Archive for the Uncategorized Category

My New Site!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 16, 2011 by bigstickcombat

I’m excited to launch my new site,

Please bookmark it.

The site will be easier to find and remember (with a shorter, more direct address). I will also be able to post videos on my new site.

Bit by bit I will begin transferring content from here over to the new site.


New Years Resolutions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 1, 2011 by bigstickcombat

In the upcoming year I plan to move over to my own hosted site, not a wordpress site. This means I’ll be able to include videos in my posts.

I’m also working on my own home photography studio so I can include more videos and expand my line of instructional books and videos. I plan to have a video for Big Stick Combat out this year.

I also welcome your feedback on features you like and don’t like that I currently do, as well as features or topics you would like to see me include. For instance, I’ve thought of including fitness tips, such as weight loss, nutrition, and workout advice.

My goal is to become the number one martial arts blog on the web. I’d be interested in any links to other sites that serve as a model of where I need to be and how I can improve.

Thanks to everyone who read and contributed to my blog this past year.

NOT My Plan for 2011!


Going to the Ground Is a Poor Strategy

Posted in Commentary, Other Stick Methods, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 16, 2010 by bigstickcombat

I stumbled across the site of Don Rearic, who has a great post on reality, survival, and grappling. I’ve posted a large chunk of it here. There is a lot of interesting material on his site, which is well worth a visit.

Read the next-to-last paragraph for some interesting context on the old adage, “Most fights go to the ground.”


· While you may be able to control the person you are fighting, you cannot control the possibility that he will have a weapon you did not know he had until it is too late.

· While you may be able to control the person you are fighting, you cannot control the possibility or presence of multiple attackers, people other than him that might help him.

· While you may be able to control the person you are fighting, you may not be able to control the environment and who lands on what.

This will be incredibly unpopular with some people; I know that before I say it, yet I feel it has to be said. I know some people consider loyalty to system, style or teacher is paramount. I’m not trying to change you or even reach you. If you think what you are doing is the thing to do, by all means, do it. This is my opinion based on what I have observed. It is a warning to people getting involved in some systems and styles, people who are looking for a method of Self-protection.

Two more things to consider

1. Most people who are killed in streetfights by being punched in the face or head are not killed by the strike; their head impacting the ground kills them. I have observed this for a very long time in newspaper and other, local, news stories. I wish I had some online source to direct you to in order to “prove” it, but it is a reality that I have watched play out in the news time and time again.

2. In cases where multiple attackers are concerned and someone is beaten to the point they are in critical condition, or beaten to death, invariably, it ends up on the ground with the attackers kicking the person to death, etc. That being the case, the reality of the situation, why would you want to do half of the attacker’s job for them and favor the ground to begin with?

Going to ground is not an “advantage” on the street or Battlefield, this is where the clear difference is seen between Sporting and Combative.

This is where we see the Point of Demarcation between “Survival Arts” and “Sporting Arts.” The words, “Martial Arts” have been whored out to the point you don’t know what you are getting into anymore. It might be Sport, Spiritual, Cultural or Survival Oriented. Very few have several of the components at once, but they do exist.

So, to those that train to go to the ground to get some sort of “advantage” over an attacker because you think it is cool and you believe the hype, hey! You might just win! But what if you are fighting someone who does not play around? What happens when that folding knife, pocket screwdriver or boxcutter comes out that you never knew existed? It’s not going to be like sparring or a demo where everyone gathers around and they all know for the most part this is now shifting to the “Knife Defense” portion of class.

No, you’re going to feel it in most cases before you ever see it because smart, violent people don’t let you see anything, you’re already bleeding and maybe dying in some cases, before you even realize what happened. Understand that it is a myth that everyone will threaten you with a weapon before they use it on you. Especially if they are losing because you are more skilled than they are and you are actively beating them or humiliating them. Understand what I am saying, a common boxcutter that can be found everywhere, a little bit larger than a stick of chewing gum, can kill you. Understand, precisely, what I am saying…if you can feel your pulse, a boxcutter with intense pressure from the attacker, can sever that vessel. In general, if the pulse can be felt, you can cut the vessel with a very small but sharp knife.

Same thing holds true for the attacker having a concealed handgun that you did not know about. It is hard to get the “advantage” when you’re shot three times crossways through the thoracic cavity before you even knew what happened.

On the ground, you are vulnerable to weapons you did not know the attacker had to begin with. You are vulnerable to multiple attackers, the guy you are fighting, and he might have friends, relatives or associates that you don’t know about. Perhaps someone will just come up and kick you in that thick head of yours because they want to get a hit in and you’re there and you’re not supposed to be in that neighborhood. You know what I mean? There won’t be any opportunity for cool sporting movements when your head is punted like a juiced up NFL Player would boot the pigskin during the Super Bowl.

