Why training with sticks is important in Filipino Martial Arts?
By Bong Abenir
The Philippines is simply rich in rattan sticks and many other hardwood material. But rattan is generally used for training due to the fact that the composition of its material is neither very soft nor very hard in order for the structure of an average human body to withstand its force impact. Now don't get me wrong, of course it could still knock out anyone receiving a hard blow on the head or get all bruised up and suffer broken bones. That is if it is used with extreme force that would cause such unwanted injuries. Now that's the reason we have to wear headgears and other stuff to prevent such things (although injuries still happen but is significantly reduced or minimized). So if it is used just to train to learn the movements and the rudimentary forms of the art and an occasional hard yet still controlled contact then it does help with buliding up good foundation in ezkrima , honing one's reflexes for attacking and defending and countering, and the tolerable hits recieved from a good exchange serves as an awakening to the practitioner that a good defense, sense of good timing, proper form and correct attitude towards weapons training is indeed a must.
Does training with sticks makes an eskrimador's skills functional and relevant to real self-defense scenarios? Yes and no. It all depends on the situation. Sticks are still used on the streets by muggers and even the riot police. Sticks that comes in many forms such as baseball bats, pool cues, batons, tree branch, floor mops, etc. Training with sticks also represents other harder objects such as steel bars, crow bars, big wrenches, collapsible baton etc. Many violent fights and crimes have happened using this types of things. Moreso as compared to long swords (which is not very relevant in our times) except for machetes, bolos and knives wherein the Filipino Martial Arts is among the very few fighting systems who spend a lot of their training dealing with these weapons. Now the truth is: Any deep thinking martial artists know the strenghts and as well as the limits of any form of martial system. Even if you are among the best and highly skilled hand to hand or weapons instructor or fighter one wrong decision, a careless move, an extremely disadvantage position or an ambush could turn all the years of practice, knowledge and expertise into nothing. So why then do we still need to learn or practice? Well, like any good insurance agent would tell you: "You never know when you'll need one" and just think about those seatbelts in the car. Strapping them may sometimes feel uncomfortable, but it may be the only thing that could or might save you when your car hits hard on the wall.
Abenir Kalis Filipino Blade Art
AK Kalistas Ilustrados