Sinawalis--How Many is Enough?

Discussion in 'General' started by arnisador, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    As some of you know, I'm spending a year in Albuquerque, NM for work. I'm visiting some martial arts schools to find somepleace for my son and I to practice while we're here. (We also train on our own.) There is some FMA here, though not as much as I'd hoped to find!

    We've been visiting a school where during the FMA class we do a lot of sinawalis. Every class seems to have a different one. Sometimes they're so very close to one I know well that it's hard to break out of that old pattern. Other times they're very different. But at each class it seems there's at least one new one.

    I've wondered this before: How many sinawalis is enough--or even too many? In Modern Arnis under Prof. Presas we typically did single sinawali (high R forehand, low R backhand, high L forehand, low L backhand, repeat), double sinawali (heaven-and-earth), and reverse sinawali (earth six), and sometimes heaven six (a.k.a. redondo). These are relatively simple sinawalis compared to some of the ten-count, asymmetric routines I've done in other systems.

    Part of me says, If it's new to you or hard for you to do then you're learning something; but part of me says, What's the marginal value of learning one more double-stick pattern?

    Some of them work in abaniqo strikes, which aren't explicitly in the Modern Arnis sinawalis, and I see some value to that. We did one the other night using a reverse-grip on the stick, which was different. But some others work me into arms-crossed positions that I find awkward! I certainly wouldn't want to be in some of these positions, but one can't always choose where one ends up, I suppose.

    Sometimes I've felt that an instructor has found doing many sinawalis a convenient way to pass the class time. Rarely has an instructor whose class I've visited followed up a sinawali by saying "Now here's how you'd use this one... (or why this one is important)" though of course that does sometimes happen. To me the biggest value has always been the ambidexterity it develops, as well as there being some value to having an ingrained double-stick striking pattern to fall back on if need be.

    Is there great value in knowing many sinawalis, or is it enough to have a few? Should you be sure to learn a new one every now and again just to shake yourself up? For people who "collect" sinawalis--why?
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2005
  2. sames

    sames New Member

    That in itself is a good reason to mix it up. If you do something so often that it has become a pattern then its no longer of any real training value to you. You've got it. Move on. If something has become so much a pattern that it inhibits you from doing something another way then you've perhaps done it too often. Doing new/different patterns IS harder. You have to think and that's a good thing.

    Even with single-siniwali you can toss in variations that start screwing up people who have done it too much: stand still. Always lead left. One guy always moves back. Every three repetitions shift movement direction. Instructor calling for random shifts to only left/right hand, etc.. Anything to make people pay attention to what they are doing. If your just going through the pattern and swinging the stick you aren't actually learning anything. Its fun. Its almost always fun to do stuff your good at.

    OTOH... memorizing a bazillion patterns isn't my bag. Grab a half dozen that aren't too similar and just introduce variations. My feeling is that siniwali is there to help you learn continuous movement. By introducing some random elements you can start to learn flow... to deal with changes without stopping or stuttering.
  3. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    We do do those variations on single sinawali. I always switch to one hand, move around, etc.

    I think you make a good point about the patterns having the potential to become dead as drills. On the other hand, to the extent that one thinks of double sinawali, say, as something to do as an offensive pattern in double stick fighting if one brakes through the opponent's guard and has the advantage, it's as useful to practice it as it is to practice any other strike(s). So, as a drill I agree about mixing them up, but as a striking pattern I'm less sure.
  4. sames

    sames New Member

    Wouldn't you have to practice it as a striking pattern? Actually attempt to break through that guard and deliver? If you don't train that way theres no reason to think you'll act/react that way.
  5. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Well, it's a combination like any other you might practice, that you could pull out when needed. But, I don't double-stick spar very often--just single-stick--so for me it's mostly a drill. I like sinawalis for the coordination benefits. It just seems like some people have so many--I wonder why they keep adding them? What's the added benefit of a system's 17th sinawali?
  6. sames

    sames New Member

    Excellent question. Different strokes I'd guess. If sinawali is what you enjoy doing most then go forth and collect more patterns and work them. I always enjoy seeing a new tapi-tapi and I'm sure some would wonder how many of those you have to collect also ;)
  7. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    If you view a tapi-tapi technique as a specific technique you might use at a specific time, I can see the benefit. If you see it as teaching a general concept, I can see it then too. But some people view them, I think, as somewhat akin to chi sao--a fairly free-flowing sensitivity exercise--and then it's less clear to me why one more is valuable.

