When to Use Rifle Grip?

Reader Arnold asks: “But I do have a question. Suppose you only have access to a “heavy-ended” object, like a mop or push broom…would you try to use the high guard or go back into the rifle grip to use it?”

A common strategy in stick fighting is to move in close and use two-handed techniques, either in staff grip (both hands palm down) or in rifle/bayonet grip (with one hand palm down and the other hand palm up). The close range staff technique is Sifu Doyle’s (of Irish stick fighting) preferred strategy, and GM Estalilla of Kabaroan uses it as well.

When training with GM Maranga I started to reappraise the effectiveness of the close range big stick techniques, particularly against the short stick and the knife. The problem as I see it is that the long stick in rifle or staff grip moves too slowly, and is too easy for the opponent to grab. In close, the short stick and the knife move very quickly. Now while I may be forced into a close range rifle grip defense, I try to avoid it.

When to use rifle grip? Of course, when the opponent closes I am forced into rifle grip. But if I am using a mop or a push broom, I would move into rifle grip with the left foot forward. Why? Because these impromptu weapons can’t really be swung like a stick. Another possibility would be to break of the head of the broom, mop, or rake, to make it a less cumbersome weapon.

A similar weapon would be an umbrella. An umbrella is not really effective as an impact weapon. I would move into a left forward stance and use the bayonet thrust, which is the most effective method of using an umbrella.

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4 Responses to “When to Use Rifle Grip?”

  1. That B&W photo should be a poser of the week. That stance is for fencing, the empty hand is held back so it doesn’t get cut. In modern practice one should always be ready to use the empty hand and not just the stick.

    Using the 1/3 grip one can move basically just as fast as a 28″ stick because that is where the hand is, 1/3 up a 36″ stick leaves 24″. In Glen’s style the double handed grip is (more or less) two 1/3 grips.

    A comment on the staff grip I want to add is that while I know what you are talking about, the staff art of Jo also uses the bayonet grip (and indeed a 4′ stick is more like a rifle/bayonet length than a 3′ stick). So there are in fact several types of staff grips.

  2. James,

    You’re right. I’ve seen some of the jo books where they are constantly switching from one grip to another. I wanted to avoid that because I feel there is a risk of losing the stick if you’re constantly moving your hands and changing grips.

  3. new here. but i hold a heavy end close to me(reverse hammer grip) so the light end can swing quick. then switch to a hammer grip (heavy end away from me) for crushing power.

  4. Ian,

    Interesting idea. I can see this working with something like a shovel.

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