Wednesday, July 1, 2015

5 Things You Can Learn from Kali or Eskrima

I am a wimp.

Completely non-confrontational and non-athletic, I am the epitome of the damsel in distress. Throw me into a potentially dangerous situation and I will freak out before you can even say “self-defense”. I am hopeless. I am weak. I am fragility personified.

Which is probably why enrolling myself in a martial arts class was probably not such a good idea.

Thankfully, despite my feeble attempt at trying to be stronger than a piece of paper, I did learn a thing or two from my classes. It’s time to stop being so pathetic. It’s time for some serious Kali.

1.Presence of mind

The right mindset—this is the first key to any kind of self-defense. You have to be aware of your surroundings, because really, even if you know how to defend yourself, it’s still best if you never get into that situation in the first place, right? The magnificent Filipino art of Kali teaches you to be more self-aware, and to be able to spot weak points in an opponent as well as to quickly scan your surroundings for any possible weapon you can use to your advantage. Everything in your environment can be useful, from flashlights to your own bare hands. Because Kali immerses you in an environment of always being prepared for an attack, it will train your mind not to freak out when a threat arises. That is the secret to reacting properly in any given scenario—you should never panic and should have complete presence of mind.

2. Responsible self-defense

When I first stepped into my Kali class, I felt like a raw piece of meat ready to be devoured by the carnivorous sticks and weapons all around me. The violence and aggression of it all was overwhelming, and I found myself shrinking away even further into my “I don’t want to leave my house ever again” shell. But that is exactly what the class is supposed to do—it’s supposed to train you to be prepared for any scenario, untoward or not. In life, you don’t get to cower in a corner, close your eyes, and hope for Superman to come whisk you away from all the danger around you. In this scary world we live in today, you have to learn to fend for yourself, because you can’t be the victim. You just can’t.

Kali teaches you to act in self-defense, and to do so responsibly. It’s not an aggressive form of martial arts where you attack unprovoked. It’s a disciplined style of reacting to any harm that’s about to befall you, whether it’s a knife attack or a rowdy street brawl. You learn where to lean, how to avoid, how to maneuver, and how to position yourself so that you can turn the tides even if the odds are against you. It teaches you to gain the upper hand during an attack. It trains you how to disarm your opponent so that you can deliver a crippling counterblow that will render your attacker helpless, or at least disabled enough so that he can never hurt you or go after you again—all of these in the quickest reaction time possible. You do want to come out of these things in one piece, right?

3. Weapons training

As much as possible, you want to avoid engaging in a weapons combat with an assailant. But when push comes to shove, you have to know how to work your way around a stick, a knife, or any blunt object lying around. Kali teaches you how to disarm your opponent and use that same weapon against him. The techniques taught in the class have basic, overall applications that you can use with makeshift weapons, like umbrellas or even pens. Because you cannot block an incoming bladed attack with your hands or arms, it’s important to know how to avoid and then counter in a variety of other ways that Kali can teach you.

4. Hand-to-hand combat

When there are no weapons involved or when you find yourself empty-handed, you can’t just run away screaming knowing full well that your assailant can cause massive damage to you. You cannot be rendered helpless, ever. Kali teaches you the proper footwork in order to avoid or get out of the way of an incoming weapon attack. A simple imaginary clock on the ground will be your basis for the angles where you will lean (two o’clock and 10 o’clock for forward leaning and four o’clock and seven o’clock for backward leaning), depending on where the attack is coming from. Then, you work your way around your opponent so that you can deliver a crippling blow to weak points using the best parts of your body that can make the most effective impact. Because if you don’t have a weapon of your own, your body is the most efficient weapon you can use. Kali also trains you to enhance your body coordination and the way you use your hands, whether you or your enemy is left or right handed.

5. A newfound appreciation for life

Of course, even if you know all of these awesome techniques, the best thing to do is still to stay out of harm’s way. You can’t go around looking for trouble just because you know how to work your way around a knife. Kali helps you realize that life is a very delicate and fragile thing, and you need to preserve it. Make the most of every second of every single day, because you never know what will happen next. This beautiful appreciation for life will not only get you through the most difficult times, but it will also grant you a happier and healthier perspective as you go through your many years in this world. After all, you only live once, and if you can go through your whole life without ever having to hit someone with a stick, then that would be a well-lived life indeed.

*This article was first published on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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