Yantok Sinawali

Sinawali refers to weaving or moving the weapons so that they interplay in a continuous pattern of movement. Within Escrima arts Sinawali are drills and exercises that teach patterns of flowing movement. Most Sinawali are repetitive in nature. A specific pattern of movements is performed and at the completion of the pattern you are positioned to restart the pattern from the same initial location. There are hundreds of Sinawali you can practice. We provide a number of useful Sinawali in this article, but we encourage you to explore other Sinawali you might find useful or interesting.

In many ways the Yantok is used much like the Hanbo, but there are some significant differences. The Yantok is much more versatile as a short range weapon. It can be used with great speed and dexterity. The following drills are designed to provide basic handling exercises and to showcase some of the benefits of using this weapon.

Please note that it is never your goal to actually strike your Uke. Strike the weapon, but never the Uke. It is a sign of respect to avoid such contact. Remember that your Uke is trying to help you learn. To paraphrase an old English saying, never strike the hand that trains you.

Each drill below can be repeated indefinitely by returning to the first step at the completion of the last step. This is the normal method for practicing Sinawali.

The drills below rely upon various Octagon angle abbreviations. If you are unfamiliar with these abbreviations then please follow the link to the article about the octagon found at the bottom of this page. You may also wish to review this article regarding vertical octagon angles. It may help provide a reference point for some of these drills.

Simple Yantok Warm-up Drill

This simple drill is designed to warm up your muscles and to help improve your stretch and flexibility. You can readily vary this drill as you become more familiar with these movements. Here is a general sequence you might follow at the beginning of any practice session.

The drill is best done with two weapons. You can revise the drill to use only a single weapon at a time, but we will assume in our discussion that you are using two weapons. We suggest doing each movement ten times, but you can and should do more repetitions as you gain experience with the movements.

  1. Spin each weapon in forward circles so the the wrist is turning outward on each revolution. Perform ten spins concurrently with both arms.
  2. Reverse the direction of the spins so you are doing backward circles using inward wrist turns. Perform ten spins concurrently with both arms.
  3. Alternate forward and reverse spins. Spin the weapon forward then spin it backward again. Repeat the pattern a total of ten times.
  4. Overlap spins. Extend both arms forward such that one hand is above the other. In this extended position both hands perform concurrent forward and then backward spins directly in front of you. Ensure the sticks do not collide. At the conclusion of the backward spins the hands change position so that the hand previously on the bottom is now the top hand. Repeat this pattern ten times.
  5. Wrapping spins. Begin a manner similar to step 4 above but allow the forward spin to wrap the stick around your torso until it light taps you on the back. Return both weapons to the front to perform the backward spin as the hands change vertical positions. Repeat this process ten times.
  6. After the last backward spin move the weapons outward and closer to your torso then continue at step 1.

Fundamental Strikes Drill

In Arnis a series of twelve different strikes are commonly taught to new practitioners. We have incorporated these twelve strikes, and a few others, into a drill you can utilize to practice and conceptualize these strikes. This drill provides the set of essential movements common to the weapon. These are similar to, but distinct from drills associated with the Hanbo. You should notice differences in these exercises between the two weapons. You should also practice the following drill with both hands – either singly or alternating between sides using two weapons. Obviously the angles will vary depending on which hand is holding the weapon. The steps below assume the right hand is wielding the weapon. Opposite angles would be employed when wielding the weapon in the left hand.

Begin by having the weapon and your same-side leg forward and the weapon positioned in an effective guard position. All strikes are delivered in the general direction of local angle 1. The octagon angles indicated below refer to an octagon that is oriented vertically before you, with angle 1 at the top, angle 2 at the bottom, angle 3 to the left, etc..

