Review of the book Arnis de Mano: Harness of the Hand, by Abundio S. Baet, copyright 2010.

This book was written to describe the history, philosophy, and techniques of the Filipino fighting arts from the province of Laguna.  The author has been training since he was six in the arts of his family, which go back more than five generations.  In addition, he has studied under ten other maestros from around Laguna.

From the age of 16, until he was forced to stop at 23, he was an undefeated stickfighting champion in Laguna.  In this book he relates what he has been taught by those maestros.

The first few chapters touch briefly on the influences of various cultures on the Philippines, starting from the Negritos (Aetas/Atis), to the Indonesians, Malays, Chinese, Muslims, Spanish, and finally Americans.  Next there is a brief discussion of the development of Filipino martial arts in general, along with a discussion of the origins of the terms arnis de manoescrima, and estocada.

The next section is about the origins of Garimot Arnis, beginning with the author’s family in the 1800’s, and how each generation of fighters have kept the knowledge alive through revolutions and invasion.  A brief description of the moro-moro (a socio-religious play in the Philippines containing mock battles, introduced by the Spanish) and its role in propagating the arts.

After that is a description of each of the maestrosoutside of the Baet family that the author studied under, along with what each of them taught him.  The next couple chapters provide an interpretation of the logos of Garimot Arnis de Mano, the Laguna Arnis Federation, the Harimaw Buno Federation, and the Garimot Arnis Training group, along with a discussion of the practice of arnis and escrima today, and the value of competition and pride.

The last and largest section of the book deals with the technical aspects of Garimot Arnis. It begins with the Cinco Teros, and outlines the footwork, stances, strikes, counters, flow drills, and disarms of that art as taught within Garimot Arnis.  Next is the history of Siete Colores Arnis, which was formed by maestros from seven provinces in southern Luzon, and is composed of parts of Cinco Teros, Tres Puntos, and Doce Pares.

It is followed by the footwork, stances, strikes, and some of the counters of the art.  Doce Pares is discussed next, starting with the history of the art.  The Doce Pares of Laguna is not related to the Doce Pares from Cebu, it is its own art that predates the Labangon Fencing Club.

The fighting positions of Doce Pares are shown both by the author and by another maestro of Doce Pares.  This is followed bydoble baston history and drills, Tres Puntos balisong (knife) fighting grips and basic drills, and a brief discussion of mano-mano (empty-hand) tactics along with buno (wrestling) locks and throws.  The book ends with a glossary of Tagalog terms.

Information on the arts of Luzon is hard to come by, which makes this book valuable to any student of the Filipino martial arts.  The book is loaded with pictures and detailed descriptions of basic principles.  Any serious student of the Filipino arts will want to see this glimpse into the traditional Filipino martial arts to further round out his knowledge of the breadth of these beautiful arts.

A preview and link to order the book can be found at: