My Style Of Arnis: Simple Is Complicated Understood.
—Is it better to have practiced 10,000 moves one time, or one move 10,000 times?
Well, if you're Bruce Lee (the originator of this axiom*), it would certainly be the latter.
The problem with most “overly-complex” systems and styles nowadays is that one can quickly get caught up in the myriad of techniques learned within a specific school, such that they develop a "false sense of security" surrounding their art. I have personally explored many different styles now which claim to offer a plethora of "useful" techniques, and each time I find myself thinking, "How can anyone hope to master these infinite series of moves?” As if on cue, teachers of these styles quickly turn to me and say, “It takes a lifetime to master our art.” Or so they would have you believe for their own commercial and repeat success.
Exploring the true masters and teachings of self-defence, one will come to realize, there's really not that many moves involved in learning how to protect yourself...
Hélio Gracie*, innovator of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, distilled his entire system into a series of 36 moves. Before the commercial success and expansion of experts beginning to fight other experts, the “Combatives”, or initial 36 moves, encompassed the entirity of his Gracie Jiu Jitsu system.
How about Muay Thai* and Western Boxing*? Arguably two of the most effective striking arts to date. Between each of these two styles, there are only a limited number of moves which revolve solely around joining these techniques together, creating a "combination". Slip-jab. Jab-jab-hook. Jab-cross-roundhouse. The complexity comes from having mastered each individual technique and stringing them together to solve the equation of your opponent's guard.
Take even, arguably the greatest swordsman of all time, Miyamoto Musashi*; author of the highly coveted, “The Book Of 5 Rings”*. In his memoir, The Book Of Five Rings, he states explicitly that there are only a very limited number of ways to cut a man down, and that schools which employ a highly robust series of techniques are simply out for commercial gain and exploitation.
Even yoga, with it’s infinite expansion inward towards the Self, can be distilled into a very limited set of principles for physical rejuvenation: move your body in the 7 directions of the spine; employ hip openers, twists and inversions; ensure that all asana are centred around achieving a state of meditation so that you can take that peace with you into your daily life.
So, with all that being said, what does my style of Arnis come down to?
4 standard forms
2 advanced forms
2 striking forms
1 blocking form
13 primary ways of striking
11 stick-based disarms
6 unarmed stick-based disarms
Effective and efficient movement
*Where each of these lessons can be adapted to all forms of medium-to-short range bladed weaponry or objects which you can hold in your hand.
You see, the trick isn’t in learning a sizeable number of moves, which can quickly become empty and useless because of the daunting task of having to practice them all, but in applying and adapting these succinct set of lessons to both daily life and alternative forms of weaponry or combat.
The main objective of my art is not to fill your mind with useless jibber-jabber, which you will end up never using, but to help empower you with a unique set of principles which may be applied to you as a total human being.
The arts, especially martial arts, can be seen as a free-form assertion of our own unique self expression. However, just like when learning how to paint, one can quickly become lost in the myriad of colours, like maroon, magenta, and magnolia, while failing to ever realize that all colours boil down to the primary: Red, Green and Blue.
So, forget the infinite spectrum — the spectrum will come through your own self expression — just learn to master the basics and you will come to realize that what you thought was complicated, is actually quite simple when fully understood.