The War Club


If we look at war clubs, the type of striking weapons people take into combat when it’s do-or-die, we see a tendency to mass weight at one end. Of course, this is why they’re called “clubs.” I’d be interested to have somebody find me an example of a “war stick.”

If we look at Amo Guro Blackgrave’s video again, we see that he has a knob end on his walking stick, just as there is a knob on the end of a shillelagh, and just as weight is concentrated toward the end of a baseball bat. At long range, the knob end concentrates added weight at the tip of the weapon, so that rather than do larga mano with a stick, the club adds extra impact.


But maybe you’re thinking, “Ah, but in close the club is useless.” Actually, the knob end can be used to great effect in close. Imagine someone has you in a bear hug. You have only twelve inches in which to move your weapon from a dead standstill into the opponent’s head. Which will do more damage, a 28 inch stick or a brick? We know instinctively that the heavier brick will cause greater damage with less wind up. By the same token, the heavy end of a club can wreak more havoc in close.

Samoan Girl with War Club

Let’s try a thought experiment. What if we had Amo Guro Blackgrave’s “brain duster,” or a shillelagh, and we added a pommel at the end. A pommel makes for stronger butt end strikes, and aids in weapon retention. What if the weapon is now wielded as much as possible with two hands in a bat grip, and the point of impact is the weighted end?

Tongan War Club


5 Responses to “The War Club”

  1. I have been “playing around” with just such a device, a baseball bat, as of late. Thanks for the book, very well done and useful information! From the high ready position one strike that is incredibly fast, even against a quick opponent who tries to close the gap, is a two-handed punyo strike with the pommel. I intuitively figured it was good, having used it a lot with a stick (one handed), but wow! It packs one hell of a shot because of all the weight behind it. Detractors of a two-handed style would have to think twice about criticizing in-fighting methods because that shot is quick, non-telegraphic, and an absolute fight ender. You can follow it immediately with a knee strike, open some range and “batter-up”.

  2. Tommy,

    Thanks. I think the pommel strike from high guard is a very fast and powerful move. And as you said, it’s non-telegraphic.

    With a bat, there is weight at the end of the weapon, so you’re not just poking, but slamming. There is something about the right hand at the pommel and a second hand behind it that really adds “oomph.”

    Also, since the strike uses both arms, it helps you to push an opponent back and create room for an overhand strike. Like you mentioned, I also move in, so that my body weight is behind it.

    Lately I’ve been practicing on the bag with a double pommel strike, trying to be quick and explosive, hitting 1-2 in quick succession.

  3. Chris Greif Says:

    I have what I believe to be a Tongan war club, not really sure, my dad had foung it in Detroit, Mi about 60 years ago. I have photos that I can send if anyone can tell me more about it. Thanks Chris

  4. a three to four foot strait stick or staff with some heft to it is also handy for many moves and is much more capable than a bat. you are not limited to one end and can switch and brace as the fight demands.

  5. GARY HUMM Says:

    I have one of these (Shillelagh)… bought at a garage sale a few years ago for $2.00 …. proudly on display with my grandparents walking sticks. The KNOB end is very heavy … seriously cool and a good discussion piece.

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