Filipino martial arts is a knife and hand-to-hand fighting technique that has historically developed in the Philippines under the influence of external and internal factors (geographical location, clashes with invaders, civil strife, etc.). In addition, the knife has long been the main instrument of labor and weapon of the Filipinos, because almost all martial arts systems in this region are based on the use of knives for protection.
In different areas of the archipelago, martial arts are called differently. In the west of the Philippines (Panay and Negros regions), knife fighting is called pekiti-tirsia kali (from Tagalog pekiti tirsia; pekiti - "come close" and tirsia - "cut into small pieces"). It is believed that this is the most ancient of all the directions of the Filipino martial arts that have come down to us - there are references to it in the chronicles of the Sri Vijaya Empire (Malaysia), dated to the 8th century BC. In Manila, this type of self-defense is called arnis or pananandata, in Ilocos - kabaroan, in the province of Pangasinan - kalirongan, in the Bisay Islands - escrima, etc.
In May 1993, the World Head of Family Sokeship Council (WHFSC) was created in America, which includes not only the Philippine masters, but also more than 160 representatives of various martial arts from all over the world. In 2005, the Philippine Martial Arts Alliance (PMAA) was founded. These organizations are engaged in the dissemination of the art of knife fighting throughout the world.
Learning Filipino martial arts requires special ability and a lot of time. No, this direction of martial arts was created in order to train ordinary peasants (both men and women), who had nothing to do with military affairs, the ability to defend their lands and homes from invaders. Therefore, a distinctive feature of this system is the philosophy of simplicity and focus on the fastest possible training in combat skills, effective even in the case when a person does not have any talents in the field of martial arts. For example, in order to master Bajak (a style of self-defense created for women), a few sessions are enough, and in a year of persistent regular training you can reach the level of a master.
All residents of the Philippines masterfully master the basics of martial arts. This is not entirely true. Martial arts in the Philippines are included in the school curriculum, but after graduation, each person decides for himself whether he needs to improve in the art of fighting, or whether the knowledge gained is enough. It is imperative that self-defense techniques are studied and perfected only by the military and police.
Filipino martial arts are oversimplified. The simplified manner of movements does not mean that they will be ineffective in battle, but is simply a certain kind of approach to the selection of techniques designed to master this art of self-defense as quickly as possible. Therefore, complex and fanciful techniques that do not provide an advantage in a real fight are simply not studied.
The martial arts of the Philippines have many significant differences in the technique and tactics of fighting. Most often, the various terms used in relation to the Filipino martial arts are only intended to indicate the place and time of the appearance of this type. For example, arnis and escrima - now the most common names for the mentioned direction of martial arts - appeared relatively recently (escrima most likely comes from the Spanish escaramuza - "fight", arnis is created today), and kali is a term that was used much earlier, during Spanish occupation was banned, therefore it is now less used. All the names mentioned are used to denote a group of styles in which both training methods and combat techniques are very similar.
In the martial arts of the Philippines, the emphasis is on fighting using weapons (rattan stick and knife). Rattan sticks are most often used during training, but in a real combat situation, a person can face both armed and unarmed opponents, and it is not at all necessary that he himself will have a knife with him. Therefore, the Filipinos teach techniques that allow one to wage a battle equally effectively with and without weapons (knife, sword, spear, stick). The techniques of hand-to-hand fighting and working with weapons are closely interrelated, therefore, the Filipino martial arts system should be considered as a holistic one, and not as narrowly focused fencing with sticks, or simply as a knife fight. At the same time, it should be noted that some styles (sikaran, panantukan) are mainly focused on hand-to-hand combat.
In the dumog style, combat is fought with bare hands. Indeed, at first glance it may seem that there is nothing in the hands of a fighter practicing this style. However, this is actually a delusion. Firstly, between the fingers of a dumoguero (practicing dumog), there is a tooth of an atipalo insect (apparently, a church of an earwig), a thorn of a plant, or a metal pin, smeared with poison. Secondly, the hands of a fighter in themselves are a rather dangerous "weapon", since they are also saturated with poison in advance. So that the poisonous substance does not harm the dumoguero himself, he prepares for 49 days: first, he dips his hands in a hot broth of red pepper, then he hits the sand. The procedure is repeated until complete loss of hand sensitivity. After that, the fighter smears his hands with poison (most often snake) and in battle tries to get into the eyes or mouth of the enemy. Even one blow is enough to lead to death (depending on the type of poison, death can occur immediately, or it can overtake the affected person after a few days). By the way, soaking the hands with poison was often used by practitioners of other styles of Filipino martial arts, and even by ordinary citizens who in this way tried to increase their chances of winning in clashes of various kinds.
