Top 10 Martial Arts in the Philippines & Where to Get Them

Quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with self-defense; what’s wrong and deplorable is ‘self-offense’. Yeah, right. Various methods of self-protection find justice only if they are not use in bullying other people – to the martial artist’s wishes. Otherwise, the art simply loses its purpose.
Top 10 Martial Arts in the Philippines & Where to Get Them
For sure, Philippines has never ran short of martial arts fanatics and experts, if you ask me. Albeit many of them self-professed, especially in the expert department. And the road taken by the Asian Jeet Kune Do Master who conquered the world stage, Bruce Lee, is familiar to many sport aficionados. Especially with the advent of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and the UFC, its most potent purveyor.

So, it’s with deep honor and sense of pride that we present you the Top 10 martial arts practiced within the Philippine archipelago and where would you be able to find them, should you want to pursue mastery or see masters perform. Read on:

1. Yaw-yan
First stop, Yaw-yan – short for “Sayaw Kamatayan”, a sound of dread even from the name alone. The style’s distinctively Pinoy as developed by our very own ‘kababayan’, Napoleon A.Fernandez. Dubbed the Filipino style of kickboxing, Yaw-yan has close resemblance to Thailand’s fave sport, Muay-Thai, with its own version of eight-limb striking added with 70 distinct kick-forms. Incorporated with Arnis and the mastery in grappling, this deadly martial art is sure making waves in the MMA scene nationwide holding its own even against older stand-up fighting art forms (e.g., karate-do, taekwon-do).

If you want mastery of the sport, there are a lot of Yaw-yan clubs all over the country. In Manila, you can’t go wrong if you enrol under the the tutelage of Master Rey Yap of Yaw-yan Buhawi.

Dojo/Training Gym:

Domicile Building, J.P. Rizal Street, Nangka, Marikina City

Contact Number: 806-7253, 948-6009

Price: Php 1,600 for eight sessions

Famous practitioners: Ryan Paglinawan, Carl Sabeniano, Diether Ocampo

Other Places to find: Hybrid Yaw-yan, Yaw-yan Kampilan, Yaw-yan Fervileon, Yaw-yan Ardigma (Cebu)

2. Arnis
Another distinctly-Filipino martial arts, Arnis is a spin-off of the balintawak eskrima stick-dueling and bolo fighting and has been brought to its highest form by founder Remy Presas. What makes this weaponed art of self-defense deadly is you won’t even need those 2 sticks or any impact weapon for that matter to defend yourself with the onslaught of an attacker.

Officially designated as the ‘Philippine national martial arts’ by President Gloria Arroyo, Arnis has become a staple in Physical Education classes all over the country.

A Doce Pares master in Cebu, Master Ciriaco ‘Kakoy’ Canete is one instructor you would not want to miss if you talk about mastery of Arnis or Eskrima.

Dojo/Training Gym:

81-A C. Padilla Street San Nicolas Proper Cebu City, Philippines

Contact Number: 032-261-1352

Famous practitioners: Ronnie Rickets

Other Places to find: FMA (UST), Arnis Philippines

3. Muay Thai
Muay Thai
As the revered national sport of Thailand, this fighting style has come a long way. And many Filipinos have seen the ferocity and prowess of this self-defense, dubbed as the “Art of Eight Limbs” as it harnesses eight striking tools in its fighter’s arsenal, combination of elbows, knees, feet and fists.

To begin your mastery of the tenets of Muay Thai, drop by MAP (Muay Thai Association of the Philippines) located in ULTRA. You’d drop your jaw watching the national team in action there along with their coaches.

Dojo/Training Gym:

Philippine Sports Complex ULTRA, Pasig City

Contact Number: 0906-245-4980

Price: P5,000 for 15 sessions (beginner-intermediate), P300 per session (advanced level)

Famous practitioners: Robin Padilla, Judy-Ann Santos

Other Places to find: Fist Gym, Elorde Boxing Ortigas, S.P.R.A.W.L., Submission Sport Philippines

4. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
Avid fans of MMA have seen the devastating power of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in such players as Brandon “The Truth” Vera,BJ Penn and the just retired champion GSP, George St. Pierre, who incidentally is as Catholic as the Great Spider in UFC, Anderson Silva. You can’t get as graphic as watching how deadly are these masters of the takedown. ‘Nough said.

