Kamatuuran Kali

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Tuhan Joseph Arriola & Vagelis Zorbas

Tuhan Joseph Arriola & Vagelis Zorbas


Kamatuuran Kali


Ο Tuhan Joseph Arriola ήταν προσωπικός μαθητής του θρυλικού Ben Largusa (Villabrille/Largusa Kali) και συνεχιστής αυτής της τεχνοτροπίαςΤα 3 πιό σημαντικά Φιλιππινέζικα μαχητικά συστήματα Villabrille, Largusa και Illustrisimo επηρέασαν καταλυτικά την εξέλιξη της τεχνοτροπίας όλων των σύγχρονων FMA - Filipino Martial Arts.

Tuhan Joseph T. Oliva ArriolaΗ Ακαδημία διοργάνωσε σεμινάριο της Φιλιππινέζικης πολεμικής τέχνης Kamatuuran Kali με τον Tuhan Joseph Arriola την Πέμπτη 19 Απριλίου 2007. Το σεμινάριο ήταν επικεντρωμένο σε τεχνικές με ραβδιά, μονό βαρύ ραβδί, μαχαίρι, σημεία πιέσεως και λαβές.


Η Gura Michelle Bautista εξασκείται στην τέχνη από το 1994 με τον Tuhan Joseph Arriola. Η Ακαδημία διοργάνωσε σεμινάριο της Φιλιππινέζικης πολεμικής τέχνης Kamatuuran Kali με την εκπαιδεύτρια Michelle Bautista από τις ΗΠΑ την Παρασκευή 09 Μαίου 2014.


Tuhan Joseph Arriola was a personal student of the legendary Ben Largusa (Villabrille/Largusa Kali) and continuator of this legacy.  The 3 most important Filipino fighting systems Villabrille, Largusa and Illustrisimo influenced catalytically the technical development of all the modern FMA - Filipino Martial Arts. 


The Academy organized seminar of the Filipino Martial Art Kamatuuran Kali with the Tuhan Joseph Arriola from USA, Thursday 19 April 2007.  The seminar was concentrated in techniques with sticks, heavy single stick, knife, pressure points and joint locks.


Gura Michelle Bautista has been training in the School of Kamatuuran Kali since 1994 under Tuhan Joseph Arriola. She has done Kali demonstrations and lectures throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including at SF State, Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists Bay Area Demo, Arkipelago Books, and EBMud Asian Pacific Heritage Celebration.

She received 2nd place in the US national women open forms division at the WEKAF (World Escrima Kali Arnis Federation) championships and 3rd place in the international competition held in Cebu City, Philippines in August 2000.


The Academy organized seminar of the Filipino Martial Art Kamatuuran Kali with the instructor Michelle Bautista from USA, Friday 09 May 2014.


The word "Kamatuuran" (pronounced Kah-mah-too-oo-rahn) is a Visayan word meaning "truth"...

Though each of us seeks our own truths, we come together in this school to help each other uncover these truths we are looking for...


Floro Villabrille Espada Y DagaFloro Villabrille

(by Dan Inosanto – The Filipino Martial Arts 1980)

In all of the Filipino martial arts, one names keeps surfacing with great reverence and awe. That name is Floro Villabrille. He is the undefeated champion in countless Escrima and Kali matches in the Philippines and in Hawaii. Escrima stick fighting matches were full-contact bouts without the aid of armor, which resulted in death or permanent injury to the participants. They usually used the stick in the right hand and punched with the left hand. The use of the elbow, knee and head were common at close range combat. Combat grappling like techniques (standing or on the ground) were applied. These included throws, trips, sweeps, take down, chokes, strangulation, dislocations and locks on the fingers, wrists, elbows shoulders, ankles and knees. The feet were used for kicking at the low level. It was a brutal art and only the swiftest, the strongest and the most courageous survived or remained in practice. The rounds were two minutes with one minute rests in between.

One instructor said, “I am very good, but Floro Villabrille is way out of my class; but then again, he is way out of everyone’s class. Floro can beat you with his brain and guts.”

