Archive for October, 2010


Posted in Commentary, humor with tags , , on October 31, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Me, Standing somewhat Uneasily with a Bat Next to My Head

This summer I was on the Philippine island of Bantayan, where a local eatery has a pet bat. Really. It hangs out (pardon the pun) at a karenderiya –sort of a local barbecue joint. It’s like a pet. It’s very docile, and doesn’t leave the restaurant.

Cebuano/Bisaya Words for Bat





Another Pic of Me Standing Next to a Bat and Sinigang Mix Packets

Bat at a Bantayan Island Restaurant. By the Way, What's a Health Inspector?


Ong Bak 3!

Posted in Resources and Product Reviews, Videos with tags , , on October 31, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Ong Bak 3 is coming out, starring Tony Jaa.

Watch the trailer here.

Although his movies (filmed in Thai) are uneven, Tony Jaa is an incredible martial artist who delivers bone-crunching raw Muay Thai power.

The first Ong Bak is one of my favorite martial arts movies.

In fact, Tony Jaa performs aspects of the Thai art that are older than the sport of Muay Thai.  For example there is a lot of spear action in the upcoming movie.

Tony Jaa in Action

Posers of the Week

Posted in Commentary, humor, Poser of the Week with tags , on October 30, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Ice Skating Backwards?

Where do I start with this one? Honestly, my first reaction was “What the #@!?”

That was also my second reaction. The guy on the left is leaned too far forward, and his hands don’t guard his head. If you were to grab his hair you’d pull him right over. He also can’t land a punch with anything on it because he’s hunched forward. In a fight you will see this guy throw flailing, hooking punches (windmilling) with both hands that have no power because he’s trying to keep his head down to keep from being hit.

The guy on the right …”What the #@!!?” A simple solution is to rush him and bowl him over.

Why does the left hand on the left knee stay glued to the left knee as it moves backwards?

What is amazing is that this photo series is not of two 10-year-old kids posting themselves on You Tube. “Hey, look! Me and Billy are doing kung-fu in the backyard.”

I think these guys need help from a real master, like Ninja Bob. Maybe Ninja Bob should feature these guys on his site to make himself look like Bruce Lee by comparison.

The Back-Up Knife

Posted in American Arts, Technique, Videos, Weapons with tags , , , , on October 29, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Spyderco Wave Endura

Reader Sir James sent me the following e-mail:

Hi Darrin,

I was laying on the couch watching Hurt Locker and there is a scene where one solider is sitting on top of another in the mount and the one on the bottom pulls out a knife. This caused me to pull out my knife (Lone Wolf T2) which has a point down orientation and required a fair bit of manipularion to open from my prone position.

Now I know that a point up orientation is better for self-defence from when I used to carry a regular Spyderco Endura, and that got me to thinking about my newer Spyderco Waved Endura. A folding knife with a Waved feature opens (with a slight bit of practice) as you draw the knife out of your pocket because the hook catches onto the corner of the pocket. If not done right, it can lead to an open but not locked knife but that is where the practice comes in.

So for a folding knife to use from being on the ground I’d recommend a knife with a Waved feature.

In order of speed:

1. A fixed blade in a no-snap kydex sheath.

2. A locking folder with a Waved feature.

3. A locking (one handed) folder with a blade up orientation.

4. A locking (one handed) folder with a blade down orientation [This being the least desireable.]

Opening Directly from the Pocket

In reviewing the latest Dog Brothers video many fighters carry a back-up knife that they pull after the opponent has closed. In my correspondence with reader Tommy, we are both in agreement that the back-up knife is a serious option for the long stick stylist.

The question is, do you want to surprise a closing, grappling opponent with your blade, or should you make your blade visible to deter him from closing?

In my opinion, the real purpose of the knife in the espada y daga method is to keep the opponent from closing. The old “grab the stick” technique employed by so many masters becomes harder when a knife is involved. Rushing somebody with a stick and a knife no longer sounds like such a good idea.

Maori Weapon: The Taiaha

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

Warrior with Taiaha

Reader Max posted the following story:

Bayonet versus Taiaha

“The old Maori weapon, the taiaha can be deadly when wielded by an expert. This was proved in a taiaha and rifle and bayonet duel at a small arms weapon training school at Maadi, the Middle East, in 1943. The school was an important centre in which soldiers of the 8th Army were given an intensive training course in every infantry weapon, from revolvers to bayonets. In this particular course there were Americans, Free French, English, New Zealanders, Cypriots, and Canadians.

