A Sports Arnis workshop was taught by Master Ike Xavier Sarabia Villaflores, Arnis Philippines (Arpi) Commissioner for Dumaguete City, recently in the Municipality of Kalibo in Aklan Province, Panay Island.
The Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) sponsored the historic training to equip Aklanon teachers in the ongoing reintroduction of the indigenous art of Arnis to the Philippine school system through sport programs. The Arnis workshop was part of a larger program of seminars involving various sport disciplines. 37 teahcers from different parts of Aklan were in attendance.
Arnis, also known as Eskrima in Cebu, is recognized by the Philippine Government as the country’s National Martial Sport, as much as Taekwondo is to Korea. Rhe government-recognized National Sport Association (NSA) for Arnis is Arnis Philippines, Inc. (Arpi).
Master Villaflores, himself a school teacher in his hometown Dumaguete, was invited by the Task Force in School Sports (TFSS) with the authorization and approval of Arnis Philippines, Inc. (Arpi) under its President Raymund S. Velayo.
The integration of the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) into the Philippine education system will help boost the studentry’s pride of being Filipino, in realizing that their native arts are at par, if not better, than other more popular forms of Asian Martial Arts such as Japanese Karate, Chinese Kung Fu, Korean Taekwondo, Indonesian Pencak Silat, etc.
Kalibo is the capital town of Aklan. Its name was derived from the Hiligaynon Isa ka Libo “One Thousand,” in reference to the number of inhabitants in that place originally baptized to Christianity by the Spaniards in the 16th Century.
Master Villaflores, the Founder/Chief Instructor of the Dumaguete Arnis Association (DUMAA) and the DUMAA System of Escrima, had already produced Arnis champions among his wards in various local, regional, national, and world Arnis championships.
Villaflores started Martial Arts training in Karate under his father, Roy Villaflores, in 1980 and later continued his studies under Grandmaster Leonardo Delaluna, who taught Kenpo Jujutsu and Arnis (Doce Generales style) in 1986. Villaflores supplemented his studies with instruction from other instructors, among them his late grandfather Grandmaster George Duran of Cebu (Balintawak), his late grandfather Grandmaster Exequiel Sarabia (Doce Pares), the late Grandmaster Vicente Villarojo of Dumaguete (de prances), and Grandmaster Max A. Recto of Kabankalan City (Recto Arnis).
Arnis is the Filipinized form of the Spanish Arnes “Harness, Armor” and is at times added with the Spanish de Mano “Hand.” Taken together Arnis de Mano “Harness of the hand” alludes to an Arnisador’s ability to defend himself as if wearing an armor. Eskrima, the preferred term by Cebuanos, is the Filipinized form of the Spanish Escrima “Fencing.”
A common misconception is that Arnis/Escrima is Spanish simply because they use Spanish names as well as Spanish technical terms for their repertoire. It can not be denied that the 333 years of the Spanish colonization (1565-1898) had resulted to the assimilation of many Spanish words into the various Filipino languages as well as Spanish customs into the Filipino culture. Noted historian Dra. Sonia M. Zaide said that there are 5,000 Spanish loan words in the Filipino language.
However, this does not mean that the techniques used in Arnis/Eskrima were outright copycats of the Spanish systems of Escrima. The pre-Hispanic Filipinos had their own form of Martial Arts that was enhanced by the Spanish Renaissance Fencing, i.e. that which uses heavier and larger swords, not the light and slender civilian rapier.