Flexible Weapons and Big Stick Combat Principles

While I can’t pretend to use long stick techniques for every weapon and situation, I can apply the principles of Big Stick Combat to the flexible weapon, resulting in what I call the Thunderbolt Chain. Once you grasp these principles, you can apply them to other weapons, and you can evaluate new techniques.

  1. Power. The goal is to hit hard enough to drop someone. The chain needs to be heavy enough to damage the opponent and needs to be wielded in such a way as to deliver maximum impact (for example, not by twirling).
  2. Control. It is not enough to swing a heavy weapon, you must be able to control it, to redirect powerful strikes against an opponent who is trying to close inside your ability to recover and to wield the weapon effectively. Your goal is to eliminate all “safe zones,” so that even an opponent standing nose-to-nose with you is in mortal danger. Flexible weapons are also a challenge to recover. Once in motion, they tend to stay in motion, and are difficult to suddenly redirect to counter an opponent’s change in direction.
  3. Long Range. Except for those rare instances in which being in close is advantageous (e.g. knife versus shovel, or empty hands versus gun), the safest strategy is to hit from long range. Long range offers the greatest safety –it’s hard for him to hit you with more than one weapon at a time, and you still have the option of running and moving.
  4. No Grappling. The goal is t0 hit and destroy, not to wrestle. Once you grapple he is close enough to stab you, and you can’t evade multiple opponents or run if necessary. The easiest disarm is to crush his hand or elbow with a lead pipe. The easiest counter to a tackle is to blast him in the head with a baseball bat.
  5. Short Range Capability. Although long range is the preferred range, you must be prepared to fight in close. The challenge is that a flexible weapon is limp when not in motion, so it is difficult to wield effectively in close.
  6. Transitioning. It is not enough to be able to do both long range and short range, you must know when to use which strategy. You also must be able to transition from one range to the other. If an opponent rushes in, or you find yourself surprised by an opponent who is suddenly in your face, you must be able to instantly shift into close range mode, and move to long range as needed.
  7. Simplicity. If you have to memorize 120 techniques and decide which one to use as a meth addict is trying to slice your guts, your system will fail. The goal is to be simple, yet sophisticated. Boxing is simple yet sophisticated: while having just 4 punches, it is a very efficient fighting system. You don’t want a system that requires you to be young, flexible, and in top physical shape –you need a simple, realistic system that you can learn today and do 5 years from now in a crisis.

3 Responses to “Flexible Weapons and Big Stick Combat Principles”

  1. Darrin,

    What are your thoughts on the semi-flexible weapons such as a sjambok? I don’t know if you’re familiar with this but it is a wicked weapon, traditionally made from Hippo hide in Africa. The length varies, but is typically between 38″-42″. It doesn’t pack the heavy hit stopping power of a big stick but the blows are incredibly painful and lightning fast with a bit of practice. The one drawback is that if an opponent gets inside it loses most effectiveness. I have added a heavy, sharp bolt to the pommel for punyo strikes on the inside and one could also go for the daga y espada method as it is a one-handed device. I like it and see its merits but also its drawbacks, but it is worth discussing as long as we’re on the topic, as it were.



  2. Tommy, I’ve never really experimented with the sjambok, but it looks interesting. I think I would use it larga mano style, trying to hit at the greatest range possible.

    I agree that espada y daga would be the way to go. Someone would have to think twice before rushing inside if you have a knife.

  3. POA Class…

    […]Flexible Weapons and Big Stick Combat Principles « Big Stick Combat Blog[…]…

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