The Bladed Hand: The Global Impact of the Filipino Martial Arts (Review)

Peachie Saguin and Tony Diego

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I said on this post that I’ll review The Bladed Hand after watching it.

First off, I watched and downloaded The Bladed Hand online via Vimeo on Demand, instead of the going for the Amazon route. I just couldn’t wait anymore. The downside: NO bonus videos, which are exclusive to the DVD. 😦

This post may contain spoilers moving forward, so continue at your own will.

I had goosebumps, and butterflies in my stomach during the first few seconds. I think my heart even skipped a beat. That’s a good sign for me. Then I kinda laughed when Jay Ignacio asked, “Do you know what Kali is?” Then the man said, “Kali?” “The drink?” He was referring to Cali shandy, a popular local beverage back in the ’90s.

Cali shandy

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Apparently, Cali is more popular than Kali. Aaaaw, that’s just heartbreaking. But I believe Arnis is the more familiar term here in the Philippines. Although, like what’s shown in the docu, people seem to only know Arnis as the sticks or for stick fighting. Some Filipinos don’t even know we have our very own martial arts! 😦 Thanks to this awesome documentary (and future documentaries/movies), that’s about to change.

The Bladed Hand touched up on Kali’s history and traditional use. It also talked about its evolution and global impact through the years. It featured many different FMA grand masters from various systems and styles, most of whom, I really admire. The likes of Guro Dan Inosanto (Inosanto Kali), Grand Masters Tatang Ilustrisimo and Tony Diego (Kalis Ilustrisimo), Grand Master Yuli Romo (Kalis Ilustrisimo / Bahad Zubu), Grand Master Rodel Dagooc (Modern Arnis / Dagooc Arnis), Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje Jr. (Pekiti-Tirsia Kali), Grand Master Remy Presas (Modern Arnis), Grand Master Ernesto Presas (Kombotan), Grand Master Cacoy Cañete (Doce Pares) and more. Sorry if I forgot the others.

I liked the interview with Diana Lee Inosanto when she mentioned that FMA doesn’t get much credit in the movies. It’s there all the time. People sometimes have no idea that they’re actually seeing Filipino Martial Arts because the expression (fight choreography) is changed to look like it’s Japanese or Chinese but it’s in fact, FMA.

I especially liked the very informative interview with Prof. Felipe Jocano Jr. (Lightning Scientific Arnis International). That man is synonymous to a walking History Channel or Wikipedia, with his rich knowledge in history. At one point he said that FMA is our greatest cultural export, which I totally agree. Hence, we should preserve and propagate it.

Then I learned that Grand Master Roland Dantes tried to unite various FMA systems by becoming a mediator. He also helped in making the Arnis Law possible. Thanks to him and Migz Zubiri, Arnis is now our national martial art and sport.

Overall, I find The Bladed Hand amazing! Any passionate FMA practitioner will certainly enjoy watching it. Kudos to Jay Ignacio and all the people behind the documentary! I look forward to The Bladed Hand 2! 🙂

I want to end this by quoting Ron Balicki: I know I will practice this art ‘til the day I die.

I’m with you, bro! 😀


3 thoughts on “The Bladed Hand: The Global Impact of the Filipino Martial Arts (Review)

  1. I love that quote you had at the ending. Oh yeah!!!

  2. It’s a pity that in the provinces, many old folks still know the art but most are unwilling to teach. I know an eskrimador who teaches aikido instead, saying that if he teaches arnis, he’s afraid his students might get ‘tested’ by the local eskrimadors, given that Filipinos are fond of eliciting ‘demonstrations’ from people who like to brag about their skills. As such, it’s a bit hard to look for people to train with.

    • Yes, I heard some teachers refuse to teach or are choosy of their students for many various reasons.

      It’s also a shame that “testing” the new guy is still happening in this modern day and age. Why can’t they just further encourage the new student/s? Maybe it’s part/embedded in their culture??

      Some practitioners, whether veteran or newbie, like to show off their skills because they think it’s cool. It’s fine really as long as they do it moderately. Otherwise, it becomes annoying–an eyesore! But that scenario exists and is common even in other martial arts. Sad but true. Still, no one needs to be punished or tested, in my opinion.

      I hope we just all get along, celebrate differences and support each other’s pursuits of Filipino martial arts.

      Thanks, Oliver, for commenting and I wish you soon find a willing and good Filipino martial arts teacher (if you’re looking for one)! 🙂

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