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How to Practice Filipino Kali at Home

Posted by Leslie Buck on

Training Tips to make you better, faster

Whether you are attending a regular class or only receive instruction from time to time, practice at home is must to develop your Kali skills quickly. Even when my students come to class on a regular basis, they don’t really accelerate their learning until they incorporate regular practice at home. Because of this, I highly recommend you practice your skills at home between each class or lesson.

It is actually this self-guided practice that will challenge you to understand the material. The process of trying to recall and practice the material will force you to analyze it. You will not have anyone to follow, so you must use your memory and critical thinking skills.

The more you practice at home, the quicker you will learn in class. It is essential that you try to remember the movements you have learned and make an effort to perfect them outside of class. This will allow you to develop your mental image of what the movements should be. With a more clear image, you will be able to replicate the movement more accurately. Add repetition, and you will get ahead. Rather than spending more precious class time on repetition for coordination, you can return to class, ready to move forward, with the skills you developed at home.

Below are some tips on structuring your Kali practice at home.

Focus on the skills with the biggest impact

Start by determining what are the most important skills that you should be practicing right now. The skills you need to develop first are those that will support many the techniques that you will learn in the future. Ask your instructor what you should practice at home, so you can coordinate it with your lessons. It will likely be a mix of critical fundamentals and whatever instruction is currently being presented in class.

You may want to figure out the badass florete combination that you saw a senior student do after class, but you really should be practicing the skills that will give you the best return on investment, at your level. These skills with the best return will change as your experience level changes, but the fundamentals will always be important.

Some of the most important skills you can develop at home include body mechanics, footwork and coordination in your strikes. Regardless of the technique you are learning, you will need to be able to hit and move at the same time. In your home training sessions, start by separating your footwork and your hand skills for focused practice on each.

Practice the footwork first. Most of us feel that the striking is more fun, but the footwork is more critical to get right. The movement of your hands don’t matter if you are not in the right place (via footwork), so get the footwork down first.

After you practice the footwork, practice your striking. Refine your strikes to develop accuracy, precision, speed and power.

Finally, combine them back into the complete movement so that you are doing your footwork and your striking at the same time. Make sure you practice long enough to get all the body mechanics working together.

Be organized in your training approach

Break your movements into bite-sized chunks. If you are learning a combination it is often better to start with repeating small portions of it first. As you get more comfortable with each part, add a little more. This will allow you to identify and focus on areas that need more attention. If you are struggling with one part, separate it from the combination. Fix it with practice, then plug that part back into the combination.

Include fundamentals in every session. Fights are typically won based on solid fundamentals. Make sure you have regular practice on the fundamentals, so that you will continue to improve them each session. After 25 years of doing Kali, I still start all my training sessions with basic footwork and strikes.

Multiple sessions, even if short, are better than one long one. Frequency is the key. Try to practice a little each day rather than training for only one long session. Multiple sessions will allow your mind to process your learning along the way, and you will stay more focused if the sessions are shorter.

Keep a journal of your practice sessions. By keeping a journal, you will allow for better continuity between your training sessions. Note what you have improved, what you are working on, and what you want to train during future sessions. Write down your goals and anything that is helping you reach them. Record questions you have for your instructor and advice you get from more experienced training partners. A journal will help you stay on task and allow you to start the next session with a basic plan of action already in place.

Anatomy of a training session

I recommend this simple outline for your home training session:

1. Journal Review - Review what you did in your previous training session. Determine what you need to cover in this upcoming session and keep your journal ready for today’s entry.

2. Warmup - Increase your body temperature with low impact, gross motor movements. Use slow, big motions. If possible, use those related to the fundamentals you practice or a recent combination that you have been learning.

3. Fundamental Review - Put in some flight time perfecting your fundamentals. This does not have to take much time and can be a continuation of your warmup. Practice footwork, striking, and striking combined with footwork. I like doing repetitions in multiples of 500. Either count or set a timer, but pay attention and find things to improve.

4. Technical Practice - Spend some time working on the specific combinations or techniques that you intend to improve right now. This could be something that you recently learned in class, a weakness you want to improve, or just something you want to give more attention. Pick only 1- 3 items, so that you can give each focused attention.

5. Performance Challenge - Do something that will challenge you to perform your technique. Practice one or more combinations for multiple repetitions at full speed to develop speed and stamina. Hit tires to develop power. Or combine these drills in a short interval workout to develop the basics of fitness together with your Kali skills. This challenge will not only help you improve your ability to apply these skills, but it will also help you identify where things break down. Knowing this will help you plan what practice you need for next time.

6. Journal Entry - Write notes in your journal about this session. Include how you felt that day, what you did, and what things you can improve. Write enough so that you can start your next session without wasting any time remembering what you wanted to do or need to practice.


For learning Kali, having a training partner is very important, but there is a lot you can do alone at home. In fact, training alone is necessary if you want to progress quickly in Kali. Though you do not have anyone at home to give you immediate feedback, you should not let that be a barrier to getting something done. It is better to practice something than to skip it altogether. Don’t wait for the ideal conditions to practice, just do it. Focus on what is most important and improve your weaknesses. Stay organized and you will see improvement in a short period of time.

Keep your gear organized with a gear bag from Kali Gear. Whether you need to take your equipment to class, to a park or seminar, we have bags of all sizes to fit your needs. Keep just enough sticks and knives for yourself or bring enough for a small army. We have you covered.


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