Review: Ironwood Arnis Sticks

For Christmas, my mother-in-law had a brainstorm to get me some new sticks. She found these Kamagong (aka Ironwood) sticks on Amazon. I wasn’t familiar with the Kamagong tree until I got these, but there are some interesting facts on the Wikipedia page.

(Edit 2011-07-18: According to Sam in the comments, this may not be the true iron wood. See below. dba.)

Each of these sticks is about one pound making them significantly heavier than rattan or American hardwoods like hickory. I weighed a rattan stick for comparison, 7.5 ounces. For that reason alone, I would recommend these sticks. They are great for strength training. It’s much like swinging a weighted baseball bat before you get to the plate. I use them at least once a week to run through the 12 strikes and basic drills.

Conversely, these sticks are heavy and solid enough to destroy any lighter materials they encounter. In fact, I have not tried nor would I not recommend using them for contact and striking drills with others unless they were swinging equally dense and heavy sticks. I can’t imagine a set of rattan sticks would last more than a couple of minutes.

Length is 28 inches which is fairly standard, but might be longer than some folks want.

The case provided is simple but quite nice. The velcro closure is strong enough to hold even if you sling them over your shoulder upside down. The nylon strap is easily adjustable but doesn’t slip once set. Mine is all black, but it looks like some pictures have colored trim which I think would be nice as well.

Aesthetically, the wood is beautiful. It has a deep, rich color with a variation and undulation in the grain. I have a soft spot for woods and wood grain, so these hit the right note with me.

Obviously, I think the weight of these sticks is a mixed blessing since it limits when you might do contact drills, but I always have a pair or two of rattan when I train so that’s not a huge deal to me. My only other criticism is that the sticks have been treated with what I presume is linseed oil (or possibly some natural wood oils from the tree). In any case, it leaves your hands a bit tacky when you’re finished. It’s worth noting as one of the downsides on an otherwise good product.

Generally recommended. dba


3 Responses to “Review: Ironwood Arnis Sticks”

  1. Hello,

    Very interesting review on the Kamagong Sticks you got. Good for you but I think I have to inform you that the real iron wood is not Kamagong. Some people think it is in fact Wikipedia listed it as iron wood but Kamagong is in fact from the Ebony family though sometimes is called ” iron wood” because it is also very hard. There is another wood that is the real “iron wood” and its local name in the Philippines is “Magkono”. It is only found in Mindanao particularly in Surigao Province. This wood is almost twice as heavy as Kamagong and is very hard almost like steel.

    Enjoy your Kamagong sticks….


    • Dan Amerson Says:


      Thanks for the clarification. I updated the post to reference your comment. That’s really good information to know.


    • Wow, heavier than Kamagong huh. It would be nice to try a Magkono stick, but like Doug Marcaida says the heavier sticks will end up giving you tendonitis if you overuse them. I ended up w/ tendonitis for awhile to from practicing with the Tabak Toyok to much. I also wonder what a Gijo stick might feel like. So far, if I want a little more weight, I prefer my Bahi sticks. They’re not Ironwood, but they’re heavy enough to use in a real combat situation. As for rattan, I’ve heard that Indonesia’s rattan is slightly stronger than the rattan in the Philippines. If you order rattan sticks from TFW, they’re Indonesian. I only have 1 pair of 28″ Filipino rattan, & they’re lighter than my Indonesian pair. Also, I know that they all have uneven areas, but 1 of the Filipino rattan sticks has an end that’s significantly thinner than the rest.

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