Thursday, January 25, 2007

Principles of Anticipation

Recently, I was training at the beach and was approached by couple of Police Officers. I stopped while swinging few rounds with my sticks. The one of the officer (who happened to be a lady – she’s cute though) told at first that it’s dangerous on to carry weapons around in public areas. True, I knew the city ordinances that prohibits of carrying objects that maims, hurt or kills in Public areas such as the beaches. Though, I was there early in the morning of Saturday. Too early by the way… The lady officer was reaching a pen and paper to write down my name and where I live. So, without any restrains and confrontations, I gave my name and address! Little thing I know that the other officer asked me questions after the lady officer headed back to the car. Questions were, where can I train with you, how much do I pay per month and can I bring along friends over, what do we need to wear, what equipments we need to bring and so on. Oh yes, there is great anticipation here!

The principle was properly applied there because the Police Officer is interested in learning but anticipation floats all over him. Here’s another scenario, you’ve been given a series of work and extra work but you thought it was too much drills, exercises, and things that you never imagine that it would be completed in time allotted to you. Soon the exercises were done in timely manner but never thought it will be needed when the master gave an intellectual training to measure your knowledge and better understanding of the things you did. There are principles of anticipation that you get surprised not only to your physical ability but through understanding. You will never be completed if you anticipate the things that are asked. You can never be complete unless there is principles of anticipation.

More coming....

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

MA versus SF (who do you bet?)

Let’s define a martial artist. A martial artist pursues growth, discipline, self-control and personal accomplishments. Street fighter. Who is very aggressive and willing to use underhand methods and someone who learned to fight in the streets rather than being formally trained. Would they go vice versa? Yes! Although a MA always think about his personal well-being but the street fighter take more actions without ever thinking what will happen next.

We should be training for the time we may have to defend ourselves against a dangerous individual or group, with real fighting abilities. I've been face to face with proficient fighters who've never once stepped into a martial arts training hall; but they had real experience hurting people. Let me tell you, I would rather face off against any $2000.00, two-year black belt than one of these street-hardened fighters. The criminals are out there, and are in many ways similar to the gladiators of ancient Rome. Defending your life demands training in reality, no rules and no time limits.

Many of us, who have studied martial arts for years, care about its development and evolution. But there are many schools out there that may as well be dance studios. The world is filled with images of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, but the reality of martial arts has been diluted and the purpose clouded. Martial arts seems to be the only field where we people are blindly led by the word of a stranger claiming he can save our life with a thousand year old system. Never mind that he's never fought a real fight, but instead claims someone in his lineage had once defeated 50 attackers at once. We need to evaluate the techniques for ourselves; we need to ask, "Will this work for me?" If you have a sincere desire to defend yourself in a real situation, you'll have to sacrifice your ego, put aside the pride we hold so dear, and present yourself to someone who will teach and test you for the street. Look for someone who is willing to [at the very least] separate the art from the application. The art of the technique is not in how pretty the lines or circles are. The art is in the free use of the technique. The art is the science and psychology of aggression and physics, of leverage and kinetics, not the mysticism in the so-called advanced levels. Strengthening the spirit has long been part of eastern martial tradition, but it should occur as a by-product of mind and body temperance. Nothing in the Dojo matters if you can't go into the street and apply what you've spent so much time practicing. That "so called" strength of spirit comes from confidence in your abilities and belief in your training, if you have neither, you're dead. How can you have confidence in your training unless you've hit someone and have been hit in return? How do you know how your body and mind will react if you have never put them to the test? An instructor who never gets dirty and avoids fighting you because he's afraid to hurt you is useless. The fact is many instructors are often just scared of being humiliated in front of a full class of "paying" students. Any good instructor knows, they can always learn more, even from a student. A truly skilled martial artist never stands in front of another man expecting to learn nothing. "The investment in loss," means that a loss is not a failure if you walk away from it with something besides the bruises. Without loss there are no skills, no learning, and no advancement.

