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At Burlington Karate & Kobudo instruction is available, mainly to adult students, in Largo Mano Escrima and Arnis. However, there are no regularly scheduled Escrima classes. Instead, Escrima is taught privately or in a continuing series of adult seminars throughout the year. Most of the training at our school consists of the use of rattan sticks. Aluminum practice swords, dull, are used in place of real swords for safety purposes and there is no training of any kind using live bladed weapons.

History of Escrima

The art of Escrima originated in the Philippines. The name Escrima translates as “fencing”. Therefore, Escrima is the art of Filipino fencing. There are many different styles of Escrima which are designated by which part of the Philippines they came from, when they were developed, and by the cultural and religious background of the people who created them. The three names used to categorize the different Filipino arts are Kali, Escrima and Arnis. Within each of these categories, there are many styles. For example, Arnis de Mano (armor of the hand) and Largo Mano Escrima (long hand fencing).

Most Escrima styles begin their training methods with the use of the single Baston (stick), then double Baston (two sticks) and eventually advance to the use of various types of bladed weapons. The reason being is that sticks are safer than blades to learn with and sticks made of rattan are commonly available throughout the Philippines.


The various types of blades and methods that are used by different styles are dictated by cultural background and the location of the people using them. For  example, the southern Philippines are populated by the Moro Filipinos. These people are of Muslim background and  favour the use of a Muslim sword called a Kris. This type of sword is famous for its wavy blade. It is an ideal blade for big chopping strokes and thrusting techniques.

Another blade used by the Moro Filipinos is a Barong. A Barong sword is a heavy blade which is ideal for chopping, slashing and thrusting.

A Kampilan is another type of Muslim sword used in the southern Philippines. It is the biggest of the Moro blades and is used with two hands. It is mainly used for military purposes and is not generally used in Escrima.

Another Moro weapon is a Panabas. It is believed that it was originally an agricultural tool. It is an ideal weapon used for chop-like strokes, similar to that of an axe. It was used for military purposes and was also sometimes used for executions. Like the Kampilan it is not generally used in Escrima.

A very popular and common blade used throughout the Philippines is a Bolo (machete like sword ). A Bolo is basically an agricultural tool. There are two types of Bolos. The most common looks like a machete. The second type is a Pinute Bolo which is the same as a regular Bolo except that the top of the blade is sharpened a few inches from the tip. A Pinute Bolo looks somewhat like a Bowie Knife and can be used for fanning techniques. The Bolo is a blade used by people who live in agricultural areas. In World War two it was a favoured weapon and a standard issue in the Filipino Army and American military stationed in the Philippines.


In the cities of the Philippines the use of smaller weapons such as Punal daggers and Balisong (butterfly knife) are used for self-defence purposes. This is because in the cities swords were not allowed to be carried. As a result, smaller weapons such as daggers became very common.

In the 16th Century, Spanish Conquistadors invaded the Philippines. The Philippines eventually became a territory of Spain until 1898 when the Philippines were turned over to the United States as part of the peace treaty which ended the Spanish-American war.

During the Spanish occupation of the Philippines escrima was outlawed. The Filipinos continued to train in secrecy. During this time the Spanish military used a sword and dagger system of fighting. The Filipinos took from the Spanish system and developed their own form of sword and dagger system, Espada y Daga. 

Largo Mano Escrima

Largo Mano Escrima (Long Hand Fencing), also known as Larga Mano Escrima, is similar to other Escrima styles, however, it is characterized by the use of a long Baston, 30 inch stick, the use of a striking system called Ciquo Taros (five cardinal blows) and various types of blades. Thus the name Largo Mano, which means long hand, came from the use of the long stick. The stick is considered to be an extension of the arm. Other characteristics are the use of circle techniques, umbrella techniques, fanning techniques, transitional footwork, extensive use of the checking hand, simple disarming techniques, single stick, double sticks, sword, sword and dagger, and double swords. 

Largo Mano Escrima is a very intelligent, scientific, straight-forward form of Filipino fencing and is one of the most functional forms of armed street self-defence systems in the world.

Click here to view the Escrima demonstration video clip (2.9mb)


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