Filipino Martial Arts: Sinawali

As you might have gathered from last Monday’s post on the Basic Eskrima lessons, stick-fighting is the most important (and most recognizable) component of Filipino Martial Arts.

One of the coolest things you’ll learn if you do decide to take up FMA, is the Sinawali, or double-stick fighting techniques. You’ll see it used in TV shows like Arrow and movies such as Mission Impossible 3, Hanna, and I, Frankenstein.

Watch the short clip of Arrow’s Oliver Queen performing Sinawali below:

Sinawali is a set of double stick drills practice by two eskrimadors. Sinawali means “weaving, and the term refers to the intricate weaving patterns created by the sticks during the double-stick drills.

Simple mechanical repetition is at the core of Sinawali drills. These exercises provide eskrimadors with the basic skills to respond to a two-weapon attack, and help them develop form, improve motor skills, and program response time and muscle memory.



Many fundamental Eskrima skills are learned through Sinawali drills, including the following*:

*body positioning and distance relative to an opponent,

rotation of the body and the proper turning radius,

proper elbow positioning while swinging a weapon.

recognition of one’s center of gravity, eye–hand coordination,

target perception and recognition,

 increased ambidexterity,

recognition and performance of rhythmic structures for upper body movement,

muscular developments important to the art, especially, the wrist and forearm regions.

* Reference:


Grandmaster Dong Cuesta and Guro Gary Gabisan demonstrate the basic Sinawali drills below:


Michael Janich has a more extensive post on Sinawali here.

It’s  a thrill to be able to wield two sticks with speed and force. So eventhough the movements are repetitive, I never tire of practicing Sinawali drills.

Filipino Martial Arts is a multi-style system so there are many more components to it than Sinawali. If you do decide to take it up, you’ll learn empty hand techniques, knife techniques,  as well as Filipino-style boxing and many more.

Martial Arts Month is almost over and I thank you for allowing me to combine two of my passions: writing and martial arts.

Though I only covered Filipino Martial Arts, I hope you learned a few things that might help you in some way–whether its by giving you ideas for fight scenes in your novels, or by giving you a few new tricks to defend yourself with.


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One Response to “Filipino Martial Arts: Sinawali”

  1. Julie Luek says:

    So fun to read about and picture you doing. I’m so impressed. Thanks for sharing this part of your passions.

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