Weapons-training takes precedence because they give an edge in real fights, gears students to psychologically face armed opponents, and any object that can be picked up can be used as a weapon using FMA techniques. Empty hands training is then taught as the stick is merely an extension of the hand.
What separates Filipino Martial Arts from other weapon-based martial arts like Japanese Kendo & Kenjutsu, European Fencing and traditional Chinese Martial arts that teach the usage of classical Chinese weapons is that FMA teaches weapon use that is practical today: how to use and deal with weapons that one can actually encounter in the streets and how to turn ordinary items into improvised weapons. No one walks around with sabers, katanas or jians anymore, but knives, machetes and clubs are still among commonly encountered weapons on the street and in the field, thus making FMA very practical and geared towards military and street fighting.
Traditional weaponry varies in design, size, weight, materials and usage but because of the similarity of techniques and that the human being can move in only so many ways, any object that can be picked up can be turned into a weapon by a Filipino martial artist as a force multiplier. – Wikipedia 2013