Kali Terminology

A a

Abesedari – The fundamentals of Eskrima.  Trains the beginner in the 12 strikes, corresponding targets and defenses.  The idea of flow is introduced.  Footwork, proper grip, striking points and targets are emphasized.

Agaw – The art of disarming different types of weapons: sticks, blades, guns, etc.  Divided into two parts:

The defender is unarmed.

The defender is armed with a stick or blade.

Stick to stick disarming, knife & sword disarming, hand gun & rifle disarming, sickle disarming, batons, staff and spear disarming are typically found in this art.  Disarming techniques use hands and legs, and are often accompanied by various types of striking, punching, butting, bone dislocating, sticking & trapping.  Pins, locks, sweeps, kicks, takedowns, ground pins and nerve attacks are also used.  Very popular among old time Kali experts.

Ang-Ngat – A series of special faking movements in Eskrima-Kali.  The term Ang-Ngat is commonly used to indicate all types of broken-rhythm movements to confuse the opponent.

Anting – The art of amulets, power words and power objects.  These objects include, but are not limited to: stones, candles, gems, feathers, leaves, ashes, animal teeth, animal claws and a piece of a rare type of coconut shell made into a cross and worn as a necklace.  The art is very ancient and full of psychic lore, and therefore rituals and rites are strictly observed.


B b

Babay-Lan – A native psychic healer or shaman to be more exact.  These healers practice mostly in rural areas.  They commonly practice fire walking, distance healing, trance healing and spirit healing, to neutralize attacks by malevolent nature spirits or voodoo type psychic attacks.  Power objects in healing use sword, shield, spear, red cape, etc.  They do psychic dances to communicate with the spirits.  One of these more interesting practices is one called “calling of the light” or calling of the original “inborn energy.”  They believe that when a person is born a “string” of energy connects us to the shy or world of the spirits.  As the person matures the “energy strings” or energy field becomes weak and scattered.  This is the result of loosing our roots with our primeval self due to the impact of civilization.  Sickness is the result.  To offset that, they perform a ceremony where they do shaman dances with all the “power” paraphernalia and together with the proper oracion or power words to call back the “scattered strings” or bands of energy.  The energy is brought back to the center of the head.  Note: similar ideas in Yoga & Taoism.

Bahi – The heart of a palm tree between 50 to 100 years old. Very tough.  The Bahi is a favored weapon of veteran Kali experts for use against bolos and other bladed weapons.  Sometimes it is cut and shaped like a sword.

Bang-Kaw – {see Sibat}

Buntot Pag-Ge – {see I-Kog Pag-Ge}


C c

Cinco-Teros – The five basic long-range strikes of Largo-Mano.  It is an art by itself and there are experts in its use.  Many versions exist.  The art is a basic combat method originally derived from sword fighting and teaches footwork, angling, hand eye coordination, reflexes, timing, flow and rhythm.

Classical Combat Eskrima-Kali – A system of Filipino self-defense that combines the best, most practical techniques and principles of classical combat Eskrima – Kali, as practiced by 18 master and grandmasters eskrimadors.  The art is a total combat system which utilizes hitting, punching, foot fighting, weaponry, takedowns, ground fighting, grappling and counter grappling, military tactics, bush craft, psychic training, studies on healing systems, studies on military history, armors, weapons (eastern & western), meditation, Taoism, Zen in Martial arts, body energy fields, comparative analysis of different martial arts in terms of strategies and philosophies.  Over 80 weapons from classical to modern, including common articles are used in this system.  The core of weaponry is still based, however, on sticks and blades.  Practitioners fight on 3 ranges (long, medium and short).  At an advanced level, weapon sparring is used to enhance training.  Full contact sparring with full protective equipment is practiced.  Multiple weapon sparring is also used.  Sticky sticks and trapping stick techniques are also practiced to facilitate and improve sticky and trapping hands.  In this system, 60 subject matters on blades alone are studied.  Each subject consists of many techniques, exercises, 2 man drills and psychological conditioning.

Cuatro-Cantos – Refers to a four-sided blade or dagger.


