Vicente: Arnis: Sinawali

The Path

WE ARE starting with the trivia for Arnis, hoping to cover interesting and educational topics of the Philippine National Martial Arts and sports.

For this article, our topic is the famous “sinawali.”

‘Sinawali’ basically means meaning weave, or weave pattern, from the word “sawali,” a term used to describe the patterns of the crisscross arrangements of the Nipa Hut roofs or wall and the baskets used in the early days.

Sinawali is a fundamental in all styles of Arnis. Some term it as sinawali, some just teach and practice it as drill patterns.

Either way, these are all patterns and or pattern combinations synonymous to the sinawali brand.

Sinawali is more famously practiced with the use of the stick, some with the single stick and some with the double stick which is the more popular amongst practitioners.

In a beginner’s point of view, sinawali is no more than an exercise drill is used to introduce a student to the fundamentals of the stick, but for a learned Arnisador, sinawali is as complex as it can be.

Arnis patterns have evolved through the centuries as many masters wisdom have influenced its transformation and modifications.

Coming up with hand to hand to weapon patterns and vice versa, some even have it documented in their book.

One significant master who devoted further study and modification of the sinawali is the late Punong Lakan Garitony Nicolas or PL as he is famously known is also the ‘Father of Modern Sinawali’ developing 363 pattern variations of the sinawali drill and publishing it in a book titled “363 Modern Sinawali Every Escrimador should Know” published by Central Books.

PL is just one of the many masters who modified and gave variations to the usual sinawali previously thought by those who came before them. It could not be denied that sinawali is part of any Arnis styles due to the presence of patterns they follow in their strikes and movements.

As one master said, “sinawali or whatever you call it are patterns, either you use a weapon or just your bare hands, they are still patterns. Even your footwork has patterns. In martial arts especially Arnis is composed of angles and directions which bares patterns as one shifts and redirects, so sinawali or whatever it’s called in your style, it could not be denied as part of any system or style of Arnis although not necessarily identified or named as sinawali.”

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