Have you even trained in FMA?
This brings up several interesting topics.
Let me start by saying that yes, I believe that stick work does increase your hand speed.
Now down the rabbit hole….
First – Several of you are under the common misconception that arnis/kali/escrima (FMA) are weapon based arts. This is incorrect.
One of the older names of the arts is “Arnis de Mano” which translates to “to harness the hands.” I don’t swing or flick my stick. I move my hands. The weapon follows my hands, and I do not allow my hands to chase the weapon, nor do I allow my weapon to move uncontrolled. My hand never leaves my weapon. I focus on keeping my full grip engaged throughout all of the movements of my stick. A FMArtist will use any weapon that is available to them, but they do not have different styles of movement for each style of weapon.
The FMAs are just as much empty handed arts as any karate or gung fu, the only difference is that I put something in my hand. In fact GM Arthur Sikes described the traditional movement as “gung fu with sticks.”
This (stick work) has many benefits including teaching hand eye coordination by enhancing visual input via a long stick. But that’s really not what you asked so…
Lets say your want to swing your bo staff faster in a kata….to accomplish this, you train with a longer one or a much heavier bo not a lighter or shorter one. The after some time training with the heavy bo, you then go back to your normal or a lighter bo. The movement is faster, the weapon moves faster, and you are faster in your movements. Arnis is like this, in that my hands train to be fast with sticks in them, I take out the stick, then my hand moves faster without the added weight and resistance. It’s a basic principal of resistance training for explosive muscle reactions or plyometrics.
The stick work teaches you body mechanics, how to generate speed, how to be accurate.
It teaches you angles, physics, and methods of attacks.
It programs your mind and body to function the same whether you have a weapon in your hand (improvised or made) or nothing in your hand.
So does that answer your question? Or does it raise another?
As to perception, do the FMAs have an advantage? No?
Repetitive training is the only way to train your perception.
Now do the FMAs have an advantage, perhaps…. because we are always trying to hit you with every swing, and we swing a lot. And I will tell you with all sincerity, you will never learn to wield a weapon unless you train with a weapon, but as my teacher told me…everything is a stick.
One thing to remember….the FMAs don’t have a monopoly on these principles.
Words are used differently all over the islands, what means one thing in the north means another in the south.
On Negros for instance Arnis as a noun means baston. In cebu it means a yolk on an ox.
If I have learned anything in 20 years of FMA practice is dont get in an argument over words in a language that has so much variation and hybridization.
But the one thing I have learned is how to move my hands, and you know what,,,,the stick doesnt do anything without them.
One thing I know from my experience is that kickboxing and wrestling for 15 years didn't help me one bit when I picked up a stick. I was just a bad off as every other guy who had no training at all!
However, after training stick for 9 months, I have had a huge increase in my kickboxing abilities. For me the footwork made the biggest difference, but the knife training has increased my hand speed exponentially. I'm stoked about my stick training and wish I would have started earlier!
Not to mention a great deal of FMA are "family styles", and suffer the same internal bickering and schizms you find in most families. Lineage and inheritance issues, personal fueds and dissagreements over terminology and methodology. Let's not even get into interschool rivalries. Almost every MA has it's gossip and rivalries but FMA reps some seriously small town style disputes.
It's like a nations entire TMA scene was developed by crabby grand parents.
Consensus may be reached but "universal" doesn't even apply when almost every Guro on the planet has a different answer to the trivial stuff.
Grandmaster Ernesto Presas
Professor Remey Presas
Tuhon Rodell Dagook
Master Mipo Flores
Four legendary masters, same story.
I am not pinoy, so I am not familiar with all the variations of language in PI. I only know what I was taught, no one said you had to agree with me.
The debate over the term “arnis” is almost as fruitless as debating the history of the work "kali" and there is rarely any consensus.