D d

De-Cadena – Two man combat drills, either with sticks, blades or unarmed, utilizing sticky hands, trapping techniques, disarms, foot techniques (offensive and defensive), takedowns, stick holds, and controls.  These drills train the practitioners in total awareness, eye and hand coordination, reaction time, timing, sensitivity, distance control, stick control and the application of flow.

De-Cuerdas – Very advanced Kali training and tests usually reserved for experts.  There are many versions, one of which involves the practitioner having to pass through a passageway where prearranged traps are waiting for him.  The traps are in the form of striking sticks, blades, staff or spear, and are triggered by foot pressure.  In another version, the traps are sprung by strategically positioned fellow eskrimadors.  The art is now practically lost and less dangerous tests are substituted.

De-Rueda – A division of Eskrima belonging to the Largo-Mano school that uses double loops and all sorts of slashing attacks and defenses.  The movements are continuous, using centripetal force.  These movements are often favored among combat oriented Eskrimadors.

De-Salon – A division of long to medium range Eskrima that uses the short stick or daga to trap and pin the opponent’s stick or sword arm.  Commonly found in the southern Philippines.

Dikit – A division of Eskrima-Kali that emphasizes close quarter fighting, very popular in the central and southern Philippines.  According to many Kali masters and grandmasters the system evolved from Espada Y Daga (dagger and sword style).  Without the dagger, the empty palm is used to trap, pin, hold, lock, punch and strike the opponent.

Dos Manos – The art of using double holds.

Dos Puntas – The art of using both ends of the stick, knife or sword.

Double Baston – Twin or double sticks used in shock effect training, hand-eye coordination, speed development and reaction training.  Double Baston can also be used to combat an opponent with single or twin sticks, swords, a spear, a staff or a chain.

Dumog – Native Philippine grappling art practiced in the southern Philippines.  This art is highly developed and is often called by different names in different parts of the Philippines.  Very popular among the Largo Kali practitioners.  Some Kali experts use Oracion with grappling.


E e

Espada Y Caha – The art of fighting with sword and scabbard.  Very combative and based on live blade fighting.  This art is often used in live Kali duels and fights, generally in the rural areas.

Espada Y Daga – The art of short stick (daga) and long stick fighting, originally dagger and sword.   It is a medium to close range fighting system.  Many of the old time Kali masters now in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s are expert in this art.  This is the mother art of Kali.  Unfortunately, masters of this truly effective art have now either retired or passed away.  Few true masters are still around to pass down the art.


G g

Gapos – To bind, to trap or to hold.  This term is primarily used by a native Filipino grappling art called Dumong.  A favorite among Ilong-Yo Kali fighters.

Garab – A Sickle.  Very popular among rice harvesters and coconut gatherers.  In the hands of Kali master it becomes a very terrifying weapon and extremely hard to disarm.  There is also a type of sickle fighting which is a part of Espada Y-Daga or Dagaso.  The hooking sickle type kicks and sweeps of Kali were most probably derived from this art.  The hand hooking techniques found in Kali were definitely derived from the sickle, the ‘s’ Kali sticks and the curved handles of the walking sticks rather than from the head of the heron, as claimed by some experts.  The art is very similar to the praying mantis and white crane schools of Kung-fu.  It uses many pins, traps and throws.

Ginunting – A fighting sword that is very popular among the people of the central and southern Philippines.

Guro – A teacher or master teacher who teaches not only the physical aspects of any given art but also the mental and spiritual.


H h

Hall-O – An agricultural instrument, usually made of wood, used to pound rice.  Among old time eskrimadors, it is used as a training device.

Hanting – The art of knife throwing.  Many of the old eskrimadors are very good in this art.  One version uses pointed spikes constructed of pointed round steel rods.  They often use cut coconut trunks as targets.

