About Reading Academy Kali Eskrima
The Reading Academy of Wing Chun & Kali is an independent martial arts school founded in August 1992, and Kritsa Kwoon in Greece founded in May 2014 by Loukas Kastrounis. Since then, they have grown into intensive independent schools with a very high reputation in the UK and in the world.
Loukas has studied the Kali Eskrima/JDK system at "The Basement" in London under the guidance of Sifu Nino Bernardo and Dan Inosanto. Sifu Nino Bernardo learnt the Kali system from Dan Inosanto, a closed student of Bruce Lee.
Kali Eskrima is a Filipino martial art that emphasizes stick and blade fighting. The word "Kali" refers to a type of bladed weapon and the word "Eskrima" is derived from the Spanish esgrima (fencing). Eskrima and Arnis de Mano are terms commonly used to refer to all of the Filipino martial arts taught in the west today.
A common misconception is that Kali Eskrima is only a sword, stick or dagger art. The stick, which represents any type of weapon and the empty hand itself, is a tool through which the practitioner learns the basic concepts of the Kali Eskrima system. Therefore, Kali Eskrima (as taught by Loukas Kastrounis at the Reading Academy and at Kritsa Kwoon) is a complete system based on concepts rather than techniques or specific weapons - it includes empty hands, swords, sticks, clubs, staffs, lances, knives, projectile weapons, the cane art, newspaper art, shoes art, chair art, wrist (fan) art, and so on.
Kali Eskrima teaches the student the concepts, strategies, and techniques of the weapon first before the concurrent empty hand skills. This familiarizes the student with the threat that a weapon poses and the practical reactions that are required in a serious situation where a weapon is being used or avoided.
A weapon has no bones, no skin, and feels no pain. Kali Eskrima teaches a person to use any available objects as a weapon by emphasising basic and logical concepts in the use of weapons - balance, timing, distance, speed, focus, and flow.
- BALANCE -This is the foundation of the Kali Eskrima system. Developing a balanced structure, recognizing when you are off-balance, and the ability to recover your balance are of fundamental importance and provide the base upon which other concepts are built.
- TIMING, DISTANCE, SPEED - These inter-related factors determine whether you can hit or be hit by an attacker.
- FOCUS - Focusing your awareness on the entirety of your surroundings and not simply the most prominent threat. To be aware of the other hand, the other foot, the next threat.
- FLOW - Not to apply rigid techniques but to let the techniques flow from within you with no pauses or conscious thought
The Kali Eskrima taught at the Reading Academy uses techniques to practice and reveal the concepts of the system. The focus on concepts increases the rate of learning, the retention of information, the flexibility and adaptability of the students, and the freedom from fixed ways.
Wing Chun kung fu and Filipino fighting arts were made popular in the western world by kung fu film star Bruce Lee. He taught Guru Dan Inosantao his kung fu system Jeet Kune Do (the way of the intercepting fist) that he had developed from his experiences with Wing Chun. Equally, Guru Dan Inosanto taught Bruce Lee some of the stick and empty-hand methods of Eskrima which gradually incorporated themselves into the approach of Jeet Kune Do. Many other good teachers of Wing Chun and Eskrima came to the USA & Europe but without Bruce Lee's association with these two systems it is doubtful that they would have become as popular as they have.
Kali Eskrima Training
When you start training Kali Eskrima you learn how to deal with various weapons including a single wooden stick, double sticks, knife/dagger, stick and knife, sword or long stick.
You learn to recognize the different approach between the empty hands and weapons fighting, and of course how unwise it is to fight against someone who is holding a weapon when you are not.
You also learn to understand the difference between armed and unarmed distances and timing. You have to sacrifice the power for the speed - the sticks or the knives have power on their own. One mistake and that can be a fatal one. The coordination for this type of training has to be of a very high level, while remaining mentally alert as well.
Kali Eskrima also teaches you to use both hands equally. It offers an enjoyable cardiovascular training, as well as a good understanding about weapons and how to deal with them. The training includes a good variation of kicks, and a lot of good fun.
It is strongly recommended as a good supplement to Wing Chun.