How It Came To Be
There are is no written record of the exact time Eskrima came to be, however, there are many theories as to where and how it may have originated. There are some claims that it goes as far back as 200 B.C., since that was when the wavy bladed knife known as the Kris was recorded to have been first used. However, there are others that believe it can be traced back to Spain in the 15th century, considering the Philippines was largely influenced by the Spanish.
One of the earliest written records of observance of Filipino martial arts were recorded by the Spanish when first arriving to the Philippines in the 1500’s. It was noted that many of the Spanish invaders, led by Ferdinand Magellan battled with natives armed with sticks. During this period, many Spanish fell at the hands of the Filipino natives, leading to the ban of practice of Filipino martial arts of any kind.
However, despite the prohibition of carrying full-sized swords, the Filipino natives managed to improvise with what they had and in secret, developed techniques in handling rattan sticks and small knives. Due to the secrecy in practicing the clandestine art, many of the practitioners would pass down their teachings to their children, and were guised to the governing leaders as a type of dance.