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Burn with Kearns: Filipino Kali Stick Fighting, a holistic approach for those 50-plus – Kevin Kearns

Unlocking the Benefits of Filipino Kali Stick Fighting: A Holistic Approach to Enhancing Cognitive Function, Rehabilitation, and Dexterity for 50-Plus Adults

In recent years, traditional martial arts have gained recognition not only for their physical benefits but also for their positive impacts on cognitive function, rehabilitation, and dexterity. Among these, Filipino Kali stick fighting stands out as a multifaceted discipline that offers a unique blend of physical activity and mental stimulation.

This article explores how practicing Filipino Kali can serve as a holistic approach to enhancing central nervous system (CNS) demand, improving cognitive behavior, aiding in pre and post-rehabilitation for shoulder injuries, and boosting dexterity, particularly for individuals aged 50 and above.

Enhancing CNS Demand: Filipino Kali, also known as Arnis or Eskrima, is renowned for its emphasis on fluid movement, coordination, and reflexes. The art involves the use of rattan sticks as weapons, requiring practitioners to engage in complex patterns of strikes, blocks, and counters. These intricate movements demand a high level of concentration and coordination, thereby stimulating the central nervous system. In the early 1980’s Serrada kali master Angel Cabeles came to Stockton, Cali with just such plan. 

For individuals over 50, engaging in activities that challenge the CNS is crucial for maintaining cognitive function and agility. By practicing Filipino Kali, older adults can effectively enhance their neural pathways, promoting sharper reflexes, improved reaction times, and heightened mental acuity. This heightened CNS demand not only benefits physical performance but also contributes to overall cognitive health and longevity.

Improving Cognitive Behavior: Recent research has highlighted the cognitive benefits of practicing martial arts, including improved attention, memory, and executive function. Filipino Kali, with its emphasis on strategic thinking and adaptability, serves as an ideal platform for enhancing cognitive behavior in older adults.

Through repetitive drills and sparring sessions, practitioners of Kali are required to anticipate their opponent’s movements, assess threats, and execute appropriate responses in real-time. This process fosters cognitive skills such as decision-making, problem-solving, and situational awareness, all of which are valuable for maintaining mental sharpness as we age.

Pre and Post-Rehabilitation for Shoulder Injuries: Shoulder injuries are common among individuals of all ages, particularly as we grow older. Whether due to repetitive stress, trauma, or degenerative conditions, shoulder ailments can significantly impact mobility and quality of life. Filipino Kali offers a unique approach to shoulder rehabilitation, focusing on controlled movements and strengthening exercises that promote flexibility and stability in the shoulder joint.

The rhythmic motions of Kali stick fighting help improve range of motion and muscle strength around the shoulders, aiding in both pre-rehabilitation to prevent injuries and rehabilitation following injury or surgery. Additionally, the non-linear nature of Kali training allows practitioners to adapt techniques to accommodate varying levels of shoulder mobility, making it accessible for individuals recovering from shoulder injuries.

Boosting Dexterity: Dexterity, or the ability to perform precise and coordinated movements with the hands and fingers, is essential for everyday tasks such as writing, typing, and grasping objects. As we age, dexterity naturally declines, leading to challenges in fine motor skills and manual coordination. Filipino Kali, with its focus on manipulating sticks with speed and precision, offers an effective way to enhance dexterity in older adults.

The repetitive drills and intricate hand movements involved in Kali training help strengthen the muscles of the hands and fingers, improving grip strength, coordination, and tactile sensitivity. This not only enhances performance in stick fighting techniques but also translates into improved manual dexterity in daily activities.

Filipino Kali stick fighting represents more than just a martial art—it’s a holistic practice that addresses physical, cognitive, and rehabilitative needs, particularly for individuals aged 50 and above. By engaging in Kali training, older adults can reap the benefits of enhanced CNS demand, improved cognitive behavior, effective pre and post-rehabilitation for shoulder injuries, and boosted dexterity. Embracing the art of Kali not only promotes physical fitness but also contributes to overall well-being and vitality as we age.

This is why at Burn With Kearns we infuse these arts into out training of all clients individual and group as we demonstrated at our recent Be Your Own Bodyguard workshop last week. 

Train the way you play – play the way you train.

Coach Kevin Kearns 


Read ALL articles by Kevin Kearns – here: BURN WITH KEARNS

Both of Coach Kearns’ books may be purchased on For more information about Coach Kevin Kearns, including scheduling speaking engagements and classes (both online and in person), please contact him at 508-404-8503 or [email protected].Author of “There’s Light In The Tunnel” How to Survive and Thrive with Depression  – “Always Picked Last“ A guide to navigating bullies on Amazon and Audible

Coach Kevin Kearns has been coaching in the world of fitness, nutrition, and tactical self defense for over 3 decades. As the former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pro Fighters, and ranked in the Top 5 in the UFC , he is no stranger to the the importance of proper nutrition and proper mindset programming. He has long advocated to all his clients – athletes or the general population – about the importance of programming mind, body and spirit. Coach Kevin Kearns BS FMS CPT – Former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pros Ranked in Top 5 by the UFC Personal Fitness Coach, Author, Columnist, Motivational Speaker, Corporate Wellness Consultant, Youth Wellness Program Provider, Certification Specialist, Personal Self Defense, and Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics Specialist.


  1. WILLIAM C MINA on May 5, 2024 at 10:50 pm


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