In the past three months, Hill Air Force Base has been occasionally filled with sounds and smells other than jet engines and fuel. The clashing of steel blades and the distinct smell of burning rattan, an aroma caused by the friction of wooden sticks colliding at a fervent pace, punctuate the air surrounding four Airmen who occasionally congregate to learn and practice the art of Sadiq Kali Silat.
Sadiq Kali Silat is a martial art that seamlessly melds the native arts of the Philippines, Indonesia and Africa in a cohesive unit that allows its practitioners to flow through any range of combat without hesitation.
"Sadiq Kali Silat teaches a systematic and methodical approach to the martial arts that effortlessly blends the native arts of the Philippines, Indonesia and Africa," explained Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs specialist.
Hedrick formed an informal study group with three other Airmen to learn and practice the Sadiq Kali Silat art form after he found limited opportunities to practice this specific art form locally.
The art form differs from most traditional martial arts by having students begin their studies with impact and edged weapons from the first day of class. This varies greatly from that of the more traditional martial arts schools where weaponry is withheld until the practitioner has reached black belt level or higher.
The philosophy is that of a more combative art, and thus shapes all other aspects of Sadiq Kali Silat such as the empty hand techniques, the ground combatives and implementation of vital points.
"The nature of the arts stem from that of conflict," said Hedrick. "You never go into battle without a weapon, and if you lost the weapon, one used his empty hand skills to gain another weapon, thus the emphasis on weaponry from the first day."
Although the practitioners can be seen using sticks and knives as training tools, the principals and concepts are what provide the substance of the art.
"Studying the principals and concepts of the art allows smooth transitions to and from other arts, as well as allowing everyday objects to be used as weapons in the hands of a practitioner," said Hedrick. "Although our focus is in the Southeast Asian arts, we have incorporated principals and concepts from other arts to supplement the various arts in order to gain maximum efficiency and combative effectiveness."
In order to create a larger, more-varied pool of kali fighters to practice with, Hedrick is planning to offer free, one-on-one instruction to Airmen and their families who are 18 years of age or older, due to the nature of the art.
Real knives will not be used during the instruction, Hedrick said. Training blades will be used for training, and wooden sticks will be used during sparring sessions.
Hedrick holds the rank of Advanced Ading Guro, an equivalent of a 3rd or 4th degree black belt, and has been instructing kali techniques since 2004. He also holds the ranks of 2nd degree black belt in Kamau Ryu (Japanese jujitsu), 2nd degree black belt in Hap Ki Do, 1st degree black belt in tae kwan do, and has an extensive background in boxing, kickboxing and wrestling. Although Hedrick holds rank in other martial arts he continues to expand and improve his knowledge by attending seminars across the U.S. as well as learning Wing Chun.
Hedrick recently competed for a slot on the 2009 Air Force Wrestling team and was unable to place due to shoulder and knee injuries. He also recently trained for the 2009 Grappling World Teams Trials in conjunction with the Hill Judo Club before his injuries prevented his further progress.
Hedrick will undergo surgery on his injured shoulder and knee in the next few weeks, and this will prevent him from offering the free, one-on-one kali instruction until mid-October. Dates, times and location will depend on the consensus of interested students. If interested in participating in this instruction, contact Hedrick via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.