And, like it or not, even if you are crazy enough to say, “I’ll fight on broken glass!” Or perhaps you are nutty enough to claim; “I don’t care if you gouge one of my eyes out!” You’re not tracking properly on the concept of survival; you’re stuck in the game! Life is not a game, the street is not a game and the battlefield is not a game.

The Unforgiving Environment

I have been in areas where the ground was littered with used syringes, broken bottles of Night Train and Mad Dog 20/20, busted chunks of brick and cinderblock. Shattered and discarded heavy lumber with and without nails sticking out of it, used car parts like intake manifolds, water pumps and transmissions. All sorts of sharp, jagged and dangerous objects.

Fire Hydrants, curbs, cars, trashcans, all of these things can damage you and the only thing the grappling gods have to offer in response is, “Well, I want to let him land on that stuff…then I’ll land on top of him!”

Well, if your mindset is “grappling,” that’s what you are going to do, except you might not be in control like you think you will be. You might be the guy landing on that shit and be the one that gets damaged by it.

Certain people in the Military are giving BJJ and Variants of it a whole new audience and a whole new life now that interest in the UFC has waned. Now, some sectors of the Military are embracing grappling as a viable method of Combatives. This is not Combatives; it’s a sporting method.

The typical Battlefield environment is even worse than the street. With blasted out tree trunks/stumps and all manner of wrecked equipment, some people in the Military actually think going to the ground is not only viable, but also a great idea. Again, people are not tracking.

What really becomes a perversity is the concept of MOUT, Military Operations in Urban Terrain. With all of the aforementioned debris lying on the ground and the added element of blasted out chunks of concrete with rebar protruding from it, glass everywhere, steel “I” beams and twisted wreckage…you name it and it will exist in an urban environment that has been bombed or shelled. Yet, these sport adherents insist grappling is not only viable, but also preferred. It’s a particular bit of insanity that strikes the “True Believer.” I’m a True Believer in survival and not much of anything else.

Even if you know how to fall and even if you manage to land on your enemy, you may still be severely injured in a streetfight by the environment… But on a Battlefield with all of this garbage on the ground? Good grief, these people are shameless in their promotion of a “solution” to the “problem” of Combatives Training being “unpopular” with the Soldiers!

These Combatives Programs defy logic. Even the Gracies are fond of saying, “More than one? Get a gun!” This seems to be lost on the Military proponents of grappling in that environment.

What you need to know

So, does grappling have a place in Self-defense and Modern, Military Combatives? Yes it does! It always has and it always will. The difference being, you do not plan to go to ground nor do you train to go to ground. You train and make contingency plans for those times when, for whatever reason, you will be taken to ground by force. It’s really that simple. Any Self-defense or Military Combatives Program should be geared toward competency not in “grappling” but in knowing enough to get back on your feet where the “advantage” really is. There is no “advantage” to being on the ground because incredibly skilled athletes can demonstrate the “advantage” in a sporting environment that has rules, a forgiving surface, no multiple attackers and no possibility of hidden weapons…

By all means, learn how to counter, escape and counterattack from those positions! Do not, however, embrace the grappling mindset, it’s a killer in the real world and the fact that some people have used it and succeeded won’t make much difference when you encounter something they never did, like two more guys exiting a car, and you get killed.

I think everyone knows the often cited, “Most fights end up on the ground” is a statement not of fact, but taken out of context from a Los Angeles Police Department Study they conducted about how fights progressed with their Officers apprehending Suspects. Most aggressive people have to be taken to the prone position to be handcuffed; this is where that interesting statistic came from. Not from fights in general.

You are not apprehending anyone as a Private Citizen, you must survive and you must survive with as little damage as possible and grappling is not the recipe for that to become a reality.

The Kali Master and the Ditch Digger: A Parable

Posted in humor, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 9, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Two men were walking down the street. They just so happened to be going into the same direction

The Ditch Digger

and wound up side by side. To break the awkwardness, one asked the other, “So that’s a fancy uniform you got there. What do you do, karate or something like that?”

“Oh, no,” the other replied. “I’m Supreme Grandmaster Datu Smith. I am the world’s greatest combat expert, and study the world’s greatest style, Kili-Kili Kali.”

“You got a lotta patches there.”

“Yes, I do. I worked hard to earn them all, but the one I’m most proud of is the Kili-Kili- Kali International Ass. badge.” Supreme Grandmaster Datu Smith then did a flourish with the two rattan sticks he was carrying.

“So you fight with them sticks?”

“Yes. And the single stick, knife, chain, nunchaku, staff, spear, sword, machete, and 23 other weapons. Would you like to learn Kili-Kili Kali?”

