11 Quick Tips About Arnis For Newbies
Arnis (Kali, Escrima, Eskrima) is somewhat well known, but it's not ubiquitous like, say, Tae Kwon Do, all the various forms of Karate, BJJ and MMA, boxing, and so on. But if you're considering picking up an FMA, here's a few tips you might find helpful.
1) Don't bother to get fancy carved or burned rattan sticks at a premium price. Get the basic rattan ones that are relatively straight and aren't horribly warped. Warping can be (somewhat) repaired, but don't bother. If you like them burned with a pattern - you can do it yourself in your garage. Your sticks will eventually be taped up and broken, so don't waste your money.
2) I prefer the sticks with the skin still on (over shaved sticks). I think they have a little more heft to them and I think they last longer than shaved sticks. Use the length and diameter your style recommends (it varies from style to style - for example, in mine we tend to use 26 to 28 inch long sticks that are 1 inch in diameter).
3) For Pete's sake, don't use hard woods like Iron Wood or Bahi-Bahi in regular practice vs. rattan. You'll shred their sticks and if you hit your training partner, it could be the difference between a bruise and a break. White waxwood is fine as long as everyone else is using them - but note, they are VERY noisy. Poly sticks are also okay, although they're not my favorite either, but again, don't use them against rattan.
4) When possible, I like to train in mat shoes. I personally witnessed a disarm that shot a stick at blistering speed downward and broke someone's toe. I just use some inexpensive athletic shoes I got at Payless for 10 bucks that I only wear on the training mat. It's saved me from toe and foot injury more than once.
5) Keep electrical tape in your training bag to quickly patch up sticks that are cracking. You can also use duct tape, hockey tape, or in a pinch, medical or athletic tape if you must. Unless you train a style that doesn't hit with power, your sticks WILL crack and break eventually.
6) Medical or athletic tape is so very awesome to help combat blisters on your thumbs - just tape 'em up before practice. You will probably get some blisters if you practice often. That tape really helps a lot.
7) Newbies either hit as hard as they can (so they're very hard and stiff) or they hit far too light (so they train themselves to "pull" their strikes before they actually hit. This is normal, so don't get too upset with yourself when you realize you're doing that.
8) It's very easy to hyper-extend your elbows. Don't. It hurts. A lot. This usually happens because you're too far out of range. Close in a step or two and it might help.
9) Try to use your whole arm when striking, not just your wrists and forearms. If your wrists are tired or painful (and not from locks or strikes to the wrist) - you're probably not using your whole arm.
10) Keep your elbows in. It hurts a lot when you hit the Medial Epicondyle of the Humerus, which is that knot of bone on the outside of your elbow.
11) The fear of getting hit in the knuckles or on the back of the hand is worse than actually getting hit. And you will get hit. It's not as painful or as scary as you think. Welcome to the Purple Knuckles Club!
If you're new to the FMA's, or considering starting up training, I hope these quick tips help.
Arnis/Kali/Escrima/Eskrima players, did I miss any important tips for newbies? Let us know in the comments!