WEKAF or the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation is an organization that promotes the Filipino Martial Arts of Arnis Martial Arts. It is also the parent body that conducts numerous tournaments in many countries around the world.
The National Arnis Association of the Philippines was its predecessor. It initially started conducting the stick fighting tournaments.
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Grand Master Dionisio Canete, in August 1987, invited instructors and top masters from numerous countries to take a visit to the Philippines and begin training. The introduction of Arnis to the world was a bridge that resulted in the establishment of WEKAF in 1989, as well as the first World Tournament with more than a hundred representing ten participating countries.
Greg Henderson, who later established Diamondback Eskrima, represented New Zealand and became one of the first WEKAF charter members together with USA, Australia, England, Canada, India, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, and the Philippines.
Today, WEFAK is comprised of more than 30 countries and has a massive following. Also, international tournaments are held every two years among the Philippines and a foreign member country.
In 2006, the WEKAF world tournament was conducted in Orlando Florida, USA. But because of inadequate sponsorship and finances, as well as the untimely death of Gordon Carnie – the Doce pares multi-style director and WEKAF director in New Zealand – no team represented the country.
International Participants of Arnis Martial Arts
But in 2004, Cebu, Philippines held the tournament. It was where a team of three New Zealanders participated; it includes Grant Boath, Ross Holmes, and The Late Gordon Carnie. The event was undoubtedly the eye-opener for how the Filipino participants prepared for the 2008 WEKAF world tournament in Cebu.
Foreigners Winning the Tournaments
The Filipino participant did not get any medals, but was awarded 4th place in a heavyweight division, and gained knowledge and experience to practice and do much better next time.
Gordon was a huge success when it comes to tournaments and invitational fights, and he took a silver medal in the Doble Baston (double stick) sparring category.
In the years of the world tournament, championships in Europe are held together with invitational tournaments like the Hawaii open.
Kali Eskrima is Gaining Popularity
Eskrima Kali Arnis martial arts has become popular and is currently practiced and learned around the world because of the WEKAF and the founders’ vision.
The membership is open to every style and provides the chance to participate with the world’s most exceptional fighter in this fast, practical, and electrifying martial art.
The Need to Promote the Arnis Martial Arts
In general, the Filipino Stick Fighting is a minority in all of the martial arts community. Very little is known about FMA or its sports fighting side. And it is in my hopes that I will enlighten you with this article.
Each participating country usually holds elimination tournaments to choose a team to represent their country. In New Zealand, it would be entirely different because kali stick fighting in WEKAF style is currently in its first stages.
It was planned that there would be seminars to get keen parties wanting to take part in it. The membership is open to anybody and any style that wants to fight under this format. However, you need to be a member first before you’re allowed to fight at approved WEKAF tournaments.
Since this format of fighting is still new, loads of the finances will go toward equipment and travel; tournaments usually come out of the personal pockets of the players. We’re continually seeking assistance for sponsorship, and help would be very much appreciated.
Arnis Training Equipment
The equipment for martial arts in Philippines strictly requires every player to wear body armor, helmet, gloves, and groin guard.
Optional gear includes elbow and forearm guards, thigh guards – which are highly recommended – and a mouth guard.
Fights last for three one-minute rounds, with a 30-second rest between rounds. In close matches, an extra round or rounds are added at the end of the first three rounds until there’s a clear winner. And it is where I learned the hardest lesson – full health and fitness are the main ingredients here, together with the strategies and techniques of the games.
And if you do not have the proper fitness to perform an extra round (or fight), then you will undoubtedly struggle to win a fight. In the ring, there a center referee; outside the ring, four corner judges. The ring or the square measures 5×7 meters.
Kali Fighting Style Offense
You should always be able to show powerful defensive and offensive techniques. Stick bashing is not allowed because the armor is there to cover you and not for scarifying shots for shots.
Arnis Kali Eskrima Legal Targets
Legal targets include top, front and sides of the helmet; front and sides of the thighs and body; both arms and hands. The back of the helmet and back of the body may be hit if you’re facing the opponent with the use of witik, circular, or indirect strikes.
Butt and thrusting strikes are not sanctioned because of safety reasons.
Here's a video of the “witik” from a Doce Pares Eskrima instructor in the Philippines: