Arnis is the national martial art of the Philippines. It is mainly self-defense system designed to protect you from injury while inflecting the biggest amount of damage to the body of your opponent. This martial arts involves the use of many weapons, strikes and different footworks. I have always seen that one of the most favored weapons by Arnis practitioners is the stick or the baton. Traditionally speaking, the same strikes can be used with different weapons like daggers and swords.
You need to understand that Arnis stances is the combination of foot orientation and the distribution of the body. It also involves the position of your legs and torso, whether you are attacking, defending, retreating or advancing. Stances are done so that you can gain competitive advantage over the balance of your opponent, whether you are practicing Arnis training or actually involved in an actual fight.
7 Arnis Stances
Basically speaking there are 7 stances in Arnis. Understanding the importance of the stances and how to do them can help you master Arnis and its strikes.
1. Ready Stance
This is the most common used stance when you are standing at ease. You can use this stance in tournaments and fights before you start engaging with the opponent.
In this stance you need to stand with your toes pointing forward and your feet parallel to your shoulders. Standing with your feet apart gives you balance so that you can move to the next position and attack your opponent.
You need to keep your knees straight and your whole body facing forward.
Your hands should be on the waist level either you are holding two batons or one with another weapon.
2. Attention Stance
This stance is different from the ready stance, since you stand with your feet forming a 45 degrees angle. Your torso and the legs should be facing forward while keeping the knees straight. In this stance, you will stand with the heels close to each other and the shoulders dropped to the sides. Both hands should be kept at the waist level. This attention stance is usually used for courtesy in preparation for a fight at the beginning before sparring.
3. Forward Stance
As you start from the ready stance, you will have to move one foot to the front. You will have to do this until your toes and your knee are in line with each other. Your toes, torso and waist will be facing forward, hence the name of the stance. Make sure that your foot is not too much extended or the body is too low, otherwise it will be hard to maneuver or attack from this position. You should be able to distribute the weight of the body equally on both legs. There are two types of forward stances. The right foot stance or the left foot one, depending on the foot you are extending to the front. It is usually used in striking or blocking techniques.
4. Oblique Stance
This stance starts again from the ready stance. In this stance, you will start moving one foot in 45 degrees angle until the toes and the knees are in line with each other.
The foot is moved forward away from the body to reach the right position. Your moving foot is called the lead foot.
You will have to move your body in the same direction of the lead foot. The waist and the torso are kept moving to the front along with the toes.
It is essential not to extend your feet too much to the front or lower your body too much otherwise it will be hard to move and maneuver. And it is critical to keep your body weight equally distributed on both legs. Again the oblique stance can be right or left foot led depending on the foot you choose to move. This stance is used in blocking and evasion.
5. Straddle Stance
You should start from the ready stance then move either the left or right foot for a distance of 2 feet to the left or right direction. This is done until both lower legs are now perpendicular to the ground.
The whole body, the legs and the toes should be facing forward to make sure that this stance is a success.
Again, it is crucial to make sure that the feet are not too extended as this makes you in a position where you are unable to move properly in order to attack or defend.
The name of this stance is due to the resemblance to the position a horse rider would maintain. This is why it is also sometimes called the Horseback Riding Stance.
This stance is one of the most efficient stances used to block the strikes especially to the side of the body.
6. Side Stance
This is very close to the straddle stance as you again start from the steady stance then move your feet either to the right or the left.
However, in this position the moving foot will be kept perpendicular to the ground while the other leg would be extended.
This Arnis stances somehow looks as if you are about to engage in a side kick. Again, the torso, the legs and the toes should be kept pointing forward.
Also, it is very important to make sure that the body is not too low by extending your foot too far to the side. You can engage in a right side stance or a left side stance depending on the foot you choose to move.
This stance is usually used in evasion techniques or strike deflection.
7. Back Stance
As the name suggests, in this stance the foot is moved to the back rather than the side.
You will start from the ready stance then extend his foot to the back in a 45 degrees angle away from the body.
While the legs are in a straddle position, the heels should form an imaginary “L” shape.
The weight of the body should be equally distributed on both legs and it is very important not to extend the foot too far.
Back stances can be done by extending the right or left foot. They are used in back evasion techniques and in blocking.