How to Make a Fighting Cane

Updated February 21, 2017

Fighting canes are primarily used in Martial Arts techniques such as Israeli "Krav Maga," as well as the Philippine technique known as "Arnis" or otherwise named "Eskrima." Fighting canes are used in sparring and blocking during fighting matches and tournaments, and must be stiff yet flexible to survive the impacts. A preferred material used for these canes (sometimes called Arnis sticks) is rattan. Before a length of rattan can be used as a fighting cane, it must be heat treated to harden it to prevent breakage. The process must be done correctly so the rattan also maintains some flexibility.

Measure the length of your arm using a yard stick. Measure from your arm pit down to the centre of the palm of your hand. Write down the measurement, as this will be the length you will want your Arnis fighting cane to be.

Measure from one end of the raw rattan cane to the length of your arm and cut off any remaining rattan from the cane. If the remaining length is long enough to make a second cane, keep for later use.

Fill a bath tub with just enough warm water (23.9 degrees Celsius), to completely submerge the cane. While filling, slowly introduce 0.454kg. of non-iodised sea salt to the running water so it dissolves and gets distributed evenly in the water.

Lay the raw rattan cane in the water and use a heavy object to weight it down so it remains submerged by the saltwater. Allow it to soak for 45 to 60 minutes.

Remove the rattan cane and lay it on a flat surface to dry overnight.

Light a hand-held propane blow torch and adjust the flame so the blue inner portion comes to a fine point. Adjust by rotating the fuel supply knob as needed to achieve this type of flame.

Hold the yellow end of the torch flame 2-inches from the end of the cane, heating only until it has turned a medium brown colour. If the fibres appear to begin "bubbling" move the flame another inch away from the end being worked on. Bubbling of the material is an indication that it is being overheated, and must be avoided. Repeat on the other end.

Heat each of the cane joints, or nodes, until lightly browned. The nodes are the round circular joints that are visible along the full length of the rattan. Heat only until each is a medium brown colour by holding the tip of the yellow portion of the flame 2-inches from the surface. Rotate the Rattan cane so each node is browned all the way around.

Heat the entire length of the cane, rotating it so the entire surface is heated. Hold the torch 2-inches away from the material and move it slowly from one end to the other after each slight rotation. Continue until the entire surface of the cane has been lightly browned. Move the flame another inch away from the surface if the material begins bubbling or blistering, which is to be avoided.

Allow the cane to cool for one to two hours.

Apply one thin coat of polyurethane sealant to the entire surface of the cane to further reinforce the outer skin. Allow to dry for at least 48 hours before use in training or a tournament.


Rattan fighting canes have a limited life after varying numbers of impacts with other canes. Their lives may be extended by inspecting the canes after each tournament or training session. If the outer skin of the cane begins to break open allowing internal fibres to be exposed, apply 3 to 4 layers of black electrical tape to the split for support. Use the other end of the cane when duelling in training or in tournaments. When the stick becomes weak enough that it can be bowed easily in the middle, make a new Rattan fighting cane.

Things You'll Need

  • Raw untreated rattan stick (Arnis Martial arts supply stores)
  • Yard stick
  • Hacksaw
  • Bath tub filled with warm water (23.9 degrees Celsius)
  • 0.454kg. non-iodised sea salt
  • Hand-held propane torch
  • Clear polyurethane sealant
  • 1 Small paint brush
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About the Author

Kurt Schanaman has had several editorials printed by the Star-Herald Newspaper publication in Western Nebraska. He attended Western Nebraska Community College.