In Dec
ember of 1977 my Publisher visited Mr. Villabrille at his home on Kauai, Hawaii where he spoke of his special training. “Before a fight I go to mountains alone. I pretend my enemy is there. I imagine being attacked and in my imagination I fight for real. I keep this up until my mind is ready for the kill. I can’t lose. When I enter the ring nobody can beat me already. I already know that man is beaten. In 1948 my wife was at the fight. I tell her ‘no worry, I can’t lose.” Anything you do, even go to school or find a job…in the morning you make a prayer. I want to do this, I got to do it. Walk around and work on your mind. And you will do it.” Some people feel his life is charmed and that he has the power of Anting-Anting – a magical charm that gives a person super natural strength.

Floro Villabrille started his training at the age of 14. He traveled the length and width of the Philippines researching the art of Kali and studied under many different instructors. His favorite instructor was a female; a blind princess named Josephina. To reach this blind princess, he had to travel many inaccessible trails, finally reaching a village called Gundari on the island of Samar. He stayed in this village for a long time not learning any Kali but just doing menial tasks as cleaning up. Finally he was allowed to practice the art. He states that he doesn’t know how the princess saw the blows, but he contends that she was one of his best instructors. After training there for some time, he comes down from the village and competes. While competing in a match and winning, he is approached by a man who asks him where he learned that style. Villabrille tells him that he learned it in the village Gundari on the Island of Samar. The man tells him that is impossible for the village is inaccessible to travel and that he couldn’t possibly have reached the village because he was from there. When Villabrille tells him about the blind princess, he realizes that he is telling the truth and starts to cry and embrace him.

At the age 18, Villabrille was working on a ship when his training partner, Dison, telegrammed him to fight a young Moro stick fighter. Dison was a great stick fighter in his own right, but had previously lost to the Moro stick fighter. When Villabrille arrived in the Philippines he was met by his friends. They told him that the Moro fighter was just too fast and too good and that he should cancel out. Villabrille stubbornly refused to back out of the match. According to Villabrille, the Moro was much faster than he was and probably the fastest man he ever met. On sheer guts and determination, Villabrille trades blow for blow and finally wins the match in the fifth round. For several weeks after the match, Villabrille couldn’t raise his arms above his head because of the blows he had received while trying to block. Villabrille now feels that if the combat had been with swords, the Moro fighter would have probably won. He competed in 1933, 34, 35, 36 and then the matches were stopped, until 1948, when his last match took place.

Villabrille pooled all the knowledge from all the sources he came across and developed his own system of combat. That is the Villabrille System of Kali, which is a composite of all the styles of the Islands.

Villabrille has an award, a certificate and diploma signed by General Frank Murphy, then Governor of the Philippines. The certificate states that he had won the Grand Championship of the Philippines, thus making him the Grandmaster of that country. In the Cebu Municipal Museum they have a giant picture of Lapu-Lapu, the man who killed Magellan. Next in size is the certificate and picture of Grandmaster Floro Villabrille.


Ben LargusaBen Largusa

(by Dan Inosanto – The Filipino Martial Arts 1980)

Ben Largusa separates himself from the title of Eskrima master. He is a man of Kali, the older Filipino art. Kali is the source from which all Escrima styles developed.

“Escrima, Arnis, Sikaran, Silat, Kuntao, Kaliradman, Kalirongan an Pagkalikali are all phases of Kali,” says Largusa, “but Kali is the mother or ancestral art. These phases are all part of our training.”

“Ben Largusa is a master because of his skill and knowledge,” says Dan Inosanto. “If you don’t know him, it’s hard to draw anything personal out of him, but movement wise – can’t touch him.”

Largusa gets his movement from his instructor, Floro Villabrille, the most commonly repeated name among the Escrimadors in Stockton. Villabrille lives in Hawaii and Largusa, who was born on Kauai, studied under him for six unbroken years in the fifties. He has maintained contact with him to become his foremost protégé.

