Archive for March, 2010

Defanging the Snake

Posted in Masters and History, Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory with tags , on March 31, 2010 by bigstickcombat


Some martial artists are really on the bandwagon talking about “defanging the snake,” which is a phrase meaning to hit the opponent’s hand instead of his stick. Some teachers want to act as though this is high-level, super-secret info.

One well-known martial artist wrote a column saying how any “real” Filipino martial art stresses defanging the snake. He got straightened out by another well-known master (I believe it was Master Latosa) who said that defanging the snake isn’t necessarily the strategy of many Filipino martial arts, let alone the better arts.

GM Estalilla is dismissive of defanging the snake as the old hit-the-hand method. He told me of how when he was a young man in Mindanao someone he knew was walking through the jungle. The guy spotted a snake hanging down from a tree limb (This was common in Cotabato.), so he took his bolo and chopped off the snake’s head.

He walked a little further before noticing the severed head of the snake hanging from his hat, with its fangs embedded in the brim!

The moral of the story is that a dead snake can still be deadly. By the same token, if you hit the hand of an opponent swinging a pipe wrench, momentum may just carry that pipe wrench into your face.

Short stick styles hit to the hand because they are shorter, and can only reach as far as the hand. But with a longer weapon it is possible to play a bigger game, wherein you are hitting the opponent’s weapon and his body or head. Think about that the next time you hear someone talking about defanging the snake.


The Millwall Brick: Deadly News

Posted in Weapons with tags , , on March 30, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Making a Millwall Brick

The Millwall Brick is an improvised club made out of a newspaper. As soccer hooligans got out of control at British games, the police responded by confiscating “all” weapons of spectators entering the stadium.

The hooligans countered by making improvised clubs out of newspaper! You can find instructions and other tips here.

I think this goes to show that it’s impossible to make society safe by confiscating weapons. I believe it also shows that it’s always possible to prepare yourself for a violent encounter by arming yourself. File this away –it might save your butt someday.

FMA Digest Appearance

Posted in Resources and Product Reviews with tags , , , , on March 29, 2010 by bigstickcombat

I’m honored to appear in this month’s FMA Digest, which is a great resource for the Filipino martial artist.

In this issue I explain the origins of Big Stick Combat, and explain how Grandmasters Estalilla, Vasquez, and Maranga helped me to grow as a martial artist and to develop the art of the 36 inch stick.

The issue is available for free at

New Filipino Martial Arts?

Posted in Other Stick Methods with tags , , , on March 29, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Binugsay Oar System, via Karay-a Uno Blanco Eskrima

I was thrilled to receive an e-mail today from a Filipino martial artist in the Philippines, who thought I might be interested in learning two obscure Filipino martial arts, “binugsay” which uses a boat oar as a weapon, and “tinungkod,” which uses a walking cane or a stick of that length.

The long weapon styles are few and far between, and I’m really excited about having the chance to learn about these new styles (well, new to me) on my trip to the Philippines this upcoming June.

In the meantime, I’ve found a website for an Ilonggo martial arts group, Karay-a Uno Blanco Eskrima. I was surprised to discover in my trip to Bacolod City that the region is a hotbed of eskrima. (For example, the late GM Remy Presas was from Bacolod).

Book Review:Make a Living with Your Backyard/Garage/Comunity Center Dojo

Posted in Resources and Product Reviews with tags , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Masters Inosanto (left) and Atillo in the Garage

I just ordered this book from Master Gatdula, and received it almost instantly. Although the book is small, when you consider that it costs just $9, postage paid, it is practically being given away.

I’ve decided to take the plunge and to start taking in students, so this book was exactly what I was looking for. Why a garage dojo? Years ago when I studied Thai boxing with Khru Paul Metayo, I sat down with him to go over the finances of his school. By the time we added up the rent, the electricity, the water and trash, the phone bill, etc., he was losing money with the number of students he had, and eventually had to close the school. I wouldn’t have realized the cost of martial arts school overhead if I hadn’t learned from Khru Paul’s experience.

It seems to me that the garage/backyard dojo (or pagadalan) is one way to get into teaching without an large up-front investment, and with minimal risk.

Let me cut to the chase: the book is an excellent investment. It is chock full of great tips. It provides an overview and a feel for the martial arts school business, while also serving to motivate the reader.

The book is an easy read. The writing is clear and the tone is conversational. I easily read it through in a single sitting, then re-read it a second time, highlighting key passages. There was a lot to highlight, because the book is packed with substance. I guarantee there will be something in there you hadn’t thought of, like the suitcase idea (Lesson #7).

If you are considering opening up a small school, or would like to take your school to the next level, I heartily recommend this tiny investment with the potential to pay off big.

PS. In the future I would like to see Master Gatdula offer a larger, expanded version of the book. A larger book would be able to go into the nitty gritty of running a school, such as fees, contracts, payment collection, specific advertising, specific insurance agencies, dealing with injuries, etc.

Videos: Kelly McCann

Posted in American Arts, Videos with tags , , , on March 27, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Kelly McCann

Former Marine Kelly McCann has a real solid video here. His attack from the arm to the opponent’s lead knee reminds me of GM Giron’s short stick technique, which featured broad sweeping strikes designed to hit both the opponent’s arm and knee.

Also check out these videos:

Handshake Defense

Chin Jab Kelly’s take on the WWII era Fairbairn technique.

Self-Defense “Time Lag” Kelly has real practical advice on more realistic training which anticipates the opponent’s possible counters.

Improvised Weapons There is some real fascinating advice here and improvised weapons you’re probably never thought of.

Poser of the Week

Posted in humor, Poser of the Week with tags , , on March 26, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Grandmaster Kuko

Grandmaster Kuko  is in the upper 2% of FMA who do not suck, because he protects his armpit.  A lot of guys out there will talk crap, but one solid shot to the armpit and they suddenly shut up.

In daily life Grandmaster Kuko travels inconspicuously as a door-to-door knife salesman. In fact, he never has to sharpen his knives –when one gets dull, he simply throws it away and draws another one from its scabbard. Right now he is wearing enough knives to last him until 2033.

Another hallmark of his legitimacy is the authentic Filipino pajamas. In the Philippines, particularly my travels in Ipis Province (original home of the blind princess), the real Kali masters were easily recognizable by their pajamas. Only someone at my advanced level can spot a pair of genuine Kali grandmaster pajamas in an instant. If you see someone wearing Sponge Bob or Hello Kitty pajamas, do NOT be fooled –he is not a genuine grandmaster, no matter how convincing he may sound.

You may ask, “Why does Grandmaster Kuko have two knives in the same hand?” Those aren’t knives. He has let his fingernails grow long and painted them gunmetal gray.

Note how the rookie would have drawn two swords, but only someone in-the-know like Grandmaster Kuko would leave a sword in its scabbard and try to wield two knives in the same hand.

You’re thinking, “What the @#$!?”

You don’t realize that your overconfidence will be your downfall. When you hit his exposed elbow, driving that arm down and trapping his sword under his armpit, immobilizing both weapons in a single blow, your overconfidence will grow yet again. And Grandmaster Kuko will be smiling, because he’ll have you right where he wants you.