RA Padded Stick Rules

(Courtesy of Rapid Arnis International: www.rapidarnis.com)

Originating in Manila, Philippines in 2005, this format was brought to the UK by Rapid Arnis International and already has gained great interest from other FMA styles and systems who have also had great success in this format and the competitor list has been growing steady ever since.

Since 2005 the rules have been fine tuned to come up with what we believe is a version of the sport that not only suits long-range and close-range fighters, but also sword based and stick based systems equally.

Even from a spectator point of view we believe this is one of the most entertaining and exciting events to watch.


The British Arnis Championships in association with ‘Kali Sports’ and the ‘Philippine Council of Kali Arnis Eskrima Masters’ (Manila, Philippines) and endorsed by the ‘British Council of Kali Eskrima Arnis Instructors’ is open to all groups, styles and associations and is also open to non UK residents, but only the UK residents that win medal places will be entitled to a place on any British team that may be chosen to compete internationally.


The tournament is full contact continuous sparring with padded sticks, with a head guard and groin guard only (Chest guard for ladies), NO gloves, NO elbow/knee pads and NO arm pads for all adults in single and double stick divisions. Although for 5′ Long stick division gloves are mandatory and all children’s divisions must also additionally wear chest guards and gloves.

There are 3 x 2 minute rounds in each bout with 3 judges, a referee, a score keeper, a timekeeper and a ring adjudicator. Finals are 5 x 2 minute rounds.

The fighting area must be a minimum of 4 metres by 4 metres square to a maximum of 6 metres by 6 metres square.

Sparring Equipment

The only headgear allowed will be of the official WEKAF design.

Single and double stick sparring events will use the approved 28? padded stick which consists of a rattan core, wrapped in light foam encased in a canvas sleeve.

5′ Long stick/staff sparring event will use the approved 52? padded stick which consists of a rattan core, wrapped in light foam encased in a canvas sleeve.

Children’s chest protectors are preferred to be a Tae Kwon Do style padded jacket although the WEKAF armour may be used as a suitable alternative and Juniors under twelve may wear arm protectors.

Gloves for the children’s and adult’s long stick division’s may only be the WEKAF style gloves or a light style street hockey or cricket glove (No ice-hockey gloves permitted).

Only the head protectors and sticks will be provided on the day, more specific personal equipment such as groin/chest protectors and gloves will not be available and must be provided by the individual fighters with the exception of children’s chest protectors where a limited supply will be provided.

In the interest of health and safety ladies must wear chest protection and men must wear groin protection.

All personal sparring equipment will be subject to referee approval and/or ring adjudicators approval.

Target Areas

The target areas are anywhere from the toe up, but players must pay careful attention to protect their heads as a priority to keep this as realistic as possible. Checking (short, sharp palm strike) and parrying is allowed with the empty/live hand to the body and arms/hands as a means of defence, but please ensure it is not pushing. There is NO grabbing, throwing, holding, punching or kicking as all strikes must be done with the weapon with downward thrusts allowed to the body and leg areas but NO head thrusts, upward thrusts or any butt strikes as they can be dangerous and have been the cause of serious injuries in the past.

(* Further explanation of scoring and fouls is listed further down*)

Aims & Objectives of Game

The aim in each round is to be the first to score five points and this is achieved by obtaining five clean shots against the opponent while applying various combinations of attack and defence techniques, which is harder than it sounds, as hitting each other at the same time cancels out that shot which is loosely sword based to appeal to both sword based and stick based FMA systems equally. This is usually best achieved by making a clean shot on the way in or on the way out of an attack on the opponent.

The objective is to display the art as closely as possible within a sporting arena whilst still keeping it exciting and entertaining and allowing the spectators to clearly see and understand the fight as it unfolds.


Prior to a bout competitors names will firstly be called out one fight in advance and for a second time before the start of the last round of the fight before their own scheduled bout to which they should be ready and equipped with everything on with exception of the head protector. They should be in the vicinity of their allocated ring ready for their third and last call. Once the result is called in the previous fight the third and last call will be announced for the fighters to attend their ring which they must do immediately. Failure to enter the ring on the last call fully equipped and ready to fight with head gear on will result in automatic disqualification

The rounds are two minutes long to encourage participants to pace themselves, due to the less protection they will also have to carefully pick their shots whilst remembering that only clean shots win points. This is set out to prevent fighters standing toe to toe and stick bashing unnecessarily and encourages the fighters to use more footwork, evasion, blocking, countering, short and long ranges and general ring craft.

This does not mean they cannot mix it up with a combination of attacks to help overwhelm or tire their opponent, as we understand this can also aid and benefit a fighters style and can also lead to an earlier five point win thus occasionally resulting in a faster completion of the round which may help some competitors to preserve more energy for the following rounds, however more often than not the rounds do last the entire two minutes, so be warned it is not as easy as it sounds and competitors could very quickly lose points with this method too. Good judgement is required throughout and it will quickly be seen that it is an intense skill based sporting format which suits long and close range fighters equally.

