Russian House in the Philippines marks 10th year with martial arts training in Cebu

Around thirty martial art grandmasters and students from various countries in the world were recently in Cebu for the 10th Russian House in the Philippines International Martial Arts Camp which aims to better understand our local culture relative to Eskrima or Arnis and the rich heritage of the Filipino people.

In collaboration with the Department of Tourism Central Visayas under the leadership of Regional Director Shahlimar Hofer Tamano, these top martial arts instructors and students are in Cebu and Camotes until February 14, 2020, for a special training camp on Filipino martial arts, Eskrima/Arnis.

Alexander Pisarkin, a Russian martial arts guro started the Russian House in the Philippines Camp in 2011 in Cebu with him and five of his Russian students, incorporating Eskrima/Arnis and other forms of traditional martial arts into their movements.

Guro Alexander Pisarkin with Grandmaster Rodel Dagooc

His fondness for the Filipino martial art and the martial artists made him decide to come up with the training camp. Over the years, the annual camp in the Philippines is expanding and introducing more indigenous martial arts movements.

Department of Tourism Central Visayas Regional Director Shahlimar Hofer Tamano is joined by the grandmasters from different countries

The Art of Eskrima is indigenous to Cebu and the Visayan Islands. In other parts of the Philippines, it is called kali or arnis which refers to stick fighting.


The term Eskrima is derived from the Spanish word, “esgrima,” meaning fencing. Practitioners of the art are called “esgrimadors,” “esgrimadores,” or “esgrimistas.” Their weapons are called “the garrotes,” “bastons,” and “olisis,” as known in Cebu. The bladed weapons including “pinuti,” “kris,” “barong,” swords and knives are also used. When none of these weapons is available, bare hands will do.

“Footwork and control are key points to master in arnis.” – Grandmaster Rene Tongson

Arnis is from the Spanish word, “arnes,” meaning “harness” or “armour”“Arnis de Mano,” which means “armour of the hand.” The practitioners are called “arnisadors.”


Arnis has been adopted as a national martial art sport in the Philippines in 2009 under the Republic Art R.A. No. 9850. But it was only in 2017 that the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) was formed which Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, a former world arnis champion, is the president. He paved the way for PEKAF to be recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) as the National Sports Association (NSA) for arnis.

A gathering of greatness at the Fort: The grandmasters from different countries

Whether in the influence of history or a necessity for self-defense, the art has flourished in Cebu through decades. You can see a number of schools or clubs that opened for practitioners learning the fighting style. 

At present we have an Arnis national team and DepEd has adopted Arnis as a sporting event in the Palarong Pambansa. The Department of Tourism (DOT-7) has also now adopted Eskrima/Arnis or Kali as a new tourism product to market for the Philippines. “For me, arnis is a culture at the same time sport. Promoting arnis will contribute to Cebu and the region’s tourism growth,” said Department of Tourism Central Visayas Regional Director Shahlimar Hofer Tamano.

Its collaboration with the Russian House in the Philippines is just one of the many projects of DOT 7 for the promotion of Filipino martial art. And as early as now, they are looking forward to the 11th Russian House in the Philippines International Martial Arts Camp in the City of Gentle People in Negros Oriental in Dumaguete in 2021.

True enough, projects like this will pave the way for youngsters to learn the craft of eskrima which not only is a good form of exercise for the body and mind, a sport that promotes brotherhood but also, it is a martial art that enriches the nation’s cultural heritage – an inspiration to the Filipino character.


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