Event, Filipino American, Film

Filipino Martial Arts: From Kali and Escrima to Boxing

Panel Discussion and Film Showing
Filipino Martial Arts: From Kali and Escrima to Boxing

Filipino Martial Arts:  From Kali and Escrima to Boxing

From escrima to boxing, martial arts is an integral part of Filipino and Filipino American culture. Many Filipino immigrants like Pancho Villa and Flash Elorde became famous for their boxing skills and became a source of pride for many Filipino Americans. Legendary escrima master, Leo Giron, founded one of the nation’s first schools of escrima and is known as the father of the Larga Mano style of Filipino martial arts. His protégé, Dan Inosanto, continues to inspire and teach many disciplines of martial arts.

This program featured the documentary film, The Great Pinoy Boxing Era (Corky Pasquil and Agrafino Edralin) and hosted a panel discussion and demonstration on Filipino martial arts. The Great Pinoy Boxing Era is an insightful portrayal of the Filipino men who came to the U.S. not only as farm laborers and as prize-winning boxers during the 1920s and 1930s. The film was followed by a presentation from Professor Linda España-Maram along with presentations and demonstrations by internationally renowned martial artists Dan Inosanto and Rosie Abriam. Gem Daus of the University of Maryland-College Park served as moderator.


Dan Inosanto

Stockton–born Dan Inosanto is a famous Filipino American martial artist and instructor and an authority on Jeet Kune Do, a martial arts discipline passed on to him by his late teacher Bruce Lee. In addition to Jeet Kune Do, Mr. Inosanto teaches martial arts, shoot wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Silat, and other arts at the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts in Marina del Rey, California. Mr. Inosanto is an untiring teacher who has taught some of the best instructors and fighters in the world today.

Rosie Abriam

Rosie Abriam is a Gura-Fifth Degree of the Kamatuuran School of Kali. Kali is a martial arts originating in Southeast Asia. Ms. Abriam learned kali while growing up in San Francisco, California, where she was raised by her Filipino American parents who taught her the value of self-esteem and education as keys to success in life, and to “never to forget your family, your culture , and your community.” Ms. Abriam is currently the president and CEO of the Center for Asian Pacific American Women (CAPAW).

Linda España-Maram

Linda España-Maram is an associate professor of Asian American Studies at California State University, Long Beach. She is the author of Creating Masculinity in Los Angeles Little Manila, a book analyzing the politics of popular culture in the lives of Filipino laborers from the 1920s to the 1940s. In her book, Dr. Espana-Maram discusses the participation of Filipino men in leisure activities such as boxing and how the talented pinoy boxers were seen by the immigrant workers as heroes and symbols of pride and hope for equality in an unwelcoming America.

Gem Daus

Gem Daus teaches Filipino American Studies at the University of Maryland- College Park, where he developed courses which allowed students to explore history and identity in connection with story-telling, community building and political advocacy. Mr. Daus has a Master of Arts in Organization Development from Marymount University and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Virginia. He is also the Executive Director for the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care.

This film, “The Great Pinoy Boxing Era” is also distributed by the Center for Asian American Media.

Check out photos from the event on Flickr!

Click Here to View the Archived Video.


6 thoughts on “Filipino Martial Arts: From Kali and Escrima to Boxing

  1. Thanks for this, I used to practice JKD and Kali (had a personal thing for Panantukan) and I owe a lot to Dan Inosanto for his work. Now that I have family links with the Philippines I am more interested for the cultural works of the Philippines, so this video is on my watch list!

    • siapap says:

      Dear Mr. Brown,
      An archived video of last night’s event will be posted on our website soon. Please check back on the website for that.

      If you have any other questions please let us know!

      Thank you for your support,
      Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

  2. Leilani Albano says:


    My name is Leilani Albano and I am a journalism grad student at USC doing a project on the media’s treatment of Filipino boxers through the years.

    I feel so fortunate to discover this site.

    I was wondering, how can I get a tape or DVD of this event? or will this event be telecasted?

    I would be happy to make any arrangements possible.


    Leilani Albano

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