Impact And The Offensive Weapon

By JJ Simon
Published on Oct 15th, 2011

How many people who train with sticks have been hit with one, especially with intention, speed and force? I have, but not during training. At the age of 12, while stick fighting with a neighborhood friend, for fun; I was struck with considerable force in the head, just above my right eye. I suffered a concussion, a laceration millimeters from my eye that required 13 stitches, and I was knocked nearly unconscious. All of this was the result of a single strike from a fellow 12 year old who didn’t “really” want to hurt me.

I have heard various Martial Arts practitioners state that nothing practical is taught in reference to weapons work EXCEPT in their own weapon based art. In this article, I would like to re-frame this particular argument.

In Ed Parker’s Kenpo, our work with sticks is an analogue for a self defense response involving any club-like environmental weapon. In short, training with sticks prepares us to work with any offensive weapon. The environment of combat may provide a tree limb, crowbar, bat, golf club, bottle, cane, or possibly even an individually tailored, rattan fighting stick.

Any of these objects becomes a weapon simply by picking them up with the intent to use them to harm another person. A strike can come from any one of the 8 angles of attack. We know that strikes can come from the front, rear, either side, or from above or below from studying Mr. Parker’s Analysis of Motion. A strike can be linear or circular. Its path might be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. These directions, paths, and angles are trained in all Martial Arts traditions to some extent. Various methods of maneuvering to one of these same 8 directions with weapons are also trained. Every art has specific exercises for this work.

When training with weapons, martial artists have to deal with three basic scenarios armed vs. armed, unarmed (defender) vs. armed, and armed vs. unarmed (attacker). In the armed vs. armed scenario, if the attacker is armed and the defender picks up an environmental weapon, that is self defense; the goal is to end the conflict quickly and efficiently. When two people agree to a fight with weapons, then, that is a duel. When was the last time you read on the internet or in the newspaper about two people having a duel? If you want to see a real life duel fought with sticks I suggest you watch the following video:

Dog Brothers Full Contact Stick Fighting

This video will allow you to examine how much or how little sophistication it takes to hit someone effectively with a stick. The people in this video are all willing participants and have no malice toward one another, no intent to do serious harm. They have varying degrees of skill. All, but the most knowledgeable and talented of them, strike in a very simple and effective manner. Usually, the method consists of a rapid fire succession of overhand or side to side strikes.

In Kenpo, we do not train to duel. Our exercises are designed for self-defense. The training logically is that if attacked by group or a person with a weapon, we are involved in a life threatening conflict. I have a better chance of surviving if I pick up an environmental weapon and use it in a simple, quick, and efficient way. The patterns and paths that we train are designed to build the skills to make one shot count; like the shot that split my head open, at age 12.

The effectiveness of a single strike from a club delivered by a weaker person can be further illustrated by another true story. This incident happened to a friend’s grandfather who, in his late 80's, stopped an assault by a larger man, 50 years his junior, by punching him with the tip of his cane to his solar plexus. One effective strike with a stick by an old man was all it took to end the fight.

There is a real danger to martial artists who lose sight of the goal of effective self defense and come to believe that the way exercises are trained in various traditions or studios constitute the reality of combat.

The effectiveness of any method, yours or mine, can be shown by practicing with people who train in other arts. Training openly could enhance community building in the marital arts. This might stop a lot of the cheap talk and character assassination. We, as trained martial artists, have to dig deeper into our arts, asking penetrating questions of our teachers, of ourselves. We must work out our answers through logic and training rooted in solid fundamentals.

Filed under Instructors and Teaching

Author Bio :: JJ Simon

JJ Simon has studied the Martial Arts for over a decade. In October of 2010, he tested for, and earned, his black belt at TheMALC's annual Residential . Mr. Simon has studied meditation since 1990 and has completed a number of Meditation retreats from 3 to 30 days under such noted teachers as Lama Surya Das, and in the Shambhala training tradition created by Chogyam

JJ has acted as a meditation coach for friends and martial arts associates since 1992. Mr. Simon is a tattoo artist of some renown with some 20 years of experience in the field. He owns Explosive Tattoo South in Salisbury, MD. JJ is also a painter, knife maker, and the Artistic Director for The Martial Arts Learning Community, Inc.

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