Kali art originated in the Philippines. This is not true. According to historians, the aforementioned military techniques were brought to the Philippines by rulers from Kalimantan (Borneo).
Kali is the goddess of death, it is in her honor that one of the types of Filipino martial arts is named. Researchers differ on this issue. Some argue that the art of using cold weapons came to the Philippines from Indonesia, where it was called jakalili, and the Filipinos simply abbreviated the word for ease of pronunciation. Others believe that the art of Kali originated on the island of Kalibo, after which it was named.
Cali is only used by the military and police in the Philippines. No, this system has been adopted in many countries around the world. In particular, in the USA, where the director of the Association for the Training of Officials of the Justice System and the Technical Advisor to the Association of Tactical Police Defense is the Grand Master (Grand Tuhon) pekiti-tirsia kali Leo Gaye.
Bajak is a small knife specially designed for the self-defense of women. Initially, the bajak was simply a spearhead that could be used in combat in the event that the weapon broke for any reason. Over time, the shape and size of the bajak changed, it ceased to resemble a dangerous weapon (which was especially valuable during the Spanish occupation, when the carrying of weapons was banned), while not losing its effectiveness. But the technique of badyaak or badyaakan - one of the sections of pekiti-tirsia kali - was really developed specifically to teach the fairer sex to defend against a stronger and taller opponent. At the same time, a small elegant knife was used, which women constantly carried with them as an adornment, and very useful (ladies were often attacked, even while in their own home). In the process of training, other features of the psychology and manners of the fair sex were also taken into account, even the fact that sometimes clothes (for example, a narrow skirt) can become a significant obstacle to the implementation of one or another technique that is excellent for men.
An experienced fighter knows a huge number of different techniques - that is why he differs from a beginner. Misconception. Filipino masters love to say, "Bigger is not better" - this saying reflects the principle of simplicity that is the foundation of the Philippine martial arts. Indeed, already at the initial stage of training, a person receives almost all the techniques, chooses the most suitable for him personally, and on their basis develops individual tactics of combat, applying the acquired knowledge and honing skills in the process of training. Only in this case will he be able to apply the acquired skills in practice. The main difference between an experienced fighter and a beginner is not in the number of techniques learned, but in the masterly mastery of several universal techniques, various combinations of which can be effectively used in almost any situation.
The same techniques may be called differently by different Filipino martial artists. This is true for several reasons. Firstly, the basis for all Filipino martial arts is the same, but each master creates his own variation of this or that technique, which generates some differences, sometimes quite noticeable. Secondly, the geographical features of the region should be taken into account. After all, the Philippines is 7,100 islands, each of which has its own dialect, sometimes having nothing to do with the language of the people living on the neighboring islands. This is also the reason for the emergence of different names used to refer to the same technique.
Filipino martial arts borrow some techniques from other systems. Yes, after all, this system is designed for the most effective self-defense, therefore the borrowing of the most effective techniques occurs constantly, and not only today. The geographical position of the islands (the Philippines is the intersection of the most important trade routes) contributed to cultural exchange between different peoples. In addition, the Filipinos were constantly forced to defend themselves against internal and external enemies. It was in fights of this kind that they honed their combat equipment, and sometimes borrowed and assimilated new, most effective methods of struggle.
Circular and triangle movement is a characteristic feature of the Filipino martial arts. This kind of movement is typical for pekiti-tirsia kali and some other areas of the Philippine martial arts. The triangle, included in the emblems of many schools, is a symbol of strength and stability, and is also used to more clearly describe some of the fundamental principles of theory and practice (stance, movement, disarming the enemy, etc.). The circular aspects are most often used in the process of disarming the enemy and to counter attacking corners. But for the Arnis combatant, movement along a V-shaped trajectory and movement in a straight line are characteristic - the same as in traditional Filipino dances.
Sparring is always conducted between students of equal strength and experience. Not necessary. In some styles (for example, in Escrima De Campo JDC-IO) exercises are conducted only in instructor-student pairs, since it is believed that one should initially prepare for a possible battle with a higher level fighter.
The hand with a weapon in martial arts is used as efficiently as possible, the role of the unarmed hand is extremely insignificant. In some styles, technical actions with the unarmed hand are really not very active. But more often than not, it is the secondary hand, that is, the opposite of the one in which the main weapon is located, according to the Filipinos, that helps to survive in a real fight, since it is she who provides the fighter's protection, and is also a considerable help during the capture and disarming of the enemy. The secondary hand is called Bantai-kami, which means "the hand that protects" in Tagalog. In addition, in many areas of the Philippine martial arts, the battle is fought with two types of weapons simultaneously (for example, in the espada and dag (sword and knife), the secondary hand holds the knife, and in the double bastor technique, the second stick).
