FMA, or Filipino Martial Arts developed out of ever-changing demands of protection in the Philippines. Invaders from many nations gave birth to a system of self-preservation techniques and weapons for survival. The Filipino Martial Arts therefore involves a complex vocabulary derived from the mixing of many influences and dialects. As the Spanish dominated the Philippines for hundreds of years, prohibiting the use weapons by the indigenous people, the "underground" nature of FMA was born. The Filipino's tactics of battle were tested and proven effective with hand-to-hand use of old world weaponry. The most skilled Artists achieve a state of flow characterized and defined as responsive, agile, lethal, versatile, deployable, survivable and sustainable. Today, the many systems of FMA continue to grow and new derivations are continually developed.
The FMA system of systems has traditionally been taught, out of necessity, in a simplified structure. Average people could learn basics of survival and how to defend themselves effectively through a simple system of skills. Above this simple skill set, there is a complex root structure of refined skills and that, like most Martial Arts, takes years of discipline to master. Training in these FMA systems involves the study unarmed as well as armed combat techniques. Use of the solo baston (single stick), double baston (double stick) and espada y daga (sword/stick and dagger) are most common, but other systems specialize in staff fighting, swords, and even whips.
One of the most commonly known Asian, Filipino weapons is the Kris or Keris. The Kris is very unusual in the context of the world's armory, with a blade that flares out from the point toward the hilt like a wedge and a small tang projecting from the top. The hilts are varied, but are set at an angle to the blade, some as severely as 90% so that when the sword is held, it projects forward like an extension of the arm. The origin of the Kris sword is unknown; some speculate that it was derived from the sting of the stingray fish, while others find its ancestory in Chinese halberds and spears, which had similarly angled "L" shaped hilts. These Asian weapons are unqiue in other respects. The blades can be wavy, with a rough surface texture as they are made from combinations of metals; the better blades made from as many as seven. The sandwich style forge-folding that was required was incredibly laborious, and when the grounding and polishing was done, a very distinctive pattern resulted, known as pamor by the Malay smiths. Sulfer, rice and and salt baths further enhanced the pattern, as did acid treatment via a rubbing of lime juice, presenting a very grey and rough, distinctive surface pattern. The true Kris will not present a flashy, shiny blade that many collectors are attracted to, but true aficionados appreciate the underlying quality and unique position in the world of weapons.