  1. Strike down and inward at the Jodan Level from angle 7 (Yokomen Uchi)
  2. Strike down and inward at the Jodan Level from angle 5 (Ura Yokomen Uchi)
  3. Strike horizontally and parallel to the floor at the Chudan Level coming inward from angle 4 (Yantok Empi Uchi)
  4. Strike horizontally and parallel to the floor at the Chudan Level coming inward from angle 3 (Yantok Ura Empi Uchi)
  5. Strike down and inward at the Gedan Level from angle 7 (Hiza Uchi)
  6. Strike down and inward at the Gedan Level from angle 5 (Ura Hiza Uchi)
  7. Strike forward at the Jodan level with a Tsuki using the Punya
  8. Strike in an upward direction at the Gedan level from angle 1 (Kin Uchi)
  9. Strike slightly upward with Chudan Tsuki toward angle 1 (Chudan Tsuki)
  10. With the thumb pointing downward and toward angle 1, (the position it is in at the completion of step 9) strike with the Dulo downward toward Chudan level. (Ura Chudan Tsuki)
  11. Rotate your center T5 as you bring your right wrist to your left shoulder. Strike with the Dulo T1 (inverted Tsuki) as you rotate your center back toward angle 1. Your striking-arm elbow will remain near your chest wall.
  12. Lower your wrist so it is near your abdomen and then strike with the Dulo using Chudan Tsuki.
  13. Position your right hand near your left shoulder and strike with the Dulo T1 (Ura Jodan Tsuki). Your striking-hand elbow moves away from your chest wall.
  14. Strike downward toward angle 1 (Shomen Uchi).
  15. Place the weapon so it is at oriented parallel to the floor along the angle 3 and angle 4 axis at Chudan level. Place your open non-weapon hand near the Dulo. Press the full weapon forward with both hands, rising toward Jodan level at angle 1, striking with the edge of the weapon. If using two weapons for this exercise, then using a Jodan Juji Uchi toward angle 1 instead.

There are at least two different ways to practice this drill. The first is to execute each strike and then immediately return the weapon to a guard position. The second is to flow through a strike or maneuver your wrist until you are in position to execute the next strike, never returning to a guard position. Both methods have value.

We vary somewhat in our strike order from the twelve-strike sequence of the various Filipino Martial Arts. You will benefit from doing an Internet search for “twelve Arnis strikes” to explore the original set of movements.

The specified targets in the drill above are provided only for illustrative purpose. In the first step, the Yokomen Uchi could target the shoulder (Seoi Uchi), or the neck (Kubi Uchi). The same applies to most strikes. Any part of the anatomy in the general vicinity of the strike could be targeted (e.g. the forearm, elbow, upper arm, or ribs could be targets for step 3 above).

Arko Drill

Arko refers to vertically spinning the weapon, which is commonly done in either of the following ways:

  • A forward Arko causes the Dulo to move forward and down, then back and upward again, and finally forward again.
  • A backward Arko causes the Dulo to move upward and back, then down and back again, and finally forward and up again.

An Arko is done almost entirely through wrist action. When you are first learning you will likely need to keep the hand relaxed or even open during portions of the spin. With practice you should be able to do the entire spinning action with a closed hand. But this may not be possible until you have stretched and strengthened the ligaments and muscles in the hand, wrist, and forearm.

In this drill we will do both forward and backward Arko movements in various combinations. Begin by holding both weapons such that they rest back and on top of your shoulders; right weapon on the right shoulder, left weapon on the left shoulder. You may find it beneficial to instead place the weapons over the shoulder so they rest against their respective shoulder blade. Either starting position is acceptable. You may elect to do the drill from a stationary position or while walking around (just be careful you aren’t near any lamps, windows, or other unintentional targets).

  1. Perform a forward Arko with the right hand, returning the weapon to its original position.
  2. Perform a forward Arko with the left hand, returning the weapon to its original position.
  3. Perform a backward Arko with the right hand, returning the weapon to its original position.
  4. Perform a backward Arko with the left hand, returning the weapon to its original position.
  5. Perform a forward Arko with the right hand, but do not return the weapon. Now perform a backward Arko with the right hand, returning the weapon to its original position.
  6. Perform a forward Arko with the left hand, but do not return the weapon. Now perform a backward Arko with the left hand, returning the weapon to its original position.
  7. Perform concurrent forward Arko movements with both hands, but do not return the weapons. Now perform concurrent backward Arko movements with both hands, returning the weapons to their original positions.
  8. Perform step five above, followed immediately by step six above. Repeat these two movements in rapid succession a minimum of five times.
  9. Perform steps one and two above in rapid succession while using both weapons concurrently.

