Arnis, Philippines martial art that evokes Magellan’s nemesis
ANGELES CITY, Philippines: To the untrained eye, arnis—the stick-wielding martial art of the Philippines—is brutal and frenzied, but behind the chaos lies a tradition dating back hundreds of years. With some contests lasting just a few minutes, the fast and furious combat sport made a triumphant return to the Southeast Asian Games this week, boosting the home nation’s haul of golds by 14.
Filipino ‘arnisadors’ are fiercely proud of their country, and the sport that symbolises their spirit of battle and revolution. It holds a treasured place in Filipino hearts as it evokes 16th-century tribal ruler Lapu-Lapu, whose army killed Ferdinand Magellan, the lead explorer in the first successful circumnavigation of the globe, and saw off the Spanish invaders, delaying their colonisation by several decades.
“We consider this the martial art of Lapu-Lapu,” Senator Miguel Zubiri, the Philippines Arnis Federation president, told AFP. “Lapu-Lapu was our first defender,” the former world champion added at the Angeles University Foundation, about 80 kilometres northwest of the capital Manila.