Instructors and students should all work towards that confidence in our abilities, to train like we fight and fight like we train. In the streets, there will be no one to call the match or stop the time. Do everything you can to prepare yourself for the potential attack of a madman. Devise worst-case scenarios and try to recreate them as closely as you can in a controlled environment. Feel the sudden rush of adrenaline when you fear being hurt, and feel the sudden drop in strength and speed when you deplete your adrenaline stores. Experience what it's like to be disoriented by single or multiple blows. Only when you're familiar with these sensations can you recognize them and maintain some semblance of focus.

Over that past ten years, there has been a sudden resurgence of interest in actual combat training. With many systems being based on combat science, reflecting the increasingly violent society we live in. Much of this training uses some core principles of eastern martial arts interwoven with western thought and scientific processes. Almost militaristic, these groups focus on all-around defense including: firearms, knives, sticks, or history's first weapon, the rock. These new systems are viewed as entities unto themselves. What a shame that the people concerned with true self-defense feel the need to distance themselves from traditional martial arts. Perhaps you've had a similar discussion with someone before: "Oh you do martial arts, what kind?" "OH, I train in Kung Fu and some other stuff." "Yeah, well I don't believe in martial arts, I'm a street fighter."These people don't believe that training in martial arts has any merit anymore because so many instructors have taught them poorly, placing too much emphasis on form and tradition, or even hiding behind it. These schools represent the face of martial arts that are seen by the world today. Potential students are blinded by the allure of status and rank. If all a student seeks is greater health and an outlet for his energies than so be it. We all take from the arts what is most beneficial to us, yet it's still the duty of the instructor to distinguish between the uses and training of the martial arts. Those who are truly interested in the full potential the arts offer are entitled to the full spectrum and experience. After all, similar visionaries developed the arts we hold so dear. People traveling and studying under other instructors long after they were already masters in their base systems. These were the men who invested in their losses and grew because of it. Go and find a teacher in ground fighting. Find a teacher in knife and stick fighting. Find an instructor in close quarters combat and learn how to disarm an attacker with a gun. If we don't take control of our arts and continue to develop them in such ways, changing what must be changed, and holding onto only that which is useful, very soon there will be nothing of applicable value left. More importantly, as our society becomes more violent, people training in non-reality based systems will be in the streets dying at the hands of any thug that wants his watch. We should all be making the sacrifices in our schools, students and teacher alike, so that we can feel as safe outside the walls of our schools as we do inside.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Simplicity vs. Complexity

Simplicity defines as being simple. Why all of us would have simplest life that we could ever be? Peace of mind, easiness that a quality of complication is nil. Complexity on the other hand is the condition of being difficult to understand, or being made up of many interrelated things. The intricacy of complicated nature comes only when one person doesn’t understand thus the increasing of complicated matter.

In martial arts for example, that once you learn the basic pattern it’s just a beginning or a step up to a complex steps of patterns. A Filipino Martial Artist should never be piled up with complicated understandings… the beauty of the art sorted out from different people, background, race, religion and ethnicity that truly they understand complex ideas. Let’s site some examples:

“In a lot of FMA systems I've seen, the techniques are a lot simpler than most MAs. FMA techniques usually (though not always) have the following characteristics:

1. Natural Body Movement - Other MA practitioners have to condition and adapt their bodies to perform techniques. FMA techniques draw upon natural movement such that the techniques adapt to the practitioner rather than the practitioner adapting to the techniques.

2. Economy of Movement - The purpose of the technique is to achieve maximum output with as little energy expenditure as possible.

3. Simultaneous Offense/Defense - Instead of a two-step defense/counter-attack, you have a single move that does both at the same time.

4. Generic - A technique can be applied different ways.

This makes FMA intuitive and easy to learn. Note that 'simple' doesn't always mean 'simplified'. The latter usually means a dumbing-down or watering down of a concept.

Simple also doesn't mean lack of complexity. The basic moves in chess are simple yet the strategies involved are complex. FMA is simple enough to learn, but complex enough to make it difficult to master.” Another way to look at it in terms of progressive training is that complex is made of simple stuff blended together. Some may argue to keep it simple in combat- very true but learning to make something considered complex into something simple can be attained through proper and constant training.

