Kali / Silat

A young Filipino boy eagerly approaches the wooden gate that leads to a clearing in a cluttered backyard of wood, rubble and overgrown bushes. An old man, perhaps in his seventies, is sitting there on a bench. "Good morning, sir," says the boy. "Good morning, boy. Now why you come my place?" the old man asks in broken English. " I want to learn boxing and empty hand fighting, sir," the boy replies. "Sure, I teach you boxing good." The old man smiles and hands the boy a rattan stick about two-and-a half Feet long. In his own hand he holds a tightly rolled newspaper. "No, no, no, Sir." I don't want to learn stick fighting. I want to learn boxing, you know, Like Muhammad Ali," the boy says, gesturing like a boxer. The old man nods, A wide grin creasing his face. "Sure, sure, you learn boxing good," he says, Continuing ahead with the lesson. The old man holds his rolled newspaper firmly. "You no like old style, huh? Okay, move, attack me, boy, anything!" The boy lunges at him, desperately trying to tag the old man as he weaves and evades the blows. Suddenly, Smack! The boy feels a stinging hit from the newspaper, first on his arm, then on his nose, then repeatedly all over his body. Tears well up in the boy's eyes. Finally, he throws his stick to the ground. "What about the hands?" he cries. "Okay, come on," the old man says as he drops his newspaper. The boy jabs and swings wildly at the old man, who, using the same motions he did with his rolled newspaper, weaves and evades the strikes while raining blow after blow off the boys face, chest and arms. Finally, the boy waves his hand. "Enough, enough." The old man is smiling. He bends down and picks up the rattan stick and newspaper. He hands the stick to the boy. "Okay," he says, "Now you see, now you feel, now you learn boxing good." The stick firmly in hand, the boy begins his education in the 'empty hand' phase of the Filipino martial art of Kali. Such stories are not uncommon among Filipinos familiar with the art of Kali. In fact, some of the greatest Filipino professional boxers like Flash Elorde were highly skilled in the art. Traditionally, learning the empty hand skills of the art meant learning weaponry first, which included the dagger, and single stick or sword. But why teach weaponry first? In martial arts, weaponry is learned last and is considered the advanced portion of the art. But the Filipinos have good reason for their seemingly peculiar type of progression. To understand it, we must first delve into the history of Kali/Escrima. When we examine Filipino history, we discover they were always fighting invaders; the English, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, and even rival tribes of their own people. Everyone carried weapons during these times, the sword and dagger being the most common. One's life literally depended on one's martial skill because a deadly confrontation was always an immediate possibility, any place, any time. Since everyone bore arms, weaponry was taught right away. Only when a weapon could not be reached would a Kali practitioner use his empty hand skills.

The Lacoste System

Much of the instruction at MAMA is based on the Inosanto/Lacoste and Largusa/Villabrille systems of Kali. Dan Inosanto, one of the leading exponents of Kali and Escrima in the world, considers Lacoste the "Bruce Lee of the Filipino styles." (Lacoste died in 1978 at the age of eighty-nine) He was like Lee because he had absorbed what was useful from many systems of Kali and Escrima in the northern, central and southern regions of the Philippines. Like Lee, Lacoste could explain, in totality, the arts of Kali and Escrima, often mistaken as just stick or blade systems. Inosanto believes Lacoste's system is one of the best to provide an all around explanation of the Filipino arts. Most current systems are fragmented. They contain three, five, or at most seven categories of instruction. Lacoste had twelve categories of instruction, and could relate each category to the other, particularly with empty hand techniques. "Lacoste's empty hand techniques are concise, stripped of excessive motion, and flow well between throwing arts, choking arts, finger, wrist, elbow and shoulder locking arts, as well as ankle, knee and leg locking arts," Inosanto says, "He was adept at intermixing punching, kneeing and elbowing, and using these as a transition between the throwing, choking and locking arts."

