Sadly, in spite of Filipino martial arts’ popularity in the West, many people still have this misconception that Arnis / Kali / Eskrima is all about two people whacking rattan sticks at each other. For the benefit of those un/misinformed, I’ll say it again—Kali or Arnis or Eskrima is much more than just stickfighting.
The stick is just a symbol of any potential weapon, which can be bladed or edged, blunt or impact weapons, and of course, improvised weapons. Umbrella, pen, handkerchief, magazine/book are just some of the many improvised weapons that you can utilize for self-defense. You can easily understand how to use everyday objects as weapons/tools by determining/recognizing their attributes.
Pen – It’s pointed, thus, can be used to thrust or stab.
Magazine, book – A book or rolled magazine is firm and can be used to hit someone.
Bottle, mug, glass – They’re solid and breakable, thus, can be used as impact weapons. Can be used to pierce when broken.
Handkerchief, sarong, baseball cap – Flexible weapons that can be used to capture and control.
Umbrella, cane – Can be used to hit and thrust. Open the umbrella and you can use it for blocking and or distracting.
However, remember that improvisation isn’t the main focus of Filipino martial arts as seen in some Hollywood movies. Fighting with and against weapons is—because Arnis, Kali, Eskrima is a weapons-based martial arts. Plus, improvising at the last minute can be risky. Do it only as a last option. So always train for reality (with safety in mind, of course). And be ready with some kind of weapon. It’s a dangerous world out there!
I like Guro Mike Pana’s take on improvised weapons. Must read: The Myth of the Improvised Weapon in Filipino Martial Arts
Thanks for reading and happy training! 🙂