After some searching when I moved to Sydney, Australia I was lucky to cross paths with 2 instructors who would become big parts of my life. John Russell is one of the most knowledgeable and skilled practioners of Arnis I have ever met. He has actually published a book about Balintawak and it's full of photo breakdowns of the techniques in great detail. Shihan Scott Brailey, who is featured in the video I made below, learned Balintawak from John but has also trained in many other disciplines throughout his life and has several black belts. Both of them have taken Balintawak in their own unique direction; John is all about the black and white; disgard what doesn't work and never hold back knowledge to retain a student. Scotty applies the same midset and also brings his expertise with Ninjutsu locks, throws and kicks to the mix.
With Arnis the primary weapon is the Rattan stick, usually one but two of them can also be used. Unlike other martial arts, in Arnis you learn with weapons first and then with that foundation you progress to empty hand techniques. The same techiques will allow you to use any kind of weapon; we train with sticks, knives, swords, staffs, baseball bats, hands, knives or even pens and towels. Anything you can grab hold of can be a potential weapon, which makes me laugh when I go through airport security and they are concerned about my toenail clippers when they should really be concerned about my belt or my keys ;)
With Baintawak there is a 'student side' and an 'Instructor' side. The student learns to block, check and counter, over and over and over until it becomes 2nd nature. It teaches you to never be someones 'bitch' or get held back by a poor instructor, although unfortunately a lot of people fall into this trap but that is a story for another day. The instructor is always a step ahead of the student (for now) and sets the scene: the student makes the plays.
What really makes Balintawak great is the teaching method, it really is a wonderfully efficient way to enable a beginner to progress quickly. Once the 12 basic strikes are learned, the student moves through the 5 different groups which each teach a different aspect or series of situations that may be encountered. For example, 'Group 1' is all about destryong blocks and 'Group 2' involves the use of your empty hand.
The video below goes through groups 1 and 2 and shows some of our ways to finish a fight quickly, efficiently and effectively. Myself and Shihan Scott had great fun making this and the reason I burst out laughing in the outtake at the end is because he accidentally managed to kick me in the chest during the technique :D
If you would like to learn Balintawak Arnis please contact me to arrange something. Your first session with me is always free, so what have you got to lose?!