You don’t have to go to Brazil to master the sport, though if you insist then it’s your choice. In the Philippines, Deftac Philippines B.A.M.F. training center can help you learn the ropes of BJJ fast. Plus you can’t beat the size of their mat. For bookings, look for Master Andrew Laxa. And if you’re lucky you’ll bump into Alvin Aguilar, the country’s first BJJ black belt holder.

Dojo/Training Gym:

Sucat Road corner Dona Irenea Street, Ireneville Subdivision, Parañaque City

Contact Number: 384-0314

Famous practitoners: BJ Penn, Anderson Silva,

Other Places to find: NewBreed Academy, Kamphuis-Fabricio (KMA Fitness, Makati), Vamos Para Frente (VPF, Katipunan)

5. Aikido
There is a lot of mystery surrounding this Japanese martial arts, Aikido. And we can’t blame the masses. With Aikido master Steven Seagal tossing his enemies to the sides like paper and breaking their bones like it’s made of plastic. Aikido has a very sound defense strategy though and it’s tough to beat: Use the enemies strength to your advantage. With its focus on small joint manipulation, the results are nothing short of phenomenal

For mastery of the sport, you can visit Masakatsu Dojo located in Quezon City, a martial arts haven for Aikido self-defense artist both local and global. It’s hard not to learn from such capable masters as 4th Dan black belt, Sensei Victor Ayes.

Dojo/Training Gym:

Mezzanine, Garden Island, 34 N. Domingo Street, Quezon City

Contact Number: 0927-797-1251
Price: P150 per session

Famous fighters: Steven Seagall

Other Places to find:
Blessed Dojo, YMCA Dojo, Makati Aikido Club (MAC)

6. Capoiera
Dance, music, rhythm. It’s easy to miss the essence of Capoiera, an Afro-Brazilian art, at the onset as you’d mistake it as a party mechanism. However, this is a very effective Brazilian martial art that utilizes dance moves as a weapon to catch the enemy off-guard via takedowns and strikes. Perfect for people who want some grooving in their fighting.

If you’re serious about giving your self-defense it’s grove , go to Sinha Bahia de Capoiera Metro Manila located at Club 650, Libis. Pretty soon, you’ll master your ginga in to time!

Dojo/Training Gym:

Club 650, Libis, Quezon City
Contact Number: 0927-232-3521
Email: Leao at [email protected]

Famous practitioners: Wesley Snipes

Other Places to find:

Escola Brasileira de Capoiera (San Juan), Capoiera Angola (Makati)

7. Judo
A combat art perfected by the Japanese,Judo, meaning “gentle way” is one ground and pound system of takedowns and pins that ju-don’t want to mess with. Because of its emphasis on technique and not on strength it’s very possible a smaller fellow can dislodge a much-stronger one. Now, that’s scary. But it takes a lot of hard work to be proficient – like most sport.

Should you want to harness the judo-kai in you, it’s hard to go wrong with Stanley’s Judo Club, a place run by elite members of the national team. Mentors like Robert Divina, 6th dan black belt and coach to the Philippine team will hone your inner strength, like you never thought possible.

Dojo/Training Gym:

4th floor, C.K. Sy Building, Libertad Street, Pasay City

Contact Number: (0918) 943 4568, (0917) 791 3586
Price: P200 per session

Famous practitioners: Florence Payno, Ada Estanislao

Other Places to find:
Philippine Judo Federation, Fist Gym, UP MMA, Ateneo Judo Association

8. Taekwondo
Here’s one martial from the Koreans you don’t want to be up against. Taekwondo puts heavy emphasis on legwork. And rightly so, as our legs carry much of our weight, more power is derived from them than just using bare hands. Mixed with superior speed, this kind of power is hard to beat. The proof: a lot of broken boards and broken layers of bricks or hollow blocks.

You can sharpen your kicking skills Taekwondo style at Olympians Taekwondo Training Center (OTTC), which happens to be run by Monsour del Rosario, the country’s foremost Taekwondo Ambassador.