In one of the bayonet fighting sessions, Major Don Steward, a New Zealander, remarked to his hard-bitten instructors: “This is quite a weapon, I only know of one to beat it!”

“What’s that?”Asked the instructor.

“The Maori taiaha.”

“What the hell is that?”

“A fire-hardened wooden stave and fending spear, “replied Stewart.

Derision and scorn followed this remark, which stung the Maori to the quick. As a result, he offered to prove his point. Immediately bets were offered at great odds that the man with a Maori weapon would be dead within seconds against an expert with a rifle-mounted bayonet.

The Maori champion, Lieut. Aubrey Te Rama-Apakura Rota, luckily had one with him. Rota was warned that he would have to take full risk of being wounded or worse, and that the incident was to be officially regarded as an exercise in the combat school, where ‘accidents ‘were fairly frequent. There would be no holds barred on either side.


Stripping off his tunic, the young Maori stood facing the grinning ‘modern soldier ‘in much the same way his forebears had faced the British redcoats a century before.

The signal to start was given. The soldier lunged in and thrust in perfect precision, but each move was parried by the light-footed Maori who bided his time and stood on the defensive. Failing to penetrate the Maoris’ guard, the other soldier grew increasingly angry as thrust after thrust was tossed aside by the stout wooden weapon. Sometimes it was repelled with such violence that the European soldier was flung sideways.

Finally, he crouched and charged in directly at the Maoris’ midriff. This was Rota’s chance. Grasping his weapon firmly, he sidestepped, tipped aside the blind thrust, and caught the lunging figure a smart uppercut in the stomach with the bladed end of the taiaha. In a flash he whirled the weapon about, to crash the business-end on top of his opponent’s skull. Down he went, to be out of action for some days in the camp hospital—another regrettable accident from the small arms school.

The effect on those present was profound. Money changed hands at great odds, as the jubilant minority collected. The story was repeated with almost unbelievable astonishment throughout the Middle East.”

According to Wikipedia,

A Taiaha (pronounced [taiaha]) is a traditional weapon of the Māori of New Zealand. Usually between 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m) in length, it is a wooden close quarters weapon used for short sharp strikes or stabbing thrusts. It has three main parts: the arero (tongue), used for stabbing the opponent and parrying, the upoko (head), the base from which the tongue protrudes, and the ate (liver), the long flat blade which is also used for striking and parrying. The New Zealand Army includes an image of a taiaha into its official badge.

Maori Warriors with the Taiaha

The taiaha has appeared on TV.  In the TV series, Deadliest Warrior, the Taiaha is one of the Māori Warrior’s weapons. It was tested against the Shaolin Monk‘s Staff. It impressed the experts as it could break cow spines (which is three times thicker than a human spine) and it was given the edge. It accounted for 151 kills for the Māori Warrior’s 308 kills in 1000 battles.

This weapon brings up the question of what is the ideal weapon. The taiaha resembles the short staff of Tapado, only with an added point. The question is, will a short staff wielded with two hands like a baseball bat be more effective than a weapon wielded like a staff? Or will the ideal weapon art use both techniques, depending on the situation?



Rape Defense: The Skunk Method

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on October 27, 2010 by bigstickcombat

A woman I know told me of how she was given a very strong-smelling chemical solution. This potent chemical was contained in a vial that she wore on her clothing, say on her blouse at the lapel. The idea was that if she were ever attacked by a would-be rapist, she would merely reach up and snap the vial, which would release the compound, that had such an overpowering stench that the rapist would be too sickened to attempt anything. (Of course, the drawback of this plan is that she would be sickened, too.)

She came home one night, turned off the lights, slipped off her clothes, and got into bed. Later that night her husband came into the room, and as he walked through the darkened room to the bed, she heard a cracking sound. It was the sound of her husband stepping onto the vial.

The room was immediately flooded with a horrifying, overpowering stench. Her eyes watered, and she tried not to vomit. She told me, “I tried not to panic.” How bad must a smell be that it would make you panic?

Her husband, though, panicked. He picked up her clothes and raced around wildly, trying to figure out how to get rid of them. The smell was more than he could stand, yet he was rushing around the house in the dark frantically trying to decide what to do with the clothes he held at arms’ length. He finally pitched them out the window.

The next day the neighbor who lived a quarter of a mile down the road complained of a putrid smell coming from my friend’s house.

