Kalis: The Weapon-Based Filipino Martial Art

Welcome to my article on Kalis, a fascinating Filipino martial art that is deeply rooted in Filipino culture. Known for its emphasis on bladed weapons and self-defense techniques, Kalis offers a comprehensive system of training in knife fighting, stick fighting, and sword fighting.

Kalis is a type of Philippine sword used in the Filipino martial art known as Kali or Eskrima. It is a weapon-based martial art that focuses on the use of bladed weapons, including knives, sticks, and swords. The techniques taught in Kali encompass various forms of bladed weapon techniques, making it a valuable skill for both martial arts enthusiasts and those looking to learn practical self-defense techniques.

Not only does Kalis provide effective self-defense techniques, but it also offers a unique glimpse into Filipino culture and history. The art of Kalis has its origins in the 13th century, with its predecessor, the keris, originating in Java, Indonesia. Over time, the keris migrated to the Philippines and evolved into the Kalis, influenced by Filipino culture and the techniques of the Moro people. Today, Kalis remains an important aspect of traditional martial arts training in the Philippines.

Throughout this article, we will explore the history, description, usage, and variants of Kalis, delving into its physical attributes and cultural significance. Join me as we uncover the intricacies of this fascinating martial art and its impact on Filipino culture.

Key Takeaways:

  • Kalis is a Filipino martial art that focuses on bladed weapon techniques, including knife fighting, stick fighting, and sword fighting.
  • Kalis is deeply rooted in Filipino culture and offers insights into the country’s history and traditions.
  • The origin of Kalis can be traced back to the keris, a blade from Java, Indonesia, which migrated to the Philippines.
  • Kalis is characterized by its double-edged blade and is designed for both chopping and slicing cuts.
  • There are various variants of Kalis, including the balisong and punyal, which are Filipino daggers.

History of Kalis

Kalis, the Filipino sword used in the martial art of Kali or Eskrima, has a fascinating history that dates back to its predecessor, the keris. The keris, a traditional Indonesian weapon, first appeared in Java in the 13th century. Over time, the keris made its way to the Philippines, where it underwent significant development and evolved into the Kalis. The influence of Indonesian culture is evident in the design and techniques of Kalis, showcasing the rich exchange of ideas and martial arts practices between the two cultures.

Among the Filipino people, the Moro groups, such as the Sama, Maguindanao, Maranao, and Tausug, were known for their skilled use of Kalis. They incorporated the sword into their martial arts repertoire, using it in battle as a formidable weapon. This historical connection between the Moro people and Kalis further highlights the cultural significance and practicality of the sword in Filipino martial arts.

Throughout history, Kalis has played a vital role in combat and self-defense, demonstrating its effectiveness as a bladed weapon. Its journey from Indonesia to the Philippines and its usage by different Filipino groups illustrate the resilience and adaptability of this unique Filipino sword. Today, Kalis continues to be revered as a symbol of Filipino heritage and a testament to the ingenuity and artistry of Filipino martial arts.

Table: Influences on the History of Kalis
Indonesian Influence Moro People
13th-century keris in Java, Indonesia Sama

Description of Kalis

Kalis is a unique Filipino sword that is characterized by its double-edged blade and wavy section. The blade is typically straight from the tip but features a distinctive wavy pattern near the handle. This design is believed to have been influenced by the Javanese keris, a dagger from Indonesia. The wavy section of the Kalis blade serves a practical purpose in battle, allowing for easier slashing and maneuvering of the sword.

The Kalis is primarily designed as a slashing weapon, differentiating it from other types of bladed weapons. It is larger than the Javanese keris and is capable of delivering powerful chopping and slicing cuts. The double-edged blade of the Kalis provides versatility in combat and makes it a formidable weapon in the hands of a skilled practitioner.

“Kalis is known for its elegant design and traditional craftsmanship.”

The craftsmanship of the Kalis is highly revered, with skilled artisans incorporating intricate details into the blade, guard, hilt, and scabbard. The sword is typically crafted with a wide range of materials, including wood, ivory, and various types of hardwood. The hilt of the Kalis can be straight or slightly curved, with various pommel variations that add to its aesthetic appeal. The scabbard, traditionally made of hardwood, is held together by rattan bindings, showcasing the meticulous craftsmanship involved in creating this weapon.

