What is Freestyle Martial Arts at the Academy?

Freestyle Martial Arts (FSMA) is a multi-disciplined system incorporating the techniques of Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing, Philipino Stick and knife-fighting, Japanese Kenjitsu and Jojitsu combined with realistic, practical street self defence tactics providing a comprehensive martial art system encompassing all ranges of combat, not including firearms. The Academy of Combat is the only Christchurch Martial Arts school offering a system of this type.

Weaponry Combat at the Academy of Combat

At the Academy of Combat you will be first taught the postures and stances of the various weapons systems together with basic strikes and counter-attacks. Initially you will learn the basic elements of Filipino stick fighting, both double and single stick, together with the basics of the Japanese sword and Jo.

At this time you will also learn the basics of Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Filipino sensitivity drills.

martial arts weapon, the japanese sword, sticks fighting

As you continue to progress, the complexity of drills and sequences is increased to give a greater understanding of each weapon's techniques. As a consequence of this progression you will also learn to integrate empty hand aspects of striking, trapping, throwing and locking up together with the weapon's tactics. The resultant knowledge base will provide you with a well rounded conceptual methodology of dealing with all ranges of combat, not including firearms.

Whether you wish to train for self defence or learn a martial art as a life enhancing interest the Weaponry Combat System will provide you with a comprehensive and fulfilling physical and mental exercise program.


We present below a brief history of each of the main weapons taught at the Academy.

Philipino Stick and Knife fighting - Escrima

The origins of the Filipino fighting arts stretch over hundreds of years. The first recorded encounter, by western civilization, with their ability to use rattan sticks against steel weapons occurred when the chieftain Lapu Lapu defeated the Spanish pirate Magellan who was invading their homeland and enslaving their people. Magellan was killed during the battle, however, his men escaped back to Spain and returned with reinforcements, the Spanish conquest of the Philippines which was to last 400 years, began.

The stronger firepower of Spanish guns ultimately resulted in the Spanish conquering the Filipino region. When Spanish rule was installed the Filipino martial arts were outlawed. However the Filipinos still practiced these arts in the guise of native dances.

Spanish rule was followed by American domination in the early 1900s which forced the Filipino people into an acceptance of foreign domination. The majority of Filipinos except the Moros, of the Muslim religion, laid down their weapons and accepted peace.

The Moros continued to raid and harass Christian factions. Following a short time of the Philippines becoming a Commonwealth, WWII broke out and the Filipinos found themselves fighting the Japanese with sticks, knives and guns. When American forces intervened the Filipinos were enlisted into their military units. Their skill with the Bolo knife was soon recognised and the Filipinos used regularly in guerilla warfare tactics on the islands against the Japanese. During and after the war many Filipinos emigrated to the USA where the majority worked as farm labourers. They continued to practice their extremely efficient stick and knife fighting systems which ultimately led to their exposure and resultant modern day following in the West.

Kenjitsu & Iaijitsu

The Japanese sword arts originated somewhere around the third century A.D. However, before the Gempei Era (1156-1185) the technique consisted of striking the opponent with as much power as possible with the sword already drawn. It was during the Sengoku Period that followed when the more refined Katana was developed, the design of the blade and the manner in which it was worn, edge upwards through the Samurai's sash, allowed for drawing and cutting in the single motion.

Master swordsman and sword schools also appeared around this period. One of the most famous sword schools, Shinkage Ryu, was established in 1543 from Kage Ryu, by Kamiizumi Ise no Kami. This was later renamed by the son of his successor Yagyu Sekishusai, one Yagyu Tajima No Kami Munenori to Yagyu Shinkage Ryu. He was to become the sword instructor to the second Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu and the school provided instructors to the Tokugawa family until the Meijo Restoration.

The Nen Ryu, later to become Itto Ryu originated in the Muromachi Period and the Niten Ichi Ryu of the famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, which specialised in the use of two swords during training, appeared at the beginning of the Edo Period.

There existed around 200 schools of swordsmanship at this time which remained untested during the peaceful Tokugawa period. Many of these schools taught systems that were questionable and impractical.

In 1876 the wearing of swords was outlawed and the samurai class and way of life faded away. Swordsmanship was considered a thing of the past and all but disappeared. However, fortunately due to experiences in wars against China and Russia where the sword was found to be effective in battle, swordsmanship was once again embraced by the new Japanese army.

It was at this time with the growing nationalism in Japan that martial arts became popular once again. However, the emphasis was placed more on the spiritual aspects of the martial arts and in many cases led to systems that were diluted and lacking in combat effective power.

It is now in the late 20th and early 21st century that we are witnessing a revival of effective swordsmanship with many students and practitioners seeking the revival and development of the most efficient systems.


The origins of Jojitsu date back to the early 17th century when a samurai named Muso Gonnosuke was defeated, in a duel, by the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Gonnosuke, who was using a six foot staff, called a Bo, was allowed to live by Musashi. The story relates that Gonnosuke underwent a “divine insight” upon meditation, in which a young boy came to him in a dream and advised him to shorten the staff and seek the centre. Gonnosuke shortened his weapon and developed a series of techniques which became the Shindo Muso Jojitsu Ryu.

A second duel took place between Musashi and Gonnosuke in which Musashi was defeated. Gonnosuke allowed Musashi to live and became the only man ever to defeat him in a duel. The art of Jojitsu has survived to the present-day, in part helped by the founder of Aikido, Uyeshiba Morihei, adopting it to teach the principles of Aikido.

The Early Years, Weaponry Fight 2001

A stickfighting match between two Academy of Combat weaponry students in 2001.

Pictures & Video

Weapon 1

Weapon 2

Weapon 3

Escrima defence and counter drill Sword control with Jo Jo attack combination setup

Advanced Weaponry Class

Check out an advanced weaponry class which features a variety of Japanese sword and Jo attacks, counter attacks and disarms.