by Louelle Lledo and Andy Sanano

Editor’s Note – Research and development of authentic indigenous classical maneuvers within FMA training has given rise to the formation of the new work, FMA Education: The Fundamental Core of Arnis de Mano, by Mataw Guros Louelle Lledo and Andy Sanano. The basics and drills leading to skills are firmly rooted in a common language of biomechanics based upon anatomy, physiology and physics, and this is the foundation presented in this book.

FMA Education correlates the techniques of Filipino martial arts and creates a basic standard of fundamentals from which all FMA style can be built. Most improtant are the small set of “classical maneuvers” from which all techniques are based, and the two “basic strikes” from which all strikes derive.  Enjoy this article by the Mataw Guros and grab your copy of this new insightful and very useful training manual while supplies last. –Dr. Mark Wiley

two men practicing The Fundamental Core of FMA

This handbook is designed to help you plan programs to teach the Filipino martial arts of Anis de Mano. Although all the lessons in this handbook are also practical for live blades, swords, knives, other alternative weapons or even empty hands, the main scope is the use of double sticks or doble baston. The use of double sticks is not only encouraged but also mandatory in learning Arnis de Mano in order to develp ambidexterity and avoid becoming a one-sided fighter.

Defensive and offensive techniques in Filipino martial arts revolve in a pentagonal foundation that are interrelated and complement each other in spirit, skill, speed, strength and style, as follows:


Spirit is the mental aspect. It is the active type of utmost concentration in every aspect of training. For clarity, spirit will be referred to as “active meditation.” It has nothing to do with religion or spirituality; although it is similar in the sense that the aim is “oneness of mind and body.” This “state of oneness” is possible only with rigid training and strict discipline in accepting the martial arts as a way of life and not just a combative art.


Before speed and strength, a student must have the ability to hit the intended target with the proper weapon at the proper time. In simple terms, this is called accuracy or precision of movement. It is also known as exactness of the projection of force. To achieve this aspect, the student must be taught the proper sequence in muscle contraction and relaxation, timing, balance, distance, coordination and most important of all: breath control. This type of training makes the student focus more directly on a situation and elicits a more rapid response. Every aspect of learning is an active process that teaches a student to apply a simple reaction. A simple reaction is faster than a choice reaction.


Through training, the practitioner learns that speed comes not from moving faster, but from the efficiency of the movement. Efficiency of movement includes the time of recognizing the threat up to the time of neutralizing the threat. This ability of “recognition and reaction” is attainable only through proper and constant training. Every technique, both defensive and offensive, must be executed in natural rhythm with minimal effort based on the underlying principle that a simple state creates speed, and a fluid response generates maximum speed, and maximum speed achieves maximum efficiency.


Big muscles that are needed to move heavy objects at a slow rate of time play a secondary role in Filipino martial arts. Sinewy, flexible muscles that can move a lighter weight at a greater speed are more important. In martial arts, strength may be better represented as power. Power is generated not by brute force, but through efficiency of movement and directness of application of energy. As a natural simple state creates speed, it also creates power. Sometimes power is also defined as “explosiveness,” created by muscle-speed unification or muscle contraction of every part of the body at a given instant. All techniques in martial arts must be designed to offer all around development by utilizing the principle of motion and applying the best angle of force.


No two human beings are exactly alike psychologically or physiologically. In order to achieve maximum results, a technique must be executed according to an individual’s physical capability. The art must be adapted to the practitioner, not the other way around. The system is based on the principle that the simpler the technique, the more effective it is. An attribute of style is form. Good form is an important aspect of the martial arts. Best results are achieved through good form. Good form creates proper muscle tension and contraction, which in turn minimizes wasted energy. Good form also facilitates movement because it affords better control of the center of gravity and balance. Good form is a manifestation of a properly directed energy that results in superior performance.

Do not imitate others or your form will be limited by what you see and imitate. Study and learn the techniques, improve on them, and develop your own form based on your own physical capability.


the fundamental core of Arnis de mano book cover
FMA Education correlates the techniques of Filipino martial arts and creates a basic standard of fundamentals from which all FMA style can be built. According to the authors’ research, there are a small set of “classical maneuvers” from which all techniques are based, and there are but two “basic strikes” from which all strikes derive. As such, if you can learn the basic maneuver and strikes as a foundation, then everyone will have the same strong basics to then progress their journey in the arts by entering a style.

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