Higot-Lubad – The art of un-trapping, un-binding, counter-grappling and counter-striking.  Practitioners practice attacking, counter attacking, trapping, neutralizing, switching and flowing.  It is the art of counter-recounter.  Through this practice a Kali student is taught sensitivity, awareness, muscular coordination, timing, distance control, safety zones, proper angling, hand foot eye coordination, development of guts, breath pacing, proper parrying and blocking.  It also conditions the student to the point where his/her stick or blade is traveling from 50 to 150 mph. There are many versions of Higot-Lubad, depending on which part of the Philippines it comes from and the teaching master.  However, in general the art is divided into 2 divisions – armed and unarmed.  Armed practitioners use 2 sticks or 2 knives in a pre-arranged combat drill.  Later the movements become un-numbered.

Hilot – The Filipino art of therapeutic massage and bone setting.  Hilot is a very specialized art and is centuries old.  Some experts can diagnose illness by merely taking a pulse or holding a patient’s arm.  Other Hilot experts do healing massage, reset dislocations and broken bones by using only one finger.  They also use herbs and native plants in formulas that have been passed down from one clan or family to another for centuries.

Hirada-Bataguenia – A type of long range fighting (Largo-Mano) popularized by a certain province in the Philippines.  It consists of upward slashes used mostly against bolo or sword attacks.  It is commonly used against multiple attacks.


I i

I-kog Pag-Ge – A whip made out of the tail of a stingray.  It is believed by native Filipinos that these whips are very effective against super-natural attacks.


K k

Kaburata – The art of rope or chain fighting.  Ropes with weighted ends are commonly used.  There are recorded incidents of Kaburata experts fighting Kali men with sticks and knifes.  Grandmaster J. Bayes used to have such fights before the Second World War.  The weapon is usually carried as a belt.

Kamagong – A black hard wood.  It is a favored weapon among eskrimadors.

Kambiada – The switching of a weapon from one hand to another.  This switching is often used in knife and baton fighting.

Kombate Tres-Sicte – A style of Eskrima that uses close and medium range fighting.  The fighting posture is quite unique in that the eskrimador fights in a semi-high square, facing the opponent sideways.  The posture and its movements are very agile & light.  The eskrimador’s body weight is shifted intermittently between the front and hind legs as the fighter flows with the fighting situation.  When an opportunity exists, usually after hitting or trapping the opponent with his sticks, an eskrimador will kick or go into ground fighting which are favored techniques.  There are a lot of jumps, hops and foot stomps use to confuse opponents.

Kris – A wavy sword that is very popular among the Moros or Muslims in the southern Philippines. The metallurgy is derived from Arabic blacksmithing and the sword is so sturdy that it is claimed to be able to cut through the metal parts of rifles.  The Philippine version of this sword is somewhat heavier than most versions found in other countries.  This particular sword is considered to be endowed with psychic powers and is supposed to rattle in its scabbard to warn its owner of impending danger.  Such magical properties are widely accepted by the Muslim in the southern Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.  A Kris is usually considered an ancestral sword and is a highly prized possession.

Kuntaw-Silat – A native fighting art practiced by the Moro (Muslim) inhabitants of the southern Philippines.  The most famous practitioners live on the island of Jolo and Tawi-Tawi.  They belong to the fiercest and most war like Tausog group.  This tribe has a colorful history and is reputed to have forced the US army into developing the 45 caliber sidearm.  They were never fully conquered by the Spaniards, Americans or Japanese.  The US marines came out with the word Leather Necks during their pacification campaigns throughout these islands.


L l

Labo-Sagang – A two-man attack and defense drill.  This drill initially consists of numbered movements and later progresses to free-form practices.  Many versions exist, however the most valued ones can be used against swords, bolos and a kris.  Some of these Labo-Sagangs are considered impractical by Kali masters and grandmasters.  These masters always ask the basic question, “Can it be used against another Kali expert using a real sword or dagger?”  The introduction of a live blade to a fight changes the situation dramatically.  Even the introduction of a rattan or wooden daga (short stick about 12 long) changes the whole picture.  When a daga is introduced the use of the free hand to trap, grab or hold must be well considered, since there is a distinctive possibility of ending up as a one armed sword fighter.

