Cardinal Rules of Arnis

Cardinal Rules or Principles in Arnis

By nature man is never violent. Unless otherwise affected by some physical or psychological affliction, or forced by outside reasons or provocations, no man will harm a fellow human being (or animal for that matter) let alone feast on their physical sufferings. Man is an “institution” of love and kindness.

However, history is replete which stories of man’s brutalities to his fellowman. Wars were waged and lives were laid in battlefield after battlefields. This is a sad commentary on man’s true nature, or an irony of his being.

But it must be remembered that this violent quality of man is forced upon him by the vicissitudes of time and circumstance. Outside forces edged him out of his human resistance which inevitably led him to react in order to preserve himself. Thus the truism of the “survival of the fittest”. The vagaries of a cruel life led man to violence.

This need forced man to devise arts and implements for fighting. From the first caveman to the present spaceman, tools for fighting were made and improved until sophisticated machines and implements of warfare have become dreadful realities.

Thus, the caveman had his stone clubs, the Europeans their epees and foils, the Chinese their Kung-Fu and the Japanese, their Kendo and Karate, and many other with their forms of martial arts. The Filipinos are not spared of this need. The Filipinos were also forced to devise their own Arnis, the martial art of a cane which had its beginnings even before the coming of the Spaniards.

Present trends, however, converted these martial arts into forms of sport. Although they are taught as defensive and offensive weapons, their concentration is now as a form of sport indulged in friendly competitions like all other wholesome sports. These arts have “Cardinal Rules and Principles” to be observed and followed. Arnis has its own principles that have to be inculcated in the student.

The cardinal principle in Arnis is respect for one’s opponent as a person and as a fighter, and as a sportsman. It should always be remembered that an opponent is a human being with a dignity as you have and worthy of respect. Also do not under rate his fighting ability overconfidence would be costly, if not fatal, therefore never underestimate the ability of an opponent. Sportsmanship on the other hand is the measure of a fighter or player. The laurels of victory should never be worn with superiority but with humility. Victory is not a stamp of invulnerability but rather a reason for magnanimity.

Besides these cardinal principles, there are other principles in Arnis that the students, must remember these are: Character, sincerity, discipline, self-control, etiquette and student’s loyalty to his tutor.

a) Character – a ruffian has no place in Arnis let alone in sports. Refinement in character is important. A student must be taught the moral (and religious) values of everything. It is an obligation of the teacher of Arnis to mold the character of the student in such a way that his behavioral structure would be motivated by righteous desire. It is what a man is that counts not the number of trophies he won. In spite of the abetted fallacies of values of the present world, it is who you are that will matter in the end.

b) Sincerity – sincerity for victory’s sake is not the all–consuming end of an Arnis player. It is the sincerity in him to his fellowman and to his art that makes him shine in the array of men. The will to win maybe inculcated, but such tutelage should never end after the tick of the ultimate second in the game but beyond the canvass and the arena of competition. The martial art of Arnis, it should be remembered, is a good medium of development man’s sense of dedication in all his everyday endeavor and involvement. Sincerity, is the mother of trust and trust makes an institution of what has been shattered by doubts. A man who is not sincere will never have a true friend.

c) Discipline – Arnis is a molder of discipline. Proper behavior in the sport and in life itself will be the gauge of success. Personal discipline is important. The kaleidoscopic invitations and temptations of life should never undermine man in his obligation to his art, to himself and his fellowman. A student should learn to control himself in the pursuance of his goal, not only to his art but also to life in general.

d) Self-control – losing one’s head means defeat. One should learn to control his temper if he hopes to achieve success in every endeavor. In Arnis, self-control is important for without it, life and the good health of another may be lost. The possession of an ability to kill or main a person should be handled with extreme caution and prudence. Man’s clear perception of things is anchored on his ability to control the outbursts of his inner self. Provocation is dishonorable but hasty reaction to it is just as dishonorable if not despicable.

e) Etiquette – etiquette is allied to the main cardinal rules in arnis. One’s norm and standard should never be imposed upon others. One should learn how to respect others. Giving credence to the standard and ability of another person should or will best prepare anybody in any endeavor. The pacific waters of human understanding will stay unruffled if exercise of proper etiquette and respect whether it be in sporty competition or in life itself is observed.

f) Student’s loyalty – loyalty should be emphasized to the student, loyalty to the art, to a fellow player, and to his teacher. Ingratitude to one is ingratitude to the other. A student should be loyal to a fellow player because any disloyalty to him is disloyalty to the art itself. More important, a student should be loyal to his teacher. Everything one has learned is owned by him to his teacher. Personal whims should never cause one to be ungrateful to where he owes everything he knows. Even if the ultimate aim of the art is already achieved by a student that he can now manage on his own, he should never forget the teacher who labored for him. In the skirmishes of things, the student should be always loyal to him.

Life has shown us many treacheries committed in the name of greed and personal gratification. This has no place in the art of Arnis or in sports for that matter. A true sportman is always loyal to his art and to the prime movers of the art. He sees with gratitude in everything and everybody from whom he had owed everything he knows. In this world of muck and mire only those who look back with gratitude shall succeed. Loyalty to the fundamental basis of his achievements weighs for a greater measure in the merits of man. Ingratitude is treachery and a traitor has no place in the forum of honorable men.

Taken from the book authored by REMY A. PRESAS – Father of Modern Arnis

“Modern Arnis, First Edition, 1974”

All rights reserved © AF38710, By: Remy A. Presas