Which Arnis Stick Do YOU Use?
The Stick You Use CHANGES Your Art...So Choose Wisely!
By Pete Kautz, 2005
|Yes, it is true. Not all Arnis sticks are
created equal...and the stick you use changes your art, sometimes radically!
Take a moment and prove it to yourself - Just look at the sticks pictured here and answer this question about each one:
"How might your Arnis be different if you ONLY ever practiced with that one stick?"
Like most people, I started in the Filipino martial arts in the late 80's using a medium length, light rattan stick at the school. The first time I bought sticks of my own, however, I got a cheap set that had been sitting around...the reason being they were "too big" for anyone's taste. These were the same length as the sticks everyone else had, but were almost twice the thickness.
What I quickly found was that although it was easy enough for me to adapt to using the heavier sticks after a little practice, other people had one heck of a time stopping the mass of the larger sticks in class. It wasn't that I was any more aggressive or hit any harder when using these "table legs" (as some called them), it is simply that even a light strike with a stick of that mass is not easily handled by the light stick unless the defender really knows what they are doing.
Intrigued with how these heavier sticks handled, I bought another "unwanted" chunk of rattan that was this time "too long and too heavy". I liked this stick a lot, but most people would just ask me to put it away...they hated training against it. I still have this stick (the 3rd from the right in the photo) and it is one of my favorites because it works well for me with either single or double-handed techniques.
Since that time, I have always been interested in seeing what kinds of sticks different people use when first checking out a video or book on their approach to the art.
There was an excellent article many years ago in one of the magazines on the hidden stick art inside of Kajukenbo. What they stressed was mobility and power through repetition of basics using very heavy sticks...specifically long pieces of 2x4 lumber which is cut down on one end to serve as a handle!
Now, by this point, you probably think I am going to say that light sticks are worthless, right? Wrong! Like many things in the martial arts it is not always a issue of one being best, just all being different. Let me explain...
Now, if power and strength development come from working with the heavy sticks, what comes from working with the light sticks? In a single word - SPEED! The light stick can move with lightning speed to strike deceptively from high to low and left to right before you can blink. The style of movement and attributes developed by training with these "whips" is very different then that developed from the heavy stick!
With the light sticks it is almost more like a knife-fight than a stick-fight in the sense of the movement. In this sense, they serve as an over-training for the knife because of their speed as levers. Just like the knife, it is also the THRUST that is the king of stopping blows with the light stick. Whereas someone can take a strike from the light stick and still move in to grapple, the thrust will keep them out, particularly the face thrust.
What is the answer then?
Train with them all to develop different attributes.