Having the right gear can make a difference in your Kali training! Check out this video I did covering what training gear to start your Kali with. Watch it here and then I'll go a little further...
If you're just starting out and more so "testing" Kali to see if it's the right martial arts for you, then choosing anything to work as a stick is good. You can use a PVC pipe cut down to length if you'd like. However, once you decide that Kali is what you want to spend time investigating and investing in it's a good idea to invest in solid training gear.
Rattan sticks are the best! They are safer to use during impact and contact training solo or with partners. Hardwood sticks break and shatter into hard and sharp arrowhead pieces. Rattan, being a vine, sheds. Just protect your eyes from the micro rattan fibers or simple wrap your sticks tight with electrical tape to give your rattan sticks more life. (I'll be doing a video on this and showing exactly what happens!)
Rattan sticks are also more kind to the body's joints. Upon impact the rattan takes the majority of the energy generated where hardwood the energy travels through the stick up to the grain or nots and then bursts out forcing the remaining energy to be withstood by the users hand, forearm and elbow.
Choosing the right size rattan stick:
The most important considerations are the weight and diameter. The length is mostly personal preference. You want to choose a weight that you can swing with correct mechanics. Some believe that be choosing a heavier stick will make them faster and more powerful which is the contrary. By choosing a stick you can physically control the momentum generated and execute the most precise mechanics, this will make you faster and strike with more power above anything else.
What a heavier stick can do for you is... Increase muscular strength for longer endurance when weighing down. Warm up the muscles faster to keep them relaxed and looser longer in training. Think of a baseball player. They take the weights off the bat when stepping to the plate.
A training sword is a good idea even in the beginning as you're learning striking mechanics. The sword is a more accurate visual of the lines and arches of the slashes and thrusts. I like using the analogy of playing the guitar here. The stick is like playing an electric on full blast distortion. Nobody (even the player often times) hears the mistakes but, put that guitar on clean tone or better yet pick up an acoustic and everyone knows immediately how good or bad you are!
If you cannot afford a training sword you can also use a flat stick. Anything that will give you a cutting edge to see and follow. (for solo practice in the air you can even use a toy sword. Just grab one of the kids. hahaa
Of course if you're just starting Kali I advise not to swing around a live bolo. This takes time to work up to with confidence and certainty. If you are interested in picking up a bolo that is of Filipino heritage, of course I'm bias to Top Prado Blades. This is because I believe in quality and it doesn't get better than this from the Philippines. Believe me, I've looked! Plus, these are the exact blades used in combat by the Philippine Force Recon Marines! Each blades is MSgt. Manuel Prado's design and hand forged by him.
If you're interested in checking these blades out go to www.TopPradoBlades.com
As far as training knives go, the rubber knives are my first recommendation especially for partner training. Just be sure to protect your eyes! They'll still leave some bruises here and there on the arms, legs and body but, that's all part of training Kali! :)
Other training knives are wooden and aluminum which provide more realistic feels to the grip and sturdiness. These I recommend for solo training and technique training such as disarms in the beginning. Later as your skill progresses then I suggest sparring with these.
Stay tuned for my part 2 on Kali training gear. I'll be talking about what kind of sparring and contact drills gear is best.
For some great places to pick up some rattan sticks, training swords and training knives here is a quick list of places I suggest...
Top Prado Blades (Live Blades, Bolos, Knives, Karambits, More)
Always remember your safety in training, stay aware and have fun!
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