This section focuses on two things. First it looks at the general aspects and principles of Stick Fighting Methods and how unique it is from other oriental martial arts.
Then it highlights the technical aspects manifested by the physical execution of the different techniques of the art.
Then it would discuss the applications of Filipino Stick Fighting, covering both the combative and sportive aspects of the art. It will describe the different dynamics of using the blade, stick and empty hands to defend oneself against a potential assailant.
If you are looking for a comprehensive guide for stick fighting, then your are in the right place…
The post sheds light on arnis as a martial arts by discussing different applications of the art in a comprehensive and easy-to-learn way.
So read on…
Stick fighting is a general term for martial arts which utilizes simple, long, slender, blunt, hand-held, usually wooden sticks such as a cane, staff, baton, walking stick or similar for fighting. Some methods can as well be utilized with a sword in a scabbard or a sturdy umbrella.
Heavier or thicker blunt weapons such as the mace or clubs are not in the scope of “stick fighting” because they can’t be used with such accuracy, so full impact force is more vital; as are more shaped weapons like the taiaha utilized by Māori of New Zealand, and Aztec’s macuahuitl.
Although numerous systems are defensive combat methods planned for use whenever attacked while lightly armed, others like gatka and kendo were enhanced as safe training techniques for unsafe weapons. Whatever the history, numerous stick-fighting methods adapt themselves to being considered as sports.
Other than systems mainly dedicated to stick fighting martial arts, other certain disciplines include it. This consists of the Silambam, a Tamil martial art, or simply as part of a multivalent training which includes other weapons or bare-handed fighting like in the Kalaripayattu tradition, where wooden weapons act as introductory training prior to practising the more dangerous metal weapons.
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Stick Fighting Methods and Styles
Stick fights between people or large crowds between tribes where men brawl fights are a vital part of the human heritage of different cultures. Particularly tribes like the Surma group of Ethiopia, where the stick fighting “Donga” is a vital cultural practice as well as the best way to show off to seek a bride, frequently nude or partly so.
And the Nyangatom group which is their more aggressive neighbours, fight brawls bare-chested, the goal being to cause perceptible stripes on the adversary’s back, utilizing sticks with a bendy, whipping tail-end instead of plain staffs.
Systems of traditional European stick fighting took in numerous techniques of quarterstaff battle, which were meticulous in many manuscripts documented by masters-at-arms. A lot of these techniques vanished, but others settled in and survived as self-defence and folk-sports systems.
Examples of Stick Fighting Methods and Styles
Examples include Canary Islands’ Juego del Palo, Portugal's Jogo do Pau, France's La Canne or, as well as Italy's Scherma di Bastone. In 1854, Giuseppe Cerri's manual “Trattato teorico e Pratico Della Scherma di Bastone” is guided by Achille Marozzo and perhaps Francesco Alfieri which were Italian masters a school of swordsmanship.
The La Canne system (France) is still practiced as a sport of competition. La Canne’s self-defence adaptation developed by Pierre Vigny, a Swiss master-at-arms, in the 1900s has been restored as part of Bartitsu's curriculum.
In the United States during the early 1900s, self-defence specialist, and fencer A. C. Cunningham established a unique stick fighting system utilizing an umbrella or walking stick, which he showed in “The Cane as a Weapon.”
The single stick was established as a training technique using backswords like the naval cutlass and cavalry sabre. It was a well-liked amusement in the United Kingdom from the 1700s to the 1900s and was an event at the Summer Olympics in 1904.
Even though interest in the martial art decreased, some fencing instructors carried on training with the stick and style competitions of stick fighting was re-launched into the Royal Navy by Commander Locker Madden in the 1980s. The art keeps on gaining a small following among the martial art communities in Australia, UK, US, and Canada.
Latin America has contributed to the martial arts of stick fighting too, including Brazil's Maculelê and Palo do Brasil, Venezuela's Juego del garrote, as well as Trinidad's Calinda.
Staves and sticks of different sizes are weapons that are common in Asian Martial Arts, wherein they differ in design, weight, size, methods, and materials, and are frequently utilized interchangeably and along with open-hand methods. For instance, Philippines’ Eskrima uses sticks made from rattan or butter-fruit tree by tradition and may be utilized alone or as a pair.
Stick Fighting Methods in a Nutshell
Stick fighting is a type of battle where practitioners utilize hand-held wooden sticks (frequently called escrima or kali sticks) to exchange blows with each other. In fact, Kali stick fighting is a general term which includes the different weapon-based martial arts techniques that utilize stick combat within their systems.
Numerous martial arts perform different arnis stick fighting forms. For instance, “Intonga,” an ancient stick-fighting martial art, is put into practice in South Africa. Moreover, there is the stick combat martial art known as “Canne de combat” in France and many others as well. But, the most admired stick-fighting arts are found in the FMA systems (or Filipino Martial Arts), which are:
- Modern Arnis
Stick Fighting Self Defense
Combating with sticks may look as if an ancient and primitive combat form, but in fact, it has many meanings for present reality-based self-defence. In fact, stick combat provides numerous advantages for the trainee, and it is a necessary factor in the modern fighting arts self-defence system.
