The single stick
Regardless of the system of Filipino martial art practiced, the use of solo baston (single stick) is perhaps the most widely seen category of training. This highly adaptable weapon of choice for the eskrimador (practitioner of the FMA) if fast, efficient and extremely practical in terms of combative applications. Additionally, the single stick category is seen around the world in both high impact (live stick) and low impact (padded stick) tournaments. Commonly, the most widely used implement for solo baston practice is the rattan cane, which is very flexible and durable and provide a degree of safety during training. Other versions of the single stick include those made from Filipino hardwood, such as kamagong (iron wood) or bahi (hardwood) and these are more destructive in application and are more applicable to self-protection.
Frequently used to provide a core teaching structure to the Filipino martial arts, the solo baston deepens the practitioner’s understand of anggulo (angles of attack), depensa (defence), galaw ng mga paa (footwork), katumpakan (accuracy) and tiyempo (timing). Practitioners of the FMA frequently undertake partner-based training to hone these attributes within the core structure of their Art, developing defensive skills against 12 angles of attack and using set pumigil (block), palis (parry) and ganting-salakay (counterattacks). Another common training method involves palitan (exchange) in a counter-for-counter manner in flow drill practice, which is used to develop a continual motion from defence to counterattack that is fast, accurate and highly effective.
There are many techniques and applications within the solo baston category and collectively they constitute a highly effective defensive practice. Some of the plethora of single stick defensive techniques include estrella (star defence), sumbrada (roof block), tiklop pana (augmented block within archer parry), pluma (pen defence), sima (hooking parry) or sikwat (low parry). Striking methods can embrace such destructive techniques as bagsak (downward strike), salok saboy (scoop and throw or upward X), planchada (horizontal strike), doblete (vertical circular strike), tulay (bridge thrust) or lagusan (tunnel thrust).
This core technique using solo baston is both powerful and fast and serves as an excellent tool for striking the hand to disarm the weapon and finishing with a thrust with the tip of the weapon to a higher target such as the other hand, the torso or the face. The bagsak salok (downward diagonal strike with scooping thrust) technique travels diagonally from shoulder height to end at a height of the opposite hip. The tip of the stick is then thrust diagonally upwards along the same diagonal line, but in the opposite direction, ending again at shoulder height.
While striking with a stick the practice of blade alignment is used to maintain a solid structure throughout the motion. This requires the practitioner to lead the technique with the middle knuckles of the weapon holding hand to simulate a blade motion. This method ensures structural stability, especially at the moment of impact with the intended target.