Rapid arnis

Rapid Arnis is a Filipino martial art originally founded by Pat O'Malley and John Harvey in 1993.


Pat O'Malley and John Harvey founded the Rapid Arnis systems after years of experience with other Filipino styles, principally:
Modern Arnis,
Inayan Eskrima,
Doce Pares Eskrima,
San Miguel Eskrima, Lapunti Arnis de Abaniko,
Pekiti Tirsia Kali,
Kali and
Jeet Kune Do.Since 1993 a constant development has existed within the organisation and the group's syllabus has undergone constant improvement at Pat O'Malley's insistence as he feels that otherwise the art will stagnate and eventually lose its effectiveness. It is for this reason that Pat O'Malley and many of the senior instructors are constantly seeking out more information and more styles to train and develop their own skills with and better teach the traditional arts of the Philippines. The organization has grown from just one Rapid Arnis club in England to at least 25 clubs in England, 2 clubs in Scotland, 1 club in Ireland and most recently 5 clubs in New Zealand, 1 in Cuba, 1 in Mexico and 1 in the USA.


The Rapid Arnis name was coined to describe the styles emphasis on the use of fast multiple strikes, counter strikes and body movement. Its whole principle is based on the practitioner having a fast and rapid combination of powerful strikes in order to overwhelm the opponent in a conflict.

Rapid Arnis International

The Rapid Arnis systems continue to evolve and develop for the modern day applications with a strong base in the traditional arts of the Philippines with the senior instructors of the organisation constantly seeking out and updating their knowledge and information by training with leading Masters of the FMA in the Philippines and around the world.

In 2000 John Harvey left the organisation to form Kapatiran Arnis concentrating more on the sporting aspects of the art. It was at this point that the Rapid Arnis systems was renamed Rapid Arnis International, the new name also reflecting the fact that it had now become a truly internationally recognised system. Although the Rapid Arnis core syllabus is taught to its members and is the main curriculum of the organisation many other styles and systems of FMA are still taught within the organisation to help its members understand both the diversity and the similarities of all the styles and systems of the Filipino martial arts.

In 2003 a board of senior instructors was formed from the longest serving instructors to oversee the organisation and to ensure that the standards of the group are kept to their highest level.

The Executive Board is comprised of:
*Pat O'Malley Executive Chief Instructor (7th Degree Rapid Arnis, 6th Grade Doce Pares, European representative for San Miguel Eskrima, life member of Doce Pares and representative for the Special Emissary of the Asia office of the World Council of the Peoples of the United Nations)
*Lucy O'Malley Int' Chief Instructor (5th Degree Rapid Arnis, 5th Grade Doce Pares, life member of Doce Pares)
*Nigel Herterich UK Chief Instructor (5th Dan Kenpo Niten Ryu, 5th Degree Rapid Arnis)
*Louis Beale Asst Chief Instructor (4th Degree Rapid Arnis)
*Jonathan Broster Asst Chief Instructor (3rd Degree Rapid Arnis)
*Shiraz Hussain Asst Chief Instructor (2nd Degree Rapid Arnis).
*Percival 'Val' Pableo Technical Director (9th Grade 'Master', Doce Pares Original Multi Style).

Paul Smith (Former Head of Rapid Arnis Scotland and now Head of Rapid Arnis USA) (1st Degree Rapid Arnis) along with the other current full instructors are also ordinary members of the board, all of whom sit on the panel that assess up and coming instructor candidates.

Since its conception in 1993 Rapid Arnis is now recognised as the only system developed by a non-Filipino (Pat O'Malley) that has full recognition in the Philippines. In 2005 Pat O'Malley was inducted on to the Philippine Council of Kali Eskrima Arnis Masters (the first non-Filipino) in charge of the United Kingdom and in 2006 his wife was also inducted (the second female and only non-Filipino female). Also in 2006 Pat O'Malley was also made a member for the Asia Office for the World Council of United Nations of Peoples representing Sports and Culture (specifically the Filipino martial arts).

Ranking / Grading System

Each student and fighter levels takes a minimum of 3 months per level.

*Level 1 - White Belt - Yakan Isa
*Level 2 - Yellow Belt - Yakan Dalawa
*Level 3 - Green Belt - Yakan Tatlo

*Level 4 - Blue Belt 1 - Lakan Isa
*Level 5 - Blue Belt 2 - Lakan Dalawa
*Level 6 - Brown Belt 1 - Lakan Tatlo
*Level 7 - Brown Belt 2 - Lakan Apat
*Level 8 - Junior Instructor / Black Belt - Lakan Guro

INSTRUCTOR LEVELSOnly those over the age of 16 years may hold full instructor level status, thos under 16 years will be assigned the rank of Cadet and will retake the full instructor level after their 17th birthday. It takes approx 3 to 4 years to reach full instructor 'Guro' Status.

*1st Degree - Guro - Red Belt 1 Black Tag
*2nd Degree - Guro - Red Belt 2 Black Tags
*3rd Degree - Mataas Na Guro - Red Belt 3 Black Tags

MASTER LEVELSTesting for the following senior ranks is not done by testing, but rather awarded on time served teaching and practicing Rapid Arnis and the Filipino martial arts, these ranks / grades can only be appointed by the Chief Instructors.