Overall, the Kalis is a visually striking weapon that combines both form and function. Its unique design and historical significance make it an essential part of Filipino martial arts and a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines.

Table: Key Features of Kalis

Blade Design Double-edged with a wavy section
Primary Use Slashing weapon
Blade Length Typically 18 to 26 inches
Materials Wood, ivory, and various types of hardwood for the hilt and scabbard
Hilt Design Straight or slightly curved with various pommel variations

Specifications of Kalis

Kalis, the Filipino martial art, is characterized by its unique type of sword. Understanding the specifications of Kalis is essential for martial arts practitioners and enthusiasts alike. Let’s explore the key specifications of this traditional weapon.

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Blade Length

The blade length of Kalis typically ranges from 46 to 66 centimeters (18 to 26 inches). The length can vary depending on the specific design and purpose of the sword. The longer blades are often used for wider slashing movements, while shorter blades allow for more precise and controlled strikes.

Hilt Type

The hilt of Kalis can have different variations, offering practitioners options for their preferred grip. Traditionally, the hilt is made of wood or ivory, providing a durable and comfortable handle. The shape of the hilt can vary, from straight to slightly curved, allowing for different hand positions and maneuverability.

Scabbard Material

The scabbard, which houses and protects the Kalis blade, is typically made of wood. Hardwoods like mahogany, teak, or narra are commonly used for their durability and resistance to wear. The scabbard is often held together with rattan bindings, ensuring a secure fit while adding to the overall aesthetic of the weapon.

Understanding the specifications of Kalis provides a deeper appreciation for this Filipino martial art and its unique weapon. From the blade length to the hilt type and scabbard material, each element contributes to the overall functionality and beauty of Kalis.

Usage of Kalis

Kalis usage

In the Philippines, Kalis was widely used by the Moro people, including the Sama, Maguindanao, Maranao, and Tausug, as a weapon in battle. It was also utilized by the Tagalog people. The sword’s versatility and effectiveness made it a popular choice for self-defense and combat situations. The techniques and skills associated with Kalis were passed down through generations, highlighting its significance in the martial arts training of these communities.

Notably, Kalis is not limited to being just a weapon. It also has a variant known as the gunong or punyal, which serves as a utility knife and a weapon of last resort. The gunong is a concealed dagger that can be easily hidden in clothing, making it a discreet self-defense tool. Its design allows for quick access and efficient use in close-quarters combat situations.

Overall, Kalis has played a crucial role in the lives of the Moro and Tagalog people, serving as both an effective weapon and a versatile utility knife for self-defense.

Moro People and Kalis

The Moro people, who reside in the southern part of the Philippines, have a deep connection with Kalis. The sword is a symbol of their cultural identity and a reflection of their martial heritage. For centuries, the Moro people have honed their skills in the art of Kalis, integrating it into their way of life and combat systems.

Tagalog People and Kalis

The Tagalog people, who are the largest ethnic group in the Philippines, also embraced the use of Kalis. They recognized its effectiveness as a self-defense weapon and incorporated it into their martial arts practices. The Tagalog people further contributed to the development and refinement of Kalis techniques, adding their own unique style and interpretation to the art.

The Significance of Kalis as a Self-Defense Weapon

Kalis is more than just a weapon; it is a reflection of Filipino martial culture and the spirit of self-defense. Its versatility, effectiveness, and cultural significance have made it an integral part of Filipino martial arts heritage. Whether used by the Moro or Tagalog people, Kalis embodies the resilience, skill, and determination of the Filipino people in their pursuit of self-defense and martial excellence.

Influence of Kalis in Indonesia

Kalis, the Filipino martial art and weapon-based martial art, has had a significant influence in Indonesia. The design and techniques of Kalis have impacted Indonesian weapons, particularly the Sundang or Keris Sulu. While the Filipino version of Kalis is larger and heavier, the influence of Kalis can be seen in various regions of the Indonesian archipelago.

