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What is a Bolo?

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The Bolo is a knife that usually has a hardwood handle and blade that curves and widens toward the tip. Jungle bolos, or those more intended for combat than agriculture, are often longer and thinner at the tip.

The bolo was initially used for agricultural purposes in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Cuba, often to help clear vegetation, open coconuts, and/or kill pigs for slaughter. Therefore, the bolo is much like a machete.

As is the case with many martial arts weapons, the fact that it was used for agricultural purposes made it of particular use to those hoping to wield it as a weapon, such as was the case during the Filipino resistance/revolution against Spain in 1898. Spanish oppressors had difficulty differentiating between the Filipinos desire to use it as a weapon vs. for agriculture. Along with this, the use of the bolo is rather common in Filipino martial arts forms such as Balintawak, Pekiti-Tirsia Kali and Modern Arnis. Though there are many different types of bolos, the ones most often used during the said revolution were called sundangs.

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