    I also enjoy seeing new ones for their ingenuity, but I actually don't invest much time in tapi-tapi. I also invest only a limited amount of my own training time in sinawalis, viewing them mostly as a coordination/ambidexterity drill. I don't get too excited about finding, say, a new empty-hand application of double sinawali. However, I do invest a lot of time in solo baston and its extensions--that I find very useful training. Getting it into a more free-flowing exercise is very useful, I think.
  8. sames

    sames New Member

    IMO the goal is always to be spontaneous and free flowing. Everything else is a tool to get to this state. Sometimes the tools take on a life of their own and you get sidetracked for a while. Sinawali is just plain fun when your going wicked fast with someone else who can keep up and maybe even push you faster.

    Tapi-tapi can flow like this but first you have to have the building blocks. That's why seeing a new tapi-tapi varient is cool because you get to experience a new counter that wasn't in your toolbox before. Of course learning them for their own sake is, again just my opinion, just like learning the sinawali for its own sake. Nothing wrong with it but its only part of the whole experience.

    Of course a lot just depends on your goals. If you just like fanning your sticks around then just doing sinawali and learning new sinawali is spot on for you. If you want to do WEKAF type sparring then perhaps sinawali doesn't have the same appeal.

    So to address the original question of how much is enough... I think its a personal decision. When you've got enough to address your goals then you've got enough. Don't get tunnel vision. I'm sure (from the outside perspective) that its possible to have too many combinations just like its possible to be too thin, too muscular, etc...
  9. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Member

    My thinking is that fewer is better. If the idea of sinawali is to build a sense of coordination between the two weapons or limbs, then a small set of sinawalis that cover the basic angles should probably do the trick. If the idea is to groove specific doble olisi (or whatever your weapon combination happens to be) routines, then I think that goal is better served by sparring drills that actually implement the routine.

    If a new sinawali introduces a new concept or something, then I'm all for it. For instance, when I went to Guro Inosanto's seminars and learned "kob kob", it was unlike anything I'd learned in the Doce Pares sinawalis I'd done before. Not revolutionary. But different. It added something to my repetoire and was therefore useful. But really, I don't favour collecting more and more elaborate sinawalis when a better effect (to my mind) can be achieved by simply using the more basic sinawalis and adding more variables to the drills (e.g., one person going to one knee or back, performing sinawali with obstacles in the way, using various types of footwork, etc.)

    I agree that sinawalis can sometimes be used by teachers with less experience to eat up class time in a way that looks like new and important information is being conveyed. It's the same complaint that some people have (legitimately to my mind) with "forms collectors."

  10. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Yes, I think of it much as aI do when comparing a style of Karate with 17 empty-hand forms to the original Uechi-ryu Karate (as Pangai-noon) with 3 empty-hand forms. What's better, a Shaolin Kung Fu system with scores of empty-hand forms, or Wing Chun with 3? I lean more and more toward the smaller systems...yet I see the value of having a large catlog of techniques from which to draw. In a single encounter I think there's a benefit to knowing fewer things better. Over a lifetime there's value in having a library of techniques from which to adapt to impending challenges.
  11. sames

    sames New Member

    Agreed. Its all about intent. If your goal is to a better, more rounded eskrimador then your time could be better spent on a dozen things other than adding more siniwali to your training. OTOH if you really get off on siniwali then adding a new more patterns is an excellent idea. Wouldn't want you getting bored. I try to seek a happy medium. I know my self well enough that I know I can't just do productive work all the time. I have to mingle in blow-off, mindless funstuff. Siniwali falls into this category for me. After going crazy waving sticks around for a few minutes I'm ready to go back to work. Waving sticks in a new pattern might be slightly more productive so I try to sneak that in.
  12. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    I think that more exercises like this one would enliven the sinawalis for me a bit more. Just walking around while doing a sinawali, or going down on one knee, etc., isn't enough to really keep me feeling that I'm getting a lot out of it.

    I do like doing some sinawalis that have abaniqo strikes in them--we could use that in Modern Arnis! I also like the (single- or double-stick) ocho-ocho partner drills I've done in JKD-Kali. It helps emphasize getting the body behind the shot.
  13. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

Share This Page