Knife Fighting Sport event marks a new age in FMA

knife fighting sport

Could Knife Fighting Sport be the next big thing?

No matter what you know it as–kali, arnis, eskrima–Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) is deeply rooted in our nation’s culture and history. It is the Philippines’ national sport and martial art and is practiced worldwide.

Despite that, foreign martial arts are more popular in the Philippines–from Korea’s Taekwondo, to Brazil’s Jiu-jitsu, to Thailand’s Muay Thai. However, it appears that FMA is at the cusp of a major reassurance as its community grows, collaborates, and innovates.

Last weekend’s Knife Fighting Sport event was a prime example of this. Held at Spartacus Academia in Quezon City, the event organized by Kalahi FMA System Founder Allan Fami brought together several FMA schools for a unique knife fighting tournament.

At this tournament, FMA practitioners tried a new format of knife fighting sport. Competitors used polymer blades wrapped in rubber, with the “bladed” part marked with chalk. The first competitor to mark (or hit) his opponent would get a point, regardless of where the hit took place (marks on the neck and arm were score the same).

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The matches consisted of three 90-second rounds, where the first competitor to score five points (or five hits) would win the round. Should a competitor win the first two rounds, then he’d automatically be declared the winner.

“This competition format focuses more on speed, timing, and not necessarily that ‘kill shot’ that people look for, so it develops those attributes,” shared AA Quidlat of Rapido Realismo Kali (RRK), who competed at last weekend’s event. “It was the lighter side of the art. You can’t be focused on ‘the kill’ all the time.”

Quidlat also said that promoting the sport aspect of FMA, and using “cool-looking and more forgiving” polymer blades, could make FMA more accessible and less intimidating.

In addition to introducing a new knife fighting format, last weekend’s event also allowed practitioners from over 10 systems and schools to collaborate. They shared insights on techniques, weapons, and protective wear. Practitioners also suggested ways to improve the tournament format to ensure fairer and more exciting tournaments in the future.

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“It was the first sport tournament that revolved around the knife, and it brought a lot of teams together. People you’d only see online and in videos were there,” shared Quidlat. “And the judges were credible–Tuhon Ray Dionaldo of Filipino Combat Systems and Tuhon Mike Alcaras of Pekiti Tirsia Kali. So you’d know that they weren’t going to just throw points here and there.”

New tournament formats, new weapons, new armour, new events–all these add plenty of excitement to a martial art that’s long been under-appreciated. However, the FMA community’s willingness to collaborate and share ideas is what’s most promising. With a community like this, united in pushing its martial art forward, the future remains bright for FMA.

“By collaborating with each other, we can learn from each other,” added Quidlat. “We have to work together in order to really progress FMA.”

Featured photo via Baldugan Martial Arts

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Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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