Dragon Art Of Defense   ~  January 23, 2012 Chinese New Year of the Dragon James Fell

Filipino Martial Arts

Philippine Martial Arts

Kali ~ Escrima

Balintawak ~ Arnis

Sinawali ~ Sumbrada ~ Abanico

Dan Inosanto

Dan Inosanto Seminars

  • Arnis comes from arnés, Old Spanish for 'armor' (harness is an archaic English term for armor, which comes from the same roots as the Spanish term). It is said to derive from the armor costumes used inMoro-moro stage plays where actors fought mock battles using wooden swords. Arnesis also an archaic Spanish term for weapon, like in the following sentence from "Ilustracion de la Deztreza Indiana" by Francisco Santos de la Paz in 1712:The execution of this doctrine is so infallible, that not only does it prove its superiority in contests with equal arms, but also when finding the opponent with the apparent advantage of showing up armed with two weapons, sword and dagger. For, even armed with those, experience shows the difficulty of resisting the single sword used in this way.
  • Eskrima (also spelled Escrima) is a Filipinization of the Spanish word for fencing, esgrima.  Their cognate in French is escrime and is related to the English term 'skirmish'.
  • Kali has multiple theories on its origin:
  • One theory is that the word comes from tjakalele,a tribal style of stick-fencing from Indonesia. This is supported by the similarities between tjakalele and eskrima techniques, as well as Mindanao's proximity to Indonesia.
  • According to Guro Dan Inosanto, Kali is a portmanteau of the Cebuano words "kamot", meaning hand, and "lihok", meaning motion.
  • In the Ilocano language, kali means to dig and to stab.
  • There exist numerous similar terms of reference for martial arts such as kalirongan , kaliradman and pagkalikali.]These may be the origin of the term kali or they may have evolved from it.
  • According to Grandmaster Vic Sanchez, the Pangasinense term Kalirongan means "Karunungan ng Lihim" or Wisdom of (the) Secret (fighting arts) or "Wisdom of Kali".
  • In his book KALI - History of a Forbidden Filipino Fighting Arts, Fred Lazo put forward that Kali was an ancient root word for blade, and that the Filipino words for right hand (kanan) and left hand (kaliwa) are contractions of the terms "way of the blade" (kali daanan) and "without blade" (kali wala) as weapons are usually held with the right hand and the left hand is typically empty.
  • In their book Cebuano Eskrima: Beyond the Myth however, Dr. Ned Nepangue and Celestino Macachor contend that the term Kali in reference to Filipino martial arts did not exist until the Buenaventura Mirafuente wrote in the preface of the first known published book on Arnis, "Mga Karunungan sa Larong Arnis" by Placido Yambao, the term Kali as the native mother fighting art of the Philippine islands.
  • Most likely, Kali derives from the pre-Hispanic Filipino term for blades and fencing, Calis, documented byFerdinand Magellan's expedition chronicler Antonio Pigafetta during their journey through the Visayas and in old Spanish to Filipino Mother Tongue dictionary and vocabulary books dating from 1612 to the late 1800s, such as inVocabulario de Lengua Tagala by Fr. Pedro de San Buenaventura. The term calis in various forms was present in these old Spanish documents in Ilocano, Ibanag (calit), Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bicolano (caris),Waray (caris), Hiligaynon and Cebuano (calix, baladao - "kalis balaraw/dagger" and cales). In some of these dictionaries, the term calis refers to a sword or knife kris or keris, while in others it refers to both swords and knives and their usage as well as a form of esgrima stick fighting. While Mirafuente posits that the original term was "Kali" and that the letter "S" was added later, the late Grandmaster Remy Presas suggests that the "S" was dropped in modern times and became presently more known as "Kali" in FMA circles.
  • Balintawak
    Balintawak Street Self-Defense Club. In Balintawak, the stick is only used to enhance and train the individual for bare hands fighting, and to achieve perfection in the art of speed, timing and reflexes necessary to acquire defensive posture and fluidity in movement. It aims to harness one’s natural body movement and awaken one’s senses to move and react. It guarantees its practitioner to experience a revelation in the fundamentals of street fighting.
    In 1932, the Doce Pares Club was formed, composed of eskrimadors from the Saavedra and the Cañete family.Lorenzo Saavedra. Venancio Bacon was among the first members of the Doce Pares Club and became one of its best fighters. According to an interview in Bladed Hand, a Filipino documentary about Filipino martial arts, Grandmaster Ciriaco "Cacoy" Cañete said that Bacon was among the best fighters in the Doce Pares Club, second only to "Doring" Saavedra.

