Saturday, February 22, 2014

Why Study Double Sticks at all?

Modern Arnis is typically an art of the single stick.  Many training groups only use double sticks to do a few sinawali drills (coordinated "weaving" patterns).  I think fighting with two weapons is much harder than one, and have come to appreciate the advantage of the empty (or "alive") hand.

However, I do enjoy working double sticks as well.

At Hidden Sword Martial Arts, we do a lot of double stick work (my teacher, Mark Lynn, talks about that on his blog).  We have continued that tradition of double-stick training at Mid-Cities Arnis.

Here's a double helping of PAIN!
One obvious advantage of working with two sticks is that it trains both hands at the same time in a very efficient manner.  We get a LOT of reps with both hands. I am much stronger with my weak side hand now than when I started.  This may be the single primary benefit of double stick training.

Another advantage is that double stick work translates very smoothly into empty hand techniques.  Some of our most basic two-stick techniques, like the "Combative Responses" borrowed from Kombatan, directly translate to useful empty handed techniques for self defense.

Combative Response #1

It's also easy to adapt other arts weapons, such as tonfa, sai, and kama, to our techniques and training methods.  My teacher and I have demonstrated this principle to our Kobudo friends many times.  If you can do it with sticks, you can do it with any of the other double handed weapon sets.  This makes the Filipino Martial Arts and our training methodology very flexible in terms of application.

Finally, two sticks vs. a single stick is an interesting way to solve problems of inserting and chaining together techniques and patterns.

Here's a clip of my instructor teaching a drill where we have one person with two sticks attacking someone with one from a few years ago (yes, that's me driving).  It is reminiscent of tapi-tapi drills isn't it?  This two vs. one stick drill progression starts pretty early in our curriculum.


In this drill, it's much, much harder to be the attacker, or driver (two sticks) versus the defender (one stick), as you have to think ahead.  This is valuable mental training for when we get to concepts such as baiting later on.  It's also what we use to prep our students to perform tapi-tapi - the mental skills, as well as physical skills.

Finally, double stick training is just plain fun, especially when you explore different sinawali patterns that are out there (or make up your own).

So get out there, pick up both sticks, learn some great skills, work both hands, and have a great time!

If you train in the Filipino Martial Arts, how much double stick training do you do?