Arnis, as a martial art, was spawned in Philippine soil. It was known in ancient Philippines as kali, an ancient Malayan word that implies a large bladed weapon longer than a knife. This art was practiced primarily for self-defense by the pre-Spanish Filipinos who were noted for their friendly nature and legendary hospitality.
The lives of Filipino heroes are linked with the awesome power of the martial art of Arnis. They triumphantly waged their heroic battles for freedom and liberty as a testimony of the power and effectiveness of Arnis. Their successful stand against their superiorly armed adversaries in mortal combat in the arena of battle is now held in immortal inviolability by history of the 16th century. Kali (Arnis) became so popular during the early days that it was known as the sport of kings and of the members of the royal blood.
The art was not confined to the elite alone. Ordinary Filipinos practiced kali not only for self-defense but also for entertainment. It was the most awaited entertainment feature in fiestas and other gatherings. Kali was a standard fighting technique in hand-to-hand combat of the Filipinos when they revolted against Spain. Using the itak or bolo the Katipuneros engaged the Spanish soldiers in savage skirmishes. History states that Bonifacio brandished a bolo, a standard weapon in kali in his famous "Cry of Balintawak." However, kali declined in popularity as early as 1596 when the Spanish authorities discouraged the practice of the art (it was eventually banned in 1764). The Spaniards must have considered the art lethal or dangerous since they decreed that natives found practicing kali would be considered Tulisanes or outlaws.
In 1637, the friars introduced the moro-moro, a socio-religious play dramatizing the triumph of the Christian Spaniards over the Muslim Moors of Granada, Spain. The play called for the use of fighting techniques using a sword or similar bladed weapon. With the introduction of the