In this article, you will learn stick fighting tips to boost training and performance. These tips are usually applied by different practitioners of Filipino Stick Fighting as a form of exercise but they are also very effective in preparing you for training and actual combat.
These hacks will not only condition your body but also prepare you mentally and physically for any imminent challenges in your martial arts journey.
So keep reading until the end…
#10: Meditation for Filipino Stick Fighting
The main objective of meditation is to clear your mind; to get rid of the bad habits of the mind and focus on the stick fighting training and battle ahead. What stick fighting classes near me practitioners often lack is not the physical preparation but the mental preparation.
Your habitual mind prevents you from focusing on your training or your main objective for learning the art. Meditation allows us to clear our minds from these bad habits of the mind and make us more self-aware and focused on the present moment.
The Shaolin monks meditated for many hours and years to make their mind peerless. The samurais perform battle meditations before engaging in battle to gather their strength and make them mentally strong.
Legend had it that one of the best swordsmen in history named Seijuro Yoshioka was renowned for his powers of concentration due to meditation: powers that give him an edge in each fight. In stick fighting videos, everything moves so fast – stick, limbs, movement, action, and reaction.
Meditation will give you the same mental edge that legendary swordsmen like Seijuro had. You don’t have to meditate for several hours on end. 5 minutes of meditation before starting your training should be enough to clear your mind and get you focused.
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#9: Stretching is Key in Filipino Stick Fighting
Aside from alleviating and preventing cramps, stretching works best in improving flexibility and muscle control. Stick Fighters need to stretch. Your body needs to be strong and mobile. So you have to work on your strength and flexibility.
So if you are lax or stiff, you need to compensate for that laxity and stiffness by stretching. Stretching will give you the mobility you need to move fast in stick fighting and assume many positions with less effort. A highly stretchable and mobile body will give you an edge over the other stick fighting practitioners.
It has been a usual practice to stretch before training. But you can also stretch during days where you don’t have the training to ease up the tension of your muscles. It is recommended not to stretch every day to give your muscles time to rest and recover from the sore.
Stretching every other day is ideal. I do yoga thrice a week to keep me flexible and mobile.
#8: Practice by Teaching Filipino Stick Fighting
One of the best ways to memorize and improve techniques is to teach others. Showing, explaining and demonstrating your art to a student or another person will develop the neural pathways linked to that particular skill and the body parts used to execute them.
The more you teach the art, the more you will master it. Studies also reveal that teaching develops the memory and critical thinking. So by teaching, you are reinforcing your ability to remember and think about things better.
Stick fighting is more demanding on the mind than on the body. You will be learning tons of useful and practical long stick fighting techniques that require much of your mental energy. Teaching will help you cope up with the mental challenge and master the art faster.
#7: Exercise for Good Footwork
Just like a good boxer, a good stick fighter has good footwork. The art of footwork usually doesn’t have its drill in stick fighting training. Training in footwork on your own will give you an advantage over other stick fighters who don’t.
Footwork is essential in stickfighting because we are moving in all directions during training and in a real fight – not just linger or circular. There is footwork training used in boxing that you can adopt. The stick fighting style we’re focusing on in Stick Fighting Sport adopts the boxing stance and footwork although other styles of footwork can work as well.
In stick fighting, it is important to move smoothly and not choppily. We are not trying to double step or become flat-footed but flow with the movements of the fight while still trying to maintain a good stance. So stick fighting moves are very conducive to having good footwork and practicing your footwork would make a difference in your training.
#6: Learn from the Masters of Stick Fighting
If you want to be a master, then you have to learn from the masters. I had the privilege to become friends with some of the best stick fighting masters in our place like my master Andrew P. Obon, my former master Lino Baban, and my late father Emmanuel Lim, all of which learned kali stick fighting from Grandmasters themselves.
Don’t just take what the master teaches you. Ask questions. Often, Masters have more to offer if you go in-depth with them. These people have dedicated their lives to the art and have spent hours practicing and mastering it.
Their wisdom will guide you into learning that sweet, secret stuff that can help you accelerate your training. Teaching is also part of their training, and they know that they can also benefit from teaching you.
Another way to go about it is to research online and read the materials from these masters. The materials they post online are already synthesized and usually, contain important stuff that you can learn. You can also watch their YouTube videos if they have any to get a clear picture of their knowledge and skills.
#5: Take Notes
Learning Stick Fighting is just like learning your subjects at school. Taking notes would help you recall all the important points of the lesson. Don’t just rely on your memory because we all tend to forget what we know, especially as you advance in training and learn more stuff.
