Escrima is likely the best-known martial art of the Philippines. Famous as a stick- and knife-fighting style, it includes unarmed techniques as well. The notes below apply not only to Escrima but also to the related styles Kali and Arnis, and to the numerous variations on all three arts.
"Escrima" and "Arnis" are bastardizations of the Spanish terms esgrima (fencing) and arnes (harness, short for "harness of the hand"), but the styles don't derive from Spanish fencing. The true origin of Escrima is unclear, but some sources date it to at least 1521, when natives armed with sticks and bows fought with Ferdinand Magellan's expedition and slew Magellan. Local folklore - and the simple nature of the style's weapons - point to an even longer history.
Escrima training starts with sticks made of fire-hardened rattan, palm, or ebony. Later training adds knives (used in both normal and "ice pick" grips) and - in some schools -machetes. Empty-hand movements are based on stick and knife techniques, and every unarmed motion is amplified when a weapon is in hand. The guro (master) decides when the student is ready to graduate from sticks, to blades, and finally to empty hands. Escrimadors (as Escrima stylists are known) also learn a number of locks and holds, using the stick as a lever to disarm, immobilize, or choke the opponent.
Escrimadors prefer the Defensive Attack and Attack maneuvers to Committed Attack and All-Out Attack. They'll often attack the enemy several times in rapid succession -the style accepts that a foe rarely falls to a single technique - and skilled fighters will employ Rapid Strikes. Kicks tend to be low-line Defensive Attacks. Movement is "triangular," with the fighter moving between the points of an imaginary triangle rather than straight forward or back. This is true both on the offensive (attacks tend to be indirect) and on the defensive (the Sideslip retreat option is more common than the Slip or simple retreat).
Escrima is aggressive. It always assumes that the foe is armed, and escrimadors learn to parry an opponent's weapons and counterattack swiftly. Emphasis is on attacks to the arms, hands, and legs rather than to the body, the goal being to disarm or cripple the foe before he can injure the escrimador - a strategy sometimes called "defanging the snake." The stylist finishes disarmed or weakened adversaries with attacks to the vitals, neck, and skull, or using a lock or choke. Even the style's defenses work toward these goals, with Aggressive Parry being typical. Traditional parrying surfaces are the elbows, knees, and shins - not the forearms and legs.
In addition to the above, early escrimadors learned to use bows and shields, throw knives, and render first aid. They often studied tactics for fighting in small groups or against multiple foes. These skills are optional, but a historically accurate escrimador would know them all!
Modern Escrima schools sometimes limit training to stickfighting in light-contact, heavy-padding bouts. Students of such schools wouldn't learn Karate or MainGauche, and should replace Smallsword with Smallsword Sport, making style cost 2 points. This isn't universal - plenty of schools emphasize real contact, minimal protection, and harsh training. A few also add the balisong (p. 212) and techniques to draw it quickly.
Breakaway schools - famously, Dog Brothers Martial Arts in the U.S. - add ground techniques from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, as well as additional locks and holds. Such schools teach attacks off standing grapples. One such tactic is to parry and Slip to close with the opponent, and then grapple him and seek a stick-assisted Choke Hold. Schools like this add Wrestling, Ground Fighting (Wrestling), and Ground Fighting (Smallsword). Style cost becomes 5 points.
Escrima incorporates several subsystems for using two weapons at once, including sinawali (two sticks), espada y daga (sword/stick and knife), and daga y daga (knife and knife). Even in a realistic game, escrimadors may learn an Unusual Training perk that lets them improve Dual-Weapon Attack. Both attacks must be directed at a single foe.
Skills: Karate; Main-Gauche; Smallsword.
Techniques: Aggressive Parry (Karate); Arm Lock (Smallsword); Armed Grapple (Smallsword); Choke Hold (Smallsword); Disarming (Smallsword); Elbow Strike; Feint (Main-Gauche or Smallsword); Knee Strike; Targeted Attack (Main-Gauche Swing/Arm); Targeted Attack (Main-Gauche Swing/Hand); Targeted Attack (Smallsword Swing/Arm); Targeted Attack (Smallsword Swing/Hand).
Cinematic Skills: Mental Strength; Power Blow; Pressure Points.
Cinematic Techniques: Dual-Weapon Attack (MainGauche or Smallsword); Dual-Weapon Defense (Smallsword).
Perks: Off-Hand Weapon Training (Main-Gauche or Smallsword); Unusual Training (Dual-Weapon Attack, Both attacks must target the same foe); Weapon Adaptation (Shortsword to Smallsword).
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