Bacon eventually left the Doce Pares Club, citing skepticism of the system's combat effectiveness. Per information provided by T. Buot, the reason why V. Bacon did not rejoin the Doces Pares group as he felt that his alone vote would not have any weight against the Canete family. In the 1950s, together with Delfin López Timoteo Maranga and others, Bacon established a new club, calling it the Balintawak Street Self-Defense Club. The newly formed club started training in the backyard of a watch shop owned by Eduardo Baculi, one of Bacon’s students, in the titular street, a small side street in the Colon St.area.

Practitioners of the arts are called arnisador (male, plural arnisadores) and arnisadora (female, plural arnisadoras) for those who call theirs arnis, eskrimador (male, plural eskrimadores) or eskrimadora (female, plural eskrimadoras) for those who call their art eskrima, and kalista or mangangali for those who practice kali.

  • Hubud Lubud - to tie and untie, continuous trapping methods
  • Gunting - "scissors"; armed and unarmed scissoring techniques aimed at disabling an opponent's arm or hand
  • Abaniko - fanning techniques
  • Sinawali - "weaving"; rhythmic, flowing, striking patterns and tactics, utilizing two impact or edged weapons.
  • Sumbrada - a drill, one partner feeds an attack, which the other counters, flowing into a counterattack, which is then countered, flowing into a counterattack, and so on.
  • Redonda - circular double-stick vertical downward pattern of six strikes
  • Solo baston - single stick
  • Doble Baston - double stick




 I try to attend at least one seminar every year. 

Dan Inosanto Seminar 2011

Dan Inosanto Seminar 2013

Dan Inosanto Seminar 2014

Dan Inosanto Seminar 2015

Dan Inosanto Seminar 2016 - with the Dan Inosanto 80th birthday cake

T here are times when you may have a chance to practice with Dan. One time when Dan was standing by himself,
I did not have a partner, so I went up to Dan and asked him to show me the sparring techniques everyone was working on.
I am very happy to say I got to spend a few minutes with Dan to do some open hand striking
and trapping techniques simular to what Dan and Bruce Lee were doing on the page below.

I was smart enough to bring one of my Bruce Lee books with Dan and Bruce Lee
together in it to the seminar and when Dan was standing alone I asked him to sign it.


Dragon James Fell ~ Arnis Kali Escrima
( Some people I've trained under and had some direct hand to hand contact and instruction. )

Rich Turner ~ Dan Inosanto ~Jon Rister ~ Kirk Weicht ~ Tracy Frost

And Some Additional Friends
Jackie Bradbury, Kevin Bradbury, Gordon Sims, Ryan Zamoria, John Opalach
Steven Davis, Reagon Hook, Lance Love, Doris Biasatti


Steven Davis ~ Reagon Hook ~ Richard Turner ~ Tracy Frost

James, Kirk Weicht, New Guy, Scott in back, David, Ryan Zamora, Rich Turner, Tracy Frost, Tin Nguyen, Steven Davis



2nd left Gordon Sims, 4th left Dan Inosanto, 5th left Doris Biasatti


3rd and 4th left Jackie and Kevin Bradbury


I try to attend at least one Instructor Training Camp a year by Jon Rister.



Kali is the true Filipino culture and discipline expressed in the principles of respect, concern and care represented by the carrying of the Kalis as the status symbol of every Kayumanggi living in the Island. “Kayumanggi,” is the original name of the now called Filipino nationality, long before they were referred to as Filipinos.” Kali was originally a Hindu influence brought to the Islands over 800 years before the Majapahit Empire that ended back around 1500 AD. The influence of Kali as a culture was deeply rooted among the inhabitants of the 7,100 Islands.

It was a culture because it expresses the Philosophy of life with the elements of belief that only life no death, success no failure and good health no sickness. Its not that every human being doesn’t feel this way, it is a strong mentality and belief in this philosophy what keeps the Philippine warrior alive and very healthy. That is because Kali, as a belief, is also a metaphysical energy. If and when you will further your study with Pekiti Tirsia you will then understand the effect of Kali in the area of metaphysics.

