Philippine Arnis Making Its Way To Iran

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Arnis is the National Sport of the Philippines and a popular self-defense tool with aspects that has made its way into professional combat sports around the world. Arnis is also known as Eskrima or Kali and originated in the Philippines from other traditional fighting methods. These techniques have been implemented in various fighting training and have proven to be a popular fighting tool.

Iran has recently shown an interest in the popular self-defense methods and is planning on further developing the sport in their country. Hossein Ezzati, the president of the Arnis commission in Iran along with several other PEKAF representatives visited the Philippine Sports Commission recently at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

The Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Foundation (PEKAF) is a foundation that is committed to preserving Arnis in its natural form by spreading the sport through various grassroots organizations. Organizations they are currently working with include: Philippine Sports Commission, Department of Education, Philippine Olympic Committee, the Philippine Sports Institute, and various local government units. They were on hand when the Iranian Grand Master Ezzati asked for guidance on the rules and regulation of Arnis. An executive director for PEKAF, Gerald Canete, told Ezzati that they are pleased he came to visit and would assist him in anything he needs.

Canete went on to tell Ezzati that he will be accompanying him over the next 10 days to and they will appear at several Arnis competitions during his stay. Arnis competitions usually consist of qualifying and matches. The matches are like Karate matches but with soft weapons and more extensive padded protection. They are usually divided up by age group or rank and are judged by a point ranking system. The referee usually allocates the points during the match as they happen. A judge will keep track of the points and at the end of the match appoint a winner. The sport is very popular in the Philippines and local competitions are held in the Rizal major sports complex or at other community centers.

Besides Iran, Arnis has made its way across the world. In the US and England, Arnis is a craze among policemen, military servicemen, and martial artist. Police officers in the USA use to have to carry a baton, a stick that they could use to restrain or fight off an assailant. Not so much anymore, but because batons are still used in other countries, Arnis is often associated with police officers. Recently Arnis has crossed into the mainstream and has been featured in several US movies including “300” and the “Bourne Identity”. Both movies had an Arnis instructor on set who would often help choreograph the fighting moves.

Iran is looking to start an Arnis fighting competition league similar to Karate and taekwondo competitions held in Asian countries. They want to grow the sport and teach their youth how to protect themselves if needed. The popularity of the sport has been on the rise in Iran and more youth are starting to sign up for Arnis classes according to the Iran Arnis Commission. Arnis has been practiced in Iran for the last several years but Grand Master Ezzati plans to spread the sport to neighboring areas such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

In May of 2018, Arnis was on display in Iran when the Philippine Embassy submitted their entry for the World Day for Cultural Diversity celebration. The Philippine Embassy whose cultural diplomacy program has a priority in building a friendship among Iranians and Filipinos. The Philippine Embassy in Tehran believes that sports are vital in connecting the two cultures and can be used to promote mutual understand and respect.

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