What weapons are in Modern Arnis?


Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Aug 28, 2001
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Terre Haute, IN
I know many of us have different opinions about this.

I think of Modern Arnis, as I learned it from Mr. Hartman and the Professor, as including the dagger, the cane, and the short (bolo) sword. Mr. Hartman now includes the sibat (staff), which I have seen the Professor demonstrate but not teach.

I'm often asked if it includes the balisong. I know how to open one but in my opinion the answer is both No--we don't teach opening techniques for it, grappling with it in semi-open position, or flailing with it, and Yes--it's just another knife and we teach the knife. Similarly for folders--I was never taught about opening one (though Mr. Hartman has discussed it with me), how to carry one, etc., but it's just another knife.

In fact, I like the idea that espada y daga teaches the simultaneous use of a long and short weapon more than the simultaneous use of a sword and dagger, and might consider that we teach techniques appropriate to a yawara/kubotan in that sense (though without many of the specialized techniques).

We almost never use a sword--even a wooden one--but the blade awareness makes for an easy transition to the sword, and I often say "now if it's a sword..." as I recall the Professor doing.

I'm also asked what length stick we teach and if it matters. To me it does--I'm less comfortable using a 3' stick in a Modern Arnis manner. I don't feel uncomfortable using a shorter stick but a longer one feels awkward to me until it gets up to staff-size and I switch how I hold it. To my mind I teach a roughly 2.5' stick and while the ideas clearly carry over to sticks of arbitrary lengths it does matter that we use ones of a certain length. A 3.5' stick would certainly feel awkward in my hands compared to a shorter one--though the advantages of reach are obvious.

So, I answer the question of What weapons are in Modern Arnis? by saying knife, 2.5' cane, and short sword (and empty hand), and in the WMAA, the staff, and that there's an emphasis on the cane and dagger (and empty hand). Then I elaborate on the fact that this gives a great base for using other weapons and for turning other things into weapons. I also mention the training of stick/sword and dagger, double dagger, and double stick.


Thats what realy cought my eye about the Filipino systems. If its generaly straight and you can pick it up, its a weapon. All the techniques can translate to what ever you happen to aquire, baseball bat, table leg, crowbar, tire iron or a nice wrench 1 1/4 inch. W. Hock Hochheim has toght for several years now, the Dose Monos system, or DMS. Its a two handed aproach to the cane or short staff. It also translates to the riffle and shotgun. There are good points to a short stick, but there are good points about a longer one, so I like both. Anding De Leon, when he still tought Modern Arnis, was realy big into the Bolo. So every thing we did with the canes,we would do with the bolo and espada y daga. It was realy fun to hear the blades clash and to get the sparks going. Its realy good to build the arms and hands up, becouse of the added weight. So I would say that in Modern Arnis there as many weapons as you wont. If its practical and you can apply the techniques to it. Then by all means use it.