Kali: Filipino Stick Fencing

Just as in my Western Boxing program, in this program the approach is that the martial art is a tool through which we learn about ourselves.

In learning a specific movement, we learn to think in steps, and to do this we develop a particular form of perception. We concentrate, i.e. we focus on the opponent’s movements, we draw conclusions, we consider possible strategies; all this without losing our presence, i.e. without separating movement, action and thought.

As mentioned in my boxing program, I actually based this program on the fencing education that was widespread in Europe in the 19th century, i.e. the way fencing was used as a game and tool for developing strategic thinking in the aristocracy. But here, in my Kali Stick Fencing Program, the playing field, the tools, the movement, all come from the armed martial arts of the Philippines.

We train with 60-80 cm long sticks made of rattan. Rattan is particularly suited to stick fencing because it is both hard and flexible, so it has the advantage of being hard to break and easy on the joints of the hand holding the stick. The weight, thickness and length of the sticks vary greatly within the different styles of Kali, Eskrima and Arnis. Each of these characteristics can be an advantage or a disadvantage but the important thing is to be aware of the characteristics of the weapon, in this case the stick.

Kali uses other weapons besides the stick, mainly knives and swords of different shapes and lengths, but in the BoxingMind Martial Arts school we only practice stick fighting.

In the first phase we coordinate the movement of the hands and feet. In order to get the movements “in place” we need to acquire a certain “geometry” which is inherent in the nature of baton fencing.

It’s a bit like when you learn a language: you need words, you need to know their meanings, their nuances, so that you can make sentences out of them that express what you want to say. This may sound dry, but it is not dry at all! If one honors oneself by devoting one’s time and energy to self-development, realizing this, one will find joy, like a gourmet, in finding and realizing the feelings that will serve as pillars for him in later, freer movement.

Polishing the geometry of motion is something that one will continuously do, in fact one can see and feel its significance more and more. After a while, or after a certain level, however, there is an increasing emphasis on “dialogue,” that is, paired exercises, during which certain “answers” to certain “questions” are received: attack – repelling the attack. And these dialogues, as the movements are filled with certainty during the practice, will become more and more free until the “conversation”,that is, free fencing, develops.

Free fencing is a very liberating game. To avoid injuries, this is done with padded sticks and protective equipment. With light sticks, such playful fights are very fast, they improve reflexes, coordination, quick decision-making, strategic sense. And because of the elimination of mistakes, one is forced to return to the basics again and again. And he does this with more and more maturity, more and more consciousness, more and more pure joy.

In order to be able to treat the martial arts at its own value, to get an insight into its depth, it is worth dealing with the theoretical and intellectual part as well. This is especially true of fencing, whose spiritual recognitions have been recorded in the traditions of both European and Far Eastern culture. Therefore, there is also room to study some important texts while learning. For me, at least, these approximations only make the practice of stick fencing even nobler.