This martial art is the national sport of the Philippines. It involves weapon-based fighting with sticks, knives, bladed weapon, and various improvised weapons.

Sometimes, arnis is also called eskrima and kali, and these three are roughly interchangeable umbrella terms for the traditional martial arts of the Philippines ("Filipino Martial Arts", or FMA).

Although in general emphasis is put on weapons for these arts, some systems put empty hands or ‘open hand’ (or techniques without weapon) as the primary focus and some old school systems do not teach weapons at all.

This means Arnis also includes hand-to-hand combat, joint locks, grappling and weapon-disarming techniques.

Practitioners of these martial arts of several forms are called arnisador (male, plural arnisadores) and arnisadora (female, plural arnisadoras) for those who call theirs arnis, eskrimador (male, plural eskrimadores) or eskrimadora (female, plural eskrimadoras) for those who call their art eskrima, and kalista or mangangali for those who practice kali.

Arguably, the most common weapon being used by arnis players is that light, yet durable stick called ‘yantok,’ which is also being used by students in their physical education course in most Philippine schools.

Arnis competitions uses foam-padded sticks about an inch in diameter with thin rattan cores roughly a centimeter in diameter. These sticks are meant to break before serious injury occurs.

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