Review: Kali Combatives with Master Apolo Ladra
Updated: Apr 2
We took a Kali combatives seminar with master Apolo Ladra. Kali can use empty hands, blades and sticks. It is the national martial art of the Philippines. Apolo volunteered to us that he looks at the stick training as a way to introduce students to the blade. “We didn’t drive out the Spanish with sticks,” he said. “We used machetes."
The course I took was open to anyone from 13-years and older. The class was a mix of teens and adults, mostly karate practitioners and beginning Kali students.
We have to include ourselves in this description. We have very little formal Kali training. Although the little training we’ve had allowed us to get a glimpse of what can be possible through some hands-on demonstrations and individualized attention from Apolo.
Apolo Ladra (r.) teaching at a Kali seminar.
First of all, Apolo Ladra is a fantastic instructor. He is engaging, funny, and adept at teaching to the level of the individual student. He can take complicated concepts and techniques and make them easily understood.
What is also extremely attractive is his answer to the second and third question — the counter to the counter to the counter. You know, the questions that always come up, “Yeah, but what if he does this?” “What if he grabs your wrist?” “What if, what if?”
Apolo’s mastery of the subject matter is evident in that he effortlessly shows you the counter to the counter. And then shows you the additional counter to the counter while bringing you back to the original technique or concept he was first teaching.
This is important as a student, because you get this "ah-hah!" moment where you see what we are trying to accomplish. Getting back to the original technique or using a technique we just learned is extremely important in building confidence that the technique or concept is sound.
Apolo Ladra’s teaching style and presence make for an very enjoyable seminar.
The concepts were very easy to pick and an apply in a short time.
Apolo’s demonstrations with his assistant instructor showing how the techniques flow into advanced self-defense techniques.
The drills allowed you to see how the techniques worked.
The seminar was useful for all ages and abilities.
The seminar was a “learning” seminar that gave ample time for drilling and practicing the techniques with a partner. It was not designed as a “smoker” session which tested your fitness levels. Nor was it a “competitive” session that pitted you against other students in sparring or grappling.
The length of the seminar was right for getting a good amount of information while keeping up your concentration.
It’s hard to find any — except for intermediate and advanced practitioners would not benefit from the basic level of instruction. But, keep in mind, this was billed as a seminar helping a school introduce Kali to area and their students.
$50 for four hours of instruction and training.