Largo-Corto – A division of Kali that emphasizes a combination of long and short range fighting. This art is one of the most difficult to learn and adepts are usually experts in the art of Espada Y Daga or Dagaso sword & dagger systems.

Largo-Mano – An art that emphasizes long range fighting.  Very popular in the northern part of the Philippines.  Standard rattan sticks, hardwood and the heart of a palm tree are commonly used. Sometimes a hole is drilled in the base of the stick and a loop made out of rope is attached, where the middle finger is inserted.  This way the stick can’t fly away as it is twirled.  In the hands of a Largo-Mano expert these sticks can travel from 50 to 100 mph after the tip of the stick has been encased in iron (rounded or squared).  Kali experts in this art are considered among the most dangerous Kali practitioners.  One can of course execute a few Largo-Mano moves and claim to be an expert.  However, such dabblers in Largo-Mano are underestimating the art and perhaps have never really faced, in Rito (mortal combat), experts of the system.  To face such experts can be one of the most terrifying experiences in any Eskrimador’s life.  The tricks and counter moves of the art together with the atmosphere of mortal combat can easily rattle anyone who has never tried his art against Largo-Mano masters.  The dilemma that arises when confronting such an expert is in how to bridge the gap against their twirling metal tipped bahi sticks.  It is imperative that an individual be proficient in both long and short range fighting to be able to handle such a situation.  The problem is compounded by the fact that many of these long-range experts are also very good in Espada Y Daga.

Law-It – A division of Eskrima that uses 1.5 – 2 meter length whip type sticks.  The stick is very pliable and acts like a semi-whip.  Used primarily in long-range fighting.

Ligid-Panumba – The art of ground fighting utilizing leg scissors, rolls, pulls and flips.  Usually practiced on a hanging sack of rice or tire. Some styles of Kali specialize in these techniques as follow-ups to takedowns, or for situations where one has been swept or unbalanced.  Ground fighting using sticks, spear, staff, knife & sword are also practiced.  Foot disarming techniques against weapons are favored.


O o

Oracion – The highest and most secretive part of Kali training.  The Oracion is the tip of the Kali pyramid which consists of 3 sections: Physical, Mental and Spiritual training.  All authentic Kali masters have undergone such training.  The art is passed on only to the most trusted and dedicated students after years of intensive training, and is divided into 2 broad categories.  The first is training for psychic defense, the second for psychic healing.  Psychic offense is seldom taught, although it exists.  The art uses secret power words, mantras, secret rituals, power feeding, the use of power objects and power libritas to help the practitioner break through into another level of consciousness or reality.  Power objects such as thorns of bamboo, certain seeds, rocks, leaves, ashes and animal parts (claws, crocodile teeth, etc.) are used.  It teaches the practitioner the secrets of developing earth and cosmic force for psychic defense and healing. Such amulets and power words are usually tested during holy week.  Oracion power objects are often given to disciples during holy week.  Proper ceremonies and rituals are observed together with all the requirements and admonitions.  To break or fail to follow these would result in dire consequences to the practitioner causing illness.  Many Kali practitioners are often misled by phony masters who are ignorant of the true art of Oracion into believing that the secrets can just be written down and given away, e.g. – the latinized power words of the libritas.  However, this is not the case, it simply cannot be passed on that way.  All the commercial versions of the Oracion are useless without the proper training and ritual requirements.  True Oracion is as secretive and as difficult as any psychic art, such as the Hawaiian Kahuaa.  The healing portion of Oracion uses many forms of natural healing from the use of psychic energies, to the use of natural power objects.  Many Kali experts use power words to heal.


P p

Paha – The art of belt fighting.  Most Eskrima masters are very adept in the use of rope and leather belts for ensnaring, hitting and tying.

Pama-Li – The art of bone breaking, a component of Dumog or grappling Kali.  Experts in Pama-Li use pressure point pressing as they break a limb or bone.

Pamintok – The art of hitting with the tip of the stick.  Beginners are encouraged not to use this method since it demands expertise in accurate hitting and injuries may result.  Pamintok is usually reserved for very advanced practitioners who know what to do if they miss with their stick.  It is not advocated for nighttime combat since visual accuracy is a problem.

