1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Short sticks

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by AStone, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. AStone

    AStone Well-Known Member

    For the purpose of this thread, let's define short stick as any straight rod of wood, metal or plastic (including phenolics) ranging from (roughly) 14" to 24" (mas o menos) wielded primarily with one hand using arm or full body torsion with extra force added by wrist snap (like in racketball or frisbee, acceleration, as in f = ma).

    Over the last few years, I've experimented with 28" escrima/kali sticks, then scaled down to 26, to 24, then to 20" (in oak), all 1" diameter, often strapped to a pack, but sometimes up a coat sleeve. (It's cold here from October through March.)

    On the smaller end (larger than my 5.5" kubotan), I've used 16" x 1". Carries well in a fanny pack, great wrist snap even if not as much reach.

    All have grooves cut in as handles on both ends, first with a fixed blade, then opened up with a file, then sanded before applying oil.

    But recently, I've found that my ideal is a 1" x 18" oak dowel. Its balance is perfect for me. It's got an optimum of 'reach out and touch someone' (better than the 16) but light enough for maximum wrist snap (far better than the 20).

    Conceals better than the 20 up a sleeve, even if sticking out a bit more from the fanny pack. Acceptable.

    And something I learned this week that may relate to why it feels so right: an 18" stick is exactly - to within 1 mm - the length from the tip of my middle finger to the tip of my elbow. It's like an extension arm.


    Kelly McCann, mostly,
    with a lot of kali/escrima sticks (keep it simple)
    but some alt stuff also.

    Filipino influenced techniques (that motivated my 20" and 18").

    I also practice kubotan and walking sticks from 3' to 4',
    mostly using Irish stick styles of Glen Doyle,
    but here, let's focus on short sticks.

    What say you?
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  2. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Well-Known Member

    When I left police work some years ago I wanted something along the lines you describe.... and since my last formal baton training was with ASP baton, those kind of measurements were my parameters.

    I came up with a short section of solid fiberglass rod in the 1/2" tapering up to 3/4" range in the same dimensions as the standard ASP, then added a six inch foam grip (the kind you find on fishing rods). The result was very satisfactory, the weight similar, and the material almost unbreakable (by any force I'm able to exert). The best news is that I've never needed it....
  3. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    That's the way to measure the ideal short stick in some stick styles.

    I'd be careful about oak as a material of choice since it doesn't take the same abuse that hickory will to side loading.
  4. Carl Levitian

    Carl Levitian member

    Short sticks are wonderfully handy to have around. Less length means less to get hung up on in tight quarters, easy to slip up a jacket sleeve as mentioned. An innocent piece of mop handle or cut off ash shovel handle can deliver snap strikes to vulnerable body parts with speed and accuracy. I once watched our scout master take down a large bully with a piece of broomstick. When it was over, the bully was bleeding from head and face wounds, and had some broken fingers. I wouldn't have thought a foot and a half of broomstick would have done that kind of damage, but I guess it's not the tool, it's how the tool is used.

  5. AStone

    AStone Well-Known Member

    Lemay, sounds like an innovative tool. How was the weight with the fiberglass, compared to, say an ASP or a hardwood? I haven't handled an ASP, though I've been eyeing trying to acquire one when the budget allows it. (The last couple of years has not seen any fat in the bank account.)

    Hso, that's very interesting (measurement). It was after realizing how good the length felt to me - and I mean a substantial difference from the other lengths - that I realized that little tidbit. I was intrigued by it.

    And yes, fully agree about the oak. I see these as prototypes. I've been using oak dowel because that's what available cheap at hardware stores. But what I really want to do soon is get a professional woodworker friend to turn me a few using ash or something harder. (He can get any wood on Earth.) He can also do a better job with the grips than I can.

    PS: do you like hickory more than ash? Baseball bats are ash, so seems would make great sticks, too.

    Carl, that's an interesting story. I like the term "snap strike", too. And yes, how the tool is used is what matters. I truly enjoy studying various techniques from various styles and adding them to McCann's teachings.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  6. AStone

    AStone Well-Known Member

    And, I want to pick up one of these in an 18". No breakage/splinter issue there. :D

    PS: I just noticed that the Monadnocks are 1.25". Darn. That feels too big for me. I like 1" diameter. (Smaller hands.)
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  7. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    Short sticks have the advantage of being easy to conceal and easy to swing in close quarters. The disadvantage is that they are more difficult to block with in the unlikely event of a stick on stick attack. My experience with short sticks is that they need a substantial amount of mass to be effective with circular strikes to make up for the fact that you can not generate the kind of speed that you can with an arm length stick. One common way around this problem is to use a short club rather than a stick. Clubs have their own unique disadvantages though. One is that they are designed to be held only by the lighter end and grabbing the wrong end dramatically changes the balance and handling qualities. The other is that they look like weapons and can cause you all sorts of legal problems in some states. My solution is to carry an arm length stick and use two handed techniques in close until proper distance can be restored.
  8. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Go to the farmer's co-op and look for hickory sorting sticks. Think hickory stock can without the crook. There's no need to get one turned unless you want something heavier made from hornbeam.
  9. Meridian Blades

    Meridian Blades Active Member

    If you cant find the hickory, I would also recommend Osage. Light orange when first cut and mellows to a dark brown. Very hard and should be readily available, as well as inexpensive. Some folks burn a design with a torch and then sand as desired. Its also known as Bois D'Arc.

    "Harder and stronger than even white oak, Osage orange was once cut for railroad ties. While other woods for ties lasted but a few years, Osage orange served for 20! And many a Midwestern farm still has fence posts of the wood in place after a century. Because of Osage orange's hardness and durability, it often was used for wagon wheels. Highly decay-resistant, it was even laid as paving blocks. Sanded smooth and oiled, Osage orange beats all others for cutting boards that will stand up to a blade."
  10. AStone

    AStone Well-Known Member

    Great advice, MB. I've read of Osage orange before, but had forgotten that.

