A number of Filipinos do not know about arnis, kali or eskrima, not knowing that these types of Filipinos Martial Arts (FMAs) are popular in other countries. This is attracting foreign nationals from different corners of the world to come to the Philippines to learn and experience the Filipino heritage, culture, food, and the arts.
At least 120 Kali Practitioners from over 28 countries around the world, mostly Europeans, are in Siquijor Island for the 5th Pekiti Tirsia Tactical Association (PTTA) Asia Conference in Cocogrove, San Juan. The conference, which runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 4, 2019, gathers the participants to learn and practice Pekiti Tersia Kali, a highly effective close-quarter fighting art indigenous to the Visayan region of the Philippines, which, according to PTTA head Tuhon Jared Wihongi, is a system of Kali that the PTTA trains.
Founded in 2002 by Tuhon Jared Wihong, PTTA is an international martial arts organization dedicated to teaching and training the Filipino combat art of Pekiti Tirsia Kali, with an emphasis on tactical application based on Tuhon Jared’s extensive background as a police trainer, Special Weapons
and Tactics (SWAT) Operator and Army Special Forces Combatives Instructor. “It is a tactical association because when I founded it, most of the students were from SWAT, special forces, and marines,” he said.
Recognizing the great impact the event has for the Philippines, in particular for Central Visayas and Siquijor, Dr. Gelena N. Asis-Dimpas, Project Officer of Cultural Tourism-FMA/Eskrima Program and the Chief Tourism Planning Development Division of Department of Tourism-7, said with the program on Filipino Martial Arts like kali, arnis and eskrima under the cultural tourism, “there is no other way but up for the Central Visayas region.”
“To us it’s good because there is diversity and there is always a reason for them to come back,” she said, noting the direct link of the event to the Siquijor beaches and the open outdoors.
Not just about Martial Arts
How is it helping Philippine tourism?
PTTA Vice President Mandala Kit Acenas said the event is good for the country’s tourism as they come to the Philippines every two years. In the prevous years, the events were held in Boracay, El Nido, and in Panglao, Bohol. But the biggest camp so far is in Siquijor Island.
“I’m proud that they come here and they look at our culture. It is not just teaching the martial arts, we are showcasing our culture as Filipinos. They just don’t learn Martial Arts, they want to know our lifestyle, our food, our adobo,” he proudly said.
Acenas said that there is a lot of Filipino martial art styles in the country, some a bit smaller and some a bit known.
“Even on the islands you will find older men having that certain family art with them but unfortunately, they dont have anyone who is willing to learn the system, so it would probably die out once they pass away,” he said, citing that the specific style (Pekiti Tersia Kali) that they are training here is fortunate to still be alive and is getting popular today, plus the fact that people from many corners of the world are learning and studying it means mean the art will survive.
He admitted, though, that a lot of Filipinos do not know about their culture and their history, “but the fact that we organize this in this country, in
the land of FMAs and being able to bring foreigners from so many corners of the world, hopefully it can also inspire Filipino people to get in touch with with their own culture, their own martial arts, and history,” Acenas said.
“We hope to attract and encourage more Filpinos to join,” he added.
‘Yeah, there’s more to it! It’s empowerment over self-defense’
Why FMA? Why Kali? How will this help a woman?
For Valerie, a Kali practitioner from Belgium who has been practicing the art for three and a half years, FMA has the full aspect and the full range of what she is looking for in practicing martial arts.
“It’s actually very elegant and that’s what i really enjoy about it. From the female point of view it’s not just about like, I kick or punch someone, but there’s much more to it. The art form behind it, the intrinsic pattern, the techniques, the sequences you learn, the way it could make you move,” Valerie excitedly said in an interview.
“I don’t really separate the FMA in groups or gender, I really think its for everyone. It benefits whatever gender or background you may have in so many ways – health benefits, like the coordination during the exercise, the movements, hanging up with people, the contact because you have actually physical contact with your own body, but also thru partnering up with people you have better understanding of how certain things work. Of course, you have that self defense aspect but there’s so much more to it by just studying the art and the Filipino culture. It is just like in itself, it’s just fun,” she said.
She said she does not want to promote the art as “women self defense” because it puts the person already in the “victim” position, where she needs to defend herself.
She said training martial arts, in general, can be good at building up assertiveness to life situation, like physical or mental challenges or even in dealing with your colleagues and boss, like having a stance, having a voice.
“I veer away from calling it ‘self defense’ or ‘women self defense’
because it has already that certain color, people see that in a certain way. I’d rather call it empowerment,” Valerie said.
And while having extensive yet fulfilling Kali Training in Coco Grove Beach Resort, the group of Kali practitioners are also enjoying the island of Siquijor, its beautiful scenery, culture, food, and people which for them is a rich experience.
An island tour to Siquijor’s top tourist destinations like Cambugahay Falls, caves and beaches, and hopping to Apo Island are part of their itinerary to give them a memorable experience they can tell and share with the rest of the world. (rac/PIA7-Siquijor)
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