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Filipino martial art stages comeback in its native land

Local revival of indigenous sport follows growing popularity overseas

MANILA -- Batman will never know it, but the caped crusader played a big role in the career of Daniel Bernas, a world champion in the Filipino martial art of arnis. As an 18-year-old university student, Bernas chose arnis for his physical education class after reading a Batman comic book that featured a character using this fighting form.

Bernas' entry into arnis through Western comics is unusual for an indigenous martial art whose roots lie in the era before the Philippines became a Spanish colony in the 16th century, when the islands were ruled by local chieftains.

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