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KALI ILUSTRISIMO: A BRIEF HISTORY

Learn the fundamentals of bladed combat through use of escrima and a variety of other training weapons. With emphasis on basics and building a strong foundation of movement and mechanics through the first 4 levels with a single escrima, carry on to the succeeding levels and learn:

  • double blade
  • sword and dagger
  • knife
  • long sword
  • hand to hand

Our curriculum of Kali Ilustrisimo was formed by Grand Maestro Norman Suanico in the early years of the Kali Academy of Martial Arts, based on the direct teachings of the founder Antonio "Tatang" Ilustrisimo. The Ilustrisimo style differs from many other styles of Flipino Martial Arts in that it advocates training solely based on use of blade mechanics, whereas many others advocate the use of the baton or escrima mechanics. 

Late Grand Maestro Ilustrisimo's style of combat was based not solely on time spent in a gym learning the style of other Maestros, but  was fired and tempered based on his personal experiences. In the time when he was growing up in the Philippines, challenge matches as a means of resolving status amongst fighters of notoriety were a somewhat regular occurrence. It was within this arena that Tatang honed his style of one on one combat which is applied and practiced differently than the systems built for use by military within war zones.  

In addition, Tatang spent the duration of the Second World War as a guerrilla fighter, operating in the jungles battling occupying Japanese forces. His preferred weapon was a barong, which is a large leaf shaped, single handed blade. By way of his exploits and the use of his barong, he earned the moniker "Executioner" from his exploits during this time.

Antonio Ilustrisimo accepted his first students in 1976 at the age of 72, among this original group of 12 students, Grand Master Suanico is 1 of 8 surviving to propagate the art. In 1997, Grand Maestro Antonio "Tatang" Ilustrisimo died  a poor man, unrecognized officially for his accomplishments during WWII . But his legacy is the most respected among the Philippine martial tradition,  of the Grand Masters of old, he is widely accepted by those who know as the greatest.