011

"Kung Fu"... "Karate" ... "Tae Kwon Do"... most people have heard of these martial arts style. But have you heard of "Eskrima"? 

Eskrima is a Filipino martial art (FMA) that emphasizes weapon-based fighting with sticks, blades and improvised weapons. It is a fighting technique believed to have originated from Chinese and Indian martial arts. 

Early Filipino natives used these fighting skills during tribal wars way before the country was discovered and named Philippines by Spain. I do have a problem with history books stating that Spain discovered the Philippines. It was CONQUERED, not DISCOVERED. The natives were there all along.

(Dan Inosanto, left, and Bruce Lee)

In a scene in the movie "Game of Death," the late Chinese martial artist Bruce Lee demonstrates his skills with the weapon nunchaku as he fights Dan Inosanto, a Filipino-American martial artist armed with two sticks, displaying the techniques of Eskrima. I thought the fight scene was magnificent. Lee used this movie to illustrate his new style of fighting called Jeet Kune Do.

Inosanto was Bruce Lee's protege. He is one of the only three students that Lee ever ranked as instructor of Jeet Kune Do. Inosanto named his daughter Diana Lee after his friend Bruce Lee whom he also named as her godfather. 

Inosanto is a recipient of several belts in different Asian, Brazilian and American martial arts disciplines. He is also one of the many proponents of Eskrima, sometimes referred to as Kali, or Arnis.
Tom Cruise in the movie "Mission Impossible" and Matt Damon in "Jason Bourne" movie series demonstrated fighting skills derived from "Kali" martial arts.

Seated on the outskirts of Knoxville, the Inayan School of Eskima seems like a quiet warehouse from the outside, but within is a robust training ground where the arduous Filipino martial art Eskrima is taught.

Gerry Agana, left, a Filipino-American and a U.S. military veteran who happened to my Filibilly blog, told me about the school. He invited me to come, visit and experience for myself the actual training of  Eskrima. 

The school on 4701 Central Ave. Pike was filled with exhibits from the Philippines and weapons which included arnis (sticks made from rattan), bolo (machete), kampilan (scimitar), kris (wavy, double-edged sword) and panangga (shield).

I met Tagaturo (Chief Instructor) Steven Klement who is the leader of the group. Klement is a Knox County Officer who was trained and ranked directly by the late Mangisursuro (a title which litereally means "The One who is teaching") Mike Inay, the founder of Inayan Eskrima.