Escrima, sometimes called Kali or Arnis de Mano, is a blanket term indicating those of the Filipino martial arts devoted to stick, knife and sword fighting. Because much of the information available is for the most part oral and anecdotal there is a decided uncertainty as to precise the origins of these systems. What seems most likely, however, is that they have their roots in the Filipino tribal systems, with strong influences from Spanish fencing — Escrima being a derivation of escrima the Spanish term for fencing — as well as Indonesian and Chinese Martial arts.

There is an emphasis on defending against specific angles of attack, as opposed to defending against particular styles, techniques or weapons; the reasoning being that the angle of attack will be the same regardless of whether the attacker is armed or empty handed. Perhaps the most unique feature of these systems is that, contrary to most traditional martial arts systems, the student first learns the use of weapons and then precedes to empty hand techniques.

Despite the emphasis on weaponry, these arts also offer a wide range of empty hand techniques, and practitioners have traditionally been noted for their ability to fight with either weapons or empty hands. Most systems incorporate precision footwork that, in addition to developing agility and graceful movement, also develops skill at controlling and manipulation the ranges between the practitioner and the opponent. Specific hand and weapon drills develop the coordination and dexterity necessary to respond to any situation. In addition there is an extensive and complex system of two person routines, ranging from the rudimentary to the advanced, which provide the student a safe, sure, and methodical means of progressing in the art.