Arnis Rules & Regulations: Glorious Past & Modern Era

Martial arts have always held their place in history as practices of brave warriors who fear nothing. For so many years, kings and rulers showed the ultimate respect to those who feared nothing and would hold their weapons and terrorize their enemies by just their mere presence in order to protect and serve.

Arnis warriors were always respected in their communities for always putting their lives on their hands for their tribes and their nation as a whole. Generally, Arnis involves a lot of mighty martial arts and practices that have changed the face of history. For so many decades and centuries, practitioners would love to give what it takes in order to become renowned Arnis warriors who would protect their nation against invaders and attackers.


Traditionally, Arnis was also known as Kali and Eskrima. All three names combine several practices of the national martial art of the Philippines and are still sometimes used interchangeably. These ancient practices are concerned with weapon based fighting that involves the use of swords, knives, daggers, sticks and other non-traditional weapons. Arnis also involves Arnis fighting techniques that involve no weapons whatsoever and depend solely on the power of the body.

In addition to the high and respectful status Arnis warriors used to hold in the Filipino society, Arnis has developed and evolved to become a traditional symbol of the Filipino culture, history and essence. It is an integral part of the pop culture in South East Asia.

Ever since Arnis became popular in the 1600, practitioners understood that it takes a lot of devotion, dedication and practice to become an Arnis warrior. Masters would spend years training their apprentices and designing fatal weapons that don’t need to be used twice.

Over the years, Arnis has become more than just another form of martial arts. It became a crucial part of the Filipino culture, taking its place as a practice that has changed the face of history on so many occasions.

As of 2009, the National Congress of the Philippines declared that Arnis is the national sport and martial art of the Philippines. It promotes nationalism, patriotism and paying tribute to the ancient and mighty heroes who have done so much for their country. Nobody can forget how these warriors fought against the Spanish invasion using only their swords, bodies and will power in order to grant their country its freedom.


Today Arnis still holds its status as a symbol for heroism and devotion. However, we can safely say that wars are past the days of physical contact, where only the bravest and most courageous would win. Since it is all now about pressing buttons and using chemicals, Arnis has become rather a symbol of love, brotherhood and a means to develop friendship. Masters and apprentices go that extra mile to tame their bodies and minds. Now it is not about defeating and neutralizing the opponent but it is a practice that aims at improving the skills of players. Hence, Arnis rules and regulations must be developed.

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This code governs the practices of players, masters and everybody who is interested in Arnis as a national martial art. Practitioners will show great respect to their masters and to senior practitioners. Players will always salute each other before and after any encounter.

Since Arnis goes way back in history, it still holds some of the ancient traditions that focus on respecting the elders and the most experienced ones. Junior players are not to challenge senior ones, unless it is a part of the game. On the other hand, senior players will always share their experience and knowledge with the less experienced ones in order to help them develop and become better players


In order to safely practice Arnis, the play area should be a square that has a side of 8 meter with at least 2 meters of free space around it. There should be 2 inches wide lines drawn in a different color that will set the exact play area in order to make sure that the players know exactly where they can move.

As a general Arnis rules and regulations, the play area should be flat, smooth and clean. Of course, this has nothing to do with the conditions where earlier warriors had to practice Arnis. Since they sometimes fought in the jungle or on the shore, they had to go through rough terrains, rocky or pebbly grounds or even fight their ways through thick bushes.


This includes all the weapons that warriors will use for practice and for professional competitive matches. Unlike the past, most of today’s practitioners will use padded stick instead of sharp deadly weapons. These padded sticks have a comfortable grip and come in 2 colors; blue and red.

Players are to wear head protectors and body protectors. Since the main aim of Arnis now is to develop the skills of practitioners, the aim stands very far from where the original practice started. In the past, everything about Arnis was designed to make sure that the fight will end soon enough, with only one survivor. Weapons were so sharp that they could split the enemy in half with one strike. Sometimes fighters would carry 2 weapons at a time, to inflict dual strikes that would end any fight to their favor in a matter of minutes.


Today it is all about agreed upon Arnis rules and regulations that all players must comply with. All players should meet the age requirement set by the organizing committee. They should also be physically fit for competition. Since there are certain rules that will apply to everybody, all players must accept the decisions of referees without questions. If there are any disputes, the coach will have the right to ask for clarification after the match.

Judges can give a score that will range between 1 and 10, with 0.5 increments. The degree of difficulty and creativity can have a great impact on your score. After collecting the scores of individual players or the whole team, they will be arranged in a descending order from the highest to the lowest.

Arnis has gained popularity all over the world, with a lot of practitioners who have never set foot in the Philippines. These guidelines, rules and regulations are respected by the whole community and facilitate the practice of this wonderful martial art in a safe environment.

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