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History of Kali

The rich history of Kali, also known as Escrima or Arnis, is deeply intertwined with the complex tapestry of the Philippine Islands’ past.

Originating from a blend of influences including Indonesian, Chinese, and Muslim cultures, early Filipino Martial Arts, practiced by native warriors such as the Moros and Igorots, centered on the adept use of bladed weapons like the Bolo and Barong.

In the late 1500s, the Spanish invasion and subsequent conquest of the Philippines prompted a pivotal shift in martial practice. The Spaniards, facing significant losses at the hands of Filipino warriors wielding bolos, responded by banning bladed weapons and martial arts training altogether.

In response to this prohibition, Filipinos devised ingenious methods to preserve their combat skills. They transformed their training into folk dances, using wooden sticks to replicate the movements of bladed weapons while incorporating intricate footwork. These seemingly innocuous dances served as a guise for martial training, often performed in plain sight of the Spaniards who remained unaware of their true purpose. These clandestine folk dances laid the groundwork for the evolution of modern Kali fighting systems.