Dojo/Training Gym:

2nd floor, Amber Place, 19 MRT Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, Metro Manila

Contact Number: 889-5463

Famous practitioners: Monsour del Rosario, Stephan Fernandez, President Barack Obama

Price: P6,000 (whole summer)

Other Places to find:
Philippine Taekwondo Association, Obsidian Taekwondo Club

9. Wushu
It’s easy to mistake this Chinese martial art as just a dance form as there are competitions showing the aesthetic side of the sport. But you can never be so wrong. With two disciplines (i.e.,throws, kicks, punches) including grappling techniques: ‘taolu’ (forms) and ‘sanshou’ (grappling), you may find the breed more complex than the rather simplistic karate, but it sure will beat the hell out of you if you get hit by a master practitioner.

For mastery of the sport, you could visit UP Dilliman and enlist at the Paohong Wushu Club run by Pedro Quina, the country’s SEA games gold medalist in Wushu. Top that!

Dojo/Training Gym:

2nd floor, The Pergola Mall, Aguirre St., BF Homes, Parañaque City

Contact Number: 0905-350-7562; 0923-674-6757
Email: [email protected]
Price: P2,000 per month

Famous practitioners: Pedro Quina, SEA games gold medalist, Kevin, Belingon, Eduard Folayang

Other Places to find:
Wushu Federation of the Philippines, Philippine Ling Nam Association

10. Wrestling
All those WWE fans may shout in unison that they know this sport. To some extent, yes. But there’s more to wrestling than lip service and Rock Bottoms. And though it may be one of the oldest of the bunch, wrestling is a a good starting point for more serious practitioners. If you take a closer look, most of the fights in MMA ends in the ground.

Now, if you’re into serious groundwork – the throws, the pinnings and the pummelings – you should be signing up at S.P.R.A.W.L., a first in the country when you talk about wrestling-based MMA.

Dojo/Training Gym:

3rd floor JN Building, 657 EDSA corner Monte De Piedad Street, Barangay Immaculate Concepcion,

Contact Number: 0910-440-8035; 0907-302-0384; 0927-703-6912

Famous practitioners: President Abraham Lincoln

Other Places to find:
Wrestling Association of the Philippines, Eclipse Gym

For more of the important details, click here.

There you have it, kicking and ground fighting aficionados: Our newest Top 10. Please don’t forget to drop us some lines and share your thoughts in our comment section. And also, please do your share in spreading our little ‘good word’. Martial arts is like a loaded gun, it can make you an Oscar Pistorius (not dela Hoya), if you’re not too careful.

Ciao, sport!

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18 Responses

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  1. Michael says:

    Why no mention of karate, one of the most comprehensive, yet practical martial art? Karate contains elements of most of the other martial arts, and has even infuenced one (taekwondo).

    • says:

      Thanks for dropping by Michael. This is probably because karate is already incorporated in taekwondo but I’ll verify with the writer to be sure.

  2. kaecee aguirre says:

    is there any other taekwondo in manila with a per session fee instead of a whole 6000php per month? thank you! 😀

    • says:

      Hi Kaecee! I’m almost certain there should be an arrangement like so but just not sure where these days. Let’s hope some of our readers will be able to give you a more specific answer on this regard.

  3. Angel says:

    How long does it take in yaw-yan per session, and what would be the training for 1600php which is good for 8 sessions?

  4. Warner says:

    Karate is far different from Taekwondo. Also you forgot to mention Hwarang do as well as Krav Maga.

  5. Warner says:

    Shorinji Kempo and Hwarang do?

  6. i cant join the teakwondo sir this is my number 09264600292

    • says:

      Hi Martin you need to get in touch with your local sports clubs to join whatever martial arts or sports you are interested in. We are not connected with any of them. Good luck!

  7. Garry Coupe says:

    Love this post, very helpful information, thanks for adding the contact details, really helps alot

  8. Hope Noche says:

    How can i enrol my granddaughter in muay thai or aikido she’s only 8 years old do u have a place near in Pasay City

    • says:

      Sorry Hope we are not associated with any martial arts school. Best check your local directory or schools or Google Maps.

  9. Abigail says:

    How can enrol the yaw yan?

  10. Lai says:

    How about manila area for wushu?

  11. Zdk says:

    How about kung fu?

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