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Formed in 1977 , the American Maharlika Kuntaw Association was set up to promote and propagate the art of Kuntaw in the United States. This fledgling martial arts organization was one of the first Filipino based martial arts organizations in the US.

Kuntaw is a martial art that was developed in the Philippines. Fighting skills were "borrowed" from the many cultures that arrived in the Philippines by migration or invasion and were organized into a viable fighting system. This fighting system, known as Maharlika Kuntaw, handles the three ranges of battle: Largo (long); Sumbrada (short); and Hubud (close) ranges as well as the three altitudes of fighting: air, standing and ground. 

Maharlika: (original name of the Philippines) free/royal; Kun: fist; Taw: way of; Maharlika Kuntaw - Way of the Royal Fist or Filipino Art of The fist 

These fighting skills come from many different areas of the Orient. However, the three main cultures which Kuntaw was derived from were India, Indonesia and China. India gave the arts of weaponry and sword fighting, Indonesians provided snake-like grappling and striking techniques, and forceful kicks and blows were brought by Chinese people. The three main Filipino Arts which Kuntaw is comprised of are: Buno (Philippine Wrestling), Sikaran (Kicking Art) and Bugtongan (Philippine Stick Fighting System). While these arts are inherently Filipino, they were first influenced by non-filipino fighting styles. 

Kuntaw primarily was developed as a defensive art, but it can be used as an offensive art given the right circumstances. Weapons are a major part of Kuntaw techniques. These weapons may be a fist, elbow, knee, foot, or a hand held object such as a knife, stick or sword. Movements in Kuntaw were developed from the use or defense of these weapons. Though Kuntaw is basically evasive, it is dramatic evasiveness. The movements used are light and fast to avoid an attack, but they are designed to use this action to counter back to the opponent. Movements do not stop an attack, or oppose the force delivered, instead they re-direct back to the source by seeking control of the force. In effect, using the opponent's own effort against them without wasting much of your own energy. These movements direct delivered force to an area that allows the practitioner to get in and take the opponent's balance. This also gives the Kuntawista the ability to lock, throw, sweep or strike the opponent from a safe vantage point.