Introduction to Filipino Martial Art systems is generally started with the single rattan stick of twenty-eight inches in length although they do come longer. Training is done with the idea that the stick actually represents a sword, this being due to banning of using bladed weapons by the Spanish, hence the Filipinos switched to the stick to keep the systems alive.
The student first learns basic grips and holds along with the stance and salutations, then moving onto triangle footwork using the male and female triangle. Basic core body mechanics are introduced which are intertwined with the various footwork patterns enabling the practitioner to hit with power and speed to establish superior positioning in relation to the opponent.
The strong hand wields a stick and serves as the primary offence; the empty hand is used mainly for defence, focusing on controlling the opponent’s weapon-hand or striking.
Single stick two-man drills are used to allow the student to recognise angles, learn defences and counters to attacks integrating foot work and body mechanics. Single stick techniques can be practised in long (Largo), medium (Medio) and close (Corto) range.
Twirling techniques and Amara are taught to develop wrist flexibility attacking combinations, strength and coordination, which enhance the ability to generate power and speed along with the different ways to defend and attack with a stick from slashing, thrusting, and using witik, abaniko and punyo techniques.
One basic format which is used to learn the basic blocks and attacks with the single stick is to learn 12 basic strikes, 12 counters, 12 disarms and progressing to learning how to use the stick in long/medium and close range, stick grappling, locking, take downs, learning to use the checking hand, using the left hand as the lead hand and then hand switching and finally learning how to functionalize all that’s been learned in sparring drills and free sparring/ stick fighting in full body armour/low body armour.
Largo Range: is characterised by evasive footwork/angling and fast continuous strikes to the opponent’s lead weapon-hand, using the tip of the stick.
Medio Range: is characterised by the checking hand and counter strikes. This is where you will see the checking hand and trapping come into play. The tip and punio (butt) of the stick is being used to strike in this range.
Corto Range: is characterised by the curved and butt strikes entering into the locks, holds and take downs and stick grappling aspect of the art. The tip, middle and punio (butt) of the stick are used in this range.