Arnis, Escrima, Kali, (A-E-K) Pangolisi and Garote are only a small number of the many names that are given to the indigenous stick based, Philippine Martial Arts.
The terms ‘Arnis or Escrima’ are the most commonly used terms in the Philippines and are interchangeable to myself and most Filipinos, living in the Philippines. Kali however, is used predominately in the western nations, especially the United States of America, when referring to the Filipino stick based arts. Being an Australian and being taught my styles mainly by Filipino’s from the Philippines both there and here in Australia, I usually interchange the terms and generally refer to them as Arnis or Escrima.
The major reason the term ‘Kali’ will be used to refer to one certain system/style, within this website, is as this was the term mostly used by my Instructor while teaching me his style. As mentioned, Kali is used by many people practicing Filipino Martial Arts in the United States of America. As my instructor of this certain style was originally a Filipino, emigrated to the U.S.A. lived many years there and eventually became a U.S. Citizen, he commonly used this word.
Stick based is the term that we apply more often to these Filipino styles of Martial Arts as the beginner is taught with a stick but the movements of most styles can be translated to various conditions of armed (weapon holding) or unarmed (barehanded) combat. The stick is a weapon but also it can be simply an extension of the hand and a training tool. A student learns that if you have a stick, a baton, a knife, or a sword you still have two hands. If you have two sticks, two knives, two empty hands etc or even a combination of weapons, the movements of attack and defence are basically the same. It teaches self defence without having to learn many different patterns for each new weapon, which is different from other Martial Arts. These Arts use economy of learning as well as economy of movement in the execution of their techniques. They also differ from the majority of other Asian Martial Arts as they teach weapon work before empty hand training. The key to Arnis/Escrima is that if you learn one set of attacks and defence well enough, the techniques can be simply translated and “your hand can be your sword”, even in a literal sense.