In the past few years, there have been more and more books written on the martial art sport of Arnis. These books are an attempt to capture years of knowledge from an Arnis Grandmaster. Grandmasters like Ernesto A. Presas who documented his Presas Style in the 232-page book, “Arnis Presas Style and Balisong”, complete with history, photos, and step by step instructions. Or Grandmaster Mel Delano Lopez, who documented his story in his book “The Third Grandmaster: Talking Story”. In his book, he explained how he became the 3rd Grandmaster in the Villabrille-Largusa Kali system.
After reading many of these books, it becomes apparent that Arnis has only been recently documented. These books share a common theme. The opening sentences usually discuss the origins of their Arnis fighting style but noticeably only reach back a few decades. The authors talk about their teachers and founders, which usually only date back to the early 1940’or 50’s. Hundreds of years of colonial rule have kept Arnis off the pages and only in the minds and creativity of teachers and their students.
So, after World War 2, and the Japanese occupation in the Philippines ended, there was an explosion of innovation, creativity, economy, population, and a sense of freedom. In the Philippines, Arnis could now be practiced openly and in public. And finally teachers could document this art that was practiced in the shadows for so long. And since Arnis Grandmasters felt comfortable teaching, there are now instructors and students around the world. Arnis Authority has sold products in Europe, North and South America, East Africa, Asia, and of course North and South East Asia.
Master Daniel Sinhue Martinez, an instructor and prominent person in the Mexican martial arts community, established the Modern Arnis México school in Veracruz, México. He was inspired by Grandmaster Presas when he attended an Arnis demonstration. He spent many hours training with Grandmaster Presas, inviting him to his home. After years of dedicated instructions from Presas, Master Martinez earned his master level. Master Martinez traveled throughout México, teaching Arnis to many martial artists, earning him the nickname “El Maestro de los Palitos”, the “Sticky Master”. Today, Master Martinez continues to teach and lives in Matamoros Tamaulipas City. A copy of Presas’ book sits on a bookshelf in his home surrounded with pictures of his family and of Grandmaster Presas.
However, the internet and its tools, like Facebook, Youtube, and smart phones have arguably expanded Arnis further than books. But books will not go away. There is something romantic with printed material that you can touch and smell. And since Arnis is relatively new to books, many more books on Arnis should and will be written.