• Sinawali: Arnis’ way of double-cane fighting

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    Attacker (left) delivers a strike using both canes. Punong Lakan Nicolas blocks using his left cane while countering with a left temple strike using right cane.

    Attacker (left) delivers a strike using both canes. Punong Lakan Nicolas blocks using his left cane while countering with a left temple strike using right cane.

    Sinawali is the double-cane method of fighting of arnis, escrima and kali. The name sinawali came from the Tagalog word “sawali,” a woven split bamboo mats used as walls of nipa huts. The crisscrossing movements of sinawali weapons fighting mimic the pattern of these mats hence the name.

    The high-speed nature of sinawali drills is good for developing fast reaction. The rapid-fire contact of sticks in these drills will sharpen one’s awareness of motion. Developing the strength and coordination of both hands is another benefit of sinawali training. Most of these drills teach the practitioner to relate the movement of the weak hand to that of the strong hand hence promoting ambidexterity.

    Punong Lakan Garitony Nicolas dubbed as “The Father of Modern Sinawali,” developed more than 300 variations of the sinawali drill. In the photos above, Nicolas demonstrates a fighting application of sinawali.

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