Filipino Martial Arts featured in Game of Thrones


Game of Thrones is coming to its epic conclusion. The HBO series is an adaptation of George RR Martin’s fantasy series called “A Song of Fire and Ice”. For the recent episode “The Long Night”, British actress Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, was trained in the Filipino martial art called Eskrima.

Dragon Eggs

What is Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones is a wildly popular TV series created by David Beniofff and DB Weiss for HBO. It’s based on a series of books by George RR Martin.

The TV series, which premiered in 2011, was filmed in many parts of the world, including Canada.

Game of Thrones has been nominated five times for the Golden Globe Awards, received 47 Emmy Awards, 3 Hugo awards and a Peabody Award.


What is Eskrima?

Eskrima (also called Arnis and Kali, as well as Garrote, Estoque, Estocada and sometimes Arnis de Mano) is the national sport of the Philippines.

The martial art emphasizes unarmed combat, as well as fighting with the use of weapons such as sticks, knives and bladed weapons.

Story has it that in the 16th century, Spanish colonizers in the Philippines feared for their lives and forbade the locals from carrying bladed weapons. Instead, the locals adapted by earning how to fight with sticks and other readily available weapons.

Famous fans of Eskrima include Dan Inosanto, Bruce Lee and Jeremy Renner.


Who is Maisie Williams?

Margaret Constance Williams is a British actress who made her acting debut playing Arya Stark in the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones is Williams’ first acting job, and was chosen for the role from a pool of over 300 actresses.

She has received critical acclaim for her work, which let to more acting roles in shows like Dr. Who and The Falling.

You can catch Williams next in the new film adaptation of the Marvel comic book series “The New Mutants”.


How did Maisie Williams end up learn Eskrima?

During an interview with Inverse, Game of Thrones stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam said that they drew inspiration from Eskrima.

“My team comes from a very wide background of martial artists and weapons experts, so we draw from all styles we possibly can. Filipino stick work is definitely one of them for this piece, as are double sword work.”

In the Game of Thrones season 8 premier episode, Arya commissions Gendry to forge a unique dragonglass spear for her, in preparation for the forthcoming battle. The weapon, which has dragon glass on one end and a blade on the other, can be split in two.

Irlam said that Eskrima’s unique double stick techniques gave them the inspiration when it came to teaching Williams during the episode’s fight sequence.

It took eleven weeks to film the episode, and required 70 stunt performers. Not only did they have to endure a 10 hour shoot, but they had to perform in extensive prosthetic makeup which required an hour to put on and another hour to remove.

The sequence can be seen in the third episode of the eight season of Game of Thrones, as Arya faces off against a group of wights in a tight hallway during the Battle of Winterfell.

Irlam told Inverse: “We were always looking for something new and original; we never wanted to repeat anything we’ve done before.”


Where can you watch Game of Thrones in Canada?

In Canada, you can watch Game of Thrones from your current TV provider or by subscribing directly to Crave.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm Eastern on HBO. The final episode will air on Sunday, May 19, 2019.

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