Eskrima in popular culture

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Eskrima in popular culture reflects the impact that Filipino martial arts (Kali/Eskrima/Arnis) have made outside of the martial arts community. Eskrima, Arnis, Kali emphasize weapon-based fighting with sticks, blades, improvised weapons and hand-to-hand fighting which is formally known as Suntukan, Mano Mano or Pangamut.[1] Because of this training with live weapons, elements of Eskrima have made an impact in film, video games, television, and comic books. Eskrima is often used to train actors and stuntmen how to handle similar weapons for use in movies.[2]



  • Sayoc Kali has been being used for the fight choreography in the CBS TV series NCIS: Los Angeles since 2012. Among the trainers and fight choreographers is Rafael Kayanan.[20][21]
  • In Arrow episode 14 "The Odyssey", during a flashback Slade Wilson, Deathstroke, trains Oliver Queen, the main character of the series, in eskrima. He was also previously shown training with his ally and bodyguard, John Diggle, using this martial art. In the fight between Ra's Al Ghul and Oliver in Season 3 Episode 9 "The Climb", they are seen to be using a Straight Kris which is a type of Filipino Sword. Eskrima is used throughout the series for the fight choreography done by James Bamford.
  • In Young Justice, Robin and Nightwing are known to use escrima sticks just like their comic book counterparts.
  • In Avatar: The Legend of Korra, The Lieutenant wields two electrified kali sticks powered by a generator on his back.
  • The Marvel Studios TV series Mutant X featured Kali Deleon.[15]
  • The show Relic Hunter starring Tia Carrere also used Kali Deleon in the choreography.[15]
  • Kali Deleon was also used in the Disney Channel children's series The Famous Jett Jackson as well.[15]
  • In the Discovery Channel series Fight Quest, hosts Doug Anderson and Jimmy Smith trained under Pekiti Tirsia (Tuhon Leo Gaje) and Modern Arnis (GM Cristino Vasquez) instructors.
  • In the BBC Three series Last Man Standing, contestants travel to Banahaw to learn Eskrima, and have a showdown in which one contestant is crowned winner.
  • On the History Channel's program Human Weapon, the hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff practiced various styles of eskrima and kali, eventually sparring with a Doce Pares champion.
  • The weapons choreography in the Encantadia fantasy TV series shown on GMA Network in the Philippines features some eskrima moves and the actors were given light training by Arnisadors.
  • In Highlander: The Series, Adrian Paul's character Duncan MacLeod switched to Eskrima sticks when he renounced the blade after he accidentally slew his friend Richie Ryan. Actor Paul had travelled to the Philippines to learn the art and was trained by "an old man with missing teeth".
  • The fighting style of the character Teyla Emmagan from Stargate: Atlantis is based on eskrima.
  • In Mortal Kombat Conquest, Sultan Uddin showcased Eskrima Serrada as the character Noob Saibot.
  • In Leverage, retrieval specialist Eliot Spencer's fighting style is based primarily on eskrima and panantukan.
  • In SP, Kaoru Inoue of the SP division uses Eskrima as his main martial art.[22] Junichi Okada had been trained by Kali instructors for some time prior to his leading role in the TV series that he is allowed to teach Kali in Japan when Okada had announced it in a 2010 press conference.[22]
  • Professional wrestler Steve Blackman used eskrima as a signature weapon during his tenure in the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) as part of his pre-match entrance.

Video games[edit]

Western comics[edit]

  • The character Grail in Whilce Portacio's Wetworks is a Filipino who uses Arnis as energy-projection melee weapons.
  • Several popular DC Comics characters use Eskrima as part of their typical martial arts regimen. Specifically, Dick Grayson as Nightwing[24] and Barbara Gordon both fight with the sticks as a main part of their arsenal, and are defining weapons of their two characters. Other members of the Gotham vigilante population have trained in Kali/Eskrima/Arnis, and it is referenced in the books with some frequency.
  • The character Deadpool in Fabian Nicieza's Cable and Deadpool series, specifically, has been shown using eskrima sticks.
  • Marvel Comics character Mockingbird, Bobbi Morse, a member of the superhero team The Avengers, makes use of a combined form of Eskrima and kobudo, using two 'battle staves' for the former style, which she can attach together to make use of the latter. While she is capable of eskrima, she is a much stronger kobudo fighter, and so tends to proffer using the latter, but has at times also used the former.
  • The titular character Kick-Ass uses eskrima as his primary weapon in both the comics and its live action film.
  • Nightcrawler of the X-Men has occasionally been depicted using eskrima, primarily with his pirate-like swords. In the first issue of his 2014 ongoing series even opened up with a sequence of him and Wolverine training together using the method, with Nightcrawler using his tail to combat with three sticks rather than just the usual pair.


  1. ^ Wiley, Mark V. (2000). Filipino Fighting Arts: Theory and Practice. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 1–15. ISBN 0-86568-180-5. 
  2. ^ Coleman, Jim (April 1, 1986). "Bruce Lee's Son Speaks Out". Black Belt 24 (4): 20–24, 104. 
  3. ^ This Frankenstein monster is a Filipino martial arts expert Nepales, Ruben V., Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan.30, 2014
  4. ^ "The greatest Filipino cultural export is kicking ass". Philippine Star. 
  5. ^ Charlie Jane Anders (April 7, 2011). "Why futuristic assassin movie Hanna is the anti-Sucker Punch, according to director Joe Wright". io9. 
  6. ^ "Saoirse Ronan on Combat Training for Hanna: Wondercon 2011". YouTube. 
  7. ^ "Forest Whitaker shows off Pinoy martial arts skills". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 
  8. ^ "The Book of Eli - Behind the Scenes:Stunts". Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo!. 2010. 
  9. ^ "Interview with Chad Stahelski of 87Eleven - the Fight Team of Ninja Assassin, The Matrix and More!". Fight Flicks. 
  10. ^ "Olivier Schneider Martial Arts Background". 
  11. ^ "How to Fight Like Jason Bourne with". 
  12. ^ "The Bourne Supremacy interview with Matt Damon and Jeff Imada". 
  13. ^ "Frank Miller's 300 - Journal 5". 
  14. ^ Dog Brothers Forum Thread on Vin Diesel & Riddick Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny, August 18, 2004
  15. ^ a b c d Interview with Kali Master Ama Guro Jun de Leon Hewitson, Nick, Detroit Kali-Silat Academy
  16. ^ "Behind the scenes interview on the knife fighting used in The Hunted". 
  17. ^ a b Ilonggo martial arts in Hollywood films -, Philippine News for Filipinos
  18. ^ a b Neo Tribe Kali
  19. ^ Discussion Forums @ Nikonians - Filipino Martial Arts - series 2
  20. ^ MANO, PO! Marana, Joseph, Lakas Filipino Martial Arts, Feb.26, 2014
  21. ^ NCIS:LA KNIFE FIGHT!!! Rafael Kayanan Art Blog, Feb. 18, 2012
  22. ^ a b "V6 Okada Junichi now a martial arts instructor". Tokyo Hive. 2010-09-10. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  23. ^ "The Bourne Conspiracy - Working with Jeff Imada". 
  24. ^ Batman Comics Issue #650

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