Strikes may not be performed more than twice consecutively to the same area, this must be broken up with other combinations of striking or defensive techniques, once the fighter has applied a different strike or defensive technique they may return to a previously used striking point. We want fighters to use various combinations that will display their style in a better light. For example block, hit, block hit with the same two techniques is considered a combination and is perfectly legal, but three identical strikes to the same target area without the use of any other techniques will not be scored effectively, only the first two strikes will count.

We also want to see that the stick and/or players should be live (moving) at all times even when exchanges are not being made by either player, this is to discourage a stalemate and to keep this spectator friendly and entertaining for the audience.

Head shots will gain some precedence as a killer blow/clean shot even if for instance; an exchanging blow manages to hit the body or legs at the same time as the other opponent hits the head. This is to ensure that fighters do not sacrifice their head whilst taking advantage of the head protector and attempting continuous damaging blows to the opponents legs simply to weaken them for a later stage in the bout, we suggest fighters do this at their own peril as many styles/judges consider this bad form within the art and we therefore encourage that competitors protect their heads at all times and also know that the referee may warn and/or deduct points for constant deliberate sacrificial blows/ techniques which also applies to individuals who constantly do not attempt any form of defence during an opponents attack.

If at the end of the round neither opponent has achieved five points then the highest scorer wins the round. If it is a draw then there is a sudden death situation where both fighters return to the starting position in the centre of the ring for the referee to restart the two opponents and it is the first to obtain one clean shot that wins the round that had initially ended with a draw.

Fighters are not allowed to remove any protective equipment in between rounds without prior consent of the acting referee. The fighters may lift the head protectors up to their forehead in between rounds to enable them to take liquids and cool down between rounds, but may not remove the head protector entirely or undo any straps or fasteners with out prior consent of the acting referee. When the referee announces ten seconds to go the fighters must replace their head protectors and immediately approach the centre of the ring.

Rests between rounds will be a maximum of one minute on completion of a two minute time lapse, but should any round be considerably shorter than the two minutes allocated for the round, it will be at the referee’s discretion to start the following round sooner if they so wish. However for the children’s sparring divisions the one minute rest time will be mandatory.

Once a final result is decided following the three or five rounds, the referee will instruct both fighters to remove their head protection after which he will announce the winner of that particular bout.



In the event of a disarm, the referee will stop the fight and address the judges and will instruct the scorekeeper to deduct one point immediately from the disarmed player’s current score for that round in play and to add it to the records for that fight. The referee will then return the weapon to the fighter and continue the round.

If three disarms are received by any one player spread over any bout of three rounds the fight ends immediately and is classed as a technical knock-out (TKO), so if all three disarms are achieved in the first round the entire fight is over. There is a two second rule on disarms, that they must be executed immediately in a clean fashion. In other words avoid falling into a tug of war or arm-breaking situation. Keep them short, sharp and clean.

Scoring & Fouls

Scoring is accomplished using a flag system. The three judges will each have a red and a blue flag which on sight of a clean shot they will raise the relevant red or blue flag indicating the player performing the clean strike, at least two of the three corner judges must raise the same coloured flag within a second of each other for the point to be awarded to the relevant fighter. The scorekeeper will then indicate on the scoreboard the winning point instantly so all members of the audience and even the fighters can see the progress of the fight in real-time. The scorekeeper will keep record of round scores and disarms/warnings and deductions. The adjudicator will ensure there is no copycat behaviour from the judges and has the power to remove judges at any point during a bout if deemed necessary and can restart the entire fight from scratch. It is the adjudicators role to nominate judges and to ensure fair judging is upheld throughout the tournament.

Illegal techniques are as follows: Kicking, Punching, pushing, pulling, elbowing, kneeing, head butting, wrestling, joint breaking techniques, foot sweeping, stepping out of the fight area, butt striking, thrusting to head/neck, double handed strikes (excluding long stick division), non-responsive tactics/stalemates, swearing, abusive or aggressive behaviour by competitor or corner staff towards any competitors or members of the officiating team.

Warnings will be issued in a clear fashion of first warning advising the infringement, the second warning will advise the implications of continuous infringement of the rules and on third warning the player will incur a one point deduction immediately from their current score for that round in play. A total of three point deductions over any whole individual bout for fowls (separate to disarms) will result in an immediate disqualification.

The Referee on consultation and agreement with the ring adjudicator has the power to issue immediate point deduction and/or disqualification without warning in extreme circumstances depending on the severity of the foul or behaviour.

The ring adjudicator however, has absolute power to remove any judge, referee, official, fighter or team from a bout or the entire event without warning but will provide good reason and explanation of any action taken to the audience and all parties concerned.

If a fighter or their corner staff have any concerns regarding any officials or participants before a bout, The fighter must stay in the ring and only the head coach or team manager may approach the ring adjudicator with their concerns. The same rule applies for any objections or disputes after a bout is completed, the moment the fighter leaves the ring they accept any decision that has been made.

