Short clip on single sinawali.

An integral part of Modern Arnis practice is sinawali, whether it be single, double, reverse or heaven 6/redonda sinawali. From a physical standpoint, sinawali practice builds hand, wrist and forearm strength through repetitive striking against an opponent’s canes. Timing becomes ingrained as a result of sinawali practice as well. In addition, sinawali practice also helps to develop range finding skills. Sinawali practice also encourages one to explore the various aspects of the beat and/or rhythm. In short, sinawali is great for developing attributes. Learning sinawali, especially single sinawali, is a stepping stone to learning basic tapi tapi. For example, Master Chuck Gauss particularly emphasizes the 2 cane vs 1 cane single sinawali drill, inserting sweep strokes and thrusts. While you learn this in a pattern fashion, after a number of years, you will eventually dissolve the pattern and become proficient at the concept of counter for counter (tapi tapi). It all starts with sinawali practice.

There is a place for the classical “one step” self defense practice where Able attacks with #1 and leaves the stick hanging while Beta performs a self defense technique without any counters from Able. In today’s environment, this teaching methodology is problematic and outdated and does not prepare the students for possible counters from their opponents. It is even more problematic if the instructor does not explain that the “one step” self defense technique is a prelude to flow practice or does not make the connection between the one step practice to flow/tapi tapi practice. The problem with the “one step” approach to learning self defense is that it requires the training partners to “reset” after a technique is performed. Refer to Able and Beta above. After Beta performs a self defense technique without any counters from Able, he then stops. And then through some agreement, either Beta gets another try or it’s Able’s turn.

As I said above, there is a place for this type of martial arts training and it does have value in terms of teaching rudimentary skills. However, from an “aliveness” perspective, I much prefer teaching sinawali and its variations and use it as a stepping stone to teaching tapi tapi skills right off the bat.


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