The three major branches of Filipino martial arts are Arnis typically from the northern Luzon regions, Eskrima from the central Visayas regions, and Kali from the southern Mindanao regions. Within these branches dwell a long line of masters, families, systems and history. Most Filipino systems will associate with one of these terms and their respective regions of the Philippines.
As a guerilla combat art it has proved to be extremely effective. The local warriors would make use of whatever they had around them to use against many invading cultures. Today is it widely practiced as a exploration into the history of the Filipino culture.
The use of the stick and the dagger is most common in all of the Filipino martial arts, but like all traditional martial arts it has gotten away from simple and effective to complicated and useless.
At its core, the indigenous martial arts of the Philippines are based on the bolo, a machete like weapon used for everything from farm work to fighting. Born from guerilla combat, Filipino martial arts are not a systemized form of combat.
Traditions and teachings are transferred from father to son, master to student. Teaching methods vary and documentation of these methods only occurred over the last 2 decades.
Most traditional martial arts fall victim to this same problem. Instructors begin to make things complicated in order to fill up time and keep students occupied. Take a look at the Japanese during the Edo period. With no one to fight, the samurai warriors began to over analyze, write poetry and arrange flowers. The same is true with the Filipino martial arts, from the basic techniques of what actually worked, today we have a complicated and confusing symbolic representation of what happened in the jungle.
For effective fighting technique and real self defense it does not need to be complicated, just simple and adaptable to the today’s modern world.