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Forging Skills: Immersive Insights from Doug Marcaida's Karambit Workshop

As a martial artist and enthusiast of Filipino Martial Arts, the Way of the Karambit Workshop this past weekend was more than just an event; it was a homecoming. Over the years, I've had the privilege of training with Kuya Doug Marcaida on several occasions. This workshop was an opportunity to walk the path of the Kali Way once more, reuniting with Doug and other old friends from the brotherhood of the blade. It was an occasion filled with rekindling old bonds, forging new ones, and immersing in the art's timeless teachings.

My first encounter with Kuya Doug in the early 2010s was at a workshop hosted by the incredible Alan and Anthony Sanidad.  The subject was ironically the karambit, yet it was not just the claw-like blade that left a mark; it was Kuya Doug's philosophy that resonated deeply. He didn't just preach the art of Filipino bladesmanship; he embodied it, and his lessons transcended mere combative technique. It was not just about wielding a tool; it was about a philosophy, a way of life that echoed through every demonstration and explanation.

The training experiences that followed through the years were nothing short of transformative. The training sessions weren't just about technique; they were about community and growth. In what Doug termed the brotherhood of the blade, we united in our journey to master the complexities of Kali. Challenges were aplenty, but so were the rewards—each workshop, seminar, or session brought a new perspective, a refined skill, and a deeper connection to the Kali Way. Doug's guidance expanded my understanding of Kali. His instruction challenged many of the traditional assumptions I had learned regarding Sinawali, Sombrada, and countless other aspects of the Filipino martial arts.

Returning to the Way of the Karambit was a mix of excitement and nostalgia. This time, the gathering was not just about old acquaintances, but also about welcoming new faces into the fold of the Kali Way. The structured two-day event was designed to be all-encompassing. From the fundamental elements of using the karambit to advanced applications, each aspect was meticulously planned to provide a comprehensive learning experience.

The first day was dedicated to the fundamentals, focusing on the karambit's unique features and how they inherently shaped its usage in combat. Students were taken through a series of flails and slashing patterns, which, accompanied by thrusts, offered a dynamic understanding of distance management.

The second day ventured into the essence of tactic over technique as Kuya Doug weaved students through the intricacies of Hubud from his perspective. Kuya Doug's approach to Hubud is one of the most comprehensive and immediately applicable to actual fighting. As he taught, Kuya emphasized not becoming lost in the motions, losing the intent, or just getting carried away with a flow.

Kuya Doug then carried that mentality into the delicate art of knife tapping. His perspectives on offensive mindset within this knife versus knife or empty-hand versus knife drill were enlightening. He taught everyone to fully commit, never half-heartedly attacking or defending as it allows for openings and counterattacks.

The reunion with Doug Marcaida and the Way of the Karambit Workshop left an indelible mark. It wasn't just an event; it was a reminder that the martial arts are about more than self-defense and physicality. They're about community, about growth, and about the relentless pursuit of perfection.


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