Join Date: Aug 2008
Im not a believer in the term "Kali" also. It is a made up word...and now it has taken on many different associations. Also, to call Eskrima or Arnis "Kali" is not correct...this is my own personal belief. Eskrima/Arnis is a system developed by Christian Filipinos(most particularly from the Visayan region). To understand more you have to look deeper in history...and not necessarily FMA history but overall history. Everyone fails to realize the Moros were ruthless radical 'pirates'...and they dealt heavily in kidnapping for slavery and slave trading up until the Americans took over. Even in present day 2009, there is still instances of Moros kidnapping for slavery, particularly of christian Filipinos..it is in their culture to do so as some of them believe it is their religious right to do so. Looking back, one particular event where Visayan warriors trained in a type of system to fight the Moros was documented by the Spanish...look up Captain Juan de Chaves when he and 300 Spaniards along with 1000 Visayan warriors sailed to Mindanao to invade and take over Zamboanga in 1635. Fort Pilar was established, and from that period on, was nothing but battles and wars between the Spanish/Visayans and the Moros in Zamboanga history. It is important to keep in mind, the Spanish 'claimed' the Philippine islands, but they did not have full control of the southern region. Thousands of Moros have died fighting the Spanish, but they were in fact still undefeated by the Spanish. The Spanish prohibited 'Freedom of Religion'. If the Spanish had control over the Moros, there would be no more Philippine Moros...they all would have been killed off or converted to Catholics.
Much later, different Eskrima systems were developed and established by Christian Filipinos to protect their family, personal property, and land from these marauding Moros who would invade their coastal villages. It was not until the late 18 to early 1900s when these systems began to be documented and recorded. Being Cebu and southern Visayan regions were the major hot beds for piracy, you can see and understand why and how a martial art system came about and developed more drastically then any other part of the Philippines.
I just have to say also, we Filipinos are a proud race, and being of a mixed cross culture, we tend to try and find ourselves...meaning, trying to find the origin of our roots on what is authentic and original...what is truly Filipino in origin. And that sometimes means trying to meat out the Spanish and American influence. Some going as far as trying to eliminate Spanish terms, changing the name of Philippines, or bringing back the pre-spanish native writing script of Alibata/Baybayin...makes sense as to why some FMAs do not like the Spanish terms 'eskrima' or 'arnis'. The Filipino martial artist who are coming up with these new terms, like Kali and PRE-Spanish terms, are only trying to establish or set themselves apart as being so-called 'original and authentic' and purely Filipino with no outside influence(since any type of influence may seem unoriginal, mixed, and diluted)...this is nearly impossible. We have 300+ years of Spanish influence that can not be ignored, along with 100 years of American influence...and I dont see any type of system that has survived for 400+ years that can be slated as being 'original'. Unlike other cultures like the Chinese and Japanese, one thing we Filipinos lacked severely, recording and documentation in writing. Was there a Moro fighting system?...I am sure there was, but the "terms" and specific words for them within the Philippines are long gone, forgotten, and not remembered. In reality, there is no Kampilan, Kris, or Barong fighting system in Eskrima...like I mentioned, Eskrima is a martial art developed by Christians, it would make no sense for them to be using Muslim weaponry. I know many Eskrima banners carry the Moro Muslim weapon symbols...as I believe these symbols are there to honor and recognize their fight with the Moros and against these types of weapons...nothing else, they do not practice with any those weapons. And if they do use those weapons and call their art Eskrima, then that is something new and/or should be questioned. If you are wondering more about some type of Moro fighting system; as others have said, look to Borneo...at one point in the past; Sulu, Palawan, Mindanao, and Borneo were all seen as one and the same region. Many of the Moro Filipinos of the south associate and relate themselves more with Borneo then they do with the general Filipino population of the north and central regions.