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Arnis de Mano

by Tara

When we started the process of moving and packing our exercising routine totally fell by the wayside. With only 75 days left before our trip, it is time to get back in shape! As my sore bum can attest, we have begun doing just that. We wanted to gain some practical self-defense knowledge for the road as well, so instead of just going back to the gym we have begun taking martial arts classes!

Every Tuesday and Friday go to "Arnis de Mano" classes at Dual Dragons Martial Arts Studio. Arnis de Mano is Filipino stick and knife fighting, and it means "Harness of the Hand." As you may have noticed, "Arnis de Mano" is Spanish. Many of the words we say are Spanish, due to the Spanish influence in the Philippines: we call our teacher "Maestro;" free-form fighting is called "libre," and our stick is called a "baston." When we bow, it even feels reminiscent of how conquistadors would bow—it is definitely more like Don Quixote or a bullfighter than a Southeast Asian ninja-type dude.

Here is a little excerpt about Arnis from the Dual Dragons website:

A "weapons training" martial art that originated in the Philippines, Arnis De Mano is one of the most highly regarded weapons based system in the world. During your training with the Akira Martial Arts Academy, you will learn how to use sticks & knives efficiently and most importantly, effectively to handle any hand to hand situation.

Classes are high energy, high intensity full body workouts designed to push every martial artist, regardless of level or experience. Full contact fighting and training is expected.

It feels so good to get back into martial arts (I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do from ages ago, but I haven't trained in about eight years). I felt right at home with the padded floor, the mirrors on the wall, and the intricate formalities of the art like special bowing techniques.

Arnis is different from anything I've done, though, because it is much more focused on practicality than on the art form. You actually learn to hit people, and we leave class with stinging forearms. I love it. I didn't realize how much I missed martial arts, but I really did! I missed getting my butt kicked every week, and that feeling of accomplishment you have when you can do something better than you could the last week. So far, so good. We love it! Hopefully we won't break anything when we swing these sticks around at home for practice. :-)