A very important insight about chess, what's the difference in a simple angle 1 strike from a beginner and one from a master? When the beginner does it , it's done like this when the master does it it looks the same but. other things may be going on in the masters head (Timing, delivery, intent, strategically use,. did I leave the iron on at home, let's see it's 14 days from day of last menstrual period and that would make her ovulate and fertile...uh oh!).

I think that this is a system that should be addressed system by system. Unfortunately this could open a whole new can of worms, but not necessarily so.

Are some systems too complex? Do you need to memorize a double digit striking system to be competent with the stick? How many "templates" do you need to memorize to use a knife? Are some systems too complex, over engineered so that they break down in the rough and tumble of real battle? Are some systems so simple (simplistic) that they can't adapt to new situations.

From what I've seen here in the Philippines in comparison to what I've seen overseas, I think the Philippine based systems tend to follow the "simple" is better rule. They do a few things really well. The training methodology tends to lean towards lots of repetitions with a focus on strikes. We had the pleasure of having Ned Nepangue visit our club and he said that you can divide styles into 2 types: striking styles that focus only on strikes; and styles that also incorporate locking, disarms, grappling, etc along with the striking. From what I remember, overseas FMAers tend to do more complex drills and have more variety in their practice those locals. I don't think it has to do with the thinking that there's not litigation here in the Philippines and overseas players practice to avoid lawsuits. I know a lot of clubs that practice as hard as or harder than any club here in the Philippines. I also know of a number of martial arts players here who've had lawsuits slapped against them. (The Philippines has far too many lawyers who don't have enough work to do.)

Friday, September 22, 2006


By Dennis McCarthy, Columnist (

Fear and doubt never had a chance. Not from the minute Sam Flores laid eyes on 8-year-old Cole Massie wrapping both arms around a handrail at the Glendale YMCA and inching his way up the last 16 steps to make it to his karate class on time.

Those steps were supposed to be Flores' way out of this dilemma - the fear and doubt he was feeling.

The fifth-degree black belt sensei - a master karate teacher - feared no man. But he had come to fear this little boy with cerebral palsy who wanted so badly to learn karate.

For hours, Cole would sit in his wheelchair in his room watching pirate movies on TV and practicing karate moves to help the good guys win, says his mother, Michelle Massie.

For his 9th birthday, he wanted only one thing, he told her. Real karate lessons.

For weeks, Michelle called every karate instructor in the Yellow Pages only to hear the same answer:

"Sorry, we don't take severely handicapped children in wheelchairs as students. We are not trained to train them."

The Glendale YMCA was her last hope. A friend had told her about Flores, and how all the kids there loved him. Their sensei spent as much time in class teaching pride and respect as he did teaching them to fight and defend themselves.

If anyone could see past the wheelchair and her son's physical disability and know what to do, it would be this 50-year-old sensei with the big heart.

Michelle crossed her fingers and dialed his number.

Flores put down the phone and took a long, deep breath. Those old enemies of his were back, slowly crawling up the back of his neck. Fear and doubt.

"I knew I wasn't trained for this, and to be honest, I didn't want to do it," he said.

Flores thought long and hard, but in the end he called Michelle and gave her the bad news - couching it with a plausible excuse.

The elevator at the Glendale YMCA only went up to the third floor and his karate class was on the fourth floor. There was no handicapped access to get Cole to class in his wheelchair. I'm sorry, he said.

Flores hung up feeling as low as he had in a long time. Fear and doubt had won.

Michelle hung up and started to cry. She had nowhere else to turn. In a few minutes, she would walk into her son's room and tell him she had tried - but failed.

He was a great kid, never gave her or his father, Will, a second's worth of trouble or back talk. They had told Cole he could be whatever he wanted to be, not to let his wheelchair and cerebral palsy define him.

But it was defining him, and that made Michelle angry. She never made it to Cole's room that day. She picked up the phone and called Flores back.

"Are you saying the only reason Cole can't take lessons is because of those steps?" she asked him.

Sam smiled. He could see what was coming. This was one tough mother and kid that his fear and doubt were going up against.

