This post delves briefly into what to expect in the first Modern Arnis/Filipino Martial Arts class and applies equally to children and adults.

For starters, you can expect a hell of a lot of fun!

You can expect to start on a fascinating journey through Filipino Martial Arts, which are full of endless possibilities. It’s practical. It works. The training will put a smile on your face!

Most Filipino Martial Arts classes consist of training with weapons such as sticks and knives.

Training with sticks will dramatically improve attributes such as hand speed, eye-hand coordination, reaction speed, awareness, and problem-solving. 

The beauty of Filipino Martial Arts is that once you understand the stick, you can transfer that knowledge to everyday items such as tote umbrellas, car keys, pens, palm sticks and many other objects to defend yourself if the need ever arises.

Most, if not all, Filipino Martial Arts translate weapons movements into empty hand self-defence techniques as well. As a result,  your confidence will soar, knowing that you can handle any situation that might arise.

Before you become Jason Bourne or be the Last Woman Standing, you have to start somewhere!

Here’s what to expect in your first Filipino Martial Arts class. For those experiencing their first class in Filipino Martial Arts, I keep it simple and teach the following:

(1) You can expect to handle a stick from day one!

My approach differs for an adult versus a child. With an adult, I’ll hand them a single stick and start by showing the proper grip on the stick.

With a child, I’ll start with empty hand single sinawali. Depending on the age and attention span, they often learn this quite quickly. Then I put two sticks in their hands and tell them to do the same thing. Let me tell you; kids are mesmerized with “clackety clack” of single sinawali. They love it!

(2) Introduction to the 12 angles of attack:

Once the student learns the proper grip, I will teach the 12 angles of attack. While showing the angles of attack, I’ll explain the reasoning behind the angles. I’ll say something like:

“We are more concerned with the angle of attack rather than the method of attack. For example, any attack that targets the left temple of your head, whether it be empty hand, knife, stick, tote umbrella, a broken bottle or any other implement, would be considered an angle one attack. Recognize the angle of attack, and you’ll be fine.”

We will then practice the angles of attack, starting with the first four and, depending on the student, add the number of angles incrementally until we cover all 12 angles.

With a child, I’ll usually cover Angle one and two. The older the child, the more angles you can cover with them.

(3) Block, check, counter:

A drill common to Filipino Martial Arts such as Modern Arnis and Balintawak, this drill is a basic introduction to the concept of “counter for counter.” In other words, a high-speed game of chess with sticks! 

During this drill, you will learn one step footwork and proper blocking. These elements cannot be emphasized enough and are reinforced from day one.

I include this drill, along with a couple of others, in nearly every class. Practicing these basics will ensure that the student will develop high-quality structure and technique.

(4) Single Sinawali

I teach a few double stick weaving drills in class, and they are called “sinawali.” For those learning Filipino Martial Arts for the first time, single sinawali is the first double-stick pattern taught in my class. 

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 rhythm. In short, by learning sinawali, you will develop attributes such as speed and timing. Learning sinawali, especially single sinawali, leads to advanced techniques.

Check out the below video to see the simplicity of single sinawali.

(5) Great learning environment:

After viewing students in black T-shirts and wielding sticks, you might think “who are these crazy folks?” You may be surprised to find that some of the best people you’ll ever meet are in Filipino Martial Arts classes! You’ll find students who will be eager to help you through the first few classes. They will show you some of the counters they have picked up on their journey. Most importantly, they’ll want to share their joy of practicing Filipino Martial Arts!

As Morpheus says:

Over to other Filipino Martial Arts Instructors, what do you usually cover in a student’s first class? Let’s hear from you!

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