Is sinawali training practical? Are there any benefits to sinawali training?
There are those who believe that the practice of sinawali is useless. If you look from the perspective of collecting or learning as many sinawali patterns, it may seem useless to engage in patty cake play. I have seen folks with impressive sinawali skills. But can they go beyond the drill/patty cake stage? Those who have instructors (who fail to teach beyond this stage) may end up believing that the sinawalis represent no more than coordination drills. Unfortunately, all they do is get better at the game of “patty cake.” It seems that a vast majority never really get past this stage.
There are a good number of variations of these drills as illustrated in this video:
If you are into collecting sinawali patterns, you need to ask yourself “is that all there is to sinawali drills? Are they just a series of coordination drills?” You might even say “there is nothing combative about them.”
Au contraire mon Frere.
As one friend of mine said, “sinawali is not only easy, but it’s deep as well.” Indeed.
Let’s start with the usual reasons to practice these weaving drills. Among them are:
(1) Proper execution of the sinawali drills involves practicing the angles of attack. For example, right-hand single sinawali involves angle 1, 8, 2, and 9 in that order. When practicing sinawali properly, your angles and lines of attack become sharper and more focused.
(2) Ambidexterity: This is obvious. These drills develop ambidexterity, eye-hand coordination, power, speed, and strength. Your weak side will, in effect, copy the strong side thereby developing your weak side gross motor movement.
(3) Weight of the sticks: through hard repetitive practice of these drills, you are programming gross motor skills along with some resistance training. This will develop strength and speed.
(4) Reflexes: when skill is sufficiently developed to perform the sinawali drills at high speed, reflexes will become highly honed. One cannot downplay the development of various attributes such as reflexes, strength, movement, reaction speed, rhythm, and timing.
But beyond developing these attributes, is that all there is to sinawali training?
The late Professor Remy A. Presas taught various applications of the sinawalis. He extracted locks, boxing techniques, body manipulations, takedowns and much more from these seemingly simple moves. He was particularly fond of sinawali boxing and the connections to other martial arts.
For example, the short sinawali parry is similar to the pak sao of Wing Chun. The bottom portion of the long sinawali parry has its equivalent to the down block of Karate.
GM Dusty Seale, at the June Michigan Camp, related to the attendees how Professor Presas made the connection between sinawali and the down block. GM Seale said that was one of the biggest insights of his career. Indeed, his teaching sessions covered that connection and was enjoyed by all.
In the below video, Datu Kelly Worden offers his take on empty hand applications from single sinawali. If you are not able to view Datu Worden’s video, click here. As you can see, sinawali is much more than just “patty cakes.” It’s a heck of a lot more than that.
In the below video, Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss showcases some of the sinawali boxing basics he learned from the late Professor Presas. As indicated by Master Chuck, there is a lot you can do with sinawali boxing.
One would need to go beyond the drill itself and look deeply into the applications. Sinawali is truly a dictionary of motion and combat applications. It’s all there. Parrying, locks, takedowns, hitting, sensitivity and much more is contained in sinawali. You just have to look for it. It’s a hell of a lot more than just patty cakes. 🙂
There are martial artists who excel in uncovering the bunkai/applications of kata or forms. There are a number of treatises outlining how to analyze kata. Why not apply the same kind of rigorous analysis to the applications of sinawali? If you do that, you’ll find the answers.
The bottom line: Sinawali training is not useless. Indeed, it is unbelievably deep.