The Sundang, also known as Keris Sulu, is a sword that shares similarities with Kalis. It is primarily used in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and other parts of Indonesia. The Sundang embodies the influence of Kalis in its design and techniques, showcasing the cultural exchange between the Philippines and Indonesia.

In summary, the Filipino martial art Kalis has left its mark on Indonesian weapons. The Sundang, also known as Keris Sulu, is a testament to the influence of Kalis in Indonesia. This cross-cultural exchange highlights the interconnectedness of martial arts and the rich history of Southeast Asia.

Through the influence of Kalis, the martial arts traditions of both the Philippines and Indonesia have been enriched, contributing to a greater appreciation and understanding of the region’s cultural heritage.

Kalis Sundang
Origin: Philippines Origin: Indonesia
Weapon-based martial art Sword primarily used in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and other regions of Indonesia
Focuses on bladed weapons such as knives, sticks, and swords Influenced by the design and techniques of Kalis
Deeply rooted in Filipino culture Reflects the cultural exchange between the Philippines and Indonesia

The influence of Kalis in Indonesia is a testament to the interconnectedness of martial arts and the cultural exchange between nations. It showcases the rich history of Southeast Asia and the impact of Filipino martial arts on the wider region.

Physical Description of Kalis Blade

Kalis blade

The Kalis blade is a distinctive weapon that is wide at the base and features a double-edged design. This unique shape allows for both chopping and slicing cuts, making it a versatile tool for combat. The wavy section of the blade adds to its visual appeal and also serves a functional purpose in facilitating more effective slashing in battle. While the wavy blade is a common characteristic, there are variations with fully straight or half-waved half-straight blades.

The size of the Kalis blade can vary, but it generally falls between 18 to 26 inches in length. This length provides the wielder with the necessary reach to engage in close-quarters combat while still maintaining control and maneuverability. The width of the blade at the base enhances its cutting power, allowing for deep and efficient strikes against opponents.

“The Kalis blade’s design is truly awe-inspiring. Its wide base and double-edged construction make it a formidable weapon capable of inflicting devastating damage. When wielded with skill and precision, it becomes a deadly tool in the hands of a seasoned martial artist.” – Master Kalis

The craftsmanship involved in creating a Kalis blade is a testament to the mastery of Filipino artisans. Each blade is meticulously forged and shaped to ensure its balance, strength, and aesthetic appeal. The combination of function and beauty makes the Kalis blade a true work of art, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines.

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Summary Table: Physical Features of Kalis Blade

Feature Description
Design Double-edged with a wavy section
Length Generally between 18 to 26 inches
Width Wide at the base for enhanced cutting power
Function Allows for both chopping and slicing cuts
Craftsmanship Meticulously forged and shaped for balance and strength

Guard of the Kalis Blade

The guard of the Kalis blade is a notable feature that adds to its elegant design. Known as the gangya, the guard seamlessly flows into the blade, creating a harmonious and aesthetically pleasing appearance. In older Kalis blades, the gangya was a separate component, while in modern blades, it is integrated into the blade itself.

The gangya often has a distinct 45-degree angle, which adds to the unique visual appeal of the Kalis blade. Additionally, it features a curved cavity, which serves as both a functional and decorative element. The cavity has different interpretations, with some seeing it as representing an elephant trunk, while others compare it to the open mouth of an eagle.

The guard of the Kalis blade not only enhances its overall appearance but also contributes to its functionality. It ensures a secure grip for the wielder and helps protect the hand during combat. The elegant lines and distinct angle of the gangya make the Kalis blade instantly recognizable and add to its allure as a traditional Filipino weapon.

Feature Description
Elegant Lines The guard of the Kalis blade is known for its graceful and flowing design.
Separate Gangya In older Kalis blades, the gangya was a separate component from the blade.
Distinct Angle The gangya often has a distinct 45-degree angle, adding to the visual appeal.
Cavity The curved cavity of the gangya serves both functional and decorative purposes.