Kali, the word can be authenticated in the use of the Filipino language. A Filipino alphabet includes the word Ka as the first letter words of Tagalog is expressed in A-BA-KA-DA-E-GA-LA-MA-NA-SA-TA-U-WA-YA. There is no C in Filipino replacing the letter K with significantly meaningful to the culture of the true discipline, the Kali culture. The word Ka is a prefix meaning Sir, Your Highness, Your Majesty, Your Excellency. Then the word “KALI” is also a prefix to words that describe as adjectives like KALIPAY MEANS HAPPINESS, KALIBUTAN THE WORLD, KALISUD MEANS SADNESS and KALIRUNGAN MEANS KNOWLEDGE AND MORE. Not meaning that KALI, the martial art, is the prefix to these words…this just shows that KALI as a word, is in the language and a part of the culture.

And in Negros Occidental in the mountainous town of Salvador Benidicto, the yearly celebration of Kalikalihan is held every February, every year and this has been done for the past 15 years. Kali as a fighting system was kept secret when the Governor Disilio of Manila back in 1776 threatened the Filipino people, “all citizens should not mentioned the word Kali, and carrying of the Kalis was forbidden or else they will be arrested and brought to prison.” So the inhabitants kept it and under the pretext of a cane with pointed blade inside the cane. The Filipinos encountered the Spanish soldiers with these weapons which in turn, a lot of Spanish soldiers died. That was a major factor that ignited the Filipino/Spanish revolution in the Philippines which lasted till 1889. This is when Spain lost the revolution and then saved the face of King Philip and Queen Isabella by selling the Filipinos to the Americans in the Treaty of Paris of 1889.

Kali was and still is to this day, considered to be a sacred art by the Filipino people. Every drop of blood that falls to the ground from the Kali warrior was dedicated to the Gods with the utmost promise to revenge and to avenge the death of the Kali warrior. It is well known today that the Kali warriors didn’t stop fighting even when a bullet was piercing through their bodies. This is the real proof of the Kali warriors, deep in the provinces of the Philippines, who were true to their beliefs in their philosophy, continued to kill the Spanish soldiers until they won. That is because of that strong belief in life and success made them invincible warriors. Kali was so sacred that due to the many different metaphysical practices. The power to disappear in front of the enemy. The power to hack with the Kalis and cut a body in half. This did not exclude the cutting right into a Spanish helmet as well as cutting into the Spanish Toledo blades in half. If the Filipino warrior was injured there was and still is, the use of special oil to stop the bleeding that would occur during the close quarter encounters. It is well known by many Filipinos about the use of the metaphysical power by killing the enemy at a distance.

Kali warriors of today carry the spirit of the forefathers who watch the activities of every person that teaches or professes the Kali as their own fighting system. It is strongly believed they watch with care and concern that nobody abuses or commercializes the system with the intention of forgetting the Philippines and by remembering the duty to help the children, the poor families and the indigents whose life is miserable because of extreme poverty. Few have met their destiny in the USA as well as in the Philippines because of the wrongful use of Kali. The few had their destiny died in a premature death because they rejected the responsibilities and ignored the power of Kali. Not to mention those people without sense of gratitude and/or the recognition to the old men who taught the true warriors of the Philippines.

As you can see, Kali is a very powerful martial art compared to many of the other Asian martial arts from the physical and to the metaphysical elements of combat. In modern times, this is proven fact because, for the past six years, the Force Recon Marines training under the Pekiti Tirsia Kali System in the Philippines, there has been no casualties against the many encounters in Mindanao Islamic rebel wars. It is important to understand that once the purity of the practices are followed religiously then there are the feelings of security and confidence within the atmosphere of training and in the execution of Kali techniques. But if Kali is practiced with the mixture of the word Arnis and Eskrima, which are Spanish words, then the wisdom of the martial art will never find the ancient Filipino purity in a person’s heart.

Kali, as well as Kun Tao has a long history as successful fighting methods and as a lifestyle in the Philippines. It was the Kali warriors that killed Ferdinand Magellan; as a matter of fact, the research done by the oldest University in the Philippines, UST-University of Santo Thomas recently found evidence that the name of the Datu that killed Ferdinand Magellan is Kalikulapu. So it is evident that the KALI word was significant long before the changes that were made back in 1521. These latest findings by the Arts and Museum of the Philippines, the Laguna copperplate in the beach shore of Laguna de Bay close to Manila, explains the engraved writings in Babayin, the original Filipino language.

Now, after hearing how Kali is a very common word in the Filipino language and present in the true Filipino culture, you can see how Kali is also a Filipino sense of courage within the culture. It is well known that the Filipinos cannot be united religiously, politically or socially. But if there is war to fight, all Filipinos can be easily united together in force to fight against any nation of the world if need be.