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Other Filipino martial arts


Panantukan, more commonly known as Filipino boxing employs all the upper body weapons to neutralise an opponent. The art, traditionally practiced without gloves, allows the practitioner to employ various parts of his body (fist, forearm,elbow) to neutralise parts of the opponents’ body. This is more commonly known as limb destruction. By striking various nerve points and muscle tissue, partial paralysis occurs in the affected limb, thereby making it useless in combat. However, Panantukan also employs other weapons such as the shoulder (for ramming) and the head (for striking). Strikes are also not limited to the limbs. The ribs, spine, and the back of the neck are all valid targets in this art. Its value is proven in the many techniques that are found in Eskrima, Arnis and other weapon based styles which are derived from Panantukan, the most common being the limb destruction. 


Pananjakman is the Filipino art of kicking. Although not as appealing to the eye as the kicks found in Capoeira, Karate and Tae-kwon do, the kicks are all designed to inflict pain, destroy an attackers mobility or distract him for an upper body strike. The kicks are done with the point of the foot, the heel and the shin. Popular targets include the shin, the knee, the inside and outside of the thigh and the groin. The art of Filipino kicking is still prevalent in the Philippines today, in the traditional form of Sipa , a game which involves kicking a small rattan ball with the foot over a net to another player. Another more village based activity with the same name, starts out with two competitors in a small circle. Once the game begins, both contestants attempt to kick each other until one contestant falls outside the ring or can no longer continue. This “game” is not as popular today, and is perhaps one of the fundamental training exercises in Pananjakman. Finally, Pananjakman is frequently paired with Panantukan to create a complete fighting system. The kicking art serves to distract the opponent while the punching art incapacitates him. Alternatively, the punching art can distract the opponent or neutralise his attacks while the kicking art cripples the attackers mobility.


Dumog is a general term used to describe the Filipino art of wrestling and grappling. There are two main forms of dumog. Agaw patid Buno, is the more commonly known form of dumog. It consists of standup grappling and wrestling, utilising off-balancing techniques, throws, and neck turning to force an opponent to the ground. Traditionally opponents would engage by holding a belt or encircling each other’s waist and attempt to throw and unbalance each other. Victory was declared when the opponent’s shoulders squarely touched the ground.

Musang Dumog is a ground fighting art, utilising locks, chokes and strikes to submit opponents on the ground. Both systems can be combined or learnt independently. The origins of both these styles is rather sketchy, however they are still relatively abundant in the northernmost islands of the Phillippines.


Kino-mutay is the Filipino art of biting, eye gouging and pinching. In itself, it is not a primary fighting style but employs techniques which can be readily grafted onto any other Filipino empty hands or weapons system (or any other martial art for that matter). There is little evidence that this art existed as a traditional fighting form and it is probable that its development is quite recent.


Yaw-Yan is a Filipino martial art developed by Grandmaster Napoleon Fernandez. The art resembles Muay Thai in a sense, but also utilises kicks which are found in Tae Kwon do. However, the origin is more often than not Filipino. The word Yaw-Yan was derived from the two last syllables of  “Sayaw ng Kamatayan” meaning “Dance of Death”.  It uses roundhouse kicks which curve downwards (even from head level), which result in tremendous power when hip torque is applied. The punches include many punches found in western boxing, such as the uppercut, hook, swing and right cross, but also include back hands, bolo punches and corkscrew punches. It differs from the other empty-hand styles found in the Phillipines because it is often trained with gloves on, to allow full contact between sparring partners. Because of this, it doesn’t employ the variety of limb destructions found in the other arts.


Kuntaw is one of the oldest fighting systems in the Philippines. It is reportedly from the Sulu archipelago but has since worked its way North to other islands. It is a fighting system that utilises all the natural weapons of the body, such as hands, elbows, knees and feet. The hands are used for parrying, striking and grappling while the legs are used for lowline kicks and off-balancing sweeps and takedowns. The techniques all focus on evading and redirecting the energy of attacks, a common principle in many Chinese styles (which may have influenced Kuntaw somewhat). It must be noted that it is not strictly and empty hand system, and like in many Filipino martial arts, Kuntaw also utilises weaponry that can be substituted for any empty hand techniques it employs. Although this art was traditionally taught very secretly, today it is taught publicly throughout the Philippines and the rest of the world.


The word Kali, is derived from Kalis, the tagalog term for a large bladed weapon. The term for this system developed in moroland, in the Sulu archipelago, where such fighting systems were prevalent. Prior to the Spanish occupation, Filipinos had tribal-organised fighting systems. The bladed weapon was their core weapon; the Kris, the bolo, and the balaraw (a dagger-type knife), the standard types.

There is no historical information to support there ever being a martial art called “Kali”.  An often repeated fictin always categorises the art of Kali as coming from the Southern island of Mindanao but this is not so. There are no instructors of Kali in the Philippines and there never will be, as the term is not used, and there is no historical basis for the art. Kali is merely a generic term used in the United States to refer to Filipino martial arts of Arnis and Eskrima.