Archive for April, 2010

Posers of the Week

Posted in American Arts, Commentary, Poser of the Week with tags , , on April 30, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Kali Teachers. OOOPS! I Meant “Mga Guro”

These guys teach a “special kali program.” Do they look like kali teachers to you? Is anything they’re doing (as evident in the photo) even remotely connected to kali?

Let us say for the sake of argument that I cannot judge their kali skills from this picture. Let us also say that they have an outstanding kali program. How compatible would kali be with the rest of their curriculum?

This is the trend of “McDojos,” where clone schools that are little more than commercial child care centers have a babysitting program with a thin veneer of martial arts. Here in America, land of the “chimichanga,” pseudo-Spanish, the “tamale,” and “enchirito,” one is sold the martial arts equivalent, the “ninja butterfly knife,” “numbchucks,” “kali,” (because it’s so much cooler than eskrima), Filipino cat stances, etc.

These two have every symptom of the poser. The cat stance limits mobility. Yes, you can kick with that front foot, but a determined opponent is going to blast right through it. The arms are extended, and must be retracted to hit. The head is not protected. But who am I to talk? Look at all those stripes and patches.


Product Review: Nerf Curve Pitch Baseball Bat

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

New Nerf Bat

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.

The Pingga

Posted in Masters and History, Other Stick Methods, Weapons with tags , , , on April 28, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Filipino Merchant with Pingga

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.

Officer Cook Meets Jimmy Lee

Posted in Masters and History with tags , , , , on April 27, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Master James Lee

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.”

Gary Dill and James Lee

“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.

Armed and Driving

Posted in Weapons with tags , , , , on April 26, 2010 by bigstickcombat

A Glock in the Center Console of a Car

I’d like to explore some ideas Amo Guro Blackgrave posted. My comments are in italics.

“A folding knife does have disadvantages while being seated in a car and buckled in. That is why I also keep a small straight blade affixed in my driver side visor of my truck….very accessible. My carry folder is also easily accessible. I carry a cold steel scimitar and it rides quiet high in the pocket and has a design that allows for access even in a pinched situation. So I do think they can be cumbersome, but certain models will work better (such as the scimitar).”

I remember reading an gun magazine article about the difficulty of accessing a gun while seated in a car. If you carry the gun at your hip, it digs in uncomfortably. At the small of the back, it’s unbearable. The author recommended a cross-draw at the waist, a shoulder rig, or even an ankle rig. This is something to think about anytime you’re seated., whether at work or at a movie theater. The knife in the visor is a good example of a semi-impromptu weapon. And if it seems paranoid to stash a knife in the car, you just may need it if you are trapped in your car and you need to cut yourself free.

Knives Stashed in a Car

“As to carrying a stick..I do keep a nice tire thumper under the seat…again easily accessible and legal to have in your vehicle. It is not a stick per se but it will work in a pinch.”

A mini mag flashlight under the seat would also be a good option. My baseball “training bat” (wink wink) is in my back seat.

“A pistola is another nice critter to have on you in a pinch..and in a vehicle it is quiet easy to conceal in an easily accessible place.”

If you keep the pistol in the glove box, cops can’t get to it without a search warrant. Remember, do NOT give consent to search your vehicle. (Please, I am not suggesting you go on a crime spree –it’s just that the law often puts a solid citizen in a bind where he must choose between following the letter of the law and defending himself and his family.)


Posted in Videos with tags , , , on April 25, 2010 by bigstickcombat

I have posted a video on the Big Stick Combat You Tube channel to help clarify some questions concerning my style, particularly my stance and the “left-handedness” of it. One note: I don’t why I refer to “staff grip” in the video –I’m demonstrating rifle grip throughout.

There are more videos coming. Feel free to comment or ask any questions.

I was recently viewing the GM Giron video, when I noticed something I hadn’t caught before -I’m in it! At about 50 seconds, GM Estalilla’s student, and my teacher, Guro Ed Planas is speaking with GM Giron. I hadn’t recognized Guro Planas before because his head is turned and you just see the back of his head as he speaks with GM Giron.

I’m the guy in the background in the red sweatpants. (Talk about bit parts!) I recognize the t-shirt as the “Laging Una” shirt that I had made up for demos. The video was from one of our trips to Stockton where we were shown great hospitality by the Bahala Na Club.

Poser of the Week

Posted in humor, Poser of the Week with tags on April 23, 2010 by bigstickcombat

One of these guys (or girls) is posing as an R and B star. Can you spot the poser?