Filipino Martial Arts in Action Movies
Training in Filipino Martial Arts begins with learning how to use a stick, knives, and everyday objects as deadly weapons. There are many hand techniques that follow after mastering the stick for practitioners to be able to fight against opponents with weapons. Biting, groin shots, finger locks, and other techniques not normally taught in martial arts are also included in styles of FMA, because the point is to win the fight, not points. Filipino Martial Arts differs from Chinese Martial Arts and Korean Martial Arts in its lack of kicking techniques and the speed of combat.
The history of how Filipino Martial Arts started to dominate action movies is, in many ways, the history of the Philippines. In 200 B.C., the Malays started to migrate from the Southeast to the island nation that was already populated by indigenous tribes. The Malays brought with them weapons, such as the kris, that were quickly incorporated into the Filipino Martial Arts and are still taught to practitioners of FMA. Before the Philippines was given its Spanish name, rival tribes would pass down their unique fighting systems from generation to generation, with nothing ever being written down.
More than a thousand years passed before Ferdinand Magellan sailed westward from Spain, searching for a sea route to the “Spice Islands.” In 1521, Magellan and his crew arrived in the Philippine Archipelago and eventually waded ashore to do battle with Rajah Lapu-Lapu, the ruler of Mactan in the Visayas.
With a kampilan, a single-edged long sword, in hand, Lapu-Lapu landed a blow on Magellan’s leg and killed him with a thrust through his neck. Regarded as the first Filipino hero because of his resistance to the Spanish colonization, Lapu-Lapu’s use of Filipino Martial Arts at the Battle of Mactan delayed the colonization of the islands by forty years.