The National Sport of the Philippines: A Rich Tradition

August 25, 2023

When it comes to sports, the Philippines boasts a plethora of events celebrated for their uniqueness and cultural significance. However, there is one sport that stands above all others, deeply embedded in the country's history and woven into the fabric of Filipino society: Arnis, also known as Eskrima or Kali.

The Origins and Evolution of Arnis

Arnis is a martial art that traces its roots back to the pre-colonial era of the Philippines. This traditional Filipino martial art was developed as a means of self-defense by the indigenous people to protect themselves from external threats. Today, it has evolved into a popular competitive sport practiced both for self-defense and as a manifestation of cultural pride.

The Techniques and Training

Arnis is a weapon-based martial art that utilizes sticks, bladed weapons, and empty hands. Its primary focus is on striking, blocking, and disarming opponents through a combination of agility, speed, and precision. Practitioners of Arnis undergo rigorous training, mastering various techniques, footwork, and strategies. It is a discipline that demands not only physical strength but also mental acuity.

The Role of Arnis in Philippine History

Arnis played a crucial role in Philippine history, especially during times of colonization and resistance. Many Filipino heroes, such as Lapu-Lapu and other indigenous warriors, showcased their skill in Arnis while defending their land against foreign invaders. In fact, Arnis was instrumental in several key battles, making it an integral part of the nation's struggle for freedom and independence.

The Competitive Aspect of Arnis

Arnis has gained international recognition and has become a competitive sport on a global scale. The Philippines proudly sends representatives to compete in international tournaments, showcasing the prowess and skill of Filipino Arnisadores. These competitions feature various categories, including weapon sparring, forms, and team demonstrations, highlighting the artistry and tactical expertise of the participants.

Promoting Arnis as the National Sport

Recognizing the cultural significance of Arnis, the Philippines officially declared it as the national martial art and sport of the country in 2009. This designation aims to promote and preserve the art form, ensuring that future generations inherit and value its contributions to Filipino identity. The government, alongside various Arnis organizations, actively promotes Arnis by providing training facilities, organizing competitions, and incorporating it into the school curriculum.

Arnis as a Cultural Heritage

Arnis transcends sport and martial art. It is a cultural heritage that reinforces the unity and identity of the Filipino people. Through the practice of Arnis, individuals gain an appreciation for their cultural roots, developing discipline, respect, and a strong sense of community. It serves as a powerful tool for preserving national heritage and promoting intergenerational bonds.


Arnis is the embodiment of Filipino resilience and strength. Its rich history, techniques, and cultural significance make it a national treasure and a testament to the Filipino spirit. As Arnis continues to thrive, it serves as a reminder to Filipinos and to the world of the importance of preserving and celebrating our diverse cultural heritage.

Read also

The National Sport of Thailand: Muay Thai
The National Sport of Brunei Darussalam: An Extensive Look
The National Sport of Armenia - A Cultural Treasure
The National Sport of Togo: Passion, Competition, and Unity
The National Sport of Taiwan (Province of China)
The National Sport of Republic of Korea