A good first introduction is our article The Arnis Connection which talks about the unique character of Arnis, and about how well it integrates with your empty hand technique. Though universally regarded as a Filipino fighting style, there are similar arts in other cultures, which exhibit comparable features, strengths and characteristics. Likewise, Filipino stick fighting arts are forever evolving and pushing the limits of performance, to include borrowing and integrating what is useful from other styles. I first studied briefly with the late J. Cui Brocka, and then spent multiple years working regularly with his top student, David Bird, who remains one of the finest Escrimadors on the West Coast, if not anywhere. Through Sifu Bird, I had opportunity to meet and interface with Datu Kelly Worden, who over the years has also established a firm foothold at the top, in effect creating his own style. I am also forever inspired by my brother (in the martial arts), Sifu Russ Kauffroath, who, along with his partner Damien Romero, has taken Arnis into new areas of growth and evolution at a breathtaking pace.
background also includes having studied Korean and Japanese stick and blade arts, and like many others who have spent time in the stick arts, what I do today is an amalgam of the totality of my experiences. This
introduction to Arnis presents the twelve basic strikes, which you’ll need to master so you and your partner can practice with safety, precision and control. Remember to always wear safety glasses.
Once you have the strikes down, start working on the basic blocks (there’s one for each incoming attack), and then, perfect your counterstrikes. As you might imagine, there are more than twelve strikes in the
stick fighting arts. The basic strikes do vary from system to system, and some systems may have less (or more) than twelve strikes. I encourage you to explore and learn all that you can. When you find
something good, bring it back and share it with us. For now, let’s just think about getting started with the basics.
The highlight of the lesson is a basic Arnis Kata (Anyo Uno). This form was compiled by
the late Sensei Brocka, who was also at Master level in Shotokan. The influence of Shotokan is evident in the layout of the form (“H” pattern Kata can be found in Shotokan, and also in Tang Soo Do, as well as
other arts), and the classic block, response pattern, lifted directly from Taikyoku Shodan (Funakoshi’s “First Cause” Kata). Though simple in its presentation, repetition of the form will ensure mastery of the
basics and perfection of the classic sequencing of eyes, feet, hands.