*4th Degree - Magino'o / Master Instructor - 1 Red & 1 Black Stripe Belt
*5th & 6th Degree - Tuhon / Master - 2 Red & 1 Black Stripe Belt

*7th Degree and above - Mataas Na Tuhon - 2 Black & 1 Red Stripe BeltThe title of Mataas Na Tuhon / Grand Master is exclusively reserved for those who run the system, namely the Executive Chief Instructor.

Technical Basis

In common with many other Filipino martial arts, Rapid Arnis covers several areas of combat, namely: solo baston (single stick), doble baston (double stick), espada y daga (sword and knife), baraw (knife), mano mano (empty hands), largo baston (5' long stick) and Dumog (grappling).

Solo Baston The strong hand wields a stick and serves as the primary offence, the empty hand is used mainly for defense, focusing on controlling the opponent's weapon-hand. Twirling techniques and amarra are taught to develop wrist flexibility, strength and coordination, which enhances the ability to generate power and speed. Single stick techniques can be practiced in long (Largo) range, medium (Medio) and close (Corto) range. The Largo range is characterised by evasive footwork/angling and fast continuous strikes to the opponent's weapon-hand, using the tip of the stick. The Medio range is characterised by the checking and counter strikes. This is where you will see the infamous Tapi-tapi (checking and trapping) come into play. The middle of the stick is being used to strike in this range. Corto range is characterized by the curve/butt strikes, simultaneously using the Tapi-tapi so as to enter into the locks, holds and takedowns . One basic format which is the base to all the systems in this style is called Abecedario. This is where you learn 12 basic strikes, 12 counters, 12 disarms and progressing to sparring.

Double Baston When two sticks are used (one in each hand), you will be able to see flowing combinations of attacks or one stick defending and the other stick counter attacking. Largo/Medio range is the preferred distance when training in Sinawalli drills. Sinawalli is striking/twirling patterns executed with the sticks by yourself. When a partner is used for Sinawalli drills it is called Pinki-pinki . The skills learnt here carry over to the rest of the components; Mano-mano, single stick and checking, Espada y Daga, Baraw. Sinawalli drills improves coordination and enhances the Tapi-tapi principle.

Espada y Daga The right hand wields a stick/long blade and serves as the primary offensive. The left hand holds a knife and is used for both offensive (thrusting and slashing) and defensive (blocking, checking and locking). Coordination drills, footwork drills, Tapi-tapi drills are all incorporated. The last part of training is learning the complex Espada y daga locks, Disarms and takedowns.

Mano-mano Mano-mano is the empty hand techniques, kicking techniques, Dumog techniques (locks, disarms, takedowns) you could see Thai boxing, Kickboxing, Boxing, Grappling with the incorporation of open hand blocks, strikes, elbows, knees, kaw-it. The footwork, strikes, blocks that you do with the weapons, you can execute with empty hands. It all blends in with each other.

Baraw / Daga (knife) The format for the Baraw is similar to the solo stick. A lot more emphasis is on the Tapi-tapi principle. The basic thrusts, slashes, hooks are learnt, blocks and parries to the strikes are then learnt. Counter attacks, locks and disarms are then learnt. Training then progresses to knife versus knife and two man drills that teach practical attack/defense/counter attack combinations as well as continuous flow .

Dumog (grappling)The format of Dumog is similar to Catch Wrestling of other Grappling Arts. But all illegal sporting moves such as biting, eye gouging, grinding, head butts and elbows are allowed. This format can be used either with or without weapons and is more commonly known in the Philippines as 'Dirty Fighting'.

Largo Baston (5 foot stick)Primarily a two-handed weapon, this 5 foot long rattan cane will employ slashing, thrusts and whipping strikes. At times a deliberate miss is made in order apply full pressure to the cane bending it on the floor so as to force a more powerful whipping return action in the strikes. Mainly a long range fighting style, but it is also used at close range to tie up, disarm and throw the opponent. Training in this area requires excellent footwork, body positioning and timing and is also an ideal tool used to improve many attributes to the combatant's skills.

Open Policy

Rapid Arnis Open Policy: expects people to individually express themselves and will not tolerate any one student or instructor suppressing knowledge of the Filipino Martial Arts regardless of style or any ones individual personality in any way or form.


Rapid Arnis International also spearheaded in 2006, the new British Council of Kali Eskrima Arnis Instructors (BCKEAI), the first organisation outside the Philippines to come together as a non-fee paying and non-political organisation with the sole goal of promoting Filipino martial arts (FMA) and its instructors. In the first year alone no fewer than 9 senior masters of the FMA based in the UK, representing no less than 12 major styles joined the BCKEAI and has grown to 22 Executive Officers representing no less than 25 styles. The BCKEAI is a satellite organisation of the PCKEAM (Philippine Council of Kali Eskrima Arnis Masters) and has also been instrumental in helping to set up similar Council's in New Zealand, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Ireland, Scandinavia and other countries.

