Inosanto's Book


Senior Master
Founding Member
MTS Alumni
Sep 1, 2001
Reaction score
Not being a FMA practioner, I was wondering if any practioners could tell me how good a resource Dan Inosanto's book, "The Filipino Martial Arts" is as a general reference. I've owned this book for some time, and enjoy it, but I'd like to know what kali, escrima, and arnis practioners think of it.


I have personally found Dan Inosanto's book to be an invaluable resource. I know that there have been claims regarding the accuracy of some information within the book but the same holds true to most written accounts of Filipino history. My and I mean "my" understanding is that historically, the Filipino culture were poor record keepers and much of the history has been passed through story telling and individual verbal accounts. There even has been much speculation as to the origin of the term "kali". I hope this helps. Keep in mind that Dan Inosanto has brought many of these Filipino "masters" to the lime light and has to a great extent popularized FMA. With this he has had first hand knowledge (to the extent it can be first hand) from many of the greats.
Again I hope this helps.

Thanks for the feedback!

I also think that his book is a reflection of his cumulative knowledge he gained from all the people he interviewed/trained with. For example, I believe his angle numbering system is based on the knowledge of all the various FMA he studied. He uses 12, but I've seen 15 in another system (the other 3 appeared to be Inosanto's 5, 6, & 7 in the face).

Though I love reading historical anecdotes about martial arts and martial artists, I usually don't take them at face value, so I don't mind if there are any inaccuracies in his book in that respect. Heck, Richard Kim's 'The Weaponless Warriors' has some stories on Okinawan karate masters that can't be entirely accurate. Doesn't mean I still don't enjoy the's one of my favorites.

As for *basic* technique, does the book hold up? I'm talking about the basic strikes, blocks, and footwork. I'd be foolish to rely solely on a book for other stuff, like siniwalli (sp?) and De Cadena.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

This is a great reference book. I have just started my journey in the FMA and I have found great value in this book. The information presented is much the same information as my teacher is giving me. If you can get a hold of this book (it is out-of-print and used copies can range from $50-$100) get it!!!

-Jeremy B.
Thanks for the info...I already have the book. Had it for several years, actually. I think I got it at a used bookstore in Tampa. It's one of my favorite books.

Hrmm...I have a few books by Inosanto, actually. I have the aforementioned FMA book, his book "Jeet Kune Do: The Art and Philosophy of Bruce Lee", and his two JKD 'textbooks'..."Guide to Training with Martial Arts Equipment" and "Absorb What is Useful". I know a couple of people were looking for the latter some time back because I think that's out of print as well. As far as I remember, they were all used bookstore finds.

We seem to explore the same threads... The book is great for basic strikes. There are many numbering systems. the basic 12 are the most common found combativly. As for the 5, 6, 7 as strikes to the face. I am not sure what you mean. They are in essence thrusts. 5 is a centerline thrust, typically thought as the abdominal area but can be centerline anywhere 6 and 7 are simply backhand and forehand thrusts again not thought of to the face. There are a few good FMA books. I just really enjoy the history. I happen to believe that it is because of Dan Inosanto however that we can train these arts today at all to any depth and range.

Regarding the three strikes:

I was afraid I didn't write that clearly. Inosanto lists the 5, 6, & 7 strikes (thrusts) in the upper torso in his book. I've seen a strike numbering system from another style that had those three strikes in the upper torso (different numbers, I think), as well as three similar thrusts in the face area, giving a total of 15 striking 'angles'. Basically, instead of keeping those strike numbers the same by simply changing levels (as Inosanto does), they gave them their own numbers.

Hmmm. I still don't think I'm being clear enough. Please let me know if you actually understood the above.

First, My prayers to all out there. I have no words for what has happened to our country. I turned to this web site for a change. Thanks for the diversion. Going back to the issue of angles... Yeah man, you were clear. The thing about angles or line familurarization ( the attribute you gain from training angles) is that the defense to these angles for the line that they take, for the most part remains the same. True, you could have infinite angles but that would defeat the purpose. In essense you learn to defend 12 angles yet attack with infinite varriations on them. If you break them down even further, most attacks come from 5 angles. So in looking at it this way an angle 6 is an angle 6. I hope this helps. This is simply my way of teaching and looking at it.

Jim Miller
God Bless, Protect and be safe
According to his book, Inosanto got his understanding of the angles from Cabales escrima, which also used 12 angles (though they're different from Inosanto's).

In his book Inosanto state that his 5, 6, & 7 are actually variations on other angles, but they supposedly occur often enough in combat to warrant their own numbers.

Took a look at Wiley's book on Cabales Serrada Escrima today. I like it...may pick it up when I get some extra cash.

There is much to be learned...What I like about Dan Inosanto is that he has forgotten more than any of us may ever know. Ultimately, it is how well you train and use what you know. You really have to experience Dan to fathom how good he really is. Most people can't even imagine. Have you ever had a chance to see him???
I have never been fortunate enough to see Dan Inosanto myself. A guy I train with attended some big seminar years back that featured Inosanto, among others. He was very impressed by him...not only his skill, but his humility. According to my training partner, people would come up and ask Dan for his picture and/or autograph, and Dan would thank *them* for the opportunity!

If I ever get a chance to see him in person, I'll jump on it.

I have not met the man but from what I hear a seminar from him is like drinking from a fire hose. You get a lot and hope to keep just a mouthful.

The guy has done everything. What I would like to see is what his version of Kenpo now looks like with all of the info he has crosstrained in.
You have a way with words. From what I hear from Vunak, Dan doesn't do anything with Kenpo anylonger and has not for many years. Striking comes more from Boxing, Muay Thai, Panajakman, Panatuken and Kali, Conceptually, JKD
He may not be actively training Kenpo techniques anymore, but I wonder if he still remembers the kata? If so, it would be interesting to see what his interpretation of them are after so many years.

BTW, Inside Kung-Fu magazine has a story on Inosanto, as well as featuring him on the cover. Haven't read it yet. Some interesting pics in the article, though, of him training in kenpo, in Thailand, and with various instructors from different styles.

That is what made Kenpo so kewl. Parker took what he kept learning and added it and innovated it. I would wonder how Dan would have taken what he knew of Kenpo and the changes he would have made to it.
What a combo...rapid fire strikes of kenpo with the sensitivity and flow of kali and chi sao. Wow.

Having tremendous rrespect for both Dan and Mr. Parker, I too would like to see what he would do with it. I also wonder what Mr. Parker would think about all that has gone on. Today there is more acceptance of ecclectic training and with that, what would Mr. Parker have added???? What did he think the weaknesses were and where would he have gone to address them???
I've have often thought what Guro Dan's Kenpo would now look like. To be honest I'm not sure if he still maintains any of it.

I am not a Kenpo player, got a yellow belt in it, then discovered Kali. Which lead me to Silat. When I see a high level Kenpo player doing their thing it reminds me a lot of Silat. Especially when a Kenpoist uses deep penetration and contact manipulation. The use of motion by a high level Kenpoist is absolutely beautiful.

I think when you see high level practioners of most hand-to-hand systems move, you'd find similarities to whatever art you practice.

It's those high level players that motivate me. I want to be like them someday. Just in ability theough.

Latest Discussions