Largusa now has a school in South San Francisco with a system of ranking and a curriculum that is geared to span three years. If the student is active and learns what he is taught, he may then qualify to teach. According to Largusa, it is the first time Kali has been organized commercially and the school has Villabrille’s blessing.

A class in Kali at Largusa’s school begins with “Orascion” or meditation and a kind of non-partisan prayer. Largusa makes a point of saying that neither the prayer nor the meditation are used to teach any brand of religion.

“I just teach the basics and they communicate whatever they want,” he says. “If you’re a Christian, they you communicate with the heavenly Father. If you’re not a Christian, then you communicate with whatever you believe, supernatural spirit or spirit of light. It is the spirit of giving that is exercised in this meditation. You have to be humble. You have to give before you can take, especially when you train.”

After the orascion, beginners learn the 12 basic movements of Kali with a stick in each hand. Then they learn five variations or styles to each of those movements: “Numerado” style for infighting, “Literada” {otherwise called riterada or retreating style} for outside fighting, “Sumbrada” which is a fast-paced counter for counter style, and “Fraile” and “Cabisedario” that are combinations of the previous styles. The double sticks may be round or flattened to resemble a sword. The flattened sticks serve as a reminder that Kali is adaptable to any kind of weapon, bladed or blunted, and one edge of the flattened stick is used like a blade. Using a stick in each hand helps the student develop his weak side by immediately relating it to the movements of his strong side. He in effect becomes ambidextrous with his weapons and by shortening his weapon, he soon learns that the art works just as well empty-handed. All in all, the training not only makes the person ambidextrous in terms of hand movements, but in terms of weaponry as well.

The Kali people often use the circle to organize their hand and foot movements. A defending Kali man, for instance, may step around his opponent to position himself in “safety zones.” These safety zones are places where the opponent has either not had time to gain momentum in his strike, a zone that would jam his strike before it begins, or where his strike has reached the end of its motion.

The end of every movement in Kali is the beginning of another movement. “DeCadena” or chain-like movements where each is connected to the next is what gives Kali its fluidity.

According to Largusa’s descriptions, the basic concepts of defense in Kali have three elements: the parry, the safety factor and the killing blow. The parry is the motion that deflects the opponent’s strike. The safety factor is the checking motion that holds the opponent’s striking hand in place after a strike has been deflected. The killing blow is the counterstrike, but it may occur after the parry and safety factor or during either one. The Kali men train to be able to insert the killing blow or counterstrike at any time in the clash.

“Killing blow” may be a misnomer because, according to Largusa, the ultimate philosophy in Kali (at least as he practices it) is to discourage, not injure, and to spare life, not take it.

“If we wanted to kill the person,” says Largusa, “if we were convinced that our lives were threatened, then we would go to the vital area, the head, to the mind or its supporters, the lung or heart. But the ultimate in Kali training is when you can spare a man’s life. Only then have you learned the purpose of Kali training.”

“A rattlesnake can kill, right? If you take off the fangs, it still looks deadly, but it cannot kill. In Kali,” says Largusa, “a hand is considered a fang. If you take away the hands , it cannot pick up a gun or a weapon and kill you. People who are not familiar with Kali see us strike to the hands and say it’s not deadly, but they don’t realize until they learn Kali how deadly it is and why we strike to the hands.”

While explaining his concept of training the students to strike the hand, Largusa also demonstrates how easily the target may be adjusted when necessary. Since the hand is smaller and more elusive than the head or body, it would seem that training against the hand for a target would only sharpen a student’s accuracy. In incidents such as defending against a nunchaku with a stick, the hands actually move much slower than the weapon and, therefore, are easier to hit. Seeing the kind of speed possible in both Escrima and Kali, some might wonder if trying to follow the hand wouldn’t be dangerous thing to do in any kind of combat. How so you follow five strikes that take place almost simultaneously if you’re trying to follow them each time? This is where Largusa brings out the concept of the rhythm triangles in Kali.

