What Went Down

A 17 year old band member was walking to school one morning when two muggers attacked her from behind. They tried to grab her coat and demanded money. She punched one in the nose, kicked the other in the groin, and then began beating them with her marching band baton. Both men fled the scene and are being sought by police.

Lessons Learned

  1. Weapons are Everywhere. I have compiled a list of real weapons, and it never fails to amaze me the ingenious ad hoc weapons people use to defend themselves. I never thought of a marching band baton.

    The news article was not really clear, but some batons are short, and would handle like the standard single stick of the Filipino martial arts, while others are longer, like the length of a long stick, or walking stick length. The longer baton often has one bulbous end and one pointed end (for thrusting into the ground), which makes for an effective striking and thrusting weapon.

  2. The Weapon Is No Substitute for Empty Hand Skills Even though I believe strongly that learning a weapon art is the most practical route to realistic self-defense, you still should have empty-hand skills.
  3. Keep It Simple. Note how the girl’s techniques –punch to the nose, kick to the groin– were simple yet effective. My philosophy of combat is that complicated techniques take too long to learn, may be ineffective, and are too difficult to carry out under the stress of combat. Some styles could have taught her how to do a spinning crescent kick to the head, but could she have executed that kick while attacked, and even if she could have, would it have been as effective as a simple kick to the groin?
  4. Clear the Way. The young lady did not realize she was being attacked until the attackers were in close. Her punch and kick gave her the space she needed to get her baton into play. I recommend doing just as she did, either hitting the eyes and nose to disorient an attacker, or to kick low, to push back your opponent(s) and create enough room for you to get in power blows with your weapon.

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