Pamo-Long – The art of healing in the Philippines.  Consisting primarily of shamanic healing, herbal healing, massage and bone setting.  Pamo-Long also includes psychic surgery, magnetic healing, spirit pulse taking, distance healing, psychic injections and Oracion healing.

Pamu-Tik – The art of whip fighting using rope, hide, plant fiber or the tail of a stingray.  Kali master R. Villahina is generally considered as this arts greatest living exponent.  His favorite practice is putting out flames of candles with a whip.

Pamulag – A division of Eskrima that specializes in hitting the eyes with various techniques, including flipping sand, leaves and pebbles into an opponent’s face using the tip of a stick.  Very deceptive and dangerous.  Its exponents like to throw a mixture of sand and ground pepper into their opponent’s face.  Sometimes salt and/or lime is used.

Pana – Bow and arrow. Very popular among native pygmy tribes.  Still used by people living in the mountainous and jungle areas of the Philippines.  Used for hunting and warfare.  Originally, arrows were made of fire-hardened bamboo, later iron arrowheads were introduced.

Pangamut – The unarmed defensive and offensive techniques of Kali.  Consisting of hitting, punching, trapping, sticking, bone breaking, locking, throwing, counter grappling, takedowns and ground fighting.  Pangamut uses a lot of the sticky hand and trapping hand combinations and defanging of the opponent’s weapons are heavily stressed.  Many kinds of hand weapons are used: hand blades, reverse hand blades, palm heels, bent wrists (taken from the sickle, head of a walking stick, head of a heron, the ‘s’ Eskrima stick), finger jabs, claws, grabs, thumb jabs, forearm blades, punches, elbows, shoulders, headbutts, buttocks, palmslaps, finger rakes and biting.  Old time eskrimadors hardened their hands by striking bamboo trees and hitting un-husked coconuts.  Many of these techniques have interesting origins.  The head and shoulder butt for example came from observing water buffalo fights.  The grappling techniques came from observing snakes (Sawa), of the constrictor variety.  Use of the ‘s’ stick and double short ‘s’ sticks were adopted from observing the heron, which was common in the old days.

Panumba – The takedown techniques of Pamgamut, incorporates tripping, sweeping, throwing, leg trapping and locking maneuvers.  Used in close quarter fighting.  Advanced Panumba techniques frequently make use of the elbow.

Pinu-Te – A native fighting knife popular in the central and southern parts of the Philippines.  Often used in Espada Y Daga.

Pluma – A division of Eskrima where the stick is usually chambered on the shoulder to prevent being trapped or disarmed.  Pluma is a medium to close fighting art based on blade fighting, utilizing deceptive footwork.  Very direct and fast.  Moves are very economical.

Pung-Ko or Lo-Hod – To sit or kneel.  A division of Kali that is very popular in the mountainous areas where slippery soil endangers an upright posture.  Practitioners of this art are versatile and can change positions while low on the ground.  They sometimes use rolling and leaping to dodge attacks.  Very similar to some techniques found in Kun-Taw Silat.

Puti-An – A light skinned, tattooed tribe of the southern Philippines.  They most likely descended from the early Indonesian migration to the country.  They still use spears, shields and long fighting swords.  Many of the Puti-An’s sword handles feature Indonesian designs and are decorated with old silver coins.


R r

Rabis – Successive horizontal strikes to an opponent’s arm, body or leg.

Repeke – Continuous close quarter fighting using double sticks, emphasizing many stick pins, traps and disarms.