Taking notes though doesn’t mean writing down everything. You need only to write down the important stuff so you can have something to look into in the future every time you need to recall something. Your master may explain something that is not included in the lesson plan – words of wisdom that come out of nowhere but are equally important. You need to take note of them too.
They have more practical value than most people think.
When I was learning Balintawak sticking fighting, I made it a habit of taking notes after every session. I would recall everything that was taught during the day in my head and put them into writing. The notes had come in handy when I became an instructor.
Every time I’m teaching a difficult technique to a student, I would look into my notes for more information. It also accelerated my training because the notes helped me practice during my free time. They helped reinforced my practice by giving me extra tips on how to perform the techniques properly.
#4: Wearing weight vests or using heavy-duty sticks or practice weapons to increase the strength of your limbs
If you wish to increase the power of your strikes, you need to strengthen your limbs and muscles by using weight vests and heavy-duty sticks or practice weapons during training. You don’t have to use very heavy weights.
Remember that you are not just enhancing your power in stick fighting but also your speed. Too much muscle can slow you down. It is ideal to use weights and sticks with just enough weight to bring resistance to your movement. Wear weight vests on both your arms and legs for maximum results.
A heavy duty stick called “kamagong” is what’s used during training in the Philippines to develop arm strength. But if you can’t find a kamagong, a metallic pipe that is just about the length of the standard training weapon would be just as good.
Perform shadow fight practice with these heavy practice weapons every day to achieve the best results. The next time you strike with the standard stick, you’d be surprised at how strong and powerful your strikes and movements are.
#3: Don’t take Grappling for Granted
Is it okay to practice grappling with a stick fighting training? The answer is a resounding yes. In our club, we have the familiar saying “All fights end in a close fight.” What that means is that whatever fight you’re in, whether it’s weapon-based or empty hand, the fight would always end up in a close fight where fighters can grab and grapple each other.
There are many reasons, and one of the most obvious is that grappling can immobilize strikes at a close distance. People would never want to get hit in a fight. They either run away or choose to grapple instead of trading strikes.
We practice grappling in stick fighting for such reason. The late Grandmaster of the Doce Pares Stick Fighting style; Cacoy Canete had a black belt in judo. He incorporated judo techniques into his style. We also had groupings in Balintawak Eskrima that trains grabbing, take-down and throwing techniques.
Thus, grappling is an inseparable part of stick fighting. If you have a background in grappling, then you have an advantage to those who don’t. If you don’t have a background in grappling, you can always do your training.
#2: Develop Your Cardio
I know this sounds cliché, and most martial arts practitioners do this, but only a few stick fighting practitioners do this. Because they think stick fighting is all just a bunch of stick fighting drills and techniques that don’t require cardio, stick fighting practitioners often ignore this part.
I see a lot of stick fighting practitioners with huge bellies, and they become breathless 15 minutes after the start of the training. Contrary to popular belief, stick fighting requires a lot of cardio. It is a fast art where your body is constantly moving in different directions while striking and blocking with the stick. You are expending just as much energy in stick fighting as you would in boxing and other martial arts.
If your work on your cardio, you will have the edge over stick fighting practitioners who depend on fighting ability alone. You will have more agility, better stamina and you can last longer during training. Daily road work is usually enough to develop your cardio. Swimming is also a great cardio exercise. I do polymeric exercises at home to develop my cardio.
#1: Striking with the Rope
Striking with the rope is the #1 training for developing speed, timing, accuracy and body coordination in stick fighting.
Now, this technique is extraordinary because it was recommended by stick-fighting legend and notable death match fighter Master Tinong Ibanez of the Philippines. It is also a unique drill of a modern Filipino stick fighting art called Balintawak Stick Fighting.
The late GM Tinong Ibanez won the last deathmatch sanctioned by the Supreme Grand Master Venancio Anciong Bacon. The deathmatch was held in one of the town fiesta Cebu. He defeated a Punta y Daga opponent using fast and accurate strikes. The victory made him a legend in the Filipino stick fighting arena.
The striking with the rope technique or drill is done by hitting the tip of a 5-inch rope that is attached to a swivel with the tip of your stick three consecutive times. The strikes must be flowing, and the practitioner must use follow-through combo strikes.
By follow-through combo strikes, we mean strikes the follow-through from the starting point to the end point of the attack. The attack must not stop half-way. The combo strikes come in a continuous sequence (see the video on combo strikes for more information).
In general, these hacks that help boost a practitioner’s training are developed to condition the mind and the body for training and even for future dangerous events that occur on a daily basis.
You can perform these various tips daily for 15-30 minutes, and you will notice how your mental perspective and physical strength will change. To learn more, you may want to check out our blog and find many references and information about stick fighting hacks there.