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  • Peter Lewis

Filipino Weapon Categories

The Filipino martial arts are renowned for the development of effective and efficient defensive and offensive strategies with and against a diverse range of weapons or empty-hand scenarios. Once proficient in the core elements of these dynamic and destructive martial arts, the practitioner can feel a degree of confidence in using almost any implement as a weapon. With this unique adaptability it can be difficult to categorise such a myriad of opportunities and this is not the purpose of the current work. To provide a broad understanding of common classifications, weapons could be grouped into four main types to incorporate projectile weapons, flexible weapons, impact weapons and edged weapons.


There may be sub-divisions with each classification that further define the overall scope of the Filipino martial arts. Projectile weapons may include barya (coins), bato (stones), siit (twigs) or a sibat (spear) that can be projected through the bodily mechanics and physicality of the practitioner. Other projectile weapons depend less on the physical attributes of the proponent but rather make use of equipment to enhance the delivery generally in a more forceful manner. Some examples within this category can include a tirador (catapult or slingshot) or pana (bow and arrow or crossbow).


The second group of weapons are those of a flexible nature and these can include the panyo (handkerchief), bandana (scarf), Lubid (rope), kadena (chain) or tabok-toyok (flails). The next group of hand-held weapons possess a hard surface and are classified as impact weapons. While not exclusive, this group of weapons contains a variety of sticks employed by the Filipino martial artist. Within this group are sticks made of rattan cane, bahi (palm) or kamagong (mahogany or iron wood) and weapons can include the commonly used baston (rattan cane of 710mm to 812mm in length), tungkod (short staff of 910mm to 1200mm in length) and the dulo-dulo (pointed carabao horn or kamagong short stick of approximate 150mm in length).


The final group of weapons are edged or bladed weapons and this category is vast within the Filipino martial arts and included a diverse range of single and double edged swords and knives. Some examples of swords employed within this classification include the kampilan (long single edged cutlass with a 635mm long blade), ginunting (a beak shaped sword with a 500mm long blade), sansibar (a slightly curved sword with a blade length of 538mm) and the barong (a leaf shaped sword with a 380mm blade length). Some of the knives within the edged weapon category include the kerambit (a curved or hook shaped short blade), balisong (folding butterfly knife) and the baraw (dagger).



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