WALKING TALL: Sheriff Buford Pusser
Several movies have been made about the real life sheriff Buford Pusser, who bravely fought crime and corruption in Tennessee. Pusser was a courageous man who fought to clean up his county, and was seriously injured in an ambush that killed his wife. An enduring symbol of Buford Pusser as a law enforcement officer and a man to be respected was a big stick, which he used to great effect to destroy illegal whiskey stills and as a weapon –sort of a PR-24 on steroids. Sheriff Pusser put the fear of God into criminals.
Can you imagine criminals cowering as Pusser storms into a bar with a 28 inch rattan stick? The idea is ridiculous, even if the short, thin stick were made out of heavier wood. I think we all instinctively understand that a long, heavy stick is the more powerful weapon.
Furthermore, Officer Pusser was a big, strong man who often faced death. He couldn’t afford fancy, complicated techniques, but wielded a big stick with incredible power. He didn’t have the luxury of choosing anything other than the most powerful, intimidating stick (backed up by a .357 magnum and an M-16!).
You don’t have to be a martial artist to understand that the big stick is a symbol of power and authority.
The title of the movies based on Officer Pusser’s life, “Walking Tall,” comes from a saying that he often used: “The measure of a man is how tall he walks.” Sheriff Pusser was not just a big, dumb jock who could beat people up, but embodied important virtues such as courage, integrity, and pride. It’s much easier to be fearless, uncompromising, and proud if you have the tools to defend yourself and to kick ass if necessary. It will be easier for you to walk taller and unafraid when you carry a big stick and know how to use it with crushing power.
Sheriff Pusser wielded his stick with two hands, as can be seen in a publicity photo. A short one-handed stick gripped by a single hand cannot deliver the power of a stick large enough to be gripped by both hands.
Although my teachers are Filipino grandmasters, I would also like to put to rest forever the ignorant stereotype that Asians are the supreme martial artists, and those of European ancestry are hopeless incompetents as warriors. Buford Pusser is just one example of proof to the contrary.
If you need real world self-defense skills, particularly if you ever have to face the sort of life-and-death situations that Sheriff Pusser faced, you can benefit from a power system using the long, heavy stick.