Filipino martial arts teach close range wrestling. Masters teach both fighting with weapons (long range), and kicking (a distance typical for karate), and elbow, knee and head strikes (closer range), and wrestling and grappling (close combat). In some styles, there are more than 16 types of various kinds of distances and positions for fighting. In Kali, 12 directions of attack (12 angles) and, accordingly, 12 counterattacks are studied. Yes, in the initial stages it is. This classification is intended to demonstrate to the student all possible directions of attack. However, over time, the practitioner notices the identity of some angles, because the longer a person advances in comprehending this martial art, the more succinctly the classification of attacks and counterattacks becomes.
There is no rank system in Filipino martial arts. Indeed, until recently, there was no division into ranks and levels in the mentioned system of martial arts, but today a lot has changed. Since kali is extremely popular all over the world, as a result of which there were many instructors who wanted to understand the Philippine self-defense system, it became necessary to systematize knowledge and develop a methodology for assessing the skills acquired. Accordingly, it was necessary to create a system of ranks and titles (which in different types of the mentioned martial arts can be very different), taking into account not only the degree of the student's preparedness, but also his leadership qualities. It should be mentioned, however, that some of the more traditional styles do not have a rank system even today.
A person's moral character has a strong influence on how deeply they can advance in the mastery of the Filipino martial arts. It should be noted that kali can be practiced in two ways: to master and use it as a working tool (for example, if the practitioner chose the military profession), or to study it as a tradition. In the first case, a person is initially focused on killing his opponent, in accordance with the nature of the chosen type of activity. In this case, he is unlikely to be able to reach great spiritual heights, although he is quite capable of masterly mastering the above-mentioned martial art. If Kali is practiced as a tradition, while expressing reverence for the masters and God, and positioning protection as the main task, spiritual growth is really possible. Such a person eventually becomes a real kalisto (that is, a skilled practitioner of the aforementioned martial art), devotes a lot of time to performing rituals and ceremonies, and reaches a certain level of enlightenment. But even in this case, he is quite capable of taking the life of his opponent, moreover, he poses an even greater potential danger to his enemies than a professional military man.
Filipino martial arts can only be practiced by people of certain religious beliefs. In the Philippines, most of the population is Christians, and there are many Muslims and Buddhists and followers of shamanism among the inhabitants of the islands.All of them, regardless of religion, study pekiti-tirsiya kali, since this art of self-defense does not impose any conventions or prohibitions on students in matters of belief.
It is customary to start training in the Philippines with a rather complex and lengthy ritual. Much, of course, depends on the instructor, but most often no rituals are performed before training.
You will have to purchase special clothing for training. No, there is no particular, standardized form in the Filipino martial arts. A kimono or a regular sports uniform will do. It should be borne in mind that classes are conducted only in shoes (unlike, for example, karate and aikido, where people go barefoot on the tatami). This is done, firstly, to protect the foot from possible damage (for example, when hitting with a stick), and secondly, to bring the conditions of the training fight as close as possible to the realities of life.
Since in Kali, cutting strikes are most often used, this system is ineffective in the northern regions, since it is only effective in countries with mild climates where people wear light clothing. In the system of martial arts of the Philippines, there are many different kinds of strikes, and not only securing, but also stabbing, very effective, for example, in skirmishes with an enemy dressed in military uniforms made of rather dense fabric.
In the beginning, the disciples fight without weapons. No, in the Filipino martial arts, they prefer to train with weapons from the very beginning (most often it is a rattan stick). First, hitting with a stick is not as dangerous as pushing with a hand or foot. Secondly, having learned the techniques of working with weapons, a person will easily master the methods of defense without using a knife, sword or stick. And it will be easier for him to defend himself against punches and kicks - sparring with an armed opponent reduces the number of erroneous movements to a minimum, since every mistake in a real battle can cost a person his life.
Smooth change of distances is one of the fundamental principles of Filipino martial arts. Yes, the ability to choose the right distance, smoothly moving from one movement to another, is the most important skill. It is this ability to move continuously, anticipating the enemy's movements, that is the key to victory in the fight.
Anyone can learn Filipino martial arts. It really is. However, up to the middle of the last century, these arts were kept in strict secrecy, only members of families who kept the Kali tradition could learn them.