Rito – The practice of dueling with eskrimadors.  Very common before the Second World War and immediately after.  Now outlawed, such fights still take place, especially in rural areas.  Considered by most to be the ultimate Kali test, these duels can be the most terrifying experience for any Kali practitioner regardless of style.  Combatants can be easily maimed for life or even killed.  It is the Kali warrior’s moment of truth.  Such fights are traditionally done without armor. Combatants may choose rattan sticks with or without iron encased tips or they may decide to use bahi sticks.  There are known cases of combatants electing to fight with live blades or stick vs. live blade.  Sometimes daggers or sickles may be used together with a stick or bolo.  Kali practitioners who take part in Rito are usually experts in Espada Y Daga.  It is an unwritten code among Kali-Eskrimadors, in the Philippines, that no one can claim expertise in Kali unless they have undergone such tests of fire.  Depending on the agreement, the fight stops when 1) first blood is drawn, 2) when one of the combatants are unable to continue because of bodily injuries or 3) the combatants decide to fight to the finish.

Roydondo – {see De-Rueda};


S s

Se-Od – To trap, to bind or to capture, with a rope or vine.  Ropes are used to capture an opponent’s arm, head, leg or weapon.  The art of Se-Od is usually combined with grappling, takedowns, foot attacks, head butts, leg traps and sweeps.  Sometimes chains are used.  Hitting with the end of the rope is also used before the trapping and binding is applied.

Serrada – An art that emphasizes medium to close range fighting, popularized in the southern Philippines.  Very combat oriented.

Sibat – A Spear.  Still used by people living in forested and mountainous areas.  Very popular in the Muslim dominated parts of the southern Philippines.

Siko-Ofensiva – The art of elbow fighting.  Siko-Ofensiva techniques are usually combined with head butts. This art is the core of the defanging the snake principle in Kali.  The principle says that the Kali expert should destroy the nearest offending weapon (hand or foot) trying to reach him. It would then be easier to work into the head or body.  Siko-Ofensive is a very sophisticated art that also employs blocks, parries and counter attacks with the elbow.

Siko-To Hod – The art of knee and elbow fighting, featuring is the use of reverse knee strikes, cutting the tree knee techniques, unbalancing and throwing.

Sinolog – Combat Kali dance popularized in the island of Panay.  Live fighting swords are used to the accompaniment of drums and other musical instruments.  The dances are stylized but the stepping, blocking, parrying and hitting shows the original combat moves of Kali.  This dance is usually performed in festive occasions such as weddings and baptisms.  At the start of the sword dance, the combatants will slash through a bamboo pole to show sword control and sharpness of the blade.  Unfortunately this art is slowly passing away and with it a rich Kali cultural history.  But, it can still be found in the hinterlands and remote mountainous areas of the Philippines.

Solo Baston – Single Eskrima stick from 20″ to 33″ in length.  Used in close, medium and long range fighting.

Sundang – A certain type of knife or dagger.  Has several designs.


T t

12 Metodos – A system of Eskrima-Kali using 12 sub-systems from long range to close range (Dagaso or Espada Y Daga).  The system is very combative and is based on blade fighting.  One of the greatest exponents of the style is grandmaster Mario Taleon, now in his 80’s.

Trampada-Kuntawan – A hybrid art fusing techniques from Kali and Kuntaw-Silat.  It is unique in that combatants use many fakes to confuse their opponent.  When armed with a dagger, a practitioner will slap various parts of his body to achieve a tactical advantage.  A lot of stamps are used and ground fighting is a favored technique.  Experts in blade switching and faking, they make use of body butting techniques to destabilize the opponent.  Practitioners are also very involved in Oracion.  The style has borrowed a lot from Kun-Taw Silat from Borneo. Grappling and counter-grappling is heavily favored.  Nerve center striking is also practiced. Many body, arm and leg toughening techniques are practiced using coconuts, trees and stones.  Trampada-Kuntawan favors medium to close range fighting, open hand attacks over closed fists and ground fighting over standing.  Lots of sticking, coiling, pinning and trapping hands are used.  Biting and spitting to distract and immobilize the opponent are widely practiced.

Tungkod – A walking stick.  Many varieties exist from straight to hooked, some carry hidden blades or daggers.  The walking stick art of Kali is very sophisticated and includes lots of throwing, locking, trapping, ground pinning, controls and deceptive strikes.


W w

Witik – Wrist action snap strikes.  Economical and direct, used mostly in close range fighting.

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