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The History of Kali and Escrima

Filipino Kali is the martial art of stick fighting. Hard, bamboo sticks are used for defense and to attack. They have made this particular fighting style into a unique and deadly martial art form.

Kali Practitioners are first taught weapons fighting before hand to hand combat, differentiating itself from other martial art styles. A student in any other Asian Martial Art is expected to master hand to hand combat before moving on to weapons.

A definition of Kali would be: A Martial Art specializing in the use of two baton-length sticks, with techniques adaptable to empty-hand or edged weapons.

The word "escrima" originates from the Spanish verb "escrime", meaning to fence with a sword. Escrima is thought to have originated during the Spanish occupation of the Philippine Islands. Escrima is often used synonymously for Arnis and Kali.

Kali is an ancient term used to signify the martial arts in the southern Philippines. This martial art style is known as Kali-Silat. During the occupation by Spain, it was forbidden to practice Kali.

Studies of dance forms in the Philippines show the influence of Kali. Kali martial arts movements are ingrained in all the hand gestures and footsteps of the dances. These Kali patterns are not to be seen in the dances of India, Indochina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Japan, Pacific islanders.

Both men and women were taught martial arts in the Philippines. Combat was a fact of life and used against neighboring tribes, warlords and foreign occupiers.

Kali, Ecrima or Arnis stick fighting was developed over a period of many centuries. The people of the Philippines fought constant foreign invaders during this time. Each struggle against a new culture added to the Filipino Martial Arts as Kali warriors developed techniques to counter, combat and integrate many foreign styles. More than 100 different Filipino Martial Arts styles developed, which can be grouped into three complete self-defense systems which utilize sticks, swords, empty hands and other weapons. The systems are called Northern, Southern, and Central.

In Kali the assumption is always to use the edge of a blade, be it sword or knife. Kali employs many techniques, including strikes, stances and weapons handling, which have influences from China, Arabia, Indonesia and Spain.

The Southern islands, where influenced by Arab missionaries and became know as (Moro Filipinos"), fierce Moslems who violently opposed foreign peoples on their native land. During the American occupation in the early 1900s, Moros, marked by tiger-eyes and red headbands - signifying a resolve to kill until killed battled American trrops.

The Moro's we so ferocious that the American soldiers found their .38-caliber pistols ineffective. As a result the .45-caliber pistol was designed as a knock down weapon specifically to deal with the Moros. The American militray term "leather neck" comes from fighting the Moro's during this time. American Marines would wrap their necks in leather to keep from getting injured by the Kali warriors.

In 1935, the Philippines were occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Known for close-in, hand-to-hand combat with bolo knives, Filipino troops established themselves as fierce guerrilla forces.

Following the war, many Kali practitioners migrated from the Philippines to Hawaii and California. They lived close together, working as farm laborers and practicing their martial art in secret.

After years of secrecy the old Kali masters started to teach a younger generation the beautiful and deadly Filipino Martial Art. Its sad to say that the older generation of Kali masters believe the martial art is dead in the Phillipines.

Todays Kali practicioner shows respect to the art by the use of a visual salutation. They touch the closed fist of their right hand to their forehead and the open palm if the left hand to their heart.

Some of these masters of Kali who have continued the art are Angel Cabales, Regino Ellustrisimo, Leo Giron, John LaCoste, Ben Largusa, and Floro Villabrille.

For additional information and other Martial Arts articles visit: http://www.allmartialarts.info

Submitted by:

Michael Smith

Michael Smith holds a Black Belt in Korean Hapkido and has trained in Karate, Kung Fu and Kick Boxing. Learn the secrets of the worlds most popular martial arts. Visit http://www.allmartialarts.info Today!





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