GM Vasquez and Darrin Cook of Big Stick CombatI have posted a video here on the advantages of vertical strikes, with a simple demonstration. (My goal is to improve the quality of my videos, so please bear with me.)

For instance, in the photo on the left Grandmaster Vasquez is about to blast me. While I am winding up for a horizontal strike, he will beat me to the punch with a more direct vertical strike. (By the way, I don’t normally wear a gi, but did so in deference to GM Vasquez.)

Many styles have found the advantages of vertical strikes, which allow you to control the opponent’s centerline. Wing Chun, Modified Tapado, and even the larga mano phase of Combat Eskrima Maranga feature vertical strikes.

One of the most interesting subsystems in Giron Escrima is Estilo Bolante. Bolante was normally a good natured man who became a different person when he got drunk. Once he started drinking, he wanted to fight and got out of control. His method was to stand in a doorway so that he could not be outflanked, and use vertical strikes.

Although my preference is to wield the long stick at a distance, the challenge for me is to be able to use the long stick at the very closest range and in the most confined conditions (such as indoors at a party). Like Bolante, I find that using a vertical orientation rather than a horizontal orientation enables me to fight in a much smaller envelope.

In the video I also address structural speed. Structural speed does not come from moving quickly in a longer path, but by pursuing the shortest, most direct path. If I give you a ruler, almost any technique is possible, like a corkscrew strike. But if I put a longer, heavier stick in your hand the number of feasible techniques suddenly shrinks because of the weapon’s weight and length. The beauty of the long stick is that it forces you into economy of motion, making you pursue the shortest possible line and the most direct method.


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