Browsing through Filipino martial arts (FMA) videos on the Internet, one may stumble upon the videos of “kalisong1”, the YouTube handle of Douglas Marcaida whose posts consist of skilful demonstrations using tomahawks and karambits, as well as improvised weapons such as scarves and hammers.
But Kuya Doug is not just about flair. The United States Air Force veteran and edged-impact weapons specialist has worked with elite military groups in the world, teaching FMA-based combatives.
Despite the popularity enjoyed by the art among foreign armed forces, Kuya Doug laments how it is still viewed as baduy or low class in its country of origin. In an interview with Fight Times’ Kuya Doug talks about the global impact of FMA and why Pinoys should care.
FIGHT Times: Why did you choose to study FMA?
Douglas Marcaida: When I lived in the Philippines I studied everything except FMA. I was guilty of colonial mentality in thinking that everything in the West was better. When I moved to the United States and joined the Air Force I came across some Americans who were studying Filipino martial arts and I fell in love. It was beautifully ironic.
FT: What is your teaching method? What are the most important lessons you wish to impart to your students?
DM: Kali is very much an art of killing. The goal is not to score points or to submit an opponent. The purpose of the kali warrior is to defend the lives of loved ones, and to take the lives of the enemy. My students are taught to treat the blade as they would the gun. They are taught to explore the harsh possibilities of combat. They are taught to accept that their mind is the weapon therefore, like any weapon, it must be maintained to operate efficiently when it is time to use it.
FT: What impact has FMA made in the martial arts community?
DM: The impact of FMA is seen in the battlefield and in unpermissive environments. Special Forces and other elite combat units have adopted kali as the definitive weapons manipulation art. The impact of FMA is most evident within the international tactical combatives community. I encourage all Filipinos to visit ”YouTube.com/FunkerTactical to witness just how prestigious and important our cultural gift is to the world.
FT: In your observation, how has the popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) and grappling influenced the way FMA is viewed and taught?
DM: The popularity of MMA has done amazing things for open-hand combative arts because people see the validity of tactics within a sporting arena. Front kick to the face knocks out Vitor Belfort and we see a spike in karate enrolment. There is money and fame to be made in sports. I love MMA as a beautiful distraction but it has admittedly drawn a veil around the importance of studying practical combative arts such as FMA.
FT: How significant is FMA among law enforcement officers and military personnel worldwide?
DM: I am a military contractor who teaches our art to international Special Forces, security and police units. I have students whose lives were saved because of kali. It is an amazing realization to understand that something our ancestors created are now being utilized to save lives all over the world. Think about that. Our ancestors are defending modern warriors from harm. Ang ganda talaga [It’s beautiful].
FT: Which law enforcement/military units have you worked with? What was their reaction after being introduced to FMA?
DM: I have worked with US Force Recon Marines, Spetsnaz Unit Alpha and the Belgian Special Police to name a few. When people depend on a set of tactics to potentially save their lives they become cautiously sceptical until they critically analyze what they are being taught and accept it as part of their skill sets. It helps that there are countless stories of how kali principles have actually played out in theater (combat) and this helps a lot.
FT: How can the Philippines benefit from the popularity of FMA? What efforts should be done to promote it in its own soil and abroad?
DM: Filipinos need to realize that the entire world holds kali with prestige and honor. But this isn’t the case back home, is it? You see all these prestigious karate and tae kwon do academies with massive followings, while ignoring kali/eskrima/arnis masters who teach in backyards and alleyways. What a shame.
Kali is one of the greatest cultural exports that the Philippines has contributed to the world.
Be proud. Take lessons. Support it. Love it. Treat it with respect and admiration.
Colonial mentality has to go away. This is something that we as a people have created and gifted to the world. Our masters are slowly dying and disappearing into obscurity. Let us honor and preserve their spirit before time takes that opportunity from us.
FT: What can civilians gain from taking up FMA?
DM: Kali can save your life. Simple as that.