The art of Modern Arnis was founded by Professor
Remy Presas, who synthesized his experiences with a number of
traditional Filipino arts into his special method. Professor Presas
fought many real life challenge matches with sticks when he was
young, and his life story was one that would make an unforgettable
movie! He ran away from home, stowed away on a boat, and went to
another island when he was a young man as a way to test himself and
improve his Arnis...he traveled the world as an ambassador of
Filipino martial arts as an adult...and he created more interest in
the arts of his homeland than perhaps any other single individual
I have studied Modern Arnis since the mid 80's, and in 1991 was awarded my Black Belt by Professor Remy Presas. Since then, I have worked with many other instructors to learn their specific skills and insights into the Filipino martial arts, but I have always been glad to have learned the Presas Style Modern Arnis as a base to work from.
Professor Presas always stressed that we were to take the art and learn to use it in new combinations and innovate with what we were taught. We were trained not to stick to one application or way of doing a drill, but to constantly find new ways to learn and use what we had. Professor was less interested in people copying his movements than he was with having them find ways to apply the concepts behind them in their own individual way. We all learned to better teachers by watching him, too.
Modern Arnis training focusses on first learning the use of weaponry, and then learning how the same skills can apply to open hand techniques. This is the beauty of Modern Arnis, and why Professor Presas was fond of saying "It's all the same!"
Weapon forms include the Single Stick, Double Stick, Stick and Dagger, Single Dagger, Double Dagger, Butterfly Knife, Bolo, Staff, Palm Stick, Flexable Weapons, and Empty Hand techniques. Each tool is used to develop a slightly different understanding of the various drills and partner exercises. The Empty Hand fighting comes out of the various weapon drills, and incorporates both striking and grappling elements. What is important is not the specific weapon, but the universal principles behind its use which Modern Arnis teaches.