• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • What martial art uses 2 sticks?

The Filipino martial arts of Escrima, Arnis, and Kali all use double sticks. These double sticks can be used for self defense but no one fights with 2 sticks The sticks are useful for drills  to build your coordination, rhythm, and flow.

Filipino martial arts (FMA) are not as well-known globally compared to some other martial arts like karate or taekwondo. FMA is a comprehensive system of martial arts that includes both weapon-based and empty-hand techniques.

FCS Kali

I love training in the Filipino Martial Arts

Escrima, Kali, and Arnis are primarily known as a weapons based arts. It usually contains a lot of single stick, double stick and knife drills.

These drills give you an opportunity to practice a ton of repetitions in a relatively short amount of time.

It is through this repetition that the practitioner develops a sense of rhythm and timing.

Escrima, kali, arnis stick drills


Sinawali translates to weaving It refers to the weaving motion the double sticks make when coming together.

I always tell my students that in a real fight you will not suddenly find yourself fighting a person who just so happens to have two rattan sticks with him. Additionally, you will not have your two rattan sticks with you.

So what is the purpose then of practicing something like this where you will not ever use in a real fight?

Simple, this drill gives you coordination, rhythm and timing attribute that you would not get with other types of training.


Double stick drills give you a great sense of rhythm

First lets talk about coordination. Coordination found within this 14 count sinawali drill starts with knowing where to put your stick after striking. Notice that the kids in the video was specifically talking about where the stick goes after striking. This is very important to the drill because if you wind up the stick in the wrong location, you will not be able to deliver the correct strike on the next beat.

This type of coordination is also found in boxing.

Where? You might ask? Whenever you throw a punch in boxing you need to be setting up your next punch by winding up to the correct place.

Rhythm is very important in fighting. Not necessarily regular rhythm but specifically broken rhythm. However, you cannot learn broken rhythm or half beats without first becoming very rhythmic yourself.

I hope you see the value of Sinawali training in the martial arts. Sinawali is one of the very first things we teach here at our martial arts academy in Las Vegas.


The "Comb Over" movement

This basic drill is meant to be a starting point for more free-flowing and spontaneous techniques.

Once this drill is learned correctly and the student can flow. The more advanced of the two should break out of the pattern and throw an unexpected strike. This will force the receiver or other students to have to react and change their movements mid-way through executing the technique.

Escrima, Kali, Arnis Stick Drills have so many variations!


Double stick box pattern drill

The box pattern is a flow drill using a single stick to attack and defend. Almost all styles of Filipino martial arts have a version of this drill.

I really believe that drills and specific pattern drills are very useful for developing skills in students.

However, these drills are not meant to be used in a real-life self-defense situation. These drills are not fighting. They are not even sparring. They are very specific ways to develop the skills need for sparring or fighting.


A secret training method to improve your Escrima, Kali, Arnis stick drills

You can improve at a much faster rate in your Kali / Escrima / Arnis training by using this simple tip.

Use a galvanized pipe to shadowbox your movements.

The training method of using a heavy weapon will strengthen your wrist and your striking ability.

When you put down the heavy stick and pick up the lighter stick you will feel a big difference.


The rattan stick will start to fly and zing when you strike

I know of some demo teams that will use the galvanized pipe to warm up directly before a performance so that when it comes time to actually go out on to the stage they are ready and moving very fast.

However, you do not want to do Escrima, Kali, Arnis Stick Drills with a stick that is TOO heavy. I remember watching the movie Rocky V and when he was training for the title fight he was boxing with some 20 lbs. dumbbells in each hand. I actually laughed in the theater and my wife looked over at me because it wasn't appropriate at that moment in the movie.

Anyway, using a solid piece of metal is going to be too heavy and will actually slow you down.

Remember this is martial arts training, not bodybuilding. The goal of heavy stick training is to build up speed not strength. I hope this secret training method helps you to improve your Filipino martial arts training.

Can you believe a parent once told me "I don't want my kids training in weapons. I brought him here to learn practical self defense"

Actually, the parent said, “I don’t want my child training in weapons classes because he will never have to fight with a weapon.”

I thought for a while before answering. “First, when children train in stick fighting classes the main point is not to train them to defend against a weapon attack.

The goal of weapons training for kids is mainly to build up their hand coordination.

Children are forced to hold two sticks in their hands and have to strike while alternating both left and right in various patterns, when doing Escrima, Kali, Arnis Stick Drills. Their hand-eye coordination goes through the roof!

If I then have to train the kids in empty hand techniques. they are much easier to teach because they have the coordination to actually learn the martial technique. Also, the sticks act as 1lbs. weights, so as the kids train with it their hand speed increase by leaps and bounds.

Thirdly, because the sticks move much faster than an average person’s hands do, their perception of speed increases as well. Compared to the speed of the sticks, empty-handed punches coming from an opponent looks much slower by comparison.”

Lastly, I said “And as far as never being attacked with a weapon, you never know. Anyone’s first instinct is always to grab a weapon when fighting.

When he becomes an adult it may be a beer bottle or a kitchen cleaver. But if he has trained with the sticks he will know what to do if he ever gets attacked.”

The parent then looked over to me and said: “Wow, I think you are right.”

I couldn’t help but show a really big smile.

Do you love Escrima, Kali, Arnis Stick Drills? Come and try out a class!