Advantages of Training
Skills in stick fighting are vital for contemporary self-defence purposes for two reasons.
- You can protect yourself with the use of a stick – When appropriately utilized, a powerful stick strike could be a handy self-defence weapon. Stick strikes can usually cause trauma injuries. Moreover, sticks are ubiquitous and can be utilized readily in countless self-defence scenarios. Fighting with such weapons will provide you with the skills needed to utilize the weapon efficiently and effectively under different combat situations.
- You can defend yourself against an attacker who uses a stick – There’s always the likelihood that you be assaulted by a stick-wielding felon. Stick combat, in fact, teaches you about the strengths, limitations, and weaknesses of the weapon. This info is imperative if you’re going to successfully defend yourself against the weapon, or carry out a stick-disarming method.
Sparring with Sticks
One right way to improve and sharpen your techniques and skills in stick fighting styles is by regular sparring exercises. To achieve this, you will require a trustworthy and skilled training partner, rattan sticks as well as many protective gears. You will as well require a room that will let both of you play without restraint and not run into doors, windows, etc.
The Kali Stick Fighting Methods
You require two rattan sticks (kali sticks) to fight with your sparring partner. This weapon is more or less 26 inches and is quite slender. It is tough, yet light, inexpensive, and durable.
Moreover, using the rattan stick is more harmless than wood since it doesn’t splinter on impact. It merely wears and strips apart. This is particularly vital when doing full-contact stick fight styles with your sparring partner. Kali sticks let the fighters participate in full-contact instruction, but the protective equipment should always be worn.
Holding a Stick
There’s a right and wrong way in holding a kali stick while sparring. Getting acquainted with the dissimilarity could save your life.
While holding the rattan stick, constantly allow enough space on the bottom part of the weapon. Firstly, once you grip your stick in this way, it, in fact, converts a weapon into two useful sticks. The bottom part can now be utilized for butting methods at close-quarter fight range.
Secondly, it provides better leverage which enhances your impact force. Thirdly, it improves your retention to the weapon while fighting.
A tolerable amount of pressure must be applied whenever handling your stick. Holding your stick too firmly during the fight can be a problem since it will exhaust your hands and inflict needless cramping. Your stick hits will as well be relayed, and your strikes’ power and speed will be considerably reduced.
Three different stick combat distances should be entirely mastered. They include:
- Long-Range Stick Combat – stick fighting’s furthermost distance wherein you can just strike the hand of your attacker with your stick.
- Mid-Range Stick Combat – the intermediate range wherein you can hit your attacker’s head, body, and arms with your stick.
- Close-Quarter Stick Combat – the third stick fighting distance wherein you can hit your attacker with your weapon’s butt, and you can utilize different head, elbow, and knee butt strikes.
Check out this video of Balintawak Stick Fighting to get a perspective of close-quarter combat:
Keep Your Stick Moving
Keep your stick moving at all times. This is vital because:
- It prevents inactivity from starting the fight.
- It improves your general strike velocity.
- It lessens weapon telegraphing, particularly before striking using your stick.
- It improves your defence reaction time.
- It reduces your hand-digit exposure while fighting.
- It betters the offensive flow a lot.
- It makes your attacker miscalculate your stick’s range.
Stick Fight for Various Positions
There are various general stick fight positions that you or your adversary can employ:
- Both you or your attacker are in the prone position.
- You’re kneeling, and your attacker is the prone position.
- Your attacker is kneeling; you’re prone position.
- Both you or your attacker is
- You’re standing, and your attacker is prone.
- Your attacker is standing, and you’re prone.
- You’re standing, and your attacker is kneeling.
- Your attacker is standing, and you’re kneeling.
- Both you or your attacker is standing.
Use Various Types of Fighting Sticks
If you would like to develop your overall stick fighting moves, it’s vital to have you and your sparring partner perform a variety of sticks. If your funds allow you, practice with: short sticks, long sticks, heavy sticks, light sticks, unbalanced sticks, balanced sticks, makeshift sticks, cumbersome sticks, wooden sticks, as well as metal sticks.
Know Your Four Defensive Options
During a stick combat, you merely have four possible defensive alternatives. Make sure you can accomplish all of these responses quickly and efficiently when fighting using rattan sticks.
- You can avoid the stick attack angle.
- You can ward off the stick attack.
- You can block the approaching stick attack.
- You can hit your adversary’s weapon hand using your own stick.
Practice Both Single and Double Stick Fighting Methods
The only means to enhance your stick fighting techniques is to participate in various drills frequently. These drills can be carried out with either a rattan stick or two simultaneously.
