The Art of The Blade

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The Innovator Behind Sayoc Kali
All systems evolve from something. A starting point, and idea or an experience. In the case of Pamana (Inheritor of Family Legacy) Tuhon Chris Sayoc, his system, SayocKali, is the result of a lifetime of training and real life experiences. It’s about his personal development and his understanding based on the many lessons learned throughout his life. It’s his system, his thought process, his philosophy, his method of movement, his way of training and his way of life.
Brief History
During the 70’s the Sayoc household was a frequent stopping point for many, many Filipinos visiting the east coast. Having a martial arts school gave the Sayocs frequent contact with visitors and locals alike. During this time most of these visiting Master Instructors had no organized systems; many had no organizations at all. But as they came through, each of them shared and trained with the young Chris Sayoc. Each of them contributing to the lessons he was learning from others.
As the young Chris Sayoc trained with the many different Filipino masters that passed through New York, he also trained his own “crew.” Teenagers, like himself. Some older, some younger. These guys were his testing and training ground. They trained and fought using everything the young Chris Sayoc learned or developed. They pushed the boundaries of training to the point of extreme and fought in the streets and in tournaments. Chris’ personal training ranged from Tae Kwon Do to training with Master Leo Gaje, Professor Vee, Remy Presas and many, many others. Chris Sayoc was a private student and demonstration partner of Master Gaje from September 1976 to December 1979.
Origins of “Tuhon”
It was during this time that Chris Sayoc decided to be called by the name ‘Tuhon.’ This wasn’t a title used in the martial arts at the time, instead it was in reference to the historical Malay word, “Tuan,” meaning “Leader who has achieved Mastery.” This was his role in his gang, to his friends and his students. Later Master Leo Gaje chose to use it as a title of rank in his martial art of Pekiti Tirsia and so the “title” of Tuhon has become widespread in the Filipino Martial Arts.
Pamana Tuhon Sayoc has promoted 10 leaders to the title of “Tuhon.”
Organization / Systematization
The Sayoc family system wasn’t actually organized into a curriculum until Tuhon Chris changed the name to Sayoc Fighting System in 1981. Until then it was simply referred to as “Dugo ng Bansa” or “Blood of the Nation”. Tuhon Chris’ father (Tatang), Baltazar Sayoc had referred to the system as this, as well as many of his elders. This implied that the arts of the Philippines belonged to all the people of the Philippines and was a legacy of those who had shed blood to preserve their culture. Later as they started teaching the public they simply referred to it as Arnis.
Tuhon Chris had been teaching his own system as well as Pekiti Tirsia during this time. Later after a tournament at the United Nations, where he and his crew had performed extremely well against grown men, Tuhon Chris decided to go his own way and teach his own system. So he formalized the Sayoc Fighting System, with his father as the “Tatang” or Father as head of the system. However, it was the young Tuhon Chris who formalized the training programs, curriculum and taught most of the students. Tuhon Chris signed all thecertificates of rank along with his father “Tatang” Bo. Of course other members of the Sayoc household trained as well up to this point. Chris Sayoc’s brothers and sisters trained in Tae Kwon Do, some trained sporadicallywith Master Leo Gaje, but it was the young Tuhon Chris who was the one in charge. He was the eldest, the most experienced.
“All Blade, All the Time” and the Training Formula
As Tuhon Chris grew older he focused more and more on the bladed aspect of the Filipino Martial Arts. With the focus of “All Blade, All the Time” Tuhon Chris created a completely new and highly evolved Bladed system that he named Sayoc Kali. This curriculum would focus on mastering Vital Targeting of the body, installing reflexes that are honed to perfection and that consider the tactical use of multiple edged weapons in high stress environments. Through the use of Transition Drills, Vital Template, Multi-Man drills, Training Modifiers and target-specific tapping against intelligent, skilled and resisting opponents. Focused only on teaching a few hand selected men in his backyard, training was rigorous and dangerous with a focus on performance. This testing ground for the new curriculum proved quite effective and although it is now more streamlined, it’s still the formula for today’s Sayoc Kali Instructor Training. Each Instructor in Sayoc Kali is personally trained byTuhon Chris Sayoc himself in his home in small groups.
Public Release, Combat Choreography, Tactical/Combatives Divisions
In 1997 Pamana Tuhon decided to open his system up to the public, allowing others to see for the first time the evolution of the art of Sayoc Kali. The system and the Instructors have proven themselves to be of the highest quality. Sayoc Kali has in the short time it’s been open to the public made amazing changes in the Filipino Martial Arts world. With changes in mentality on such ideas as a training rig, projectiles as a legitimate fighting tactic, Feeder mindset and the concept of Vital Templates, other Filipino Martial Arts systems are now adding these ideas to their training.
Sayoc Kali made a huge impact when two of its top Instructors were instrumental in the training and fight choreography of the major motion picture The Hunted, attracting huge audiences to the Filipino Martial Arts for the first time. In the military field, Sayoc Tactical Group (STG) has trained many of the highest levels of government agencies as well as the nation’s most elite military Special Forces groups. Men who really count on life saving skills when everything else fails, when it’s face to face, life and death in a dark corner of the world, these men count on Sayoc Tactical Group to bring them home. Today Pamana Tuhon Chris Sayoc continues to teach and train Instructors. He guides Sayoc Global LLC. And it’s sub-divisions of Sayoc Kali, Sayoc Tactical Group (STG) and Sayoc Combat Choreography. Each of these entities continues to grow and influence their perspective fields, leading the way and evolving the entire concept of edged weapons combatives.