The word mano is the Spanish word for hand and refers to the empty (unarmed) techniques used in the Filipino martial arts, the movements of which are directly translated from the movements of the single and double weapons fighting skills of the art.
Mano Mano is the Filipino art of empty hand self-defense, and is a combination of different Filipino martial art styles. Mano Mano is a very well rounded martial art, which covers the different ranges of combat, including kicking, punching, locking, throwing and grappling Dumog skills. Students of the Filipino martial arts are required to be well versed in Mano Mano at the higher levels and are expected to be able to easily translate their weapons skills directly into empty hand techniques.
Unlike other martial systems, the Filipino martial arts considers the empty hand or mano mano skills to be the higher end of the art, in that they teach weapons skills first, with the empty hand combat skills only being taught to the more senior ranks. They also believe that the weapons are mere extensions of the hands when training the weapons skills, and without realizing it, the student is already learning the empty hand techniques of the art.
Mano Mano in different regions of the Philippines may also be known in local dialects as Panantukan (Luzon) or Pangamot (Visaya). It is also often referred to as Combat Judo to which the early American colonizers of the islands referred to the art.
It is widely believed that the Mano Mano skills influenced boxing once Filipino immigrants moved to the USA. Until the arrival of Filipino boxers in the USA, American boxers used a "Gentleman Jim" stance with arms stretched out with both fighters standing toe to toe exchanging blows. It is believed that the Filipino boxers were the first to use a more closed or tight guard with the bobbing and weaving motions that are common features in modern boxing style. The fact that Filipinos were well versed in weapons fighting, in particular knife fighting, is believed to be the reason behind Filipino fighters having tigher guards and the bobbing and weaving motions. The American boxers soon adopted the Filipino style, and this format changed the art of boxing worldwide to the one recognized today. Even though the Philippines produce many world class boxers in the lighter weight divisions, many still currently study their indigenous martial art.