    And I like the idea of a stick that will outlast me by a century. Muchas gracias.
  11. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    My walking stick is made from Osage orange, so is my arm length stick.
  12. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Well-Known Member

    I've never compared an ASP side by side with what I came up with but the fiberglass rod (I've been building my own fishing rods for years and only used solid fiberglass for the heaviest commercial wire line rods) feels like the same weight I trained with when I carried the ASP...

    The observation that a short stick is at a disadvantage against an opponent with a longer stick, club, bat, etc. is a valid one. However used with two hands to block strikes then counter attack your opponents hands - it can be very effective. Nothing like a strike to the hand holding an impact weapon to put your opponent out of action. That's something you learn the hard way in any kind of baton training using a live opponent (even in slow mode, even when they're wearing a Red Man suit).

    Remember, it's the indian - not the arrow. On the street in a real defensive situation nothing beats sudden violent aggressive action delivered with no warning at all... You want your opponent surprised, shocked, and either on the ground or retreating at full speed. You won't like the alternative.
  13. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    We get caught up in the idea that Thing 1 is inadequate compared to larger/stronger/faster Thing 2 when we talk about defensive tools at times. When we're discussing self defense we're not dealing with duels or sparring or competition, but what can we have with us all the time to use as a defensive tool if we're forced to defend ourselves against an attacker (and an attacker that isn't usually equipped with a dedicated weapon of similar kind). That can mean compromises since the ideal defensive tool is a purpose built weapon optimized for attack and defense and we usually won't be carrying such around with us as an every day carry. Whether the short stick you carry is an ASP that has compromises to make it highly portable or a piece of wood of particular length and weight that has compromises to permit you to carry it unobtrusively it is better than NO tool at all. You should always work to optimize the defensive qualities of what you carry, but that has to be balanced against issues of portability, concealability, utility and legality so you can have it with you in the first place when you have to use it.

    I'm trained in escrima, but I don't carry short sticks around with me. I carry a cane instead (or cane umbrella) because it conceals in plain sight and is legal anywhere I go. It is not as portable as a short stick so it is itself a compromise.
  14. AStone

    AStone Well-Known Member

    This is already an excellent discussion with fine ideas and opinions being offered.

    Exactly what I had in mind. Thanks. Please continue.

  15. Hamilton Felix

    Hamilton Felix Well-Known Member

    OK, you got me curious. ;) I just pulled my tape measure from my pocket, shoved my elbow against the desk, put the tape against the desk and measured, The tip of my middle finder came 19½ inches from the desk. Is that my "ideal" short stick length?

    Where do Maglites come in? I'm old enough to recall the Kel-lite combination baton and C-cell flashlight. I sometimes refer to the 3-D Maglites on my wife's and my nightstands as "the handy bludgeon size." Like lemaymiami, my wife is a former LEO who likes the ASP baton. It's pretty darned silly that most jurisdictions make that little tubular metal device a forbidden item, while we can wear our guns legally. But that's reality. I'm more and more interested in weapons that don't appear to be weapons, be it a Cold Steel City Stick cane or a flashlight or....???? Hmm.. maybe I'll go research Maglight dimensions...:rolleyes:

    I'm a native of the great Pacific NorthWET. I can't help wondering about using yew for a stick. I know where there's an unusually large yew tree. Not that we have a shortage of suitable materials; I'm a country boy, living close to a logging town hardware store that stocks plenty of tool handles. Wood lathes are hardly uncommon...
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  16. crazyjennyblack

    crazyjennyblack Well-Known Member

    What about a nice tire iron? I got the opportunity to defend myself from a vicious dog that attacked me in my driveway once - it worked quite well!

    The only i can see wrong with it is that it's a tad too long and pretty heavy.
  17. ThorinNNY

    ThorinNNY Well-Known Member

    Hello there JennyBlack.A tire iron would certainly be effective.Unfortunately,I suspect it would attract a lot of unwelcome attention if you carry it openly while stroll down Main street.
    A cane or walking stick isn`t likely to arouse suspicion. People tend to assume you need it.
    I use a cane from neccessity.I have nerve damage in one of my legs. The cane help keep me from stumbling and helps with balance. Mine is 1 I/8 inches in diameter & heavy, but you could probably find something suited to your own tastes.
    I`ve seen dainty, ornate canes I assume were meant for a lady`s use. I suggest you aboid the folding and telescopic tubular canes. Theyr`e flimsy & would probably bend or break if you had to use `em for S.D.
  18. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    The traditional way to measure for the longer "medium" stick is from your arm pit to the tip of your middle finger. For the average American who stands just short of 6 feet, that usually is somewhere around 28 inches.

    BTW, the distance from your elbow to your middle finger (roughly 18 inches) is called a cubit, and the distance between finger-tip to finger-tip with arms outstretched is called a span or league and should be roughly equal to your height. (proper staff length) These old world measurements are often used in some of the more traditional martial arts to determine proper weapon length.
  19. Carl Levitian

    Carl Levitian member

    Where a short stick totally rules is in close range situations. You don't ever swing a short stick, it's not a club. The short stick is used for parrying and deflecting, not blocking. It's used for very fast snap strikes from chest level to vulnerable areas like hands and eyes. Speed is what makes the short stick work to create an opening to retreat from the area. Or an opening to inflict crippling damage so the attacker is unable to continue the assault.

    Too many people think first of a stick as a club. This in itself negates the best use of a stick as a block and thrust weapon. A light short stick that makes a poor club may well be a great defense weapon when used with snap strikes and thrusts.
  20. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    Carl, discribe what you mean by "snap strikes".

Share This Page