The folks at Sayoc Kali have a DVD on stick grappling available here.
The sales copy makes several thought-provoking points, inspired by heavy contact sparring:
1) Rattan Lacks Stopping Power
It takes several HARD, CLEAN shots to the head before one gets KOd by a light rattan stick. Especially, if the opponent doesn’t want to get hit. That’s a FACT. The first shot can end the fight due to a cut or just unwillingness (tolerance) to take the pain, but there were no one shot KOs from a solo stick shot. Some fights went several shots before submission, no KOs. A stick has as much power as a kick or punch – the difference is that the stick doesn’t break like a hand would from impact, but it does NOT hit the head/jaw at the angles a limb shot can induce a KO with.
2) Corto (Close) Range, Is the Most Deadly –to the Practitioner! Padding, Helmets, and Armor Have Concealed This Fact
“FACT: All things equal, the most dangerous stick striking zone is CORTO. Many people train in corto range but are misinformed in the zoning realities of utilizing corto. Corto Range is the mid range in which full power impact strikes can be exchanged within the reactionary gap of your opponent. The myth is that one stays in and finishes their opponent by exchanging counter for counter strikes as they flow beautifully.
What pushes this myth along are people wearing headgear staying within the contact zone too long and receive TOO MANY impact shots to their head than they would like if it was real. So they stay in and get clocked. In a real fight between trained combatants, they will not engage the fight this way. All things change when you KNOW your own head can get hit. No one acts like a stick robot anymore. Once they get hit hard they submit or close. They do not trade shots at full power, because the body doesn’t work that way. You need to pad up to get that type of incorrect reaction from BOTH parties.”
3) Because of the Danger (i.e. Punishment) at Corto Range, Fighters Either Move In to Grappling Range or Out to Long (Largo) Range.
“Guess what happens? People stay at safer long or grappling range.
No one stays in the corto range. Corto is the mutual aggressive space and can no longer guarantee you will see a shot coming in time to counter it.
However, after several shots to the hands or close calls to the head, the long range fighters realize there’s no advantage in staying out there. Conditioning and stamina become factors. If BOTH fighters stay at long range, there won’t get a KO, because it isn’t a blade. They merely get nicked here and there. Only when you get a fighter who can’t stand the hand hits anymore do you ever get a submission at long range (BOTH fighters staying outside). So they close to corto or grappling range.”
4) Corto Range Is Dangerous.
“The best reason to evade corto range, you are open to all the other limb strikes, take downs, and stick strikes at power arcs as well. The students reassess their timing and conditioned responses. So when two people good at corto range fight, the fastest way to win is to close by baiting corto and taking them down.
If the takedown fails you are BACK in corto range so do not try to stay in grappling mode and try again. Even if you think you are attempting another takedown… You cover/clear and escape to largo as FAST as possible. At any time you are in corto and you are NOT the one making the ONLY contact (before and after the strike) that means your tactic is flawed and you need to close or evade.
Body shifting is excellent for ONE counter as you make impact. If you do not make impact and maintain corto, the highest probability is that a stick fighter with grappling skills will gain guard, sweep or do a takedown. When one is swinging with power it is tougher to evade a takedown. When you reset the range away from corto, and the grappler attempts to do a takedown then THEY are in corto range.
Avoid the corto range unless you make the only impact strike, with equal corto skills you should flow to grappling or largo depending on how much better you are in those ranges against the other person.”
5) Smart Fighters Will Bait You (Feign a Strike, Typically High), to Enter and Grapple. If You Block and Strike, You Are Toast
“You HAVE to maintain PROPER RANGE to make the next shot count. The other guy KNOWs how to cover and CLOSE … FAST. They will come in swinging as well or at least make you respond to their attack… perhaps make you block before you counter. Enough time for them to enter your half beat timing and close. In Sayoc Kali it is called, “Keeping your opponent honest”.”
I will always say this: rattan is for training sticks as it will fray before it will break, thereby making it safer for repeated use in training.
While I encourage the use of helmets in training, I do see too many videos of people using the helmet like it was a shield. The helmet should NEVER be used as a shield, and you must learn to fight with it on as if you didn’t have it on. Let the helmet get hit and you loose!
You are 100% right on range; each weapon has an effective range and you enter into this range only when you are about to strike. Stay out of the other guy’s effective range. Control the range and you control the fight.
You’re so right that the instructor(s) must stop to indicate, “Hey, that stick hit your helmet –you just got clocked.” Otherwise, it turns into a mess where guys are flailing away with sticks and deluding themselves.
I missed your post on the Dog Bros and just read it. It’s spot on.
“If you get inside one thing is almost guaranteed, one or the other or both fighters will grapple. It re-frames the way in which we should be training the inside range. If you don’t want to grapple and go to the ground, for whatever reason (and I can think of several good ones), maybe forget about parries, traps, passes, and the like and instead focus on knees, elbows, punyo strikes, head-butts, and biting (yeah, really).”
“A Muay Thai style clinch might work, but will probably remove your stick from the striking equation, although you can use it to clinch and hold.”
Also, and I’m glad to see some of the DBs finally doing this, is to have a quick-access edged weapon for when and if it does go to grappling. Quiclky draw and cut. A Spiderco P’Kal allows easy concealment, quick access, and the reverse grip/ edge in method is excellent from that range. It is something you have to practice though, whatever blade you choose. I have practiced literaly 1000s of quick draws from many positions in order to be able to do it correctly every time. I have tried this numerous times in my own sparring and it never fails to produce a favorable result. If you try and grapple with me, you WILL get cut.”
I have to agree that the knee with probably pack greater “oomph” in close than a short stick. I’m increasingly leaning toward the knife as a backup grappling option.
I think you’ll find, with respect to a “back-up” edged weapon for grappling that it changes the entire dynamic of fighting at that range. I have had big, strong guys with solid BJJ credentials take me to the ground in stick sparring matches only to find a counter in the form of cold steel. You can’t choke, arm-bar, or submit your way out of that reality. If I can get one hand free, you’re dead. Its as simple as that. I think a second volume of Big Stick Combat is in the works, with a heavy section devoted to edged weapons work on the inside as a viable conter-grappling tactic. . Let me know, I’m your man!