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Juego Todo, Buy Bust,… Philippines 2018

In our association we share the positive aspects of Filipino martial arts and lifestyles with interested people in the western world, and we also ensure that Filipinos in their homeland feel our recognition and benefit. Read this report on the new Kali movie Buy Bust, the Kali Training with Filipino Kalista, a Juego Todo Tournament, the high school and kindergarten groups we support in the Philippines and more experiences from Tuhon Emer Uli Weidle during his travels in the Philippines this year.


From Tuhon Emeritus Uli Weidle

The only constant in life is change: For nearly twenty years, it was normal for me to fly to my Kali trainer in the Philippines twice a year. Much has changed with school-age children: A trip to the Philippines has again become a special experience. During the last summer holidays it was time again: Destination Manila, Philippines!


The word spread quickly, that I was back in the Philippines. Many friends and acquaintances from the martial arts scene wanted a meeting. The day after we arrived, my family and I were invited to the block premiere of the movie "Buybust". Almost all of the Pekiti Tirsia High Society from Manila was present. Even actors and filmmakers had come. My old friends, Tuhon Mick and Tuhon Jay, had prepared the stars for their action scenes and Tuhon Mick is seen in the movie in a supporting role. Before the movie started it was a big 'hello' and of course many pictures were taken.

The film starring Filipino movie celebrities Anne Curtis and Brandon Vera in lead roles addresses corruption and the relationship between the civilian population, drug barons, police, and politics as controversial issues surrounding the "war on drugs" which is currently propagated in the Philippines. But first and foremost, the movie is an action movie with little storyline, lots of blood and plenty of Kali techniques. The film was described as a 'zombie movie without zombies'.

In recent years, Kali techniques were quite often seen in the action scenes of well-known movies. However, the origin of those techniques have rarely been pointed out. The Filipino martial arts scene hopes Buy Bust will push the Philippine film industry as well as the long-overdue public recognition for Filipino martial arts in the film industry. The film was featured at film festivals in the US and Kanda. It was said that the movie would soon be seen on Netflix. Time will tell if the movie with all the stars and Filipino Martial Arts will attract interest outside the Filipino Martial Arts community and become the expected blockbuster.


Of course, Kali training sessions were also on the program. Every wednesday the Kali Katipunan Group (Pekiti Tirsia) of Tuhon Mick and Tuhon Jay meets at the JCI Corporate Center in Cubao. Although the training ground is only about 25 km from my location in Manila, the extremely dense traffic in Manila causes a nearly three hours travel time to get there. Tuhon Jay kindly met me halfway in the Powerplant Mall and drove me in his car to the training location in Cubao. Once there, it was a reunion with many old friends and also many new faces to get to know.

Before training, Likha Maharlika surprised me with a set of beautiful hand-made Maharlika training knives. The knives are marked with Baybayin characters for respect, care, inner self, hospitality, good sense, memory, gratitude & forgiveness.

I was asked to lead the training, which I did teaming up with Tuhon Jay. As expected, it was a harmonious Kali Jamming of two Tuhons with a lot of positive energy.


In the second week of my stay Thomas Müller arrived from Germany. Thomas has trained Kali with me for over 20 years. He holds the rank of Maginoo Mandala in Pekiti Tirsia Kali and directs the Kali group in Osnabrück. That Thomas would spend a week with my family and me in the Philippines was planned very shortly before our trip to Philippines: during a conversation Thomas mentioned, that although he had participated in several training camps staged on remote islands in the Philippines, he really would like to experience normal training and family life in the Philippines. When I spontaneously offered him an opportunity, he did not hesitate long and made his preparations to visit me and my family in the Philippines.

His travel was adventurous and when I finally welcomed Thomas at the international airport in Manila, he had quite some stories to tell. How much Thomas values his training, became obvious when he, despite his exhausting journey and jet lag, showed next day right away to participate in my regular early morning workout.


The scheduled afternoon workout with a Kali group in Manila was canceled due to heavy rain. At the suggestion of my Filipino friends, we went to the Manila World Trade Center's History Convention instead.

The History Convention is a fair for film and entertainment - and there was plenty of it: Thomas and I met the Filipino national hero Lapu Lapu alongside the legendary warrior princess Urduha. Wonderwoman and Spiderman were also available for a chat. Thomas took pleasure in the experience of getting a haircut in a classic filipino barbershop. And there were countless of weapons: in a connected hall all kinds of modern weapons – from small knives and hunting bows, to machine guns and remote-controlled IED clearing robots – were not only shown, but also available to be touched and sometimes even to try out. It was really exciting!

But for us the real highlight of the H-Con was that the event also included the classic Filipino Martial Arts. In addition to commercial stands, where all sorts of protective clothing, exercise equipment and modern and older bladed weapons could be tested and purchased, the H-Con also featured a multi-day knife tournament, Juego Todo fights and Filipino show-wrestling.


One exciting part of the H-Con was a full fledged Juego Todo tournament. Modern Juego Todo is an attempt to find a media-effective form of competition for the Filipino martial arts, that will enable a tournament scene for professional athletes.

