Living in Japan where Arnis/Escrima/Kali (Filipino Martial Arts) is not popular left me with no choice but to practice with anything that I can use as sticks. Being an old school FMA practitioner, whenever I see sticks, poles or knives I just couldn't stop myself from remembering the good ol training days. Brooms, laundry poles, tennis racquets, and even my son's sentai ranger plastic swords were my practice tools, lol! My favorite "weapon" was my son's "Kamen Rider's baton" that with a flick of a switch brings out a cool laser-like sound and has cool blinking lights like from some cheap B-rated Sci-Fi movie. It felt like I was some kind of Jedi Knight, HAHAHA!
I was totally happy being a wannabe Jedi Knight until my son started asking me to teach him FMA. I didn't have proper arnis sticks and getting someone from my family in the Philippines to send arnis sticks to Japan is somewhat expensive. Arnis sticks are cheap in the Philippines but the shipping will cost more so my next option was just to buy long wooden dowels and make fake arnis sticks. The dowels were OK at first but broke lots of them as my son got older, to the point that we have to practice softly in fear of dodging broken flying sticks. We like to hit hard but the dowels were not helping. The dowels are heavy/slow, lacks flexibility that often leads to cracks or breaking in half and puts all the impact/shock on our hands which can be quite painful. The only thing good practicing with heavy dowels is that we don't have to go to the gym to lift weights since only a few sinawali twirls will get our hand tired and numb. Since we don't like using protectors and padded sticks, just imagine getting whacked on your fingers with a heavy dowel... Ouch!!!
I asked my Filipina friend if she can bring me some rattan/yantok sticks and he did. I was expecting finished arnis sticks but she brought back just the raw materials which are unfinished yantok...HAHAHA! This came as a blessing in-disguise because this gave me a chance to teach my son how how to make arnis sticks. As an old school practitioner, I never liked varnished arnis sticks because I find them a bit slippery. I like sticks just as is or applied with some cooking oil or any other oil that I have available. I like my sticks raw, rough and dirty because as one of my teacher said, "practice with anything that is available and practice cheap". He also said "don't whack your enemies with nice expensive sticks because they don't deserve it. Whack them with an ugly 2x4 instead"... He is crazy, HAHAHA!!! I don't use 2x4s nor whack people with sticks but I still like to practice with rough rattan sticks that I made but if given a chance to visit the Philippines again, I'll surely buy a bundle of nicely hand crafted arnis sticks :)
Here are some photos of my tools...
From the left is my homemade arnis case, thin/long dowel sticks. Dowel covered with aluminum tape, red and green tape on the tip, rubber bands for grips (good for teaching beginners with poor eyesight). Dulled cheap kitchen knives as training knives. Small assorted short sticks as dummy knives that originally came from the sticks that we broke (good for training beginners). My son's thin/long dowel. Son's short heavy dowel (500 grams each!). Finally our beautiful yantok sticks :)
First from the top is for teaching.
Second is for my sparring sticks.
Third serves as a spare.
Last are my son's practice and sparring sticks which probably is the strongest of these sets.
I hope in this video that you will have an idea of how to make your own arnis sticks especially if you can't find nearby FMA shops in your area. I strongly suggest rattan/yantok but any stick will do. Just know your stick's qualities and limitation. If you can find proper arnis sticks, please buy and support your local FMA shop or school.