Filipino Martial Arts (FMA)

Sinawalli…Love it or Hate it?

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Sinawalli means to weave or pattern. Sinawalli is something that is really traditional for Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) in general. Sinawalli is basically practice with two sticks per person, this is not to say that you can’t do the patterns with one stick. But as a basic general idea it practiced with two sticks. There are systems and styles out there that focus very little on Sinawallis and there are styles like Inayan System 3 of Eskrima that has really complex and studiously curriculum for Sinawallis. If I have understood Suro Hart correct, the idea with Inayan Sinawallis is that it should always be challenging. I can totally agree with that idea.

Sinawalli is something that many people dislike, and mostly it is because they find it boring. At the same time I can understand why some people find Sinawallis boring, if it doesn’t get challenging or maybe you haven’t had the benefits explained for you. As you may already guessed, I am a strong advocate for the Sinawalli team.But i will try to elaborate both sides, so both sides gets heard, I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit bias though.

Another thing you can say about Sinawallis is that it is really beautiful when done correctly. For an example, in Mission Impossible 3 there is a short scene with Tom Cruise and his prodigy doing Sinawallis as a part of their training. In the movie Out for justice with Steven Seagal, there is a scene together with Guro Dan Inosanto where they do some double sticks. Check the youtube clip here under, and it’s around 4,25 minutes in to the youtube clip, where you can see this fight with double sticks between Steven Seagal and Guro Dan Inosanto.


  • Boring – If it does not get challenging, it can easy become boring. By challenging I mean, like a new Sinawalli drill or understanding a complex concept like mirror or redondo that exist within the Inayan Curriculum for an example. Sinawalli without any well thought-out plan can also lead to a boring feeling.

I have really tried to find more downsides of Sinawalli, I have talked to friends that I know doesn’t like Sinawallis and all they seem to able to come up with is that it is boring. They say that there are better things they want to spend their time on. And of course, is that the way you feel, you probably shouldn’t do Sinawallis. But if its required of you for testing, you better find away to motivate yourself.


  • Coordination – One thing that one of my friends pointed out when we talked about Sinawalli was, even though he did not like it, it is very good for beginners with less or no coordination skills. Sinawalli will teach you coordination, not just with your hands, with your whole body wich includes knee, kicks and headbutts. It will enable you to work with your ”live hand” in a more free way. Not to say that other type of training can’t generate the same result. What I mean by that, is that Sinawalli will train your left side of the body to something. So when doing Sinawalli it usually is working on with two sticks, but when we sparr we usually sparr with one stick, it’s those few occasion you see people sparr with double stick. Well the point is, if the sparring games allows the use of elbows, knees and kicks, you will be able to execute this weapons easier because of coordination training and specifically Sinawalli training.
  • Speed and Strength – You can build up very fast hands by doing a lot of Sinawalli, if your goal is to increase your hand speed, Sinawalli is a good training method. It provides some weight to your hands and doing right it can become a really good workout. You need to keep the Sinawallis relatively simple if you want a good workout of it. It’s not that you can’t do complex Sinawallis but  more complex movements means higher learning threshold and it takes longer time before you can get a good workout out of it.
    Strength comes with doing Sinawalli just like the postal worker comes with the bill. Off course it depend on the weight of the sticks, but if you use not to light sticks you will really get tired after a while. I good training tip if you do a lot of training by yourself is: If you don’t have them already, buy some kamagong sticks, these sticks are heavier than the usual rattan sticks and is great for training by yourself. Doing Sinawallis fast with them 5-10 minutes, then switch to regular rattan sticks, and you will feel the difference. Doing this a couple of times a week will definitely increase your speed and strength.
  • Hand positioning – What Sinawalli also teaches you is understanding your hand and arm placement. Or if you’d like to use Sinawalli terminology, chambering positioning. Chambering positions is positions from where you can hit, if it is with a weapon or empty hand does not really matters. It’s the understanding of positions. Understanding this, your trapping will improve, your fine motor skills will improve aswell. Knowing how to go from a place to another with your hands, can be invaluable. Sinawalli will help you transit from one to another place.

For me, Sinawalli truly is an amazing art. Its fun, challenging, complex and beautiful.

If you have not tried this art, try it…
If you do not like it or think it’s a waste of time, give it one more try…
If you like it, keep doing it, make it more complex and challenging.

5 thoughts on “Sinawalli…Love it or Hate it?

  1. Feedback.

    What a intresting entry you have done about Sinawalli

    * I like the part that you write about ”boring Sinawalli”. Is’nt often I see that someone are telling in that way. And you have a great answer,if it’s not a challenging it’s not fun to practice.

    * I like also that you relate to a famous person and movie! it was nice to see the YT-clip.

    ’ I feel that this entry was a deep-going in Sinawalli. You could have cut down some parts, for example the Drawbacks.

    But, you did a very great entry.


  2. Well, a guy with out any cordination he could use some siniwali. When he’s cordination is good there is beter things to spend your time on then siniwali. but it all depends on what you are training for.

  3. hi kris

    i think beside the neuromotoric benefits ilays the most benefit of sinawali for the practisioner if its utilzed in a context of stick to knife/kubotan to emptyhand (manomano) application. hence in this way sinawali is teaching a vary of eskrima core principles and allows to distract develop discover and personalize combat effective applications

  4. I love it! It’s fun and it’s good work out if you want it to be. Sinawali helps me with alot of things, especially when it comes to the empty hand aspects of the arts. The strengthening part of it and the muscle memory really shows up when I need it in sparring games, and applikation drills.

    I’m visiting your blog from time to time. It’s great reading for me =)
    Sharing thoughts and building new ones, wich in itself is a very interesting part of your blog. Keep it up Kris!


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