Filipino Martial Arts: Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions about Kali, Arnis, Eskrima

Robert Downey Jr
First off, Kali is a very newbie friendly martial art. But I understand many people have questions and doubts about this discipline. To help shed some light on those uncertainties, I’ll answer some Kali FAQs that are probably holding you back from trying out Filipino martial arts.

1. Do I need to be fit to learn Kali? – Definitely not! You can learn this art regardless of your fitness condition. In fact, you’ll most likely lose a few pounds as you go through training. You’ll be moving a lot, doing a lot of drills and thus, you’ll sweat buckets. Though, if you have (an) existing medical condition/s, it’s best to get a clearance from your doctor first before training in Eskrima or any other physical activity/sports for that matter.

2. Do I need background in martial arts? – No, not at all. Having one has its pros and cons. Some people adapt easily if they have experience in another martial art. Then again, I find some people with zero martial arts knowledge more docile, which can be an advantage, since they absorb information like sponge. And sometimes the more experienced ones need to “forget” what they know about a particular martial art and not compare it to FMA. I call this re-wiring the mind and or having an open mind to new skills/knowledge. I guess that’s applicable whenever you’re cross-training in another discipline.

3. I’m a girl; can I learn Kali / Arnis / Eskrima? – Absolutely! I highly recommend it to women for its efficiency in self-defense and street fighting. Kali teaches ladies how to protect themselves against would-be attackers and for many various assaults like rape, hostage, robbery, etc. Cheers to women empowerment! Note: Practically anyone and everyone can learn this art, regardless of gender, age, race, and other non-determining factors.

4. What’s the uniform in FMA? – It depends on the school/system/style. Many have their own uniforms—red gis usually. Others go for a black shirt and camouflage/tactical pants or shorts attire. Some just wear whatever the hell they want. Personally, I like wearing training clothes that are comfortable and don’t restrict movement. Though, I don’t mind wearing a uniform, too, if the master requires it.

5. What are the tools/weapons used in training? – A pair of rattan sticks. A training knife and sword. Having your own sticks is a pre-requisite, as you’ll be using them a lot. In my current FMA dojo, we’re not required to buy training knives/sword. Our teacher provides these during training. I’m not sure about other schools/systems/styles.

6. What is the best FMA style or system? – Of course, it’s Balintawak Eskrima! Just kidding. It’s subjective. I believe every style has its own strengths and weaknesses. I suggest you do your own research, watch videos of various styles and decide which one you’d like to learn. They may all look the same at first but later when you’re already training for quite a while, you’ll distinguish their differences and similarities. Choose any style and just train. It would be easy to adapt to another style should you decide to learn another one.

7. Is there a ranking system in FMA? – Most have. Some don’t. Again, it depends on the school/system/style.

8. Where did Arnis / Kali / Eskrima begin? – In Mactan, Cebu. Long story short: Lapu-Lapu and his troops defeated Ferdinand Magellan using Eskrima. When the Spaniards conquered the Philippines, they banned practicing the art for obvious reasons. Filipinos continued practicing it underground and on a stealth mode—masquerading it in a dance like Sakuting and plays like Moro-moro. More Eskrima history here. Or watch The Bladed Hand.

9. What will I get when I train in Filipino martial arts? – FMA has tons of benefits. Great self-defense. Good exercise. It’s fun and exciting. Read more about Kali benefits.

10. Where can I learn Filipino martial arts (Arnis, Kali, Eskrima)? – Well, it depends where you’re from.

If you live around West Covina / Los Angeles, CA in the US, I highly suggest you get in touch with our Balintawak Eskrima master and head instructor of Applied Eskrima Global, Master Virgil Cavada through his website.

Now, if you’re from Metro Manila, you may contact my Filipino Kali teacher, Guro Jeric Pantaleon at 0917 9349268 or 0905 3325026 for private or group training and seminars.

Kindly tell them I referred you.

Here’s a list of Filipino martial arts schools from across the globe. Or you can also check out this extensive list of FMA teachers in the Philippines.

But we’re not carrying sticks in our daily life. Why would I wanna learn stick fighting?
– Because my friend, Kali / Arnis / Eskrima is more than just stick fighting. While it is primarily a weapons-based art, FMA also has empty hand fighting. The stick is just an extension of your hands. What makes Filipino martial arts truly special and beautiful and wonderful… is that whatever techniques/drills you do with the stick can be translated into knife fighting (even improvised weapons) and empty hand fighting (also known as hand to hand or mano-mano).

I hope I’ve answered most of your Kali-related questions. If you have any other in mind, feel free to share it in the comments below. Pugay!


26 thoughts on “Filipino Martial Arts: Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions about Kali, Arnis, Eskrima

  1. Awesome job, Blade Apprentice. I always get excited whenever someone decides to help educate about the wonderful art of FMA. Keep up the great work!

  2. Thank you very much for the link. Getting information out there really helps people appreciate FMA. Keep up the good work my friend.

  3. where can I learn it?

  4. hola, thankx, for answering questions on kali/filipino martial arts. currently, i’m playing congas for eskabo daan/filipino martial arts, here in san francisco, under the guidance of gm robert castro. do you know him? also, how is kali/filipino martial arts related to social/ballroom/latin dancing, which i do? happy training, 🙂 sonny santiago (aka: benito) eskabo daan

    • Hey, Sonny/Benito,

      My pleasure!

      It must be really cool playing congas for Eskabo Daan! I’ve definitely heard about GM Robert Castro, though I don’t know him personally.

      Some say Kali / FMA was concealed as part of Sakuting dance (Filipino folk dance) back in the day. So yeah, keep doing what you’re doing! Sounds fun!

      Thanks for dropping by my blog. Cheers! 😀

  5. Great article, just started fma myself

  6. how can i relate the applied discipline in arnis in connection as a person.???

    • Hi Analinie,

      Not sure if I understood your question. If you’re asking how to apply Arnis in real life situations, well, how you train usually dictates what you’d do in real life. So train for reality (but safely). Train hard & train well.

  7. Thank you! This is very informative and looking forward to learning the discipline soon. Time to search for the nearest dojo in my area. =)

  8. thanks for a very well detailed answers about our fma. My question now is, do you know where to register a founded system in FMA? do you have a contact info or website ? feel free to email me
    thank you so much brother.

  9. Thanks a lot for giving a good backgrounder on our beloved martial arts.

  10. hi there , and thank you for the detailed and informative post.. do you think someone with a chronic hamstring injury can still learn the art of Eskrima?

    cheers !!

    • Hey David,

      I’d really like to say, yes, you can, because Eskrima is awesome and I believe everyone should try it. But I’m not a doctor so please go seek clearance from your doctor first. Hoping for a thumbs up! Best of luck and thanks for dropping by my blog. Cheers!

  11. Hi can you give me an idea how much per session?

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