You’ve seen those lists. “The 10 Best Martial Arts For Self Defense,”The Best Martial Arts Styles for Self Defense,” or “The 10 Most Lethal Martial Arts.” They’re eye-catching and often informative.

I have the utmost respect for the martial arts listed. I believe that most martial arts, provided that it is taught well, utilizes sound principles and has solid body mechanics are good. For the most, I believe that it’s the practitioner that makes the art rather than the other way around.  

Here’s a sampling of some of the lists that I found after googling “best martial arts” and the below is taken from the first page of the search results. Go through them carefully.

(1) Men’s Fitness: Picking a Fight.

(2) Listverse: Top 10 Martial Arts for Self Defense.

(3) Mantelligence: The Best Martial Arts for Self Defense.

(4) AskMen: Top 10 Martial Arts.

(5) What is the Best Martial for a Street Fight?

Notice what’s missing? 

You guessed right!

Filipino Martial Arts are noticeably absent from many of these lists, except for (5) which briefly mentions “Kali.”

Why is that?

No Mention of FMAs

My theory is that this absence has nothing to do whether Filipino Martial Arts are great and everything to do with branding/marketing issues.

I view these lists, not as evidence that Filipino Martial Arts are not effective for self-defense. On the contrary, I think that FMAs are extremely effective and are among the most practical methods of self-defense that one can find.

I think that these lists indicate one problem. When one steps out of the Filipino Martial Arts bubble, one will find that the vast majority of people do not know anything about Filipino Martial Arts.

The first scene in “The Bladed Hand” documentary drives home this point. This scene depicted folks in the streets of Quezon City answering the question of whether they knew what kali, eskrima or arnis was. Nearly all in the scene had no idea.

Why do so few know much about Filipino Martial Arts? I think that, in large part, it’s a failure of marketing and insufficient education of the public.

Karate, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Judo and Jiu Jitsu have benefitted from decades of branding. Wing Chun and JKD became popular in the 1970s due to Bruce Lee. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu became widely known after UFC 1 thanks to Royce Gracie. When was that? November 12, 1993. BJJ exploded after that. Muay Thai and Krav Maga have become more popular in the past 20 years or so.

And yet, Filipino Martial Arts, despite its presence in North America for nearly 100 years, the Bourne movies and documentaries such as “Eskrimadors” and “The Bladed Hand” seem to lag, publicity-wise, behind the aforementioned martial arts.

Why? Is it because of:

(1) Lack of branding?

(2) Ineffective marketing?

(3) The splintered nature of Filipino Martial Arts?

(4) or a combination of one or more or all of the above?

What do YOU think? What explains the lack of knowledge about FMAs? 

Let’s hear your comments!

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2 thoughts on “The 10 Best Martial Arts

  • November 1, 2015 at 9:20 am

    I think the main reason people look past the FMA is that they don’t see us in the places they see other arts–the ring and in movies. Anyone who goes hands on with a skill FMA man will walk away respectful of Arnis, but it is too difficult to reach the masses this way. We are sort of a best kept secret among serious martial artists. Even mainstream martial artists know FMA as nothing more than “sticks” and a few cool drills, because of how the art is treated by so many.

    It’s not important to me as a teacher that average Joes don’t have admiration for Filipino arts. It only affects me business wise. What DOES matter, is the impression people walk away with, once they actually seen the art.

    It’s like guys sitting around talking, does McDonalds or Burger King has the best burger, while Guy Fiery (or what his name is lol) sitting behind them laughing. Some people just don’t know.

    • November 2, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks for reading this post and commenting on it! I agree with all you said your reply, especially regarding not seeing our arts in the movies or in the ring. And it bugs me that many mainstream martial artists know FMA as nothing more than just sticks and a few cool sinawali drills. Don’t get me going on that! LOL


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