In preparation for the full implementation of Republic Act 9850 declaring arnis as the Philippines’ national martial art and sport, the first batch of Physical Education (PE) teachers from the National Capital Region has completed a seminar on how to teach arnis to young students.

The training was conducted by arnis master Prof. Armando Soteco, the founder of School of Arnis Professionals under the supervision of Department of Education (DepEd) division supervisor for Quezon City Dr. Cris Duka.

The origin of arnis is military, which explains its emphasis on weaponry and its unique progression of training that starts with weapons and ends with empty hands.

Traditional arnis has three playing forms namely single stick or solo baston, double stick or doble baston and espada y daga or sword and dagger.

Soteco, seeing the dangers posed by traditional weapons training to very young children has perfected a method of teaching arnis safely, “In my method, the children learn empty hand callisthenics first without realizing that those same movements are applicable to stick fighting,” Sotoco said.

“When the students are ready, they will progress to formal weapons training.”

Soteco explained that since a weapon is but an extension of the hand, he simply reversed the traditional way of arnis training that begins with weapons and ends with barehanded practice.

Soteco explained that there are four perspectives in presenting arnis: as a martial art, as a sport, as a cultural aesthetic and as a physical education exercise.

All four aspects were taught comprehensively in the recent DepEd seminar. Besides learning the different techniques of arnis, the PE teachers who attended the event were also given firsthand experience in full-contact sparring with safety equipments and in officiating an arnis match.

Also presented during the event, were the proposed changes in sport arnis rules used in the annual Palarong Pambansa.

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