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Short sticks

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

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  1. AStone

    AStone Member

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    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.

    Techniques?

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

    Fairbaine.
    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 Member

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    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

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    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

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    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.

    Carl.
     
  5. AStone

    AStone Member

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    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 Member

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    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

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    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

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    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 Member

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    Nema
    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 Member

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    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

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

    lemaymiami Member

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    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

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    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 Member

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

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

    Nem
     
  15. Hamilton Felix

    Hamilton Felix Member

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    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 Member

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    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 Member

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    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

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    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

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    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

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

    Carl Levitian member

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    The snap strike is a technique taught to us way back in the 1950's when we were 12 and 13 year old boy scouts. Our scout master was an old retired marine, and after an incident where one of our scouts was assaulted outside of a country store in the middle of nowhere, Mr. Van taught us how to use a short light stick for defense. He'd used a piece of broomstick on this big redneck kind of guy who had slapped one of his 12 year old scouts, and even though the guy was wy bigger than our scout master, it was over in about one minute. Mr. Van had used what he'd called snap strikes on the guy, and had broken bones in the guys hand and tore open his face, and had the guy laying in the parking lot whimpering.

    He taught it to us this way. You take a piece of inch or slightly bigger broom stick, mop handle, tree branch, whatever, and you have it in what he called the guard position right handed, in kind of a reverse boxers stance, right foot forward if your right handed, with the stick horizontal across your chest kind of ready. When you strike, you don't swing the stick like your going to club it, but instead you snap out with it at your target, striking with the very end of the stick into the target with a whipping of the wrist. This is done very fast, each time the stick comes back to the guard position ready to lash out again immediately at the same or other target. Like fencing, the wrist action is important. I've practiced this on a raw chicken hanging in a mesh bag, and I'm always surprised at how many bones get broken and chicken torn open. It's all about the speed at the end of the stick hits at. Or you can practice with a hard rubber ball hanging on a string, and practice hitting a target moving toward you. Kind of like playing stickball in the alley when I was a kid.

    The short light, fast handling stick is like what the rattan stick martial arts guys do. You're hitting vital targets like hands and face with a very fast moving impact that snaps back ready to strike again before the target recovers from the first impact. You combine this with footwork like in fencing to keep a certain distance that is optimum for you to strike from, unless the attacker wishes to run off.

    Size is important. The stick that works best for me is, the distance from the inside of my elbow to fingertips. This is just short enough to stick up the sleeve of a jacket. A one inch ash or hickory stick in this size can be very effective.

    You snap out a strike and instantly back into guard position. You hit, retreat, hit retreat, all with a wrist action that never lets you hang out there exposed. After a little practice, you can snap out a strike almost too fast to see in time enough for them to block. You aim for hands holding any weapon to break the small bones in the hand. Any hit that connects with a hand or wrist is going to break something. Unable to hold a knife or club, you've kind of disarmed your attacker. A strike for the eyes will take out the vision in one if it's a hit, and that's more than most street punks will be able to deal with. A quick blow under the chin may well take out his ability to breath if the damage crushes the trachea. A fast blow to the ear area, especially just under will hit the mastoid gland, and the pain will be really intense. If it hits the ear, you may inflict balance problems on your attacker. But most of all, you keep up a rain of very fast repeat strikes that put the attacker on the defensive and does real damage with the hits.

    If you get an opening, you can grab the other end of the stick, and use a two handed end on thrust into an exposed area. Throat, stomach. A 15 inch stick is long enough for that. Most of all, this is not going to be breaking a shoulder, alarm, or leg. It's not supposed to. This not a club. It's just going right for very easy to damage areas with a fast light handling stick that can be improvised almost anywhere. A broom stick, towel rack pulled off a wall, rung stomped out of a wood chair, piece of tree branch cut off with a pocket knife.

    The whole key is speed, and the snap back to guard position to strike again immediately. I don't know if I've described it decently enough so you know what I'm talking about. I know that I'll never ever forget watching our our scoutmaster take down that big guy with the piece of broomstick that day. Mr.Van didn't just put him down, he destroyed him in about a minute or less. Everywhere he hit the guy in the face, there was a bloody gash, and when the police cuffed the guy with his hands in front of him, it didn't take a X-ray tech to see his hand had at least some broken fingers that were at odd angles.

