Good point. I will try them too.
I visited a modern arnis club yesterday. Did not expect much but was still under-impressed.
The warm-up was more relaxing exercises. It did not even get warm. After that, split of the group in experienced people and noobs. We had to do blocking exercises. Sadly the noobs did not even try to actually hit me and insisted that we hold some distance for safety. So I could not even practice in a distance where I could actually be hit. Oh and of course you stop the strike when you get blocked. So basically we were hitting each others sticks. After that one attacker should hit and freeze while the other blocks, grabs the stick and makes a counterattack. I don’t know much about stick fighting but this did not really look alive.
At the end some falling exercises. Sparring, no "does not make sense for noobs". They have some kind of kendo-style armor for sparring for the more experienced people.
The good thing was that they were quite open minded about other material arts. "If you know any other arts, you can talk about it with us, we can incorporate it into our training.".
Is this typical for modern arnis? They mentioned that they are "doing a bit of their own thing" though.
Like I mentioned earlier, Remy Presas did a lot of seminars. I mean, TONS of them. Being an early FMA practitioner in the U.S. he taught a lot of them to other non-Filipino stylists. Rather than trying to get people to switch styles, he often marketed it as a good supplemental weapons art. There was a huge rash of Kempo+Modern Arnis, TKD+Modern Arnis, etc., schools in the 90's. It got to the point where if someone told me they did Modern Arnis, I'd usually ask. "Cool, but what is your MAIN style?"
Due to this type of spread of the style, most Modern Arnis clubs are very friendly/open minded toward other systems. It's kind of in their DNA at this point.
The club you visited may be a little overly cautious with newcomers and not wanting to scare them away, especially if they are at a school where they seek to make a little money or pay rent. The whole strike and freeze thing is a little off putting, we don't do it in Balintawak and the first time I saw it I wasn't sure about it. However, there's often a lot of application hidden in the moves you do after you block and the guy freezes (at least in my experience) so there may be more value there than you realize. This is weapons training so you have to take some time to focus on technique before you can move fast and hit things.
As for sparring only for the experienced? It sucks when places have those rules, I've heard even some BJJ schools have similiar policies in rolling. I find it interesting sparring weapons with newbs, they flail around and don't do things efficiently but it still hurts when you get hit!
Where are you located? Maybe we can find an FMA school more suited to your taste?
There is only one other school where I live. The teacher visited a couple of Dog Brother gatherings so should be legit but they are quite expensive and require a one year contract. So not a option at the moment. I definitely plan to get into the FMA one day but I guess it makes sense to focus on my grappling for now.
I wouldn't really expect heavy contact in a college FMA club, even one with decent teachers.