Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Two Sticks Better Than One

May 27th, 2009 · 2 Comments

There’s a movement afoot in the Senate of the Philippines to designate arnis the national sport. From the text of Senate Bill 1424 (PDF):

Arnis is a sport that is indigenous and uniquely Filipino. Among the many games in the country, it can be considered as one of our national cultural gems that completely originated from the Philippines.

This art was practiced primarily for self-defense by the Filipinos during the pre-Spanish period. While during the Spanish period, Arnis was used to fight against the Spanish invaders. The Filipinos stand against the superiorly armed adversaries in mortal combat in the areas of battle is now held in immortal inviolability by history. It would not be farfetched to surmise that one of the earliest Filipino heroes, Lapu-Lapu, was an Arnis expert.

Sounds like a political slam dunk to us. But how much of Sen. Zubiri’s paean is true? That’s where things start to get tricky, as elucidated in this detailed examination of arnis’s origins.

Much more on the Filipino martial arts here, courtesy of the man credited with the great arnis revival of the past two decades.


Tags: ····

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Gramsci

    The phrase “completely originated” is such a political red flag, echoing nativists who want to kick the ass of “unoriginal” elements in society. I prefer the “original” character of jazz in America, which comes from combining cultures and traditions, not claiming utter separation and independence therefrom.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Gramsci: There’s definitely a jingoistic element to the pro-arnis crusade. I read a piece in which the senator bemoans the fact that many people think “sepak takraw” is Tagalog, in large part because the sport is so popular there.

    Of course, the real national sports of the Philippines seem to be basketball, volleyball, and boxing. But I guess the nativists can’t credibly lay claim to any of those.

    Great basketball league over there, BTW.