I am not much for doing salutations unless there is a better reason to do it apart from just being about respect. Fortunately, the salute we do in Kali is not just about respect but is an application as well.
Our salute is divided into two parts – bringing up the stick to the forehead as a sign of respect and then lowering the butt of the stick to the heart to denote the respect as coming from the heart.
When we consider the salute to be an application it changes our perception on training. We firstly cradle the stick (or sticks) in our forearm. Since the stick is a stand-in for a sword we have to be mindful how we carry it.
Otherwise, if we use an actual blade for training we will cut ourselves due to the wrong habit. By adopting the correct habit we only need to train one consistent method that will work regardless of whether we use a stick, a wooden sword or a live blade machete.
Then we place the stick back on the forearm. After this the next part involves grasping one stick (if you are cradling a pair) in readiness to bring it to the forehead. Even here in this movement the correct method allows for swift execution of the next movement and the wrong movement results in a slower response.
The salute is where we bring the stick to our forehead, reminiscent of the part of the video below 0:00 to 0:26.
We interpret the raising of the stick in two ways – as a block or as an upward slashing counter attack. In actual application we would need to step as well since if you are not there it would be harder to land a blow on you.
The raising of the stick is followed by a downward diagonal slash to the neck. Again, this is similar to what is seen in the video.
We complete the salute by placing back the stick on the left forearm. All the time we keep our awareness and sense of enemy.
When you understand what is going on you will do the salute in a very careful manner. Otherwise, you may just go through it in a lackadaisical manner.
Since a blade is a blade is a blade learning Kali can help you greatly in the study of Chinese broadsword. Our Tai Chi broadsword is a simple form and not a long as some of the broadsword forms in other CMA styles. It is not uncommon for many Tai Chi students to learn the broadsword and not know how to use the strokes. The study of Kail can unlock many of the movements we see in the Tai Chi broadsword form.
When learning Kali it is important to put aside our prejudices on things not typically considered internal. I mean, you can’t win a fight by being internal. If anything, you win a fight by being functional in that you can respond correctly and in a timely manner with speed and power against what is thrown at you and return fire that the opponent cannot handle.
Sometimes to a person coming from the world of Tai Chi the training in Kali may look very different. But it is not so. Think of it instead as seeing it from another perspective. Put aside your biases and train wholeheartedly. Asking too many questions too early and making assumptions will only slow your progress.
When you learn something new it will be difficult to understand what is going on. You need time to absorb the knowledge, to teach the body to do. As long as you keep doing you will get it. And once you get it you have to keep training until you forget about it. My Tai Chi teacher said that an author of the definitive book on Chen style Tai Chi was a master because he wrote that everyday he learned and everyday he forgot. If you don’t understand this keep training until you get the point. That’s how you know that you have reached this level.
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