Most people think the FMA are stick fighting arts only. This is a common
misconception because the rattan sticks are one of the primary tools used
in training. They do use the sticks for combat, but that is not all there is to
the arts. The FMA are equally based in weapon skills and empty hand skills
(such as kicking, punching, trapping, and grappling). The FMA cover all
the fighting ranges, defending against armed and unarmed attacks with
whatever is available. What is available maybe the rattan sticks or it could
be other types of weapons or just the fighter's empty hand skills. The FMA
teach the interrelationship between empty hand skills and weapons.
Therefore the FMA should be considered a complete martial arts system
that develops many different types of skills for combat, not just simply a
stick fighting art.

Keep in mind that there are also other FMA that do not involve the use of
stick fighting as a training method. Dumog, Sikaran, and Panantukan are
examples of FMA that are based on empty hand skills only.