    Try it, it works.

    Carl.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  22. glistam

    glistam Member

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    You should work with an illustrator some time, Carl, unless this is already published somewhere. I'd be interested in seeing more detail, because it sounds pretty solid reasoning.

    There is an interesting parallel to the snap strike I use in historical fencing (HEMA). I use an 16" belaying pin as a off-hand weapon, and we use full size 2-4 pound blunt steel swords. Despite what a lot of people assume, that little stick will stop a sword. The most common is a beat parry against a thrust or vertical cut, where you whip the belaying pin against the foible and snap it right back to ready. It sends the sword blade flying way off course, and a few times has resulted in a full disarm. Even a beat parry against the forte is a jarring hit most opponents are not prepared for. If I did it to someone's unprotected hand, it would shatter the bones easily.
     
  23. Carl Levitian

    Carl Levitian member

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    glistam, we can do better than an illustrator. If you're anywhere in the part of Maryland I can get to, and you have a video camera, I'll meet up with you and demonstrate. You can film it, and maybe put it on here if they want. If you want, have someone with a rubber knife attack, and I'll demonstrate with a rolled up newspaper how to strike and hands and face. Heck, I'll even supply the raw chicken to show how damaging a small stick can be when used right.

    Carl.
     
  24. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Yes, you did. Exquisitely.

    Yes to a video of this. Strongly endorse that idea. If I had money, I'd fund it.

    But alas, I'm near broke. (That will probably change in the next few months, but not yet.)

    For me, snap strike is related to the same technique I learned in my early 20's in racketball.

    I was a mediocre racketball player in my college class. My instructor/coach was a jerk. I was not good at the game, but instead of teaching me what to do better, he used me to teach other students what NOT to do. I sucked, and squeaked by with a C in the class.

    But I LOVED the game, so kept playing and practicing after the class.

    One day, I was waiting for a court, and watching a guy practicing his shots. He was beyond amazing. I'd never seen anyone hit a ball that hard, that accurately, "killing" the ball against the front wall, low everytime.

    He saw me watching and said, "come on in, let's play a game". I did, and he slaughtered me 21/0. After that, I told him my story. Turns out he was a nationally ranked racketball player. He spent half an hour showing me how to do fore hand and back hand strikes.

    The key - the KEY - was wrist snap. Arm swing is not what accelerates the ball to blazing speed. It's the wrist snap in combo with the arm swing. There's also the element of stepping into the strike (which I still employ in my stick work - stay out of range, then step in as you swing and snap the wrist at the appropriate point when arm is fully extended toward your opponent's hand, wrist, arm, ribs, knee, neck, head ... and ...

    <best Batman special effects sound> KAAAPPPOWWWW!!!

    Bounce off the body part that was hit with a reverse stroke to another body part, and attacker does not continue long.

    Kelly McCann illustrates the idea nicely here.

    Note he goes after an attacking right arm, then immediately reverses the blow to the inner left thigh. Badda boom.

    Wrist snap. It's all about wrist snap.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  25. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Most days, I carry the 18" in my extra large fanny pack by MountainSmith (shoulder strap removed). Sticks out a bit on the right side angled up, but that's a good thing because I can simply reach back, grasp it and pull it out. The 20" was too long, the 16" was a bit too short.

    But the 20" was perfect length for carrying on my full day pack which I wear when grocery shopping, running errands on my bike to carry stuff, or on longer day hikes. It fits down inside the side straps on the right side resting in the water bottle holder; the end sticks up over my right shoulder so I can reach back over my shoulder with my right hand and draw it. But the 18" was too short to do that; not high enough to allow me to grab it like that.

    So today, I picked up a piece of 1.25" PVC pipe and cut a 6" piece. I'm going to devise a way to block it half way down the tube so that my 18" stick will fit into it as it - the PVC 'holster' - rides in the water bottle pocket such that the stick sits up an extra 2 - 3" so I can grab it easier.

    I love projects like this.
    _____

    Today, I spent about 10 minutes trying to convince a friend who lives in Washington DC
    that she should carry a SD stick and read McCann's combatives book.

    She wasn't impressed. She's a bit on the politically fluffy side.

    But at least I tried.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
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