If for any valid reason you feel the judges or referee should be replaced, this matter must be taken up with the ring adjudicator (as per the above process) before the bout begins and it is the responsibility of the ring adjudicator to decide whether or not a replacement is required and if so replacements will only be made once for that particular bout and the adjudicators choice of replacement official(s) is final. No second replacements will be made in the same bout.

Any serious objection raised with the ring adjudicator may be addressed to the tournament director where both parties will then consult with all officials concerned and determine a decision regarding the matter, the tournament directors decision is however final.

In the event of any fouls or disarms the timekeeper will stop the clock until the referee instructs the round to re-start.


Weight Divisions & Categories

Generally there should be 7 men’s divisions as follows:

Light Weight 9st 7lbs and under
Welter Weight 9st 8lbs – 10st 7lbs
Light Middle Weight 10st 8lbs – 11st 7lbs
Middle Weight 11st 8lbs – 12st 7lbs
Light Heavy Weight 12st 8lbs – 13st 7lbs
Heavy Weight 13st 8lbs and above.

As this tournament format is relatively new to Britain divisions will be divided according to competitor turnout on the day so divisions may be reduced.

Women fight separately to men and usually have a light, middle and heavy weight division, but it depends on how many attend as few competitors can result in the creation of an open weight category instead.

There will also be open weight and double stick categories for anyone to join in, in addition to their own weight category, so you have more fights if wished and there will be a male, female and children’s forms/sayaw/anyo category.

Double Stick Sparring

The same rules apply as per the single stick sparring event.

Long Stick/Staff Sparring

The same rules apply as per the single and double stick events with the addition that fighters may use a two handed grip.

Long stick/staff sparring will consist of 3 x 1 minute rounds including the final.

Children’s Single & Double Stick Sparring

Same rules apply as per the adults single and double stick sparring events.

Children’s sparring will consist of 3 x 1 minute rounds including the final.


Individual forms must not exceed two minutes. They may be performed with or without music. There will be separate Male, Female and children’s divisions but currently will not be divided into traditional and non-traditional until such time as the numbers warrant the separation of categories.

All divisions must employ the use of traditional Filipino weapons. Weapons from other non Filipino martial arts systems will not be allowed.

80% of the movements must include the use of the weapon.

All gymnastic, acrobatic, dance movements or obvious techniques from other martial arts such as Karate or Kung-Fu will be allowed in the displays, but will not be scored and will be ignored by the judges.


Five judges will score each individual performance within a range of 5.5 being the lowest increasing by 0.5 up to 10 being the highest score attainable. From all five scoring judges the highest and lowest score will be automatically deducted and the three remaining scores will be added together to obtain the final result for each individual. This is to allow for errors of judgement and/or possible bias. An adjudicator will be appointed to oversee the panel of judges.

If a draw is given for any of the three medal positions those competitors that have drawn will have to perform a second time and may chose to change their original form or perform the same one again. Their previous score will be disregarded and their new performance will decide the winner for that medal position even if it turns out to be lower than a non medal winners score from an earlier performance in the division.

All competitors must introduce themselves, stating their name, their style, their instructor and the form they will be performing even if it is freestyle this must be stated to the panel of judges.

All weapons used during a performance must be blunt training weapons only. These must be offered for inspection to the panel of judges for approval. No live weapons or weapons deemed unsafe will be allowed in any performance and may result in disqualification of any individual competitor.

All competitors must start and finish their form on the same spot unless clearly stated at the start of their performance during their compulsory introduction to the panel of judges.

Judges will expect to see good use of the area with footwork, including defensive and attacking manoeuvres and they will also be looking for good weapons handling skills and good co-ordination throughout the performance with a variety of techniques. A good point to note is although they will have an open mind, the panel of judges will be more than likely made up from a wide variety of different styles, each looking for different strengths and weaknesses relevant to their own style and experiences.

Disarms/dropping the weapon accidentally, obvious mistakes, trips, slips and falls etc. during the performance will result in a 0.5 deduction from each judge each time one of these or similar incidences are incurred.

Team Sayaw/Anyo/Forms

The rules and scoring are generally the same as the individual sayaw/anyo/forms divisions but will differ slightly as follows:

Team forms must not exceed 5five minutes and must either be synchronized with all team members working in unison or be coordinated and unified as a team within any story line that may be employed. Judges will be looking for a well balanced and timed team performance and not just a demonstration of one individual.

All gymnastic, acrobatic, dance movements or obvious techniques from other martial arts such as Karate or Kung-Fu will be allowed in your display, and will only be scored if relevant to the performance, if the judges do not consider it relevant the performance may risk penalties. Pay careful attention to timing, fluidity and accuracy throughout the whole performance as a team.

Although at first sight it may seem there are a lot of rules on paper, they are relatively simple to uphold and this will assist to run the tournament as smoothly and as continuously as possible. The rules have been set out as such, that any experienced fighters or instructors of the Filipino martial arts should be able to understand and follow them easily and be able to see fair decisions and results clearly.

The rules will be covered before the tournament starts, but we welcome any questions in advance from club officials and experienced fighters as we would prefer you understand them in advance so you can help with the officiating on the day.