Is there a Filipino martial art similar to Ninjutsu?

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts' started by Obake, Nov 13, 2015.

  1. Obake

    Obake Valued Member

    Hi everyone, :)

    Is there a Filipino martial art similar to Ninjutsu? I noticed that some native Filipino weapons look remarkably similar to Japanese weapons. Examples like swords resembling a wakizashi, and a piked baton similar to a sai. I was just wondering if the ancient Filipino warriors had ninja styles?
  2. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

  3. blindside

    blindside Valued Member

    How would you describe a "ninja style?"
  4. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    in the filipino island groups, ninjas weren't really a thing but sea faring "pirate" groups were.

    in the battle of pirates vs ninjas - pirates allllways win.
  5. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

  6. Obake

    Obake Valued Member

    Hello again, :)

    To answer your question Blindside, I'm hoping to find a Filipino martial art or practice that has ninja-like traits and weapons. Something along the lines of a Filipino guerrilla warrior of ancient times. Is there or was there ever a Filipino style that trained in stealth and subterfuge, espionage or assassination, using camouflage and fire-tactics, etc?

    Funny post Van Zandt :) lol

    Thank you Mangosteen for that useful bit of information. I suppose I could draw a connection between pirates and ninja. Some types of Japanese ninja and Chinese renzhe were known to be remarkably adept at piracy and naval warfare. What is the Filipino word for "pirates," and what kind of fighting styles did they practice?
  7. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    this is all actually readily available on wikipedia.
    sea faring was very common and with the colonial spaniards coming over many

    let go of the ninja stuff. its cool and interesting but modern ninjas aren't held with very high regard (actually considered pretty terrible) in martial arts communities, even those who do practice ninjutsu at higher levhe bujinkan hands out grades like candy)

    theres a number of way more interesting martial traditions that are really well regarded like other japanese styles or escrima or something less widely practiced like silat.
  8. Obake

    Obake Valued Member

    Is there a Spanish martial art, or perhaps something akin to what the pirates practiced? As far as sword fighting and naval warfare?
  9. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    You mean fencing, marksmanship, and naval artillery?
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  10. Obake

    Obake Valued Member

    This is getting off-topic, but the direction it is going has caused me to wonder more about the Spanish pirates and their styles of fencing. Didn't Spanish traders go to Japan and give western weapons to the samurai? If so, did the samurai also learn western fencing, or did the Japanese ninja ever adopt western ways of fighting? Just curious.
  11. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not


    the philipines were a major part of the chinois aztec trade route the spanish had
  12. Obake

    Obake Valued Member

    What is the Spanish word for "fencing," or more accurately, what was the Spanish style of fencing called prior to escrima?
  13. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Italian - scherma
    French - escrime
    Spanish - escrima

    From the longobard skirmjam - meaning to protect. In Romance languages it became a generic term to mean fencing, or skill with a bladed weapon. Fencing in english nearly always means with a sword, but in the romance languages in the past it could mean any systemic use of a blade including daggers. (Only later in france/Spain/italy did it come to mean exclusively sword fencing)

    In the phillipines the word was adopted as to express original meaning of 'blade work' rather than strictly sword play, and there was very little crossover between escrima/kali/arnis and western fencing, with the exception of perhaps largo mano or illustrissimo (i think - escrima practitioners can correct me here) For a better overview of this please read Ambergers take on this:


    If spanish fencing had a different name it was probably known as 'destreza' (sp. skill/dexterity) which differed technically from french and italian fencing in that the footwork was circular rather than linear and relied on complex interplay of binds and angles, the famed magic circle, where with his greater use of euclid geometrics would allow the spanish fencer (so its proponents claimed at least...) certain mathematical victory over his opponent if he kept timing distance and proportion. Dan Brown would have loved this.

    Problem is that Destreza was seldom taught outside spain, or even spanish nobility and relied on the unique properties of the rapier. The chances of of it being known by sailors is almost zero who across the world and cultures nearly all used short cutlass type weapons and boarding pikes, and by the time the spanish really conquered the phillipines their nobility were using the smallsword and/or Cup hilted thinner rapiers rather than the old rapier anyway and Destreza had fallen by the wayside or elements had been incorporated into a linear type of french smallsword fencing, with very little spanish theory left anyway.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  14. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Spanish pirates (?!) style of fencing? - unlikely or at least undocumented.

    Spanish Traders in Japan - yes, but mostly matchlocks and muskets (very prized), and breastplate armour. Possibly cannons. Western Swords may have been traded as curiosities.

    But Samurai learning western fencing? Unlikely considering the Rapier and dagger and Katana and Wakizashi handle very differently. The weapon defines the limits of optimum use I'm afraid. There some fanciful stuff on the net about Musashi creating his two sword style after watching spanish fencers. Its nonsense.