"I'll carry my son up those steps if you'll take him," Michelle said, holding her breath.

There was a long pause. "Mondays and Wednesdays at 3:45 p.m.," the sensei said. "See you there."

And that's where Cole has been every Monday and Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. for the past nine months, arriving half an hour early so he can cling to the handrail and inch his crippled body up those last 16 steps to make it to class on time.

"I carried him the first six months, but now he wants to do it himself, show his sensei how far he has come," Michelle said last week.

Cole has nothing to prove to anyone, Flores says, watching the boy struggle up those steps last week.

"It used to break my heart watching him, but now I only feel pride and respect for him. This little boy is the essence of the karate spirit. Even though his body will not allow him to do what other kids can do, he never gives up.

"He has become the inspiration of my class, and teaching him karate has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done."

There was a special class last Saturday at the Glendale YMCA for Cole Massie's 9th birthday.

The sensei bowed and stood in front of his 20 students, who bowed back. Cole sat with them in his wheelchair, practicing all the modified moves Flores had devised for him.

Cole knew his test for a novice's yellow belt - the first color belt in karate - would be coming up soon. He just didn't know when.

Flores led the class through all the techniques, asking Cole before each one what it meant and how to say it in Japanese.

"I didn't tell him, but this was his test," Flores said. "Cole may be limited because of his physical limitations, but he grasped and excelled at the mental, spiritual essence of the karate spirit."

At the end of the session, the sensei announced that in 25 years as a teacher he never had one student score 100 percent on his yellow-belt test.

Cole Massie was his first.

Flores walked over to the boy and handed him his yellow belt as the class began clapping and cheering.

With a smile that lit up the room, Cole Massie looked up at his sensei, then over at his mom and dad. "I knew I could do it. I earned it," Cole said.

Yes, he had. One step at a time. Fear and doubt never had a chance.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The LAW and SELF-DEFENSE: The Legal Aspect of MARTIAL ARTS

An Essay from Atty. Eric G. Espiritu¹

While a person may be excused for being unable to control the force or number of his blows when defending himself, there however must still is a rational necessity to employ the means used in his defense.

Factors that determine reasonableness of the means of defense

The reasonableness of the means employed in the defense depends on various circumstances, such as the gender, size, character, and physical condition of both the attacker and the person defending himself; the absence or presence of a weapon or weapons, and if there are, the type(s) of weapon(s) used by the attacker or defender, or both; and the location and time of the attack.

As stated earlier, the means of the defense employed should be proportionate to the attack. Hence, if a man is being attacked with mere punches by another who is of the same size and strength, then the former may have to limit his defense to just punching back as well, in which case an exhibition of honest-to-goodness fisticuffs shall ensue to the possible amusement of on-lookers. In contrast, the Supreme Court determined in another case that there was no reasonable necessity for a person to use and kill his attacker with a knife when he was being attacked with fist blows only.

Circumstances change though when there is a difference in the genders of the attacker and victim. Women are straightaway perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be the so-called “weaker sex” (a misconception that is convincingly quashed however by the female Black Belts of KDA) and this misguided labeling prompts men to attack or commit acts of aggression against females who tend to be smaller than and/or not as strong as their attackers. Thus, more leeway is usually given to women in the appreciation of the circumstances of attacks against them, and it would be more acceptable, for instance, for a woman to use any sort of reasonable weapon to ward off her aggressor, even if the latter were unarmed.

On the subject of weapons, what would constitute a “reasonable” one for self-defense? It varies once again according to the situation. In line with various cases, a knife is a reasonable weapon of defense against an attack with a club or stick if the person had no other available means for defense, or even if there were other means, he could not rationally choose a possibly less deadly weapon to repel the attack. It was also decided that it is reasonable to use a gun—in one case, even a shotgun—against an attacker with a bolo.

We have finished discussing the first two requisites of the Justifying Circumstance of Self-Defense, and proceed to its third and final requisite.


Given that there was unlawful aggression against the person defending himself, such aggression however should not have been the result of the latter’s own actions, for if it were, then he would be just as responsible for inciting or provoking the aggression in the first place.