Competition Fighting

Although Rapid Arnis is not sport based, but rather a traditional warrior art, there is a way to test the warrior spirit and techniques in a safe environment through different formats of tournaments namely the WEKAF & WASA organizations. Since the late 1980s many of its members have competed in regular stick fighting competitions around the world, held under the auspices of organizations such as WEKAF. This is where contestants or Players fight with WEKAF approved headgear-body armour and gloves, with real rattan sticks, for three one minute rounds. The winner is the player that out skills his opponent with specific strikes and good defensive skills. The other format of tournament fighting you could find Rapid Arnis players is at the World Arnis Sports Alliance tournaments. This format utilizes a soft-stick weapon rather than a real rattan stick. Both formats utilize no grappling as the main idea is to fight with the stick.

Rapid Arnis has over the years trained and produced countless British, European and World Champion Eskrima Kali Arnis Champions in several formats including: The World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF), Doce Pares and World Arnis Sports Alliance - Kali Sports (WASA).There most successful fighter so far is Lucy O'Malley who holds 3 WEKAF World Titles, 2 WASA World Titles, 1 Doce Pares World Title, 8 WEKAF European Titles and 20 British WEKAF Titles as well as a British Vale Tudo (MMA) Title. In achieving Lucy’s latest achievements this topples Lucy’s husband's (Pat O’Malley’s) record of 3 WEKAF World Titles, 5 WEKAF European Titles and 40 WEKAF British Titles.

Rapid Arnis members have also had success in other areas fighting such as Shoot fighting, Mixed Martial Arts and Muay Thai, showing that the Filipino martial arts is a well rounded art in itself and can hold its own in many sporting areas and not just Eskrima Kali Arnis.

Black Eagle Society


The Black Eagle Society was founded in the Summer of 1996. The inaugural meeting took place in a wood in Barnet, North London. The meeting had been arranged by Pat O'Malley and Simon Wells (of LaPunti Arnis de Abaniko) who first tried to get this format of fighting off the ground back in 1992, also in attendance at this first meeting of the Black Eagles were, Jonathan Broster, Shiraz Hussain and two of Wells' students.

Pat O'Malley and Simon Wells are known as the two original founders of the Black Eagle Society. Simon, after only a short time, left the group leaving Pat in sole charge of the organization which still hosts events to this day.


The name Black Eagle Society was chosen to pay tribute to the influence on the founding members of the Lapunti Arnis de Abaniko style because both Pat O'Malley and Simon Wells were training with Lapunti at the time, the emblem of Lapunti shows a black eagle clutching two sticks. The group's first logo was designed by Jonathan Broster and shows a cartoon eagle holding a stick in its winged hand. The motto of the group is "Vera Est", Latin for: "It is real". The cartoon eagle logo was later replaced with a Celtic designed eagle to also depict the fact that the group originally comes from the Celtic region of Great Britain.


The group was formed in response to the desire among some members to move beyond the WEKAF style, armoured stick fighting events and incorporate a higher degree of realism in the bouts. The rules and equipment used were, and remain, minimal. Curiously, no winner is declared after each bout; instead, it is for the two contestants and those watching to draw their own conclusions and learn what they can from the match.

Rules & Equipment

Put simply, each fighter should be able to walk away from the bout as friends. Bouts are fought over one three minute round, with either fighter having the right to end the bout at any time. Each fighter wears a headguard of their choice (routinely a WEKAF helmet), light gloves, such as cricket gloves (if desired) and a groin protector. The rules permit any thrust or strike with one stick, two sticks or any combination of wooden weapons, together with any punches, kicks or other blows, as well as throws and ground-fighting techniques.


At the inaugural meeting it was decided that full membership of the group would be open to those who had participated in no less than three separate official Black Eagle meetings. Since its inception many other Filipino martial arts styles and practitioners have participated and many top FMA notables including John Harvey, Phil Norman and Neil McLeod have participated in society meetings on previous occasions.


An interesting comparison has at times been drawn between the bouts of the Black Eagles and those of the Dog Brothers. Where the Dog Brothers have a heavy grappling influence, by way of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there has always been less emphasis on ground fighting in Black Eagle Society bouts, where striking, fast stick handling, blocking, footwork and evasion tactics of the traditional Filipino martial arts have been more evident. More importance is placed on the use of the weapon and all in the Society accept that if there were no headguard and the stick were to be replaced with the more traditionally used sword, grappling would very seldom happen in a real Eskrima Kali Arnis bout. All players (as the participants are known) try to stay as close to the traditional Eskrima Kali Arnis as possible, unlike the Dog Brothers who are known to mix various arts from other countries in to their format.

External links

* [http://www.rapidarnis.com Rapid Arnis International]
* [http://www.bckeai.co.uk British Council of Kali Eskrima Arnis Instructors]
* [http://www.combatarts-scotland.com/ Combat Arts Scotland]
* [http://colourcards.com/rapidarnis/ Rapid Arnis New Zealand]
* [http://www.pecahan.net Rapid Arnis Nottingham]
* [http://www.wildgeesema.com Rapid Arnis Dublin, Ireland]

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