Arnis, as martial arts, originated and developed in the Philippine soil. This was
practiced and mastered by early Filipinos for defense and self preservation. Later
on during the Spanish regime in the Philippines Filipinos called it Arnis.
Historically, It was a derivation from the word “Arnes,” a colorful trappings on
defensive armors used in Moro-Moro plays which were then a socio-religious plays
depicting the victory of Christian Spaniards over the Muslims. The shows were used
primarily as propaganda and also for entertainment. During that time, The Filipinos
were prohibited by the Spanish regime to practice their martial arts so the staging
of Moro-Moro gave the players a good excuse to practice their fighting art.
The Arnis system of fighting includes empty hands techniques which employ the flowing
method of training like the tapi-tapi (Tapping) system to develop reflexes,
sensitivity, timing, and good coordination. It also utilized kicking techniques but
usually applied to the lower part of the body. Traditional Arnis is usually
practiced in three forms of play. They are solo baston or single-stick in which a
long stick or baston is used; the Espada y Daga or sword and dagger in which a long
stick or sword and a wooden dagger are used; and the Sinawali, a native term applied
because of its intricate movements of the two sticks resemble the weave of sawali
(crisscross fashion), the bamboo split weave pattern used in walling and matting
which was very common in Visayas Islands.
What is CASAS?
CASAS means Combative and Sportive Arnis System, designed by Guro Melecio O. Balberde
and Guro Lino B. Baldevarona. Arnis or Eskrima is often misunderstood by non-
practitioners of the Filipino Martial arts. They thought that Arnis training is
confined to the used of sticks only. On the contrary Arnis is a complete system of
Martial Arts. Arnis System is unusual because the practitioner begins by learning
armed combat and progress to unarmed fighting skills that includes boxing, kicking,
grappling and trapping. CASAS is actually a system of Arnis training which utilizes
modern and scientific approach in training students in acquiring self-defense
techniques and skills in Arnis sport competitions. What makes CASAS unique is that
it begins training the practitioner with the use of two sticks. CASAS teaches twenty
four variations of Sinawali movements designed by Guro Mel O. Balberde to enhance
good coordination in both right and left hand. Mel believes that good coordination
plays an important role in sports competition as well as in real combat. After
learning the basics of the Sinawali movements the students are taught the basics
strikes using single stick, and progresses to defenses and counters and disarming and
locking techniques. After learning the single stick as weapon, the students will
learn the Espada y Daga, and then the Filipino style of knife fighting. Knife
fighting include dagger versus dagger, empty hand versus dagger. After learning
these skills, practitioners are taught to apply the movements of hands with weapons
to empty hand fighting techniques.
Arnis in itself is already a mixed system of martial arts which uses sticks as main
weapon. It also employs mano y mano or empty hand techniques which uses almost all
parts of the body, like the fist used in boxing and other martial arts, kicking or
sikaran, head butting, elbow strikes, grappling, and dumog or the Filipino wrestling.
The CASAS therefore utilizes the use of boxing focus gloves, punching and kicking
bags, kicking pads and shields and also using traditional equipment to enhance the
development and sharpening of skills. Traditionally, serious Arnis practitioners
become expert in using bladed weapons both offensively and defensively. The CASAS
will also give emphasis in teaching self defense techniques using bladed weapons like
knives and bolos/machetes.
CASAS recognizes that Arnis sport is a good avenue wherein an Arnis practitioner can
express his learned skills in Arnis. Though it is different in a real combat, it will
encourage students to become very disciplined, sharpen their skills, and also promote
unity through the spirit of sportsmanship. It is in this notion that CASAS will help
in promoting Arnis sports which are already established by other organizations like
the International Modern Arnis Federation, Arnis Philippines Inc., and other Arnis
international and local organizations.
CASAS training methods include Aerobic exercises such as running, skipping and
jumping ropes, and other exercises that are designed to develop stamina. Besides
practicing coordination exercises with the use of sticks, CASAS will also employ
flexibility exercises to enhance good coordination and timing in delivering
different techniques whether in actual combat or in sports.