Backbone of Kali

As evidenced by the preceding list a Kali practitioner has to have a well rounded education. Lacoste liked to start students with the olisi-baraw (long and short sticks), derived from the sword and dagger (espada y daga) method. With a complete comprehension of the long and short weapons, the student will understand the application of the other categories. In fact, he already has skills in the other categories because each becomes a direct translation of a variation of the principles of the long and short sticks. If a Kali/Escrima stylist truly understands the use of long and short weapons as flowing between and into disarming, choking, locking, throwing, pinning and hitting techniques, he will understand how to employ these maneuvers with anything in his hand - single stick, double stick, double dagger, single dagger, flexible weapons - or with nothing but his hands. The long and short sticks produce an understanding of the principle of the other categories, including empty hands. By learning the category thoroughly, the student could easily relate and understand the other categories, the principle being interchangeable among the various weapons. This is why the long and short sticks category is often referred to as the 'backbone' of Kali.

12 Areas of Instruction
1ST AREA- SINGLE STICK
  • SINGLE STICK
  • SINGLE SWORD
  • SINGLE AXE
  • SINGLE CANE
2ND AREA - DOUBLE STICK
  • DOUBLE STICK
  • DOUBLE SWORD
  • DOUBLE AXE
3RD AREA - STICK AND DAGGER
  • STICK AND DAGGER
  • CANE AND DAGGER
  • SWORD AND DAGGER
  • SWORD AND SHIELD
  • LONG AND SHORT STICK
4TH AREA - DOUBLE DAGGER
  • DOUBLE DAGGER
  • DOUBLE SHORT STICKS
5TH AREA - SINGLE DAGGER
  • SINGLE DAGGER
  • SINGLE SHORT STICK
6TH AREA - PALM STICK
  • PALM STICK
  • DOUBLE END DAGGER
7TH AREA - EMPTY HANDS
  • PANANTUKAN (BOXING)
  • PANADIAKAN (KICKING OR SIKARAN (REPLACE WITH OR ADD MUAY THAI)
  • DUMOG, LAYUG, BUNO DETSCHON (GRAPPLING)
  • ANKAB-PAGKUSI (BITE & PINCH)
  • HIGOT-HAMPAK (TIE & HIT)
  • HUBUD-HAMPAK (UNTIE & HIT)
  • LUBUD-HAMPAK (BLEND & HIT)
8TH AREA -LONG WEAPONS
  • STAFF (SIBAT)
  • OAR (DULA)
  • PADDLE (BUGSAY)
  • SPEAR (BANGKAW)
  • SPEAR & CIRCULAR SHIELD
  • SPEAR & RECTANGULAR SHIELD
  • SPEAR & SWORD/STICK
  • SPEAR & DAGGER
  • TWO HAND METHOD (HEAVY STICK)
  • TWO HAND METHOD (USING STICK)
9TH AREA - FLEXIBLE WEAPONS
  • SARONG
  • BELT/SASH
  • WHIP
  • ROPE
  • CHAIN
  • SCARF,HEADBAND
  • HANKERCHIEF
  • OLISI TOYOK
  • TABAK TOYOK
  • YO-YO
  • TABAK LUBID
  • STING RAY TAIL
10TH AREA - THROWING WEAPONS
  • SPEAR
  • DAGGER
  • WOODEN SPLINTER
  • SPIKES
  • COINS,WASHER
  • STONES ROCKS
  • SAND, MUD, DIRT
  • PEPPER, POWDER
  • ANY OBJECT
11TH AREA - PROJECTILE WEAPONS
  • BOW & ARROW (PANA)
  • BLOW GUN (SUMPIT)
  • SLING SHOT (PANA PALAD)
  • LANTANKA (PORTABLE CANNON)
  • FIREARMS
12TH AREA- HEALING ARTS
  • MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL, TRAINING
  • HEALING ARTS
  • HEALTH SKILLS
  • RHYTHM/DANCE
  • HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY, ETHICS