Saturday, July 09, 2011

Express Yourself

In Kali, a lot of emphasis is placed on developing tuloy tuloy, or FLOW.
Differing from many other traditional martial arts, Filipino martial arts are about constant motion.  We want the sticks, knives, hands, feet to be alive and moving all the time.

So, which flow is the best?  Whose flow is the best?  Whose flow should you watch?

The answer is simple -  YOURS.

One of the most amazing aspects of Kali Majapahit is that it is a self-expressive system.
That means that once your building blocks and foundation are in place, you must grow to make the art your own, encompassing the specific needs of your body, your background, and your personality.  Your flow must be your own.

The curriculum is designed to give you concepts, tools, and examples of flow in the beginner stages, so you develop the ways of expressing yourself correctly as a kalista.
The concepts must be learned and observed, since these are what make the style effective.  However, these concepts are universal, and apply with any weapon or empty hand.  So, too, they apply regardless of the specific techniques you use to express them.  Ultimately, your kali becomes a synthesis and expression of who you are, and you begin to flow freely.

This freedom does not exist at all in many traditional schools, where if the technique is not done exactly as shown, it is considered wrong.  In Kali, something is only wrong if the concepts are not followed or if it doesn't work.  We continue to polish and improve our mastery of the concepts, but we are free to apply the concepts through whatever frame of expression we choose.

The "art" in Martial Art is that element which allows us to express ourselves creatively.
To lose this is to relegate oil painting to color by numbers, where we must blindly follow what we are given, and stay within the lines of childish simplicity, never given the chance to think for ourselves or be creative.  NO.  The goal of training must be self-expression and the freedom to show who and how we are. 

Even Kung Fu 功夫, in its' English translation, means "skill achieve through hard work/practice" and has a strong inference that this is a personal achievement.

In my case, my background is heavy on Japanese traditional martial arts.
Thus, my flow has a lot more committed power moves than someone else's might, and I use plenty of locking and throwing (called "trankada" in FMA), and I usually refer to those techniques by their Japanese names when I explain them.  One Guro has a long background in MMA/kickboxing, and his flow is heavy in panantukan (Filipino kickboxing).  Another Guro has a long experience in silat, so much of his flow has that Indonesian flavor to it.  Yet another was a semi-pro Western boxer, and thus his flow is heavy on boxing hand combinations. 

Other instructors' flow looks different from mine, but we all observe the same concepts of fighting that FMA and especially Kali Majapahit so practical.

The most important thing for your training is to watch and learn from every source (classes, videos, internet, seminars, books, magazines) and identify flow you like.  Make it your own.   Watch yourself in the mirror until you like what you see.  Keep training.

Even Guro Fred, who was amazing when I first met him, IS ACTUALLY GETTING BETTER.  I watch his most recent video and I can see the difference in his flow over time.  He was already among the best in the world when I first saw him in 2007.  Now he is truly in a league of his own.  He is faster, stronger, and more creative.  This is as it should be.  We are all learning, growing, evolving, changing, and our Kali has to grow with us.  It gives me comfort to know that even at his high level, he can still progress.

Express Yourself!

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