The Philippines is known for many reasons in the West. To many, the island nation is the land of white beaches, lumpia, and vicious knife-fighting skills.
My guess is that last item was a surprise.
The pen was mightier than the knife in the 2002 film "The Bourne Identity" because Bourne is trained in Kali, the homegrown Filipino Martial Art that specializes in bladed weapons.
The method is so effective at neutralizing an armed (or hell, an unarmed) opponent, that the U.S. Army adopted it into its modern combatives program.
Army Ranger Matt Larsen – now known as the "Father of Modern Combatives" – studied indigenous martial arts around the world as he developed the new fighting style. The modern system is based on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but Larsen chose to integrate Kali into the Army's fighting style.
Kali (or Arnis, or Eskrima) is the national sport and martial art in the Philippines. And it's not limited to bladed weapons. The art includes sticks, clubs, bare hands, bottles, and pretty much anything else a hand could wield.
Like the Israeli Krav Maga martial art, Kali is designed to be a practical fighting technique. Where the Krav Maga user will find anything within arm's reach to help win the fight, the Kali fighter emphasizes a weapons-first approach, but will ultimately use any method to win the fight.
Another strength of FMA is that it's a complementary fighting style. Experts say that Kali doesn't conflict with learning another style, but actually strengthens one's ability to fight in that style. In fact, Bruce Lee integrated it into his Jeet Kune Do philosophy because a friend and student of his was Dan Inosanto, a Kali fighter.
The FMA weapon fighting style is also used by the Russian Spetsnaz, or special forces. Their chief fighting instructor is the FMA master, Daniel "Mumbakki" Foronda. The Russians have reportedly used the style in hand-to-hand combat in places like Afghanistan and Georgia.
"Special operations and police forces worldwide are looking for Kali instruction," said Jared Wihongi, a bladed weapons expert for Browning, in an interview with with Funker Tactical. "They see the realism in the art, and that it's very combat-effective – not just the use of knives but defenses against edged weapons."