    Ninja adopt western ways of fencing in the 1500's Why would they? The old ninja historical manuals all assert that the ninja tended to fight with 'o-wakizashi' type sword. That is to say short cutting swords, for fighting in confined spaces and low light enviroments, and to give the impression when travelling that they were simple monks/traders etc anything rather than katana armed samurai. They would be unlikely to learn western fencing systems which are designed for (mostly but not exclusively) for longer thrusting swords the total opposite of what ninja weapons were primarily designed as.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  15. blindside

    blindside Valued Member

    You mean like a cadre of volunteers who were trained in guerrilla operations and inserted into conquered territories to collect intelligence and conduct undercover operations to hamper the enemy?

    Meh, sounds like wannabe fiction to me.....

    or maybe not:
  16. Obake

    Obake Valued Member

    Spanish fencing is called "escrima," that's interesting. As you can probably tell, I have almost no experience at all with this. What's the difference between Spanish escrima and Filipino escrima? Or between French escrime and Italian scherma? I'm not looking for a whole encyclopedia description of each one. If you could just highlight some of the similarities and differences between them, that would be great. I am familiar a little bit with Filipino martial arts, but not by much. I thought Filipino fencing was mostly about using knifes and rattan sticks, short bladed weapons as opposed to the longer swords used in European fencing. Is my perception wrong?
  17. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    What's the difference between Spanish escrima and Filipino Escrima?

    There is little to no real connection. Read the link I gave for a better understanding. If you want some very broad brush strokes then spanish fencing is based on circular footwork with an emphasis on keeping the body upright the point in line and trying to bind the opposing blade. Spanish fencing was almost totally based on the rapier, mostly thrusting but quite a bit of cutting actions too. Phillipino escrima....well I'm not qualified to give an opinion as im not a practitioner but from what I can gather it has triangular footwork patterns and is about working cutting angles. It has a larger arsenal of weapons and includes the opportunity of using the same theory in empty handed techniques.

    Or between French escrime and Italian Scherma

    Again this depends on the time period and depends on the master, particulary the italian system which is pretty varied. Italian system was mostly based on the rapier and often used in conjunction with a main gauche dagger, but could could be also rapier and rapier, rapier and cloak, rapier and small buckler etc etc. It depended on who did the teaching.The footwork was linear, it was mostly about beating or opposing the opponents blade and had a emphasis on 'Tempo', finding the exact time in which to hit. It preferred the thrust but sometimes cut as well

    French Fencing developped out of the Italian fencing when the rapier began to go out of fashion and was based on the use of the smallsword/court sword.
    It had similar linear footwork and only really usec thrusting attacks, but rather than beating the opponents blade it preferred feints, and rather than defending and attacking in one tempo (simultanious timed action) it preferred the parry and riposte as two separate actions. It could be fought in conjunctions with cloaks, dagger lanterns etc, but usually the smallsword was used by itself.

    In modern sport fencing the above european styles have kind of merged. That being said the french have tendency to feint, the italians to beat or oppose, and the spanish to keep the point in line, due to the way the national academies teach their syllabus.

    All three national styles ive explained above are the ones based on the civilian weapons/duelling weapons. I havn't even mentioned the military weapons which are even more varied and complicated to explain, and quite frankly I don't have the time or patience to go into right now.

    Filipino fencing was mostly about using knifes and rattan sticks, short bladed weapons as opposed to the longer swords used in European fencing. Is my perception wrong?

    No you are broadly speaking right. Though I think there are some phillipino schools that teach longer weapons but are in the minority. Only a practitioner of phillipino escrima who also does HEMA could answer that question properly for you I'm afraid.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  18. Bozza Bostik

    Bozza Bostik Antichrist on Button Moon

    Filipino fencing was mostly about using knifes and rattan sticks, short bladed weapons as opposed to the longer swords used in European fencing. Is my perception wrong?

    Kinda wrong, kinda right....

    One thing you must remember is there are numerous systems of FMA just as there is numerous systems of kung fu and karate. Not only do they have different weapons, they have different techniques, drills, training methods, philosophies, different names for the same techniques as other schools....It's all a bit if a mess at times!

    Rattan is used as a training tool, even a blunt blade can be dangerous. It isn't a stick in many schools, it's a blade and you use it like a blade. yes, it's a stick, but no, it's a blade and you treat it as such. Not all schools use sticks, some are blade only and don't even use rattan as a training tool.

    But I've also heard that sticks started to be used in some schools as training tools and people began to see what can be done with the rattan and developed stick specific technique separate from the blade work.

    It's a bit late so I hope that makes sense.

    You don't seem to see the lengths of blades in FMA that you see in Europe and other Asian countries, but It depends on what you mean by short, how long is a piece of string? They often tend to be wider too. The barong is one of my favourite weapons and it's pretty weighty.

    These guys make a whole bunch of weapons, you can check the various lengths out.

    Remember that spears were also used in the Philippines
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  19. Obake

    Obake Valued Member

    Thanks. :)
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  20. Bozza Bostik

    Bozza Bostik Antichrist on Button Moon

    I was hoping some of the more knowledgeable FMA lot would add to this thread but as they're not....

    However, I think the Filipinos took a lot of techniques, especially for sword and dagger (espada y dagger), from Spanish soldiers and IIRR, Italian mercenaries that were used by the Spanish.

    I honestly don't know specifics though.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015

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