Archive for April, 2010
I recently bought the new Nerf “Curve Pitch Baseball Set.”(You can see a video here, even though the emphasis is on the ball rather than the bat.)
Of course, my interest is in the plastic bat, and it is an excellent bat. Although Nerf’s reputation is built on soft foam, this bat is made of very tough plastic.
I previously reviewed the Easton Pro Stix bat (here), and I think the Nerf bat is better. The two are practically identical in length. The Nerf has the edge in being a little more solid, and the nice feature is a rubber grip.
Again, for indoor practice, light sparring, bag drills, demos, 2 man drills, and so on, a plastic bat is a great tool. If you think about it, rattan has served as an inexpensive training stick, being lightweight and readily available. The problem is that you can get long rattan, but it won’t have the shape or the handling characteristics of a bat, which is where the plastic bat comes in.
Traveling merchants in the Philippines used to carry their merchandise on a pole slung over the shoulder, with a basket on either end (“pingga”). This pole could be used to fight off dogs or bandits. Sometimes these vendors would engage in challenge matches, wagering their merchandise.
What is interesting, though, is that GM Estalilla’s father used a stick about 46 inches in length, reaching from the floor to the “didi” (nipple). This was the same length as the pingga, and the elder Estalilla won his share of merchandise, such as clothes, in challenge matches with pingga-wielding vendors.
Instructor Ralph Grasso, who studied with Guro Amante Marinas, learned a system of combat featuring the use of the pingga as a weapon. If you think about it, the pingga makes sense on multiple levels (at least in the Philippines):
It is a readily available weapon.
It has the advantage of reach, which allows the wielder to fight at a safer distance, whether against dogs or bandits.
Its use is simpler –studying a short stick stick soon leads one into the tall grass, with ever more complicated techniques.
P.S. Instructor Grasso contacted me and wanted to make it clear that he is not certified to teach under Marinas.
My father is a retired California Highway Patrol officer. He had a fellow officer who was into body building and the martial arts. One time he took my dad to see his teacher Jimmy Lee, who studied kung-fu, at a time when no one in the US had ever heard of it.
When my dad first saw Jimmy Lee, he was unimpressed. Jimmy was a small, unassuming guy. But when he moved, he was amazing. He moved lightning fast.
“He detested karate,” my dad told me. “His style was fluid. In his mind he was five moves ahead of you. Everything flowed.” My dad demonstrated a series of moves: backfist, elbow, punch, downward elbow, etc.
“One time he accidentally hit my friend, who was a solid guy, and and a massive bruise instantly appeared on his chest.”
Jimmy also dealt with prejudice. Once on the docks some guys were taunting him, shouting “chink” and other slurs. When he confronted them, he hospitalized three of them and the rest took off running.
In fairness, he could dish out his own slurs. Once when his son had a run-in with a black kid his age, Jimmy went to the kid’s house. When the boy’s father got confrontational, Jimmy let him have it: “My ancestors were wearing silk while yours were still swinging from trees.”
“The one thing I learned from Jimmy was never to judge people by their appearance,” my dad said. “Once I told him, ‘I’ve never seen anybody as fast as you or move like you do.'”
Jimmy humbly replied, “I’m nothing. You should see my cousin Bruce.”
Of course, at that time, my dad’s question was “Bruce who?” Nobody had yet heard of Bruce Lee.
I’d like to explore some ideas Amo Guro Blackgrave posted. My comments are in italics.