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Arnis (also called Kali or Escrima)


Arnis is an ancient Filipino Martial Art and is also known as Escrima or Kali. This martial art incorporates empty handed techniques as well as techniques using short sticks and knives.

Experienced Filipino martial artists are noted for their ability to fight either with empty hand or with weapons. Weapons are just considered an extension of the hand and they can vary in size, weight and length. Many weapons have been commercialized over the years and some standards have emerged. Most Escrima Sticks sold currently have been standardized in two lengths:  26” and 28”.

The original material for Escrima Sticks has been Rattan known for the “gunpowder” smell that it gives off after particularly intense training sessions.  Curiously enough if your Rattan stick does not have a Lacquer coating, you can smell the gunpowder, if it has a Lacquer coating, you can’t smell the gunpowder.

We make Escrima Sticks from many woods, from the more common Ash and Hickory to the more exotic woods like Purpleheart and Brazilian Cherry to presentation pieces made from Cocobolo, Indian Ebony and “Tiger Stripe” Maple.

Before choosing the material for your Escrima Stick, consider the condition of the user’s hands and the length of the training session.

Choose a lighter weight wood or softer wood if:

· The user is a beginner or has hands which have not been conditioned to the rigors of training

·        The training session is long

Lighter and softer woods like Ash and Hickory are well known for their shock absorbing properties. Baseball bats and tool handles are made from these two woods just for that purpose.

Choose a heavier weight wood or harder wood if:

·         The user is experienced and wishes to condition his/her hands more

·         The training session is short

·         You need a hard Escrima Stick for real protection

See the link called “Wood Charts” listed at the top of this page to see how the woods mentioned above rate according to weight and hardness. Remember that all the woods listed in the “Wood Charts” page can’t be made into Arnis Sticks, but the woods mentioned above are listed in the charts.

See the link called “Wood Choices” to see a photo and a description of the above mentioned woods as well.

Eventually as you train more, your hands will become more conditioned and you can move from a lighter or softer wood to a heavier or harder wood. If you are inexperienced and jump to using a heavy Escrima Stick your hands will end up stinging and you will develop hand and wrist joint problems which will cause you to suspend your training.

I like to use the analogy of weight training. Use lighter weights to develop muscles and then migrate to heavier weights to strengthen those muscles and build bulk. Jumping straight to heavy weights will cause muscle strains and possible tendon and ligament tears.

One good thing about using lighter and softer woods first is that they are a less expensive introduction to the world of Arnis. If you think that Arnis is something you would like to study more, as your hands get more conditioned you can move to heavier or harder woods.

Below are some photos of Arnis Sticks that we make. The descriptions of the woods below are listed on our webpage “Wood Choices” and are duplicated below.


The photo above is an Ash Arnis Stick. Ash comes from North American and has white sapwood with light brown heartwood. It is strong and very shock resistant. Ash is a very popular wood in the sport and recreation industries because of its capability to absorb shock. Baseball bats and tool handles are some of the items made with Ash. The finish on this Arnis Stick is Lacquer.


The photo above is a Brazilian Cherry Arnis Stick. Brazilian Cherry comes from sustainable sources in Central and South America principally Suriname. It has a reddish brown color with mahogany-like grain. Just like American Cherry its color deepens with exposure to sunlight. If you are looking for a heavy wood, this wood is for you. It is denser than Hickory or even White Oak. This Arnis Stick has a Lacquer finish.


The photo above is a Purpleheart Arnis Stick. Purpleheart is a medium to hard wood with tight, fairly straight grain with moderate to coarse texture and comes from Central and South America. It is naturally bright purple when cut and darkens to a deep purple when exposed to air. When exposed to prolonged sunlight it will darken further until it is brown. However, Woodall's Custom Workshop applies a UV protectant which lessens the chance that Purpleheart will turn brown. This Arnis Stick has a Lacquer finish.


The photo above is a Cocobolo Arnis Stick.

Cocobolo comes from Central America and the heartwood is purplish-red and deepens upon exposure. This hard and heavy wood accepts a wide range of finishes. This wood is probably the most popular wood to make martial arts weapons with and is a wood most martial artist are well familiar with. This Arnis Stick has a Lacquer finish.


The photo above is an Indian Ebony Arnis Stick. Indian Ebony has heartwood which is uniform jet black, sometimes with a wavy grain. It is a rare wood and is very dense and heavy and as its name suggests comes from India. When held up to the light, the surface of the Indian Ebony is pitch black but if you look at the surface under strong light at a very low angle, you can see the dark brown wavy grain which is typical for this wood.

The Indian Ebony Arnis Stick above was left unfinished for the photo but was finished with Lacquer when shipped out. Indian Ebony when finished with Lacquer is very high gloss and nearly black. I wanted a photo showing the grain of the wood so I left off the finish for the photo.


The photo above is a “Tiger Stripe” Maple Arnis Stick. Hard Maple also known as the Sugar Maple or Black Maple grows principally in the Eastern U.S., generally in the Mid-Atlantic and Lake States. The sapwood is creamy white with a slight reddish brown tinge and the heartwood varies from light to dark reddish brown. The wood has a close fine, uniform texture and is generally straight-grained, but under rare circumstances can also exhibit different types of figuring known as "Tiger Stripe”, “Curly", "Fiddleback", "Quilted" or "Birds-Eye" figuring. The wood is hard with good strength properties; in particular it's high resistance to abrasion and wear.

The figuring of Maple is difficult to see due to the uniform creamy white color of Hard Maple. A common practice is to stain or dye the wood a subtle color.  The Arnis Stick above is dyed a subtle amber color to highlight the Fiddleback or Tiger Striping. We use AAAA grade Hard Maple to ensure a good Tiger Striping. This Arnis Stick has a Lacquer finish.

Finishes for Arnis sticks

Two finishes are available for Arnis Sticks:  Linseed Oil and Lacquer.

Linseed Oil is generally used for Arnis Sticks which see heavy use because it soaks into the wood protecting the wood and is impervious to the salt and sweat which develops on the hands during training.  

Lacquer is used when the Arnis Stick will see little to moderate use and when appearance is an important factor (for presentation pieces or as a gift).

Linseed Oil


·         The satin finish hides dings and dents

·         Protects the wood from extreme exposure of salt and sweat of the hands

·         Gives the wood an excellent grip because it soaks in allowing the hand to grip the grain of the wood


·         Reapplication is required periodically

·         Can  give the wood a blotchy look (this finish is NOT recommended for presentation or gift Arnis Sticks)



·         The high gloss finish highlights and dramatizes the wood grain – does not give a blotchy look

·         As a surface film, this finish is permanent and does not require periodic reapplication

·         The finish protects the wood from moderate exposure to the salt and sweat from hands


·         The high gloss finish tends to show dings and dents

In general, if you just don't know what to use, Lacquer is almost always a safe bet.

For more information on the importance of wood weight as it relates to weapons, the types of finishes for weapons and a description for all of the woods we have, see the “Wood Choices” page using the navigation menu at the top of this page.

If you are ready to order your custom made Arnis Stick, go to the "Online Store" page using the navigation menu at the top of this page.

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