Incomplete Styles and the Real Kali

A reader sent me the following e-mail:

GM Ramos with Zucchini


Supreme Datu Grandmaster [name withheld] of [name withheld] Kali teaches the spear, staff, single stick, long stick, double stick, knife, double knife, bow and arrow, nunchaku, 3 sectional staff, wrestling, kadena de mano, sikaran, panuntukan, hubud-lubud, and the sash.

We don’t study the zucchini, but we have several forms with the spaghetti squash. Does this count? Am I learning real kali? Is my style incomplete?”

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that you are not learning real kali and your style is incomplete.

A spaghetti squash is not native to the Philippines, so anyone who teaches it does not know real kali. More than 2,000 years ago the ancient warriors of Mindanao invented the art of killing with a zucchini. You wouldn’t last 10 seconds with your watered-down kali and a spaghetti squash.

There is also no mention in your letter of the battle axe.


4 Responses to “Incomplete Styles and the Real Kali”

  1. You are certainly not teaching real Kali if you are using weapons from China and Japan.

    You can teach real Kali AND 3-sectional staff, and nunchukus. You can teach more than one art and have all of them be “real”, you can teach several arts together and have it be a combined system. You can’t just toss in weapons from other countries and still have it be a “real” art.

    Can a Kali man use a 3-sectional staff? Yes. Can a man teach the 3-sectional staff as being part of the Kali art? No. Can a man teach 3-sectional staff using Kali principles as an example of how to adapt the art to other weapons? sure.

    Splitting hairs? Sure!

    But that is what masters do 😉

    • James,

      Many Americans don’t notice the inconsistencies you point out. I’ve seen a kid’s toy knife sold as a “ninja butterfly knife,” for instance.

      Some FMA were calling the nunchaku “tabak toyok.” There’s nothing wrong with doing the nunchaku, but to try to cast them as Filipino is stretching it.

  2. From the “Real Food Market and Deli” (really) in Helena Montana:

    “In Frenchtown, Montana, a woman fended off a bear with a weapons-grade zucchini…”

    “Then there’s that trusty old zucchini, which should be in the gun rack of every pickup truck. Not only can it preserve your right to disarm bears, but when fully loaded–think parmesan, au gratin or primavera–it can make your day in much more pleasant ways.”

  3. George Scott Says:

    Darrin, Zucchinis could indeed be considered deadly weapons, especially the way I cook….

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