In this post, I’ll discuss six ways that you can practice your cane anyos. Or is it just six? 🙂 Read on!

Martial arts schools vary widely in the number of required forms ranging from fewer than 5 to 30. Invariably, there are different philosophies in these schools with respect to the practice of kata/forms.

Some schools advocate that a large variety of kata is needed in order to practice as many moves possible. Others lean in the direction of a lesser number of kata with an emphasis on practicing the same moves over and over. They point out that the Okinawan masters in the 17th and 18th century often practiced less than 5 kata over their lifetimes and that these katas comprised a complete self defence system. I tend to lean toward the “less is more” crowd and really don’t see the point of having to learn so many forms.

I tend to lean toward the “less is more” crowd and really don’t see the point of having to learn so many forms.

Modern Arnis has four (4) cane anyos and eight (8) empty hand anyos. For the purposes of this post, I will focus on the four cane anyos. 

Below is a video of the late Master Bob Quinn demonstrating his version of the cane anyos of Modern Arnis. There are some differences between his version and the version practiced in the IMAF but for the purposes of this article, the differences are not really relevant.

If you are not able to view the video, click here.

As Datu Kelly Worden points out in his Anyo DVDs (see my review here), the anyos contain a rich trove of concepts and functional self-defence techniques that can be extracted from them. In his DVDs, he demonstrates a number of ways that you can practice the cane/baston anyos. In addition, I posted an article by Jesse Enkamp on “51 Awesome Ways to Practice Kata” on my Facebook and G+ pages the other day.  Based on Datu Kelly’s DVDs, the article by Sensei Enkamp and my own practice, here are six ways that you can practice the four cane anyos of Modern Arnis.

(1) Single cane;

(2) Double cane;

(3) Espada y daga;

(4) Knife;

(5) Double knife;

(6) Empty handed.

As one can see from the above list, the cane anyos are incredibly adaptable and versatile. You need not necessarily be bound by a “prescribed” way of doing the cane anyos. I think that it’s fair to say that Professor was not dogmatic and wanted his beloved art to be adaptable and to be able to flow in any given circumstance. I remember him telling us at a Michigan camp how important the anyos were to him and that it was an important part of Modern Arnis.

Some might say “what’s the point of practicing the anyos in different ways?”

A simplistic answer might be “well, if you get bored, you can practice the anyos in different ways.” I think that the better answer is “if you practice the cane anyos in different ways, you’ll really get to intimately know the movements of the anyos and make it part of your subconscious.” Practice them until the movements become natural and done without thinking.

And how about practicing the above cane anyos left handed? Then you’ve just doubled the number of ways that you can practice the cane anyos! 

I practice my cane anyos left handed on a regular basis and highly recommend that Modern Arnis players do so. If you’re going to do left hand tapi tapi, you might as well do left hand cane anyos. Again, “what’s the point?” Professor Presas advocated training both sides. While he was a natural lefty, his right side cane techniques were phenomenal and likely better than 99% of the arnis players out there. Thus, it makes sense to develop both sides of the body. While not the only way, practicing cane anyos left handed is a good opportunity to develop the left hand.

As the article by Sensei Enkamp makes clear, there are a number of ways to practice kata or anyos. Based on his suggestions, you can expand the ways to practice the cane anyos from twelve to an unimaginable number of variations. Given the number of ways that you can practice a kata or anyo, does it make sense to memorize or know 25 to 30 kata? I don’t believe so.

If I can practice the four cane anyos twelve (12) ways or more, I can really get to know the anyos. You can get into it deeply and really know the anyo inside and out. Recently, I came across an interview of Tsutomu Ohshima, a direct student of Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Karate. Part of the interview touched upon the issue of kata and Ohshima said the following:

They’d think that the guy who knows 30 kata is more an expert than the one that knows 25. I realized that the general public asks this kind of question – their mentality is variety, different kinds, the actual number. For the martial artist, it has to be completely opposite. We have to simplify, simplify, simplify. If you know 20, you have to make 10 kata better. If you know 10, you’ve got to cut to five, five kata that are really, really good. Even five kata are too many. Cut it to two. Each one performed 50,000 times. Do them 100,000 times, you realize that one kata is a little better than the other. Do the one that is better 50,000 more times. When you reach 150,000 or 200,000 times, then I think that kata is yours.

While I may not exactly agree with Ohshima on the need to reduce the kata repertoire to one, I do generally agree with him on the need to simplify the number of kata/anyo that you practice. I can only guess as to why Professor Presas settled only on four cane anyos, but I would bet that he felt that four cane anyos were sufficient and contained all the information that you needed. You just have to practice and find the applications.

For the record, I practice the cane anyos the standard way both right and left far more than any other variation. However, I do plan on expanding the ways I practice them as I have a real desire to really know them.

Caveat: Don’t get caught up in the number of ways that you can practice a kata. “I can do this form 3,000 different ways.” Really? Is that necessary? No. Just pick a few variations that you like and stick with them and do them over and over.

Over to you readers, what is your kata/form philosophy? Do you practice your kata/forms/anyos in a variety of ways? Let’s hear about your variations!

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