Big Stick Combat, Left-Handed

Reader ‘J’ recently purchased the Big Stick Combat book (available here) and e-mailed me with questions about how the style applies to him, a natural left-hander.

Let me outline the basic strikes, an X pattern, from a left-hander’s perspective.

Left-Handed Dominant High Guard. Left Foot Is Forward.









Most right -handers, particularly if they’ve played baseball, are comfortable with this stance. It is like a right-handed batter, only the shoulders are square to the opponent.

Overight Strike. This Is the Left-Hander’s Power Strike.



This is the number 1, the bread-and-butter of the left hand dominant fighter. The left foot forward allows the fighter to twist and get his hips, plus the torque they provide, into the strike.




Underleft. The Left Foot Is Forward.









Underleft. Once again, right-handers have no problem with this strike. It’s like a homerun hitter’s swing. And the twist of the hips helps power the swing.












This strike will feel awkward, but if you practice it on the bag you can hit very powerfully despite the seeming crossed position of the hands.


Nope! It Won’t Work.










This is where most two-handed styles fall apart. This strike is hopelessly crossed up and weak. The left leg is also in the way.

How can we solve this? One solution is simply not to do this strike from the underight.

I think there’s a better way.


Underight for the Left-Hander


Notice the left-hander draws the left foot back and swings low. This strike works, even though it’s one-handed, because it is with the left hander’s dominant (strong) hand, and it comes in low, where the opponent can’t grab it.

By gripping with the strong hand at the pommel, reach is maximized.

If you learn larga mano or ever must fight one-handed, or even just swing one-handed because you’re caught off guard, this is the strike and the grip.


The Left-Handed Low Guard














GM Estalilla prefers this stance. (I feel really awkward posing for the picture, but I hope you get the idea.) It’s good as a ready, but not threatening, stance.



Left-Handed Middle Guard



This is the close-range, in-fighting stance of Big Stick Combat. Once again, I feel like I’m not really modeling the stance as well as I should.


Rapier Thrust from Left-Handed Middle Guard


5 Responses to “Big Stick Combat, Left-Handed”

  1. Thank you for the quick response. These photos help alot.

    Thank You,

    Joe Ross

  2. Joe,

    You’re welcome. I’m grateful for all of my readers and want to make the blog useful (or at least interesting and thought-provoking) for them.


  3. I have to disagree with “Nope, it won’t work” and the idea that two handed styles fall apart at that angle. A Japanese sword is held in the same grip; the only difference is that the right leg is out front in a lot (but not all cases. In the case of “Nope, it won’t work” it really is Yes, it will work as it is a basic strike in sword work.

    In class we teach: right hand-right foot, right hand-left foot, left hand-left foot, and left hand-right foot.

    In the very first photo is how I as a right hander will hold a bat or sword, which foot is forward depends on which angle I will be stepping to as I strike.

    No one is always going to stand with the same foot forward 100% of the time. You can maintain the same foot forward until you need to step off to an angle. It’s basic walking, one foot in front of the other.

    A stance is but a moment in time and not something we fight from.

    While fighting footwork should be changing constantly, hand grips should not be changed as much as it can lead to a loss of weapon control, IE. don’t get to fancy.

    PS: I don’t have the book but I might be more inclined to if your sale site was more like an Amazon book page where you get to see the actual cover, the index, etc. There is nothing on the sale page to indicate book size, number of pages, number of photos, type of binding, type of print, colour or B&W photos. All standard info on on-line book sale sites. While you may have a fine book there is nothing to let the potential buyer know what they are getting. So the buyer is left wondering if $47 buys a retail bookstore quality book or a basement printed booklet.

  4. James,

    We’ll have to disagree on the “Nope” strike. My concern is the possibility of being jammed, and I’m not convinced of its power.

    Thanks for the advice on the book. It’s an e-book, and the reader is buying the information, not the quality. (It’s not a coffee table book.) I did, though, hire a photographer, and I am an English major, so I feel the quality is good for a self-published book. And it does come with a money-back guarantee.

    I thought you already had a copy of my book. I just e-mailed you a copy.

  5. James,

    Oh, and good point about the stance and the foot forward. It’s just a starting point.

    As the saying goes, “Learn the rules, and you’ll know when you can break them.”

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