The Philippines are hoping to have as many as 20 categories for the Arnis competition when they host the SEA Games in 2019.
Arnis, a form of martial arts also known as Kali or Eskrima, is the national sport of the Philippines.
This will only be the third time it would be competed at the biennial Games. It was introduced as a demonstration sport when the Philippines hosted the SEA Games in 1991. They clinched 10 gold medals and had it been included in the medal tally, the Philippines would have been the overall champions.
Arnis made its first and only appearance as a medal sport at the 2005 SEA Games, again hosted by the Philippines. Only the Philippines, Vietnam, Timor Leste and Cambodia took part in the competition.
The Philippines and Vietnam shared the spoils with three gold medals each.
With an anticipated 20 categories being looked into, the Philippines would have a head-start in the medal chase in 2019.
While Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore have picked up the martial arts in recent time, they would have their work cut out to challenge the Filipinos.
The Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) has already started an early search by planning to identify their core team during their national championships from 7-8 July, 2018.
Philippines are hoping for a top three finish and Arnis would be one of their safe bets for gold medals.
Every past host have done the same by including events that they were good at to gain advantage and it the Philippines are not wrong with their approach.
They have also added other sports, which were not contested at KL2017 – baseball, judo/jujitsu, wrestling/kurash and dancesport.