Hilt of the Kalis

Kalis Hilt

The hilt of the Kalis sword is an essential component that contributes to its functionality and aesthetic appeal. It is designed to provide a secure grip and enhance the wielder’s control and maneuverability. The hilt can be straight or slightly curved, depending on the variation of the Kalis.

One distinctive feature of the Kalis hilt is the variety of pommel designs. Pommels can vary in shape, including the horse-hoof and cockatoo styles, adding a unique touch to the sword’s overall appearance. These variations in pommel design can also influence the balance and weight distribution of the weapon.

The hilt is typically crafted from hardwood, such as banati, known for its durability and strength. This material ensures the longevity of the hilt, even during intense combat or training sessions. To further enhance the grip, the hilt is often wrapped in lacquered natural fiber, such as jute, providing both comfort and a secure hold.

High-end Kalis blades may feature pommels made from exotic materials like ivory or silver, elevating the sword’s status and adding intricate details for decoration. These luxurious pommels may also include silver or swasaa bands and braided silver wire, showcasing the craftsmanship associated with the Kalis sword.

Notable Features of the Kalis Hilt:

  • Straight or slightly curved design
  • Pommel variations, such as horse-hoof and cockatoo styles
  • Constructed from hardwood, such as banati
  • Lacquered natural fiber wrapping, such as jute
  • Premium versions may feature exotic materials like ivory or silver
  • Ornate details like silver or swasaa bands and braided silver wire

The hilt of the Kalis sword plays a crucial role in both the functionality and visual appeal of this traditional Filipino weapon. Its design, material, and pommel variations contribute to a secure grip, control, and maneuverability during combat or training.

Kalis Hilt Description
Hilt Design Straight or slightly curved
Pommel Variations Horse-hoof and cockatoo styles
Material Hardwood, such as banati
Wrapping Lacquered natural fiber, such as jute
Premium Features Exotic materials like ivory or silver, silver or swasaa bands, braided silver wire

Scabbard of the Kalis

The scabbard of the Kalis is an essential component of this traditional Filipino sword. Made from hardwood such as mahogany, teak, or narra, the scabbard provides protection and convenience for carrying the weapon. It is held together with rattan bindings, which add strength and durability to the scabbard. The combination of the hardwood and rattan creates a robust and visually appealing sheath for the Kalis.

The scabbard of the Kalis is known for its wide grain, which adds to its aesthetic appeal. The wide grain pattern enhances the natural beauty of the hardwood, creating an exquisite and eye-catching appearance. Additionally, the scabbard may have a separate cross-piece and tail-piece or be made of a single board, depending on the design and craftsmanship.

When it comes to securing the Kalis within the scabbard, lashing is commonly used. The bindings made from rattan ensure that the scabbard tightly holds the sword, preventing it from slipping out unintentionally. The lashing technique not only provides a secure fit but also adds an intricate detail to the scabbard, showcasing the craftsmanship of the weapon.

Overall, the scabbard of the Kalis complements the sword’s design and serves as a functional and aesthetically pleasing accessory. Its hardwood construction, rattan bindings, wide grain pattern, and lashing technique all contribute to the overall appeal and uniqueness of this traditional Filipino weapon.

Variants of Kalis

Kalis Variants

Aside from the traditional Kalis sword, there are several variants that have emerged over time. These variants include the balisong, punyal, and other Filipino daggers. Each of these weapons has its own unique characteristics and purposes.

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The balisong, also known as a butterfly knife, is a folding knife that originated in the Philippines. It is primarily used as a utility knife, known for its iconic flipping action. The balisong features a distinctive handle that splits in the middle and allows the blade to be concealed when folded. This versatility makes it a popular choice among knife enthusiasts and collectors.

Punyal and Other Filipino Daggers

The punyal, also referred to as the gunong, is a Filipino dagger that is similar in design to the traditional Kalis sword. It is a versatile weapon that can be used for both combat and everyday tasks. The punyal typically has a single-edged blade and a curved handle, making it easy to handle and maneuver. Other Filipino daggers, such as the barong and the kris, also have distinct designs and purposes.