There is a legal maxim that goes Nullis commodum protest de injura propria, which means, “No man should be allowed to take advantage of his own wrong.” It is easy enough to understand that if one provokes, through words or acts, another sufficiently enough to cause the latter to attack him, then the person who provoked cannot benefit from his own initial wrongdoing and evade criminal and civil liability for any injury he may cause the one he provoked by hiding behind the mantle of self-defense.

What constitutes “sufficient” provocation

Note that the provocation should be “sufficient”, or enough to cause the unlawful aggressor to attack the person defending himself? In other words, even if there was some provocation on the part of the person making the defense, but the provocation was not sufficient, there may still be a valid instance of self-defense. How is this so?

Take for example, a typical situation that occurs daily: Two friends are playfully joshing one another when one suddenly shouts at the other, “Napaka-TANGA mo naman!!!” in public. Feeling humiliated and slighted, and still smarting from other insults in the recent past, the recipient of the unflattering remark throws a hook punch at his insulter who, because he is proud holder of a yellow belt in Karate, is able to parry the blow and instinctively counters with his own gyaku zuki (reverse punch) to the attacker’s face, knocking out two front teeth in the process. In this situation, the novice Karateka shall be able to claim self-defense, because while he may have provoked his friend with his cutting insult, such provocation however was not sufficient to justify the use of violence. In other words, as the third element of the Justifying Circumstance—lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending him—is present, then our Yellow Belter can successfully assert that he was merely defending himself against his friend’s “unprovoked” attack.

What then would be “sufficient provocation”? For one, and as discussed previously, challenges to a fight, in which the combatants will be considered mutual aggressors, will almost always be certainly considered sufficient provocation coming from either combatant so as to nullify the claim of self-defense by anyone. Insults which are more than just annoying or irritating, unlike our example above, can actually be sufficient provocation if they are particularly or extremely harsh or vulgar. There will be no valid instances of self-defense under these circumstances.


With that, we finish our brief discourse on Self-defense. In review, the three (3) elements or requisites of SELF-DEFENSE under Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines are:

Unlawful aggression;
Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it ; and
Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself .
Always keep in mind that all three requisites must be present in order to successfully avail of this Justifying Circumstance and be free from both criminal and civil liability for what would otherwise amount to a crime committed in the process of defending oneself. To cite another legal maxim: Actus non faci reu nisi mens sit rea—“The act itself does not make a man guilty unless his intention were so.”

Friday, September 08, 2006

What is SIKARAN?

SIKARAN is a form of Philippine Martial Arts whose history dates back to the early 1500's before the Spaniards came; It is the art of foot-fighting where the farmers use their strong legs to drive the partners outside the designated line (pitak). Rice fields about 25 sq. ft.

Sikaran is just a pastime of the Baras Rizal farmers who gathered during the festival after a good harvest season. Doing it constantly made them develop skills that would eventually be marked by effectiveness such that other martial arts could hardly compare, or so claims its most ardent exponent. Of the practitioners, some went on to discover certain skills in combat that made them deserve the honor of being called "Hari"(champion). These are no longer around. As most of them have succumbed, their secrets interred with their remains and never imparted, having chosen to keep it to themselves and not to teach it to anyone else.

The early Sikaranista (farmers) session commences with the drawing of a circle on the ground. The acknowledged talent of the lot, by reason of his superior skill is often obliged to concede a handicap, thus he positions himself inside the circle and trade kicking talents with one who stays at the circle's rim. The objective is for the combatant outside to dislodge the contestant within. The rules are really that simple. In the case of vein, he would agree to a number of opponents who form a circle. Should the man within be driven out of the circle, it signifies defeat and, correspondingly, humiliation. If the game's continuation be opted, another pretender takes the place of the dislodge practitioner and the same procedure is repeated.

Once in a while, and this seems unavoidable, a session witness a mischief-prone contestant who makes it a point to step on a carabao waste (buffalo) dung prior to a competition, if only to dirty and to defeat the opponent.