Basic Double Stick Partner Drill

This drill can be practiced with or without a partner. It is in reality a truncated version of the Fundamental Strikes Drill. If done with a partner both individuals are using the exact same striking pattern, but each would assume the angles are local, not global, angles. This allows both Yantok to make contact together in a controlled manner. Work slowly with a new partner at first until you can begin to develop a more rapid rhythm without missing a point of contact between the two weapons.

  1. Strike down and inward at the Jodan Level from angle 7 (Migi Seoi Uchi)
  2. Strike down and inward at the Jodan Level from angle 5 (Hidari Seoi Uchi)
  3. Strike parallel to the floor at the Chudan Level coming inward from angle 4 (Migi Koshi Uchi)
  4. Strike parallel to the floor at the Chudan Level coming inward from angle 3 (Hidari Koshi Uchi)
  5. Strike down and inward at the Gedan Level from angle 7 (Migi Hiza Uchi)
  6. Strike down and inward at the Gedan Level from angle 5 (Hidari Hiza Uchi)

Simple Three Step Drill

This is a simple drill that can be done with or without a partner. As you become practiced with the drill consider how you might incorporate the opposite hand to function as a checking hand.

The right hand side is discussed. Invert the angles and arm for the left hand side. Begin with the weapon in your right hand and in guard position on the right side of your face.

  1. Strike toward angle 5 with Migi Chudan Uchi.
  2. Continue moving the weapon along the same circular path and then strike with Migi Ura Gedan Uchi toward angle 7.
  3. Reverse the direction of travel and raise the weapon to strike toward angle 7 with Migi Ura Chudan Uchi. Rotate your right wrist so the weapon circles CCW and slightly over your head to place the weapon in a guard position on the right side of your face. Return to step 1.

Inverted Simple Three Step Drill

This drill is nearly identical to the previous drill, but the strikes are inverted. The weapon is held in your right hand and placed in a guard position on the left side of your face. Here is the sequence:

  1. Strike toward angle 5 with Migi Ura Chudan Uchi.
  2. Continue moving the weapon along the same circular path and then strike with Migi Gedan Uchi toward angle 7.
  3. Reverse the direction of travel and raise the weapon to strike toward angle 7 with Migi Chudan Uchi. Rotate your right wrist so the weapon circles CW and slightly over your head to place the weapon in a guard position on the left side of your face. Return to step 1.

Interleaved Single Stick Partner Drill

This drill can be done alone or with a partner. If it is done with a partner, then one person will perform the movements according to Sequence A, and the other person will follow Sequence B. All angles are local angles and the drill, as defined below, assumes both partners are holding the weapon in their right hand. Angles and sides will be inverted if the weapons are held in the opposite hand (which is worth practice as well). Before starting this exercise you and your partner need to be definitive about who will start with Sequence A and who will start with Sequence B.

StepSequence ASequence B
IchiStrike down and inward from angle 7 (Seoi Uchi)Migi Age Uke near your left shoulder
NiMigi Age Uke near your left shoulderStrike down and inward from angle 7 (Seoi Uchi)
SanStrike down and inward from angle 5 (Seoi Uchi)Pull the right elbow to the front of the chest, raise your right hand near your forehead, and dip the end of the weapon down and to your right to form a Migi Age Uke near your right shoulder.
YonPull the right elbow to the front of the chest, raise your right hand near your forehead, and dip the end of the weapon down and to your right to form a Migi Age Uke near your right shoulder.Strike down and inward from angle 5 (Seoi Uchi)
GoStrike horizontally from angle 4 at the Chudan LevelRetract the weapon and hold it vertically such that the top is just below your eyes.
RokuRetract the weapon and hold it vertically such that the top is just below your eyes.Strike horizontally from angle 4 at the Chudan Level
NanaStrike horizontally from angle 3 at the Chudan LevelRetract the weapon and hold it vertically such that the top is just below your eyes.
HachiRetract the weapon and hold it vertically such that the top is just below your eyes. Continue with the B Sequence in Ichi above.Strike horizontally from angle 3 at the Chudan Level. Continue with the A Sequence in Ichi above.