In the past, Juego Todo ('everything allowed') matches were duelling fights in which two FMA practitioners faced each other with more or less clear rules to determine which one was better. Sometimes such fights were called death matches. The modern Juego Todo battles take place in a cage. It is fought in three rounds with different kind of weaponry. The first round is double stick, the second single stick. Kicks are allowed, a stick loss is counted like a knockdown in boxing. The third round is fought with the weapons of the body and follows MMA rules. While in the third round only light MMA gloves are worn, in the first two rounds helmet and protective gloves are worn. The modern Juego Todo uses padded sticks instead of rattan sticks or even iron wood, as it was often used in the old time Juego Todo matches. The padded sticks and the protection worn in the tournament affected combat tactics and results greatly to the disadvantage of the weapons experts. For the winners a considerable prize money was offered. The fights were conducted with reasonable severity and fairness. The fighters definitely deserve respect for their fighting spirit and performance.


The H-Con also featured a big knife tournament. The tournament lasted over three days. It was scored by three referees with electronic scoring. Padded knives were used and the fights were interrupted for scoring after the first hit. The rules favoured daring attack tactics: for example dives to the legs were often observed. Tuhon Mick from Pekiti Tirsia Kali Katipunan was one of the referees and the Pekiti Tirsia practitioners from Manila participated in the tournament with a demonstration.

The following week, Tuhon Mick celebrated his birthday. Mandala Thomas and I were invited to the party. It was a special honour for us to be asked to conduct the Kali training this evening. After the training there was a birthday party with many Filipino treats.



An important stop on our trip was a visit to a nursery school in Calauan, Laguna (about 100 km southwest of Manila), which we support with donations. Many of the families living there had lost everything due to the extremely destructive typhoon Yolanda / Haiyan in 2013 and were forced to move to Calauan. If the nursery school did not exist, the parents of the children could not work or the older siblings could not go to school. Our support helps with the payment of a teacher, as well as with the operating costs and also with the procurement of crafting materials and toys for the kids. The nursery school helps the families to rebuild a future. The outreach to the nursery school was also an important factor for Thomas decision to travel to the Philippines again.


When the sports teachers and the school management of the Integrated High School in Sto Tomas heard that Kali experts from Europe would be nearby, we were invited to train the sports group and the sports teachers of the school.

Since the year 2009 Arnis (Kali, Eskrima) became by law the national sport and martial arts of the Philippines. It should be taught at all high schools. Unfortunately, the physical education teachers in the schools are often poorly qualified. Even training sticks are lacking.

We accepted the invitation from the high school with pleasure. Pupils and teachers were very interested in the training and participated with commitment. The school management was also enthusiastic and requested a repetition of the event.

Next time, we will make sure sticks are available in sufficient numbers. Also, the interest in Armadong Kali shirts was tremendous.


Early on during our Kali training for the Sto Tomas IHS, it was noticeable that a few young people stood out from the group due to their advanced skills in martial arts. In the further course it turned out that these were students of Arnis veteran Amado. Manong Amado graced the event with his presence and observed our activity first with suspicion and later with benevolence. He later told us, that he was a blackbelter in martial arts back in the 1960s. He further explained what Arnis means to him and shared some incidents when he had to prove his abilities in battles. He teaches his students a mix of Arnis, Combat Judo (as he calls the unarmed Arnis Defense), Taekwondo, and other martial arts. Because his students were well advanced compared to the other participants in higher education programs, Thomas and I split up the practical training: Thomas taught the teachers and students of the college while I took care of the advanced students.


On our trip to Laguna we were able to make a detour to the Batangas region and visit Barangay Balisong. This village is well known for being the origin place of the legendary Philippine butterfly knives (also known as balisong knives). Even these days, there are still a few blacksmiths with street shops in the Barangay, where all kinds of utility blades and of course the legendary butterfly knives can be admired and bought. For those interested in FMA and Filipino blades always worth a visit!


One of the top wishes of Thomas was meeting Manong Olavides. Manong Olavides is one of the few master students of Jose D. Caballero, the grandmaster of the Uno Dos Tres De Campo system, who is well known for his documented duel fights.

Manong Olavides does not seek publicity and is very selective about who he wants to teach. I have known Manong Olavides for 14 years now, but it was not easy to make an appointment for Thomas and myself. When we finally arrived at Manong Olavides house, we got a very warm welcome and deep insights into the mindset and life of a master of Filipino martial arts. It was enlightening and inspiring at the same time! I was particularly moved by Manong Olavides description of grand master Jose D Caballero as an understanding, paternal teacher, who was so closely aligned with his individual students, that he always knew when they had trained between sessions and when not.


There was ample opportunity to meet with old and new friends and for getting new insights about Filipino martial arts in particular, as well as the Filipino culture and way of life in general. In our martial arts association, we share the positive aspects of Filipino martial arts and lifestyles with interested people in the western world, and we also ensure that the Filipinos in their homeland can feel our appreciation and benefit from it. Particularly interesting for me on this trip were the narrations of my wife's grandmother. She told us about her father, who survived the infamous death march in World War II and later became a Chief Investigator of the Philippine Police. She shared her memories how the great-grandfather ran an Arnis and Combat Judo school, how she helped him at school, and how her father was respected for his skills. Her first born son – my wife's father – was also a respected Arnisador and Karate master. For the future, I have set out to study the history of my Philippine family more closely. As a conclusion for my family and me I can say: we all had a nice and educational time in the Philippines and we are looking forward to our next trip to the home of Filipino martial arts.

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