Junior Modern Arnis program
In January 2014 Hidden Sword Martial Arts officially started the Junior Modern Arnis (JMA) program and opened up a separate class for younger students to learn Modern Arnis. The Junior Modern Arnis curriculum covers much of the same material, drills and concepts that the adult Modern Arnis class covers, however it is more age appropriate and the edged weapon material is held back until the student is old enough to enter in the adult Modern Arnis program.
In the JMA program the student still learns double stick, single stick, and empty hand material for each belt level just like in the adult program. The student learns through practicing combative skill drills, flow drills, sparring, and pad work just like the adults; however the requirements are spread out more to allow the younger student more time to develop the muscle strength, coordination and maturity needed for the adult program. The JMA student progresses through the same belt progression as the adult student however as they earn their junior black belt rank, they will be then able to move into the adult class as a brown belt where they will finish the adult program and test for Lakan black belt rank there.
While the JMA class is a separate program (class) from the adult program, on Saturday mornings both the adult Modern Arnis class and the JMA class are combined to allow the students to intermix and to work together.
Modern Arnis is a complete martial art from the Philippines that teaches use of and the defense against weapons right along with the empty hand skills. This is a different method of learning than what is normally taught in Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Kenpo, and Kung Fu schools where weapons training is based more on kata (forms), and is reserved for primarily senior students. In Modern Arnis the student is primarily taught with a partner through two types of drills; combative skill drills and flow drills. Skill drills allow the student to develop the coordination and the understanding of the technique, while the flow drills teach the student how to continue the motion of the technique being taught when they miss, if they are out of position or the situation has changed.
Flow drills are designed to challenge the student by presenting them with many different problems to solve or to learn from. First the student must learn a simple pattern; then they take that pattern and practice it with a partner, from there different types of footwork might be added like moving forward and backward, or in a circle; then a different pattern might be added or perhaps a different strike might be added along with the original pattern; it could also be a different range or different timing is introduced; likewise the drill might be changed to where the student is practicing an double stick pattern with empty hand, two sticks vs. one stick, or empty hand vs. a single stick etc. etc. This method of practice accelerates the student’s learning curve since in a short two – three minute flow drill they might practice a sequence tens of if not hundreds of times.
Having the student learn to use weapons takes away the fear of weapons while allowing the student to develop a proper respect for the weapon. In the Modern Arnis program the student learns to use impact weapons right from the start in fact from the very first class they will start off learning how to hold a stick and to learn some basic feeding patterns with both the double stick and the single stick. Having the students strike with sticks helps them to develop arm and upper body strength, endurance, hand eye coordination, range and distancing; but an added bonus to all of this is that it doesn’t hurt. The students learn to hit hard without banging their arms together or making contact with their partner, instead they hit their partner’s stick which gives the student instant feedback on how hard they or their partner hit. However what is important for the JMA student is it is FUN and exciting.
Another bonus to the Modern Arnis way of learning is that the student learns to move from double sticks, to single sticks to empty hand. The majority of the drills and techniques of the double stick material in each level applies to both the empty hand and single stick material for that level, this is what I call compound learning. Because Modern Arnis is a self-defense based martial art first, the stick fighting aspect of the Filipino martial arts is really down played and the translation of the movements of the techniques is emphasized. Thus the techniques and drills are designed to build upon and to cross over between the weapon groups. In the JMA program this is primarily limited to just the double stick, single stick and empty hand; however in the adult program the student also begins to learn edged weapon defense which also includes espada y daga (stick and knife or long and short weapons use together) as well as knife. In the advanced Modern Arnis program the student can also learn flexible weapons (i.e. scarf, bandana, and belt) as well as staff (walking stick).
Sparring is limited but still practiced in the JMA program. The JMA students spar with both padded sticks and empty hand. While the flow and combative drills help the student learn how execute techniques, sparring allows them to put them in practice without a compliant partner. Proper safety gear is required and provided for the stick and padded weapon sparring. JMA students are encourage to spar with the American Karate students and to participate cross training sparring events along with the American Karate program.
Tournaments are encouraged but like the sparring it is limited. Hidden Sword isn’t a tournament school, however our JMA students compete in tournaments just like our American Karate students do. Our JMA students have competed in empty hand sparring, kata, and weapons kata divisions performing Modern Arnis anyos (forms or kata) right along with the American Karate students.
At Hidden Sword we are proud to offer this unique martial art from the Philippines, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this or any of our programs; or better yet stop on by and try out a class.