The Baras-originated method of foot-fighting in its original form No time limit is observed. Combatants call for time out if they became so exhausted as to be unable to go on some more or when troubled enough. No discrimination regarding sex. Both male and female may indulge in it, should they so wish.

They have a vernacular name for a Hari. He was awarded Ias Agila (for his impressive agility), acknowledged as the foremost padamba (jumping front kick) exponent. That he could leap as high as six feet is definitely a testimony to an awesome power.

So also was awarded classified as Hari, a fellow reputed to crack husked coconuts with his steel-like shins. On the other hand a Hari also boasts of the singular reputation of knocking out (T.K.O) a carabao with a single hammer biakid or sickle kick.

SIKARAN and Sipa are both Tagalog terms for "kick" but with a notable difference: the former is a noun, while the latter is a verb. Deriving from sikad, Sikaran like the biakid, pilatik and damba. And came to be known as an indigenous martial sport in the tradition of arnis, kali, dicho, buno etc.

Sikaran utilizes only the feet as a rule for sport and for combat, self-defense and this is what makes it distinct, the hands are never availed of in the sikaran. If they utilized at all, it's only for defense, the player uses his legs 90% of the time and his hands 10% only for blocking or parrying blows. Violation of this injunction, especially in tournaments, is ground for disqualification.

The rationale behind this has something to do with the role of the feet whose significance has yet to be fully appreciated. It is the largest part of the body, aside from the fact that it nurtures the largest bone as well as the most massive muscle.

Sikaran have its own share of kicking styles. The "Biakid" the classic kick is executed by pivoting to the back in a full or complete turn about manner. The degree of effectiveness subscribes to two classifications: "panghilo" (paralyzing blow) and "pamatay" or lethal kick. Obviously the first aimed at less vital parts of the physique, while the target of the second includes the heart, neck, head, groin, and spine, all highly vulnerable parts.

The entry of Sikaran in tournaments, particularly those of international caliber, presaged certain modifications, if innovations, of its original rules. Like the setting of a time limit, widening of the fighting area into twice the size required of the original arena.

Weapons of Sikaran include the balisong, kris, and sticks among others.

Another reading:

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

FMA Historical Values

I had this article a long time ago from a friend of mine in Cebu City - my former classmate in Balintawak days. Even though there were no factual basis to some of the content, but with his research this script is a good addition to our knowledge. Please read on... post comments if you like. TY

The Fighting arts of the Philippines are deeply rooted in the history and culture of the Filipino people. They are the products of a highly developed civilization which flourished long before the arrival of the West upon its shores, and of centuries of warfare against a variety of oppressors. Both these factors are responsible for the highly technical and pragmatic outlook of the Filipino martial arts. The Maharlikas was the original name of the Philippines before the coming of the Portuguese and Spanish in the 15th and 16th centuries. The general consensus among scholars is that the first settlers in the Philippines were the Negritos of prehistory. It is theorized that these small dark-skinned people traveled by land from Central Asia, perhaps via an ancient land bridge. They brought with them the short bow and later developed the long bow. This process was followed by a series of Malay migrations from what is today Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago. The first of these began before the birth of Christ. These taller seafaring people brought with them the first bladed weapons.

In the 5th and 6th centuries in Indonesia and Malaysia a huge empire was formed due to the migration of the Hindu tribes of India to Sumatra and Java. The Srividjayan Empire, as it came to be known, eventually spread as far as the Philippines. Their martial arts skills, advanced weaponry, and superior organization made it possible for them to conquer the earlier settlers. Some fled to distant islands, others stayed and the two cultures merged. The Srividjayans were the ancestors of the Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Pampangos, Visayans, and Bicolanos. The area of the Central Philippines where these people first landed is today known as the Visayan region. It is thought by many Filipinos that the island of Panay, the most western part of the Visayan Islands, was the birthplace of Kali – as the Filipino martial arts were known at that time. The Srividjayans brought the influence of Hindu and Indonesian religion, philosophy, arts, and combative forms to the Philippines. They introduced laws (the famous Code of Kalantaw), a calendar, written alphabet (Sanskrit), new religion, and a system of weights and measures. This new culture developed a social unit called the barangay each independently headed by a Datu (leader or chief). These were the first to leave a written historical record.