Double Stick Single Weave

This drill helps to develop concurrent arm movements when using two weapons. Begin with both weapons in a guard position. After you become experienced with the drill start moving about randomly while maintaining the movement pattern. This will help add another dimension to the drill. Also practice doing the drill starting on the opposite side.

  1. Strike down and inward from angle 7 with the right hand. Fold the right weapon up under your left arm and near your left hip.
  2. Strike down and inward from angle 5 with the left hand. Fold the weapon over your right arm near your right hip.
  3. Strike down, inward and then upward from angle 8 with the right hand and continue moving the weapon until it rises again to a guard position.
  4. Strike down, inward and then upward from angle 6 with the left hand and continue moving the weapon until it rises again to a guard position. Return to step 1.

This drill is a little harder than it looks. Take it slowly at first until a consistent rhythm can be sustained.

Triple Strike Weave

This is another fairly difficult pattern to master, so again start slowly. It only involves three strikes on any one side, but it will feel like there is much more going on initially. Begin with the right weapon in guard position and the left weapon positioned under your right arm and resting against the back of your right shoulder. You will find that focusing on good wrist turning action will improve your ability to perform this drill.

  1. Strike down with the right arm in the direction of angle 5. Continue moving the right arm so it begins to circle around your head beginning near your left ear.
  2. Strike down with the left arm in the direction of angle 5. Continue moving the left arm until it rises to a guard position.
  3. As the right arm emerges from behind your head near your right ear strike down with the right arm in the direction of angle 5.
  4. Continue moving the right arm until it is located under the left arm. This completes the first (right) side.
  5. Strike down with the left arm in the direction of angle 7. Continue moving the left arm so it begins to circle around your head beginning near your right ear.
  6. Strike down with the right arm in the direction of angle 7. Continue moving the right arm until it rises to a guard position.
  7. As the left arm emerges from behind your hear near your left ear strike down with the left arm in the direction of angle 7.
  8. Continue moving the left arm until it is located under the right arm. This completes the opposite (left) side. Return to step 1.

If the drill seems particularly difficult at first then try doing only the right hand part of the first side. You will find this fairly easy to master. Do it repeatedly until it is second nature. Now do only the left hand portion of the first side. Again practice this until it feels extremely natural. Now slowly meld the two motions together until they seem to flow as one movement. Now switch over and do the second side, perhaps starting with the same elementary approach. Again meld the two parts into one movement sequence. Now you are on your way and should soon be able to flow from one side to the other seamlessly.

Once you become generally proficient at this drill you may wish to have a partner stand in front of you holding a pair of Yantok. The weapons should be spaced roughly twelve inches apart and pointed forward and down slightly in your direction. This will provide an opportunity for you to strike into another weapon while practicing this drill.

Lacoste 8 Drill

This is a drill with a total of eight movements. The pattern is composed of a right and left side, each containing four movements. You might elect to think of it as two sets of four movements or as a single set of eight. It is often easier to do the former initially.

Begin with the right weapon held up near your right ear and the left weapon tucked back and under your right arm.

  1. Strike toward angle 5 with Migi Chudan Uchi.
  2. Invert your right wrist and strike toward angle 7 with Migi Gedan Uchi. Return the weapon so it rests above your left shoulder.
  3. Strike with the left weapon in the direction of angle 5 with a Hidari Gedan Uchi.
  4. Strike with the right weapon toward angle 7 using Migi Ura Chudan Uchi. Return the left weapon so it rests upon your left shoulder. Return the right weapon so it is tucked back and under your left arm.
  5. Strike toward angle 7 with Hidari Chudan Uchi.
  6. Invert your left wrist and strike toward angle 5 with Hidari Gedan Uchi. Return the weapon so it rests above your right shoulder.
  7. Strike with the right weapon in the direction of angle 7 with Migi Gedan Uchi.
  8. Strike with the left weapon toward angle 5 using Hidari Ura Chudan Uchi. Return the right weapon so it rests upon your right shoulder. Return the left weapon so it is tucked back and under your right arm. Return to step 1.

See Also

The Yantok
The Octagon

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