SENATOR Juan Miguel Zubiri said he would push for the creation of a coalition that will reconcile the various styles of arnis, the country’s national martial art and sport.

Under his proposed Alliance of Filipino Martial Artists (Afma), the senator said he wanted to stage an arnis Congress where practitioners “can harmonize to discuss and create one unified of rules that every arnis practitioner”.

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The two biggest FMA organizations in the country are Arnis Philippines (ARPI) and the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF).

“At present there are literally 120 to 150 different styles of arnis in the country. We really have to standardize techniques and forms,” Zubiri said.

He noted that while arnis is already the country’s national martial art and sport, it has not been taught properly in schools due to its various styles and techniques.

Zubiri though expressed concern that the home-grown sport and martial art is more popular abroad than in the Philippines.

But recent efforts have been made to popularize the sport like the inclusion in the roster of events in the 2010 Palarong Pambansa.

The Philippine Sports Commission is tasked to lead the implementation the rules and regulations, together with the Department of Education and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Zubiri, an arnis practitioner himself, is one of the co-authors of Republic Act No. 9850, or “An Act Declaring Arnis as the National Martial Arts and Sports of the Philippines”.

The Arnis Law was also authored and sponsored by Senators Lito Lapid, Richard Gordon, Mar Roxas, Ramon Revilla Jr., and Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

Congressmen Arthur Pingoy Jr., Pryde Henry Teves, Cesar Jalosjos, Nanette Castelo Daza and Narciso Santiago III also backed the law.

The Philippines dominated the sport in the 1991 and 2005 Southeast Asian Games, which were hosted by the country.

The country bagged 10 of the 14 gold medals at stake in 1991 while it shared top honors with Vietnam in 2005. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)