It's been several years now since I had a regular Kali (one of many Filipino Martial Arts (or FMA as some people call them). This article from the Oakland Tribune made me realize why I loved practicing Kali and made me miss it. It was a way to ground myself in the body, and in a certain level of consciousness that extended far beyond my body, a kind of consciousness that also went beyond the classes I took with Gura Michelle Bautista, my main teacher, who was trained by our Master/Tuhan Joe Arriola of the Kamatuuran School. A quick excerpt from the Tribune article about what sets FMA apart from other martial arts like karate:
"The weapon, really, is just an extension of the hands," [Alexander Bautista Bayot] France, [an FMA master and instructor at Hayward Martial Arts] said. "Take the weapon out and we still have a complete and highly efficient martial arts system."
And weapons, France said, can be anything.
Have a 6-inch pen at your disposal? That can easily become your dagger, he said. How about that broomstick laying in the garage?
"Now you have a staff," France said.
I loved the economy of movement of Kali, and the way you could make a weapon out of anything, such as a frying pan (which many Black women and others have used historically to defend themselves against abusive husbands), a cell phone (point to throat and shove hard), even a coat (you can throw it in someone's face or over their knife). Many people have seen Kali and not even known it, as Matt Damon trained in it and used it for his Jason Bourne movie series. When I first saw 'Bourne Identity' I immediately recognized the quick moves that Jason Bourne uses as Kali--and I was super-excited to see this beautiful art finally given its due on the big screen. I remember tugging on H.'s arm and whispering urgently, "That's Kali!"
As the wedding planning ramps up to breakneck speed I find myself craving the release of physical action like Kali to get my aggressions out. Maybe after the wedding I'll start going to Gura's classes again. Or maybe I'll try to find some time beforehand to haul my butt over there. Nothing like a little stick- and knife-fighting to make a warrior-woman like me feel better!