Our article Filipino Arnis – An Effective Weapons-based Martial Arts – shares useful tips on drilling with weapons to improve reflexes and body coordination.
It is highly improbable that you’ll encounter a situation where you’ll fight an adversary with those sticks held in your hands. In a Hollywood movie, maybe, but not in a real-world, self-defence condition. So why is it necessary to practice double stick training?
Well, the list below will provide you with an idea about its usefulness for the wannabe self-defence technician and martial artists.
- Improve your confidence.
- Improve your physical and mental speed.
- Increase your arm blow power.
- Reduce overall telegraphic gestures in your physical mechanics.
- Enhance your hand-eye
- Improve your skill to adapt to attacks from random angles.
- Enhance and refine your skill to move during combat.
- Sharpen and develop your sense of timing and target recognition.
Practice Stick Fighting Everywhere
Practice stick fighting in various environments, locations as well as positions. Some tricky locations take in hallways and doorways; on or under a bridge; ascending or descending a hill; in a channel, on the stairs, and over a car; in the water, snow, mud, sand, and tall grass; in the middle of shrubbery, between branches and trees; and in the kneeling or prone position.
Be very careful when practicing in unstable environments and terrains. Make sure you’re being managed by an experienced stick combat instructor.
Don't Thrust Your Stick
Avoid doing thrusting movements during a stick fight. Shove your stick can be dangerous because:
- When the end portion of your stick makes contact with a solid body target, it’ll put great injury on your wrists leading to a brutal sprain or perhaps a minor fracture.
- You can unknowingly release your stick when hitting a well-built surface area.
- Stick thrusting movements merely require neutralizing power.
Unarmed Applications of Kali and Eskrima
Eskrima and Kali are acknowledged as weapon-based systems. However, they do have techniques with regards to empty hand, which are usually derived from using weapons. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. No weapon is equal to an empty hand, and using weapons is likely to emphasize attention and action to the weapons.
That emphasis can be excellent, and it’s frequently imperative. For instance, against a knife attack, it is sensible to focus almost entirely on evading or gaining the power of the adversary’s weapon-bearing limb. But instead, if you attempted to get control of a defenceless adversary’s right arm, he will likely hit you through his left.
This creates problems for various commonly instructed empty hand practices.
Some methods that make plenty of sense in weapon-to-weapon fight make extremely little sense in an unarmed fight. Likewise, some methods that work okay in combats with long, pointed weapons do not work fine with short, blunt objects.
Also, methods that work in stick combat may not work well with machetes or swords. Therefore, all concepts and methods utilized in weapon training must not be shifted straight to empty hand combat.
Gunting: Limb Destructions
An excellent example of unsuccessful empty hand usages can usually be observed in guntings or limb destructions. Many schools and systems teach these methods with both empty hands and palm sticks.
With a machete or sword, it makes a lot of sense to avoid an attack and perform limb destruction. The range is good, and you can perform this and not getting cut.
It makes less sense with a knife because a knife’s range is much closer, and the weapon is less prone to directly prevent an attack, trying to cut instead of control an approaching knife attack, even though it succeeds, could still cause you getting slashed or stabbed.
In an unarmed fight, the circumstance is even worse. With numerous, unknown strikes approaching in, all at close range, it’ll be almost improbable to target particular points on an assailant’s incoming arm. And even though you were to succeed and hit an opponent in the biceps, it is unlikely to have an effect.
With adrenaline rushing in, your adversary will probably not become aware of the strike, and the other hand would be striking you as you hit his arm.
Limb destructions or “guntings” are an excellent example of weapon practice that genuinely does not make sense in an unarmed fight, in spite of the fact that many differences of them are instructed in FMA schools in the world. With that, there are moments where limb attacks make sense!
But only do it when you have already got considerable power over your adversary.
Close Range Stick Fighting Methods
Filipino Stick Fighting Styles like Balintawak is mainly a defensive art that focuses on close-range fighting to counter and employ various offensive tactics against the opponent.
Balintawak stick fighting methods always assume that the opponent knows how to fight back and therefore focuses on defence during the early stages of training. Further training on proper body coordination, speed, power, and timing are done at the later stages.
Training in stick fighting methods can be mentally and physically demanding. But as long as you maintain the presence of mind and determination, you will slowly learn and master the different stick fighting methods mentioned in this post. The key lies in training.
With Filipino Stick Fighting training, you will be capable of blocking an opponent's strike from different angles and deliver a fast and decisive counter-strike. The free hand is used to engage in tactics such as striking, locking, grabbing, grappling, and disarming for a dynamic offence.
All the skills you learn in Filipino Stick Fighting are applicable to self-defence situations. This mix of weapons-based and bare hands training will turn you into a complete martial artist.
Our article Arnis Martial Arts – The Warrior's Way shares for effective stick fighting methods for combat.