HAYWARD — Filipino Martial Arts, more popularly known as "Arnis" or "Eskrima," is based on one thing and one thing alone: survival.
The weapon-heavy style is one of many self-defense techniques offered at Hayward Martial Arts in downtown Hayward.
For the most part in FMA, there are no rules or codes of conduct such as the Japanese "Way of the Warrior." FMA is straight to the point.
"We're not going to trade blows and get into fisticuffs," said Alexander Bautista Bayot France, an FMA master and instructor at Hayward Martial Arts. "Our style is designed to end the fight in a matter of split seconds."
That's because the martial art was developed in the Philippines as the people's main way to defend their families or villages from enemies.
France, 60, has 30 years of training in FMA and is also a member of the International Philippine Martial Arts Federation.
Perhaps the most popular fighting style associated with FMA is stick fighting.
Unlike karate, in which a student goes through various levels of hand combat before learning how to use a weapon, FMA features weapons aplenty for beginners and experts alike, France said.
"The weapon, really, is just an extension of the hands," France said. "Take the weapon out and we still have a complete and highly efficient martial arts system."
And weapons, France said, can be anything.
Have a 6-inch pen at your disposal? That can easily become your dagger, he said. How about that broomstick laying in the garage?
"Now you have a staff," France said.
FMA is also unique when compared with other martial arts because of its concept of "flow," in which one strike or attack leads into the next and so on.
"What you have is a transition that is seamless," France said. "Whether it's an attack from short range to long range, or from offense and moving into defense, everything flows together."
Mark Williamson, a certified second-degree black belt, trains with France and also teaches at Hayward Martial Arts.
The Hayward resident said studying FMA has helped him gain an appreciation of and learn more about Filipino culture.
France's grandson, Isaiah Fabella of Vallejo, is also an FMA student.
The 12-year-old has been training since age 4, when he first was exposed to his grandfather practicing stick fighting.
"I like knowing I have it for my protection," the youth said. "Just in case something happens, I will be ready for it."
Hayward Martial Arts is located at 1024 B St. For more information on FMA, visit www.HaywardMartialArts.net or call 925-864-7477.
Reach Kristofer Noceda at 510-293-2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.