Arnis – Learn Philippines’ National Martial Art At SAFRA Punggol!

The martial art that trains your self-defence with a full workout!

By Sean Yee      10 August 2023

Arnis, in Old Spanish, translates to “armour”. Also know as Kali or Eskrima/Escrima, and a fighting method used in warfare, it has since been embraced in the Philippines as its national martial art, recognising its spirited ferocity and deft defensiveness as part of its national identity. This discipline allows one to master his or her offensive and defensive capabilities, all through the use of a simple baton made from rattan.

Read on to find out more about the sport, and how you can sign up for this combat sport at SAFRA!

Only by protecting yourself can you protect others

The concept of Arnis revolves around self-protection in the event of unforeseeable danger, where your natural instincts are pitted against undesirable circumstances. The self-defence skills you can pick up from this combat art form are invaluable in ensuring that you are ever ready and prepared.

A spirited discipline with an offensive twist

Arnis in its contemporary form utilises an improvised baton-like cane in its practice. Novices will first learn the art’s fundamental defensive techniques, such as grappling and disarming stances, before adopting counter attacking strategies in the mix of self-defensive styles.

Meet Robert Guerrero, your Arnis coach

Robert’s foray into this enigmatic martial variant can be described as a serendipitous stroke of luck! Back when he was in college, where physical training was compulsory, Arnis was the only martial art type that had any vacancies for him. He immediately marked the sign-up sheet with his name.

And since then, he has never looked back.

Now 30 years later, having spent years on the tournament circuit, Robert has developed a comprehensive curriculum for practitioners eager to explore this enigmatic martial discipline. In fact, he strongly advocates for its 3 R’s – Reflex, Reaction and Randomness. His lessons will challenge your intuition, refine your natural proactiveness and prepare you against unpredictability, all the while giving you the satisfaction of a full-blown workout.

Watch the video below to see just some of the techniques you will learn from Robert for facing up to an armed attacker:


1. Side Stepping – Evade flanks from both your left and right sides

  • Step 45 degrees forward with your right foot, with your equilibrium point (standing position) facing your attacker
  • Return to your centralised standing position and follow Step 1 but with your left foot.

2. Intercept Block – Reinforce your evasive stance with your improvised weapon

  • Complement your right foot oblique stance (45 degrees forward) with an inward diagonal strike (as shown in the video)
  • Return to your centralised standing position and follow Step 1 but with your left foot

Tip: The whole sequence should follow a right-to-right and left-to-left movement pattern.

3. Figure 8 and Counter Technique – Now it’s your turn to retaliate

  • Aptly coined “Figure 8”, this technique combines a swift mix of inward and outward diagonal strikes that draws a pattern resembling the number 8. (as shown in the video)
  • When you’re feeling more confident, incorporate right-to-right and left-to-left movement patterns to maintain your evasive stance.

Important to note: You are strongly encouraged to practise these techniques under the supervision of a trained professional (like Robert!)

A wholesome fighting art

SAFRA is arguably one of the only few places in Singapore to offer Arnis classes. In fact, it is only offered in one location (SAFRA Punggol, GetFit Studio) every Saturday. While there are tentative plans to increase the number of classes, it is best that you book a slot as soon as you can!


1. Why should I learn Arnis? Singapore’s incredibly safe.

You can never be too safe. Self-defence is always an invaluable skill to have against uncertainty. There are current learners who travel overseas often, and these skills have allowed them to traverse across the globe more confidently and safely.

As a bonus, the training sessions conducted at SAFRA promise you a vigorous workout that makes you feel incredibly good about yourself!

2. How often are Arnis classes conducted?

Every Saturday at SAFRA Punggol, GetFit Studio at Level 3, from 2pm to 7pm. Find out more here: safra.sg/whats-on/arnis

3. Are there certifications to be attained?

There may not be official certifications given out, but the classes do have their internal criterions in deciding your competence. There are multiple levels one can undergo (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced), with opportunities to participate in competitions. It will certainly be a rewarding sport to pick up!

You can find Robert conducting Arnis classes at SAFRA Punggol on Saturdays. Find out more at safra.sg/whats-on/arnis, or contact Elizabeth Li (Lshelizabeth@safra.sg) or Desmond Tong (tdesmond@safra.sg) for more information. Arnis classes are suitable for participants aged 13 years and above.

Looking for more ways to get fit? Here are more ways to work out at SAFRA clubs!

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