Giron Arnis Escrima

Are you interested in proven effectiveness?

If so, Giron Arnis Escrima is for you.

As a student and teacher of Magda Institute Association Kali, I have been exposed to certain aspects of the Giron system, as well as wonderfully captivating stories of Grandmaster Emeritus Leo Giron. 

In fact, the Giron system of escrima is one of the three primary influences on Magda Institute Association Kali.  

My exposure led me to contact the then-current Grandmaster of Giron Arnis Escrima – Grandmaster Tony Somera. 

After communicating with Grandmaster Somera, I acquired the Giron Arnis Escrima DVD collection and went to work methodically dissecting each DVD. 

Still yearning for more, I decided to purchase The Secrets of Giron Arnis Escrima. 

Given my extensive research into the Giron system, I am very excited to share it with you. 

I want you to learn about:

  • Giron’s philosophy of escrima,

  • the twenty styles of the system,

  • the nucleus of the system,

  • behavioral expectations, and

  • guidance by inscription

Giron's Philosophy of Escrima

Giron Arnis Escrima was developed to perpetuate the art for the sake of preserving life.

With regard to perpetuating the art, you train to insure the legacy of the forefathers of the art that handed the art down to you.  

You also train to commemorate the original Filipino forefathers who were forced by the Spanish regime to practice the art in secrecy.

With regard to preserving life, you learn Giron's art of escrima for the sake of self-preservation. 

The system will teach you to defend yourself against human beings who have nothing better to do than inflict injury on another.

The Twenty Styles

Now is the time to remember the difference between system and style.  If not, see Systems versus Styles.

The Giron Arnis Escrima system is comprised of twenty styles.  Some of the styles are actual fighting methods, while others are concepts or strategies to use in an encounter.

The twenty styles of Giron's system are:

  • Estilo de Fondo,
  • Estilo de Abanico,
  • Estilo Abierta,
  • Estilo de Salon,
  • Estilo Sonkete,
  • Estilo Retirada,
  • Estilo Elastico,
  • Fondo Fuerte,
  • Contra Compas,
  • Estilo Redonda,
  • Combate Adentro,
  • Tero Grave,
  • Estilo Macabebe,
  • Tero Pisada,
  • Media Media,
  • Cadena de Mano,
  • Escapo,
  • Estilo Bolante,
  • Miscla Contras, and
  • Larga Mano

The Nucleus of Giron Arnis Escrima

The nucleus of the system can be broken down into the foundation of an art, basic defensive concepts, and preparation for training.

The Foundation of an Art

The foundation of Giron's art is cemented through respect, position, distance, the clock method, the baston, and striking.

Students begin by learning about the importance of respect.  Respect is rendered through a formal salutation.

After learning about respect, students are taught three basic positions – the natural position, the attention position, and the ready position.

The study of distance prepares students for close- or short-range (corto) encounters, as well as long-range (larga) encounters.  Additionally, elements of timing include tersia – meaning one third – and media – meaning one half.

The clock method of teaching is a simple communication tool that Giron Arnis Escrima uses to make specific movements and their intended purpose readily apparent during training.

The baston is defined by style.  For instance, the de fondo style uses a bolo or stick that measures at least two feet in length, while the larga mano style uses a longer weapon – as determined by the distance from the ground to the practitioner’s hands held at this sides.

The study of striking begins with a historical perspective that reveals the eight original strikes and cinco tero – the distilled five.  The study of striking then progresses to attributes.  Here the student learns about grip and desired striking – striking with the tip of a weapon.

Basic Defensive Concepts

Basic defensive concepts include blocking, parrying, deflecting, evading, hand checking, and releasing, reversing, and counter blocking.

In the Giron system, blocking stops, obstructs, hinders or halts oncoming blows.

Parrying wards off or diverts the course of oncoming blows.

Deflecting, which is typically used against a direct oncoming blow, forces the strike to miss its intended target.

Evading involves moving out of the path of oncoming blows.

If armed with a single weapon, hand checking is done with the empty – weapon free – hand.  Hand checking involves gaining momentary control over your opponent’s weapon hand / arm.

Releasing, reversing, and counter blocking comes from contra sombra, which implies the release of holds and reversals of counter blows.  Only a select and entrusted few learn the contra sombra technique and even those few aren’t taught it until after graduating from the system.

Preparation for Training

Preparation for training includes escrima as sport and art, training the triangle, and warm-up exercises.

Students learn about being a sportsman and an artist.  The sportsman doesn’t concern himself with how he wins.  The artist, however, is painstaking about his performance and exacting about his art’s intricacies.

Training the triangle refers to training the mind, heart and body.  The Giron system of escrima will bestow wisdom and heightened intellect on the mind.  It will train the heart to persevere, to be tolerant, and to forgive.  It will also train the body by improving attributes of physical health, as well as improving the practitioner’s resistance to various health threats.

Warm-up exercises are another important component.  System-specific exercises include twirling, figure-8’s, one-side-of-the-X’s, fanning, windmill, horizontal stroking, vertical stroking, jabbing, snap hitting, and redonda.

Behavioral Expectations

Recall that students learn about being a sportsman.  It is imperative that the training instill the qualities of respect and integrity in the minds of students.

The skills obtained from training should never be used unless absolutely necessary for the sake of self-defense.  As a Giron Arnis Escrima student, you are expected to be friendly and gracious to everyone.

To be hostile and unkind only evokes negativity in others.  As Grandmaster Giron states, “Where there is trouble, there is no victor.”

Guidance by Inscription

Grandmaster Giron stated, "When trouble absolutely, positively cannot be avoided, let a knight’s sword inscription guide you."

No mu saquis sin rason,
No mi embaines sin honor

Draw me not without reason,
Sheath me not without honor.


As the old saying goes – “A tree is only as strong as its roots.”

Similarly, a martial arts system is often evaluated based on its lineage.

And, in that case, the Giron system's lineage gets an A-plus!

Giron hailed from the province of Pangasinan in the Philippines.

Pangasinan was a hotbed of activity during Giron's youth. Escrima challenges were commonplace.

Notable champions included the legendary Santiago Toledo and the revered Dalmacio Bergonia.

As noted in The Secrets of Giron Arnis Escrima, Giron's early training began with three individuals in Pangasinan.

Benito Junio was the first to teach the young Giron. He was primarily a larga mano man. He was noted to be "a drinker, but a great fighter."

Julian Bundoc was the second to teach Giron. He was actually a cousin of the Girons. He was also an instructor under Junio.

Giron's third teacher was Fructuso Junio. He was the uncle of Benito Junio.

It was Fructuso who taught Giron the importance of distinguishing between the old or cada-anan and the new or cabaroan styles of Luzon.

Giron's fourth teacher was Flaviano Vergara. Vergara was a Bergonia graduate and contemporary. It was he who taught Giron the lineage of the influential styles from Pangasinan and Cagayan, such as those of Toledo and Bergonia. 

Giron's fifth and final teacher was Beningo Ramos. Ramos was assigned as an orderly to Giron during World War II. Before the war, Ramos was a professional escrima instructor.

Given its impressive lineage, it's no wonder the Giron Arnis Escrima system proved combat effective in the jungles of the Phillipines during World War II.

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