She had been given a de-activator to neutralize the smell. What is amazing about the sheer malodorous power of the skunk-like anti-rape compound is that her husband had not broken the vial, but merely cracked it. Only a drop or two had oozed out from the vial. In his attempts to get rid of her foul-smelling clothes, the husband had merely spread the stench as he dashed from place to place in the house. It took her weeks with her nose to the floor, guided by putrid odors, to find and de-active the spills scattered throughout the house.

What is the moral of the story? To me, the moral is that there is no easy solution to violence. Like the “solution” to bear attacks is simply to avoid urinating on the trail, or to stay 100 feet away, the clean and easy solutions may not work. Other examples of clean and easy solutions to violence are:

  • just give them your wallet 

    Get Back! Or I'll Use This Koba-Jitsu Whistle Key Chain!

  • don’t argue with a rapist

  • carry a whistle and blow it if you’re attacked

  • pepper spray or mace

  • kick ’em in the groin

  • yell “Fire!”

  • tell the rapist you’re pregnant or have an STD

  • be alert

Sometimes these solutions work. But often they obscure the reality that violence has a horrifying face that we would like to pretend doesn’t exist. You may have to sweat, to train, to prepare yourself mentally to gouge a man’s eyes or shoot him. You may have to prepare yourself to die while fighting, choking a man to death as you bleed out.

I’m not saying this to be alarmist, but it is a survival mindset. As GM Giron used to say, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” And wearing a stinky vial on your clothes may not prepare you for a hideous and brutal reality.

Use Your Leg Like a Baseball Bat: The Thai Round Kick

Posted in Technique with tags , , , on October 26, 2010 by bigstickcombat

The following is taken from the online Black Belt Magazine, here.


Pivot on your front foot.

Rise up onto the ball of your foot. Don’t leap up off of the ground. You must push off of your lead pivot foot.

Always move your weight forward. Move into the opponent –don’t lean back.

Your pivot leg should be extended, not bent into a squat position.

Swing your arm on the kicking side backward and down.

“From the fighting stance, your left hand should swing aggressively down and as far behind you as possible. That takes place at the same time your left leg comes up to kick. The hand actually starts the leg—as though it’s connected to a string that runs to the target and back. Pull the string back with your left hand to launch your left leg toward the target. The stronger your hand swing is, the stronger your kick will be.

Beginners often object to dropping their hand because they think they’re lowering their guard and leaving their face open. What they need to do is heed the experience of muay Thai, which teaches that the leg is longer and stronger than the arm. When you execute the power kick, it’s so hard and fast that any punch that might land on your face will be insignificant in comparison. That’s why it’s the No. 1 thing you must learn to be a muay Thai fighter.”

Daniel C. Docto explains shin placement for a muay Thai kick in Black Belt magazine.
Author Daniel C. Docto explains to a young Thai boxer that the power kick uses the shin to make contact (above) and that when contact is made, the foot should point upward at a 45-degree angle (below).
Daniel C. Docto explains proper foot angling for muay Thai kickboxing in Black Belt magazine.

Kick at the Target

The kick comes upward into the opponent’s floating ribs. If you kick with the left leg like I do, the liver is a potential target.

Strike with the shin, upward at a 45 degree angle. The aim is to come up under the opponent’s guard.

Relax. You must be loose, not tense. The kick is whipped, not muscled through the target.

Daniel C. Docto explains shoulder placement for muay Thai kickboxing in Black Belt magazine. Daniel C. Docto explains muay Thai hip rotation in Black Belt magazine. Daniel C. Docto explains muay Thai kicking power in Black Belt magazine. Two additional pointers on the power kick: Move the kicking-side shoulder toward the chin as the arm is whipped to the rear (left). The power of the technique comes for the rotation of the hip (middle) around the pivot point created by the supporting foot (right).
Muay Thai kickboxing techniques are demonstrated in Black Belt magazine.
Throwing your weight forward is the rule of thumb in Thai boxing because it enables a smaller practitioner to kick as powerfully as a heavier person.

“Turn, Spin, Rotate

Using a counteraction, as your left hand swings back, you should turn your left shoulder forward in the direction of your chin. Simultaneously spin your left hip forward and rotate your right supporting heel toward the target. This twisting action requires you to make all the components function as one, but if you practice until you can do it, you’ll learn how to generate real power.”

Keep Your Guard Up

Be Ready to Follow up

Your muay Thai power kick isn’t finished until you retract your leg into a position from which you can kick again. Don’t make the mistake of dropping your foot right after you make contact.

Muay Thai training techniques are demonstrated in Black Belt magazine.