A three-day Eskrima tournament took place at the Mandaue City Sports and Cultural Center last July 26-28, 2013. Mandaue City and DOCE PARES co-hosted the Filipino martial arts tournament this year. The tournament gathered over two hundred competitors from different countries all over the world: US, Australia, France, South Korea, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, England, Oman, Qatar, Germany, Philippines and the Reunion Islands. The tournament will serve as the first qualifying tournament for those vying for slots in the national team that will compete in the 2014 World Eskrima Kali Arnis Championships in Debrecen, Hungary next year.
Eskrima, Kali and Arnis all refer to the family of the Filipino weapon-based martial arts and fighting systems. Eskrima is the Filipino term for the Spanish word of fencing. Arnis is the use of wooden sticks as weapons. And Kali may be a term originating from the Cebuano word, “kamot” or “kamay” or the hand in Tagalog, therefore, Kali is the fighting technique without the use of any weapons. Eskrima had been taken interest by many of those who wanted to train self-defense. It was a defense mechanism for the early Filipinos since through history they were more capable of accessing blades and wooden sticks than guns. Eskrima was known to be a battle to the death. But by the mid to late 20th century, Eskrima was given a structure to the system making it far more a Filipino martial art rather than a killing method; it became a sport. Modernization has since then positioned Eskrima to the brink of extinction because of its obscurity found by the general populace. Tournaments like these are a way of keeping the indigenous sport alive.

The University of San Carlos’ Eskrima team was established in March 2013 with Manolito Montalvo as their moderator for the High School Arnis Club, and Joe Borces as their coach. It is yet a small group of young and enthusiastic eskrimadors but they are nothing to be messed with. The USC representatives were a relatively young bunch. 14 students- girls and boys aged 6-10 years old, and two college students vying for the men’s division. They all competed different categories, single and double stick, knife sparring, stick sparring- in the light weight and heavy weight division. Our representatives gave out a good fight; some were able to bag some medals. Two of our own players competing for the men’s division went head- to- head against the Reunion Islands and some from the national teams.

What’s next for our Carolinian eskrimadors? They are actually looking forward to the September 2013 Arnis Philippines (ARPHI) tournament. Hopefully more interested Carolinians will join the team.

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