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Kali Sikaran is a Filipino martial arts system, founded by Jeff Espinous and Johan Skålberg, and it is one of the main styles of the International Kali Arnis Eskrima Federation.
The art of Kali has its roots in the ancient Filipino history dating to before the Majapahit Empire, which dominated South East Asia during the 5th and 6th centuries. The art was used against the Spaniards in their attempts to conquer the islands. The famous Ferdinand Magellan was defeated by the national hero Lapu Lapu that was an ancestor of today’s arts.
The Spanish occupation lasted for more than 400 years and influenced the art a lot with the Spanish fencing. Kali is also known by names such as Eskrima or Arnis. Because of all the different dialects, there are many different names. Sikaran is influenced by the concept of the old bodyguards at the Majapahit Kingdom. They were the best fighters from Southeast Asia. Everything from Thaiboxing, Pentjac Silat to Kali, among many other arts, are included in the system. Sikaran is the empty hand transfer from the principles of the weapon art of Kali. Therefore, Kali has many similarities with other martial arts, notably Silat and Kuntao. Kali development in the Philippines was influenced by the conquest of the Spanish who prohibited the carrying of weapons. This in turn led to the development of the stick fighting element where the bladed arts were trained in secret, using the stick and, where possible, the blade.
Kali Sikaran has its roots in the martial arts of The Philippines and the South East Asian countries. Kali Sikaran is a member and one of the principal styles of the IKAEF, the International Kali Arnis and Eskrima Federation. Kali Sikaran has members, clubs and organizations in over 20 countries.
The training concepts of Kali Sikaran are unique to the system. They are based on Panantukan (Filipino Boxing), Sikaran (Filipino Kickboxing), Stick fighting, Daga (Knife Fighting Training), Kadena De Mano (Close Quarters Range) and Dumog (Grappling). In Kali Sikaran these concepts are woven together into a complete and very effective fighting system. Any improvement in one aspect of the system will accelerate change and immediately enhance another. In a combination of empty hand training and weapons training, the practitioner will develop agility, balance, coordination, dexterity, endurance, flexibility, reflexes, speed, and strength that support both defensive and offensive fighting skills. The Kali Sikaran practitioner is trained to be able to adapt to any given situation.
Filipino boxing that has a basic structure similar to Western boxing and Muay Thai, but with distinct defining characteristics. Zoning, limb destructions, eye strikes, head butts, low-line kicks, pushing, pulling and grabbing make Panantukan a special and an effective form of street boxing. The use of elbows, gunting and checking (controlling) the opponent’s arms are also common characteristics of Panantukan. Techniques are practiced with and without gloves. What is its relation to Sikaran?
Sikaran adds to the Panantukan system with some additional hand techniques and with more focus on kicking techniques. Sikaran is recognized by its movements – the fighter is trained in zoning and the controlling of distance. This gives the fighter the opportunity to use a wide range of kicking techniques: from foot kicking (sipa) to chin kicking (Thai style) and knee techniques. The idea is to touch without being touched.
The characteristic sticks (or machetes) of the Filipino Martial Arts are well known by most martial artists. The training is usually carried out with one stick (solo baston), two sticks (doble baston) or a stick and a dagger (espada y daga, sword and dagger). Stickfighting training is important in the development of empty hand skills. Any development in stick training leads to an immediate improvement in the empty hand aspects of Kali Sikaran. Stick training improves the practitioner’s movements, zoning, coordination and flow skills. Techniques that are trained are: attacks, blocking & defending, disarming, locks, throwing and the well-known Filipino reaction flow.
Daga is Kali Sikaran’s knife fighting system. Knife defense is a known specialty of the Filipino arts. Filipino knife fighting techniques have influenced police and military knife defense strategies all over the world. Before starting knife training the Kali Sikaran should pass The Basic Knife Program* to learn the importance of safety when dealing with knife training and also to learn theories behind knife training.
Kadena is the close quarter fighting technique of Kali Sikaran. Short, fast blows with hand, elbows, etc., simultaneous striking/blocking, striking combinations and advanced reaction flows are trained in this system. Kadena De Mano is a realistic defense in a modern environment, in a club or in a crowd where there’s no space in which to move or to escape. In training the Kadena the flow is a very important aspect. The fighter must be able to shift from a relaxed state to a state of speed and power in a very short reaction time.