Dagger Origin Characteristics
Punyal Philippines Single-edged blade, curved handle
Barong Philippines Leaf-shaped blade, curved handle
Kris Indonesia Distinct wavy blade, intricate craftsmanship

These variants of Kalis and other Filipino daggers showcase the diversity and rich history of bladed weapons in the Philippines. They are not only practical tools but also cultural symbols that reflect the craftsmanship and martial traditions of the Filipino people.

Kalis Development Corporation

Kalis Development Corporation is a reputable real estate investment firm based in Virginia. With a strong focus on acquiring and managing underperforming and undervalued real estate assets, the company specializes in properties located on the East Coast of the United States. With extensive experience in owning and operating retail properties, Kalis Development Corporation has established itself as a trusted name in the industry.

As a property management firm, Kalis Development Corporation takes pride in providing high-quality services to its tenants. The company has built strong relationships with a diverse range of distinguished tenants, including well-known brands such as Food Lion, Tuesday Morning, and United Bank. Kalis Development Corporation understands the importance of tenant satisfaction and strives to create a positive environment for businesses to thrive.

Whether it’s acquiring new properties, managing existing assets, or providing top-notch services to tenants, Kalis Development Corporation is committed to delivering excellence in every aspect of its business. With a proven track record and a dedicated team of professionals, the company continues to drive growth and success in the real estate industry.

Properties Managed by Kalis Development Corporation

Property Tenant Location
Warrenton Towne Centre Food Lion, Tuesday Morning, United Bank Warrenton, Virginia
Virginia Square Plaza Giant Food, Bank of America, Starbucks Arlington, Virginia
Springfield Commons HomeGoods, PetSmart, Michaels Springfield, Virginia

With a diverse portfolio of properties, Kalis Development Corporation offers a range of opportunities for businesses looking to establish a presence in prime locations across the East Coast. From retail spaces to office buildings, the company is dedicated to providing exceptional properties that meet the needs of its tenants.

Pad Site at Warrenton Towne Centre

Commercial property at Warrenton Towne Centre

Warrenton Towne Centre, located in Warrenton, Virginia, offers a unique opportunity for businesses to establish their presence in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. As a commercial property, the town center boasts a prime location and a diverse range of amenities that cater to both local residents and visitors. At Kalis Development Corporation, we are pleased to announce that a pad site is currently available for lease or purchase at this bustling retail hub.

The pad site at Warrenton Towne Centre is the perfect space for businesses looking to capitalize on the thriving local economy and draw in a steady stream of customers. With its convenient location and high visibility, the pad site offers excellent exposure and ample parking for customers. Whether you’re a small boutique, a restaurant, or a service-based business, this commercial property provides the ideal setting for growth and success.

By securing this pad site, your business will benefit from the foot traffic generated by the existing tenants at Warrenton Towne Centre, including popular retailers like Food Lion and Tuesday Morning, as well as trusted financial institutions like United Bank. Joining this esteemed list of tenants will not only enhance your brand’s visibility but also create opportunities for collaboration and co-marketing with other businesses in the center.

Features of the Pad Site:

  • Prime location in Warrenton, Virginia
  • High visibility and excellent exposure
  • Ample parking for customers
  • Adjacent to popular retailers and financial institutions
  • Flexible lease or purchase options

Don’t miss out on this outstanding opportunity to establish your business at Warrenton Towne Centre and tap into the thriving market of the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Contact Kalis Development Corporation today to learn more about the pad site availability and discuss how we can help make your business aspirations a reality.


In conclusion, Kalis is a fascinating Filipino martial art that revolves around the use of bladed weapons, such as knives, sticks, and swords. It has a rich history that can be traced back to its predecessor, the keris, in Indonesia, and its techniques have been influenced by Indonesian culture. The wavy blade of Kalis enables efficient slashing in battle, making it an effective weapon for self-defense.

Throughout the Philippines, Kalis has been used by various groups, including the Moro people, who have embraced it as an integral part of their culture. The double-edged blade and elegant design of Kalis demonstrate the skill and craftsmanship involved in its creation.

With its unique characteristics and comprehensive martial arts training system, Kalis remains an important aspect of Filipino culture and a testament to the rich heritage of the Philippines.

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