The next major incursion of foreign ideas and culture occurred in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Majapahit Empire of Indonesia, which eclipsed the Srividjayan Empire spread throughout Southeast Asia and into the Philippines. At its height the Empire included areas that are today Burma, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philippines and Madagascar. Deeply influenced by Moslem culture, the Majapahit brought Islam to the Philippines where it settled most heavily in the South. Today the Southern region of Mindanao remains a Moslem stronghold, fiercely independent and at war with the governing Christian majority. By the 12th century thousands Chinese had migrated to the Philippines following the Manchurian invasion of China. They brought with them the martial arts of the Tang Dynasty, which came to be known as Kuntao throughout Southeast Asia. The Chinese and their arts were assimilated into the Island culture.

These diverse influences led to a highly developed civilization, which existed before the 6th century until incursions from the West starting in the 16th century. The Filipino’s during this period were thought to be followers of the God of Violence – Kali. The head of the family unit was called the Kaliman. Each Kaliman had a rank of status represented in his blade known as the Kalis. There are at least 25 different types of blades in the Philippines, although most estimates put the figure much higher. Many of these bear signs of Hindu, Indonesian, and Moslem influence. Blade designs differed from region to region and sometimes from village to village. The type and size of the blade was a measure of the respect to be accorded the individual Kaliman as well as an indicator of his place of origin. The more well known types of blade are the kampilan, the kris, the lahot, utak, gunong, barong, and balasiong. The leader of the barangay or of the region was said have worn the shortest Kalis – the short length being a symbol of his authority and fighting prowess. This blade is known even today as the danganan.

Based upon his fighting prowess and other skills the Kaliman was awarded a title of rank. In the Visayan region the Datu headed the barangay and above him was the Sultan who had authority over the entire region. At one point it is thought that there were three Sultanates – North in Luzon region; Central in the Visayas; South in Mindanao. It was, however the Tuhon or master teacher who was often considered the most important person in a particular region. The Tuhon represented the repository of knowledge and culture of a given area. The bothoan or central communal school was headed by the Tuhon. It was his responsibility to pass on the culture of the Filipino civilization. These teachings grouped under the name Kali, included philosophy, religion, morality, healing, combative arts and the written word. Long before Spanish rule, the Filipino’s had developed their own system of medicine, astronomy, engineering, as well as written language and history. Most of these writings were destroyed during the Spanish conquest. Written and oral languages differed according to region so that today there are over 300 major dialects in addition to Tagalog, the national language.

The history, philosophy, and religious aspects of kali, as an object of worship and kali, the fighting arts were so closely interwoven that they must be considered as a single entity. Although Kali was the God of Violence and death, the Filipinos considered it a peaceful god. The Kaliman, spiritually through his philosophy and physically through his training in the combative arts of Kali confronted death as a part of daily life. By this constant awareness of the presence of death and his resolution to confront it, the Kaliman is liberated from the weight of his fear of death. In this confrontation with the darker side of life the Kaliman comes to see things as they really are, a view uncluttered by futile dreams, hopes and false expectations. Further he learned not to base his actions on the fear of death, old age or sickness but to revel in the moment. Only in the “now” can he see things clearly and without judgment or bias.

Leo T. Gaje, a modern day Tuhon, postulates that this view of the world engendered mutual respect among men and a respect for life itself. Therefore the god of violence was also one of respect and peace. Indeed, the ancient laws of Kali, known as the code of Kalantiaw, contained 18 laws – the first was “Thou shall not kill”. In all its phases – philosophy, healing, the sciences, combat, the written word, etc. – Kali was an art for the preservation of life. The life of the individual, his family, village, and culture. The importance of Kali is emphasized in the words basic to the Filipino and his view of the world. Kaligayahan or happiness and Kalayon (freedom) both contain the spirit of the Kali within them. They are words still used today in parts of the Philippines.