“It has been proven in boxing,” he says, “that the hands are faster than the eye. If you shoot six darts at me at once, I can’t defend against each one, so I treat them as one dart. If you throw three of four punches at me fast, I treat them as one punch. They are only one point of your rhythm triangle. Once you understand the theory of the rhythm triangle, you can understand these movements.”

The triangle, like the circle, is a key to understanding Kali. The rhythm triangle is pictures with the mind at the top of the triangle and the hands feet at the other two corners. Knock out any one of them and you’ve seriously hampered, if not completely negated the opponent’s ability to fight. The mind here is at the top because it affects both the hands and feet.

Another example of the triangle explaining a principle of Kali is the “internal triangle.”

“The internal triangle is pictured like the rhythm triangle,” says Largusa. “The mind is at the top. On one side is ‘ki,’ the seat of internal strength, and on the other side is the point of contact. If you hit the back of the feet, the ki will weaken. Like the old saying, kill the bark and the tree will die. This is the same process.

“Without this spiritual and mental aspect one moves mechanical, like a robot, no feeling and no meaning. Orascion {meditation} is very important because it makes the mind stronger. It develops the fighting spirit, what we call plain old ‘guts.’ Now with Kali spiritual training, one doesn’t have to be born with guts, it can be developed.”

The highest level of Kali training then would be the universal triangle. Here the supernatural spirit is at the top, communicated with by orascion. The practitioner and his opponent are on the bottom corners.

Supernatural spirits, sticks and blades, fighting with weapons and empty hands – all of this leads to the inevitable question, always asked off to the side. Does anyone ever get hurt? Largusa says he has never received any injury in all his years of training. They keep injuries at a minimum in his school by teaching “slow training,” a theory related to the yin and yang of Kung Fu or Karate.

“Our philosophy,” he says, “is soft but hard, hard but soft. When you train slowly, speed comes automatically. With soft training, hardness comes automatically. We have very slow training in the beginning so they can correct the finer points and develop finesse. When we go fast, we use either the light rattan stick or the plastic baseball bat and go to the non-vital areas such as the trunk and between the joints to prevent injuries.”

Largusa’s school now has just under 40 students who are slowly working their way up the ladder of the ranks. When they’re ready for a promotion, Largusa gives them a test. The test includes “sayaw,” the dance form that kept Escrima and Kali hidden from the Spaniards in the Philippines. Largusa teaches 20 or more sayaws that the students are supposed to be at random either to the beat of a drum or with their own imagined rhythm. Within the sayaws are the 12 basic movements of Kali as well as all the defensive movements, counters, strikes and footwork patterns.

He also teaches sets, similar to Kata in Karate but labels them into two categories: planned and freestyle. The planned set is as it sounds with the movements planned in sequence, mainly for the beginners. The freestyle set, However, employs anything the student has learned and is more similar to shadowboxing.

All considered, Largusa’s school is probably the most organized and commercial Filipino arts academy found in the United States. To some Escrimadors, commercializing a school for the public use means that the art is being watered down and “frozen” to keep it organized and palpable to the public consumption. But people who have seen Largusa’s students work, and particularly Largusa himself, always seem to come to the same conclusion: “You can’t hit ‘em with a 10-foot pole.” That’s got to say something.

Journeys Within The Princess Arisen

Journeys Within The Princess Arisen


Tuhan Joseph Arriola was also author of the fiction-fantasy book "Journeys Within The Princess Arisen", to purchase it click here.



Gura Michelle Bautista & Vagelis Zorbas

Gura Michelle Bautista & Vagelis Zorbas

“I do not need the 1000 students or the 1000 schools. All I need, is the 1 loyal student, who has trained long and hard, and has completely mastered this system, to carry this system into the coming centuries. There is no compromise.” “The more thorough ones knowledge becomes, the more diligently one practices, will one day allow one, to cross the threshold, where fear will be held in check, by his trust in the system and confidence in his training.” Floro Villabrille

Ben Largusa

Ben Largusa


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Kamatuuran Kali