Should Eskrima Be Taught to Children?

Let’s make this simple. No.

Now, the extended version of the answer:

Not real Eskrima. If you don’t know the difference between real Eskrima and age-appropriate Eskrima, chances are that you don’t know real Eskrima. Please don’t be offended. Most people come to this blog to have a Guro tell them like it is and not sugar-coat stuff. But I understand that many people want the fairytale version, and I’m just not it. If you want to have someone lie to you and act lovey-dovey and hold hands and take pictures, attend a damned seminar or go post on one of those online FMA forums. Put smiley faces, pat each other on the back, pretend to be impressed with all those choreographed dance routines they post on Youtube…

Here’s the thing. Real Eskrima–the stuff most of you like to brag that your Masters did back in the day of kill-or-be-killed death matches–is focused on how to cripple, injure, maim, or “off” your opponent. The stuff that’s age-appropriate is the stuff we see on Youtube; all the cute patty-cake drills that you could put to music and damn near win a cheerleading contest with.

Need an example? I was hoping you’d ask!

If you’re from this school or style–don’t get mad. I just went to Youtube and randomly pulled a clip and posted it. I didn’t even watch more than a couple seconds. Don’t need to. Because nine times out of ten, it’s the same stuff 90% of you guys do. And you know damned well, if you do fight–you’re not doing this stuff when you fight. And to be honest, if somebody came to you and said he only had 4 weeks to learn to defend himself I would hope that you would skip this garbage and go right to the meat of the art.

The real stuff doesn’t care how well you can “translate” a stick strike to a slash to the throat. It doesn’t matter if you can switch from one Sinawali drill to another randomly. The masters didn’t care how many neat one-handed disarms you could do, or how you could apply knife techniques to empty hand, or vice-versa. What mattered in real Eskrima was your ability to use a stick to crush a skull, use a small blade to kill an armed man, how well you could swing a machete strong enough to dismember your opponent, or how quickly you could grab something off your nightstand in the middle of the night and give an attacker brain damage through his eye. This is the stuff you shouldn’t be teaching children. If you want to teach a 12 year old patty cake drills and neat ways to spin your sticks, go for it. But the real stuff should not be taught to kids.

Does that mean kids shouldn’t be taught self-defense? Not at all. All children should learn some sort of self-defense. But what about pedophiles, you say? Well, as a parent, your job is to make sure your kid is never alone with one, period. If your kid is walking home alone from school, then I would say Shame on you. You need to make sure your priorities in order so that your kids shouldn’t have to learn to kill someone. Letting strangers take your 7 year old home from the ball game? Shame on you. Letting your 9 year old daughter spend the night with a friend from school with the teenaged brothers? Shame on you. Kids don’t need that form of self-defense, and if they do, you need to change their environment. Now, you want a kid to learn to use a knife you have in the house? Fine, but make sure that kid is also never home alone. At the same time, we do not want to arm our children with something they are not mature enough to discern when it’s time to use it or not. That is just too much pressure for a kid; before you know it, he’s slashing the school bully’s throat because he said your kid’s Mom wears combat boots.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve done two things:  I am drawing a distinction between kid-appropriate Eskrima and the real Eskrima… AND I am saying that most of you are not doing the real stuff. Want to teach kids those “fun” drills they advertise in seminars and martialtalk posts? Go for it. But if you’re thinking of teaching a child the proper way to break a jaw and I’d say that you were crazy.

Hopefully I haven’t stepped on too many toes today.

On second thought, I hope I have. Take a look at your Eskrima. If it’s something that is not completely destructive in the hands of a kid, you might want to reconsider continuing on the path you’re on. Bottom line–don’t waste your time practicing shit that won’t send your opponent to the hospital or the morgue.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

8 thoughts on “Should Eskrima Be Taught to Children?”

  1. Great post. I have refused to teach children for years because of many of the same same reasons. The last time I taught a class in the states, they wanted me to use pvc pipe. Needless to say it was a joke. Many adults think the real art is scary. Keep up the great work! CW.

  2. I agree the distinction should be made…and I know the differences. My 7-year-old has been taking classes for 2 years, my 10-year-old for 3 years. I have been taking classes with my husband off and on for about 4 years. The kids’ class combines Eskrima fundamentals, Wing Chun, and Kempo for self defense purposes. They learn a lot about the artistic aspects of the sayaw and sinawali for showmanship, but their main instructor focuses on helping the kids learn how to defend themselves if a situation should ever arise where they would need to do so; however, they are specifically taught to make peace and run away before engaging. My son is beginning to understand the differences because he is getting older. When he is ready, he will learn what my husband and I have been learning. By the way, we are taught under Grandmaster Bandalan – Doces Pares.

    1. thank you for the comment. yes we should make sure to know the differences. combat sports is good for kids too, and what many people doesnt realize, is that it can even teach self defense, good self defense, even though its not real fighting. we really dont want kids to break bones when they are defending themselves even against a bully. theyre just kids.

      1. I totally agree. We want our children to be able to avoid possible dangerous situations without having a false sense of confidence or a desire to seriously hurt or kill another person. My little girl learns a lot about getting away from a potential threat. She learns enough defensive moves to give her the opportunity to run and find help. I can’t stand schools that have young students who walk around with chips on their shoulders, as if they are untouchable. They are being taught the wrong methods for the wrong purposes. I forgot to mention I also agree with what you wrote about our role as parents. We have to act wisely and do our best to ensure our children are not put into potentially dangerous situations. I believe God has entrusted me with my children, and until they are ready, it is my job to educate, train, equip, and provide the protection they need when they are young. Thank you for your great article.

    2. I don’t know about you, Americans, since you have stricter rules in your place, but here, in the Philippines, especially from the boondocks, SOME parents allow their youngsters to learn Kali even if they’re as young as 6 years old. I placed the emphasis in SOME because most parents prefer their kids to hit the books, while some middle-class to rich parents look down on Kali because they are mostly taught in the slums, parks, and sometimes, in dilapidated gyms. After all, who wants to have their kids injured most of the times, won’t you all agree?

      Most FMA instructors here could not afford a decent gym where in students can learn in a relatively safe environment. Thus, they make do with what they can afford to the point, they have to water down the techniques at times so that they can minimize injuries. That doesn’t mean though that students won’t learn them properly; Guro’s most of the time will explain the techniques and demonstrate them with an advanced student.

  3. Reblogged this on Latosa Concepts, FMA and commented:
    I reposted this blog entry about kids and training on another blog a long time ago. I thought it was worthy of notice here as well. The reason being is Escrima; FMA, Arnis, etc. is not boxing if you train the real thing. This gets back to the “combative vs. martial arts” discussion. Y’all enjoy. CW

  4. I like your comments. Would only add, we have to learn drills for the techniques, right. Unfortunately, we’re not able to destroy somebody’s knee or break their neck every time we train.

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