The concept of Kali as an art which preserves life and freedom and which cultivates mutual respect among men can be most vividly seen in the unconquerable spirit of Muslims (Moros) of the Southern Philippines. Dan Inosanto relates that the Muslims warriors opposed the Spanish conquests with their religion, their courage, and their unparalleled fighting ability. Attempt by the Spanish to capture Muslim leaders as a lever to make their people submit, as they had done with Montezuma in Mexico, ended in failure. The Filipino leader held his position by dint of his fighting knowledge his fighting prowess. He was expected to die for his people in order to preserve their freedom. The Southern Philippines remained exempt from tribute throughout the Spanish occupation. With American intervention and occupation at turn of the century the Moros continued their resistance to foreign government and religion even when the rest of the country submitted. The .45 caliber automatic was issued to American servicemen because their .38s did not have sufficient stopping power to halt the charge of these ferocious warriors. This battle continues even today between the Moros of Mindanao and the incumbent government.

Knowledge of the Filipino martial arts first appeared in the 16th century with arrival in the Philippines of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan attempted to subdue the natives and convert them to Christianity but he was resisted by Lapulapu a leader of the local people. Lapulapu’s men were well trained in native fighting arts due to preparations for the battle over a territorial dispute between Lapulapu and Humabon, the chief of the neighboring tribe. The tribes of Lapulapu and Humabon were part of the Sri Visayan Empire in the earlier centuries of Filipino history. The fighting arts of both Lapulapu and Humabon were originally brought to the Visayan Islands by their ancestors.

The early styles of Kali advocated by lapulapu and Humabon were also known as pangamut. They consisted of only eight strokes – six slashes, two each to the head, chest, and kidney area, and two thrusts – one to the head and one to the chest. According to Eulogio Canete of the Doce Pares Club, the differences were more in application than in theory. Lapulapu was reputed to be extraordinarily powerful. His favorite weapon was a huge kampilan (double – pointed blade). It is said that he could throw a short stick with such force as to stick it fast in a coconut tree. The kali of Humabon was softer and more evasive than Lapulapus’ hard, powerful techniques. Despite the preparation of the two chiefs, a battle never took place between their tribes. Instead on April 27, 1521 the Portuguese were defeated in the battle of Mactan. Lapulapu and his men met swords and musket fire with blades, spears, and sharpened sticks. Magellan himself died in the battle. The Filipino martial arts under went a radical change during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Spanish conquistador’s had learned to respect Filipino weaponry and fighting skills in the intervening years. Under their rule the display or carrying of blades and practice of Kali were prohibited. The Filipinos turned to the use of the bahi (hardwood) or oway (rattan) stick. Practice with the blade still continued in secret or in moro-moro plays. These indigenous stage plays had Christians engaged in sham battles with Moros. Kali, in a modified form, and Filipino dances became an important part of the show. It was through the moro-moro plays that arnis survived the Spanish conquest and later the American occupation.

With Spanish rule the native fighting arts adopted new terminology and new methods. Previously the art had been one in which the blade was the primary weapon. Under the Spanish the emphasis of the art turned to the use of the stick. Before the Spanish, Kali was known as pananandata to the Tagalogs, Kalirongan to the Pangasinenses, among the Ilocanos as didya or kabaraon, to Visayans as kaliradman or pagaradman. The Pampaguenos called it sinawali and the Ibanag pagkalikali. After Spanish occupation the art had became known as arnis de mano derived from the Spanish word “arnes” meaning trappings or defensive armor. In the Tagalog province it became estocada, and in other areas estogue, fraile, armas de mano, or simply arnis. Among the Visayans it changed to egrima, escrima, or eskrima from the Spanish fro “to fence” or “skirmish”. The stick became known as the baston, garote or tabak and the blades are often grouped under the term bolo. Espada y daga was what Spanish called the blade and dagger, and sinawali or double baston refer to the use of two sticks. Today the native fighting arts of the Philippines are grouped under the name arnis. The National Arnis Association of the Philippines (Naraphil), a government supported organization, is attempting to unify all of the native fighting arts of the Philippines under one body, although many styles are lost or remain secret handed down only within the family or from father to son.