The fastest growing martial arts sport in the world is said to be Kapatiran Arnis (otherwise known as Philipino stick-fighting), so when the chance to do battle with the current world champion came up, the Llanelli Star’s Chris Barney was ‘volunteered’ by his colleagues.
Champion John James and his brother Ian gave Chris an introduction to the ancient art of Kapatiran Arnis and after putting on several layers of safety equipment he was given a rundown of the rules.
Chris said: “All I had to remember was not to hit below the waist – easy enough!
“But after putting on the necessary equipment – a helmet (equivalent to an ice hockey helmet), body padding from the shoulders to the knees, elbow pads and ice hockey gloves – I knew that it would be trickier than I first figured.”
The sport uses the skills of various other sports such as the feet movement in boxing and the hand-eye co-ordination of an ice-hockey player, and each player uses an olisi (stick).
Chris said: “Being a footballer, I thought that perhaps my movement and quick footwork might be something of an advantage over John.”
However he was about to find out how wrong he could be.
The pair started off slowly, but gradually John went into world champion mode and let loose with some fast-moving attacks that Chris couldn’t defend.
He said: “I am not one to lie down and die. I gave my hardest and best swings of the olisi – but they would only be met by John’s fast defence.”
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