What is Kali, and what is a typical Kali class like?
Kali is the national sport and martial art of the Philippines and emphasizes weapon-based fighting with sticks, knives, bladed weapons and various improvised weapons. In recent years, there has been increased interest in Kali for its usefulness when defending against knives and other street encounters. Students focus training on body mechanics with and without weapons. They will focus on footwork that can keep them alive in an altercation against a weapon. Classes are offered for ages 17 and up.
A typical Kali class starts with a few minutes catching up with your training partners as you begin to warm up by swinging an escrima stick. The bond in training is only topped by the bond of friendship that is made with this group. As the teacher bows us in we begin to go over basic training drills that force us to coordinate our footwork with our stick strikes. We rep out countless moves and patterns with the stick. You begin to feel the familiar feel of sweat and some wrist fatigue from the different patterns.
We then start to train with each other learning how to strike with the escrima stick as an opponent is striking at you. We then switch to bladed weapons as we learn how to protect ourselves from an armed aggressor. Then as always we start to practice empty-handed techniques as we are always reminded by the teacher that the biggest theme in kali is that the same way we use a stick we use our blade and the same way we move with a blade is how we move with empty hands.
Photos by SUMO