Last year, BBC graced us with a show called “Last Woman Standing” where they chose 5 women to go around the world and try out indigenous sports and compete with the locals (and of course each other) to win the title of “Last Woman Standing”. Of course, as a woman who has an exceptional apetite for “un-womanly” things, I was glued to the TV like tongue in ice. But what surprised and delighted me even further is their episode on Kali Stick Fighting.
First of all, it’s a Filipino Martial Art. It’s not my first time to know about this as we’ve had uber-basic lessons of it for a term back in High School. Other than that, I’ve heard about it from my suitor at that time (who was a cadet in the Philippine Military Academy >.<) who boasted of his family’s connection to the sport from his great, great grandparents. In short, it is stick fighting. According to eadocepares, “Escrima, also known as Arnis or Kali (depending of which dialect or part of the Philippines you are in) is an indigenous Filipino Martial Art which utilises weapons such as sticks (single/double), knife/daggers, swords, spears and ‘mano-mano’ (hand to hand combat). Another interesting twist was given by Discovery Channel where they said, “Before the Spanish conquest of the Philippines during the 16th century, escrima was taught as a recreational activity together with reading, writing, religion and Sanskrit. During Spanish rule, it was suppressed and driven underground and only re-surfaced in dances and plays ironically performed to entertain the Spaniards.”
As I trawl through the web looking for videos of Escrima, there are a lot of really strange comments about the sport. “How come white people actively spread and teach the sport instead of Filipinos themselves?” or “Why do Filipinos use sticks instead of swords?”. The first one still bugs me as I couldn’t find a decent answer to it (or even a pretty good comeback) but the last one sorta pissed me off. Actually, although the sport uses “sticks” all the time, it is actually used in place of a sword. The movements and the techniques of Escrima are all about “the blade” – the main ‘weapon of choice’ when in come to real life fighting.
All that aside, during my first 2 hours under the wing of Diana Fauner and Ermar Alexander, I am continually falling in love with the sport. It is complimentary to my semi-retirement in Taekwondo (waiting for an injury to heal) as it strengthens my upper body and not putting too much pressure of my injured knee. And also, it’s cool….!!!!
Need I say more?
PS: I signed up for an Escrima tournament in November (on my birthday in fact!) and I’d be documenting my journey here. I will win – but if I don’t, I’ll just kick her in the hea……