“Well, I’d like to, but things are kinda tight right now. I’m a ditch digger and I don’t make much.”

“But what would you do if you were attacked?”

“I’d just whack ’em with this here shovel. I been a ditch digger for years, and I used a shovel on the farm long before that. I’m pretty handy with a shovel.”

“You’d be lucky to last 10 seconds. You have no technique. On the other hand, I could teach you 17 different defenses with a stick, and that’s just on angle number 1!” Supreme Grandmaster Datu Smith briefly demonstrated an x block, a wing block, a gunting, a block and hit, a pass and hit, and a few more moves.

“Wow, them sticks look like blades in a blender. I dunno know, though. My dad was in the Korean War, and he took out a guy with one of those little shovels.”

“An entrenching tool. A guy like that with no skill and no training is lucky to survive.”

They were so engaged in their conversation that both men were surprised by the wild eyed man at the street corner. He was high on something. His matted hair and glassy red eyes created the impression of a rabid animal.

“I’ve got it.” Supreme Grandmaster Datu Smith clenched both sticks and began to move in close –after all, he was a master of close range combat. He stepped and then seemed to freeze for a moment. “Should I merge, or meet? Maybe an X block follwed by an… no, wait, how about an abaniko to the hand, followed by a…”

As he was debating his next move, the psycho lunged forward and stabbed him.

The ditch digger brought the shovel resting on his shoulder right down on the psycho. The flat of the blade struck the deranged man on the skull, and clanged like a bell. It was a strike powered by both hands, calloused by long years of hard work. He had launched the strike without even thinking, and struck the mad man with the knife a second time as he fell.

The ditch digger waited for the ambulance to come for the two men. The martial arts expert was losing a lot of blood, but the knife had missed his heart.

As Supreme Grandmaster Datu Smith was wheeled on the gurney into a waiting ambulance, he weakly whispered to the ditch digger, “Don’t thank me, I was just doing what any other Supreme Grandmaster Datu of Kili-Kili Kali would have done.” He then gripped the ditch digger’s hand briefly and let go as the ambulance doors were shut.

The ambulance raced off with lights flashing and sirens wailing. The ditch digger looked down at his hand. Resting in his palm was a blood stained business card for Supreme Grandmaster Datu Smith and Kili-Kili Kali.


I’m Back!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 by bigstickcombat

I’ve returned from the Philippines. I didn’t make it to Antique like I’d hoped, but I did gain one interesting insight.

I looked at the types of real-life weapons one finds in the Philippines, and I was surprised to find that what Americans perceive as a bolo (machete), the type of “show” bolo one sees used in Filipino Martial Arts demos, is different from the types of real-world blades you find in the Philippines (or at least in the Visayas as I observed them).

I’ll post on all of this later, but one lesson you might take away from my trip is that its okay to occasionally step away from something, whether it’s a blog, an interest or hobby of yours, a commitment, etc. In the long run it’s better to take a breather and refresh yourself than to burn out.

I can heartily recommend a vacation to the Philippines.

Poser of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 26, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Hi-Yahh! Go Power Rangers!

The problem here is not this young lady, but the people who are “teaching” her. The whole image of a cute young lady posing with sticks is reminiscent of Jon Benet Ramsey, where parents are marketing their kids for God only knows what reasons.

Realize it or not, we (especially men) are constantly being sold beauty, in the form of waitresses, and bikini-clad girls on lite beer commercials, or news anchors and singers who could be models. Even in the martial arts you can’t get a break. The message seems to be, seeing an attractive woman –regardless of her talent or lack thereof– should be enough

But let’s look at this young  lady’s stance.

What is the purpose of the lead stick? To protect her kneecap?

Where is her offensive capability? The stick held high overhead resembles the La Canne/Vigny styles, and has their problems.

  1. Stress is placed on the arm. The arm is not at rest, which places tension on it. Bruce Lee’s lead elbow rested at his hip to avoid just this type of needless strain.

  2. Offense is too slow. Rather than move in a straight line, the tip of the stick is swung around 360 degrees. No matter how “fast” the stick moves, it is structurally slow.

  3. "What do you mean, I cut my femoral artery?"

I Don’t Do It All

Posted in Commentary, Real Life Combat, Uncategorized with tags , , on December 21, 2009 by bigstickcombat

Once I was training in Cebu City at a kickboxing gym, when one of the students came up to me and said, “We have 49 kicks in our style. How many do you have in yours?”

Two,” I replied.

Ego is an unavoidable hazard of the martial arts.

I see these styles with curricula as large as the Texas panhandle. They do single stick, double stick, espada y daga, single knife, double knife, boxing, kicking and wrestling (only you have to call it sikaran and dumog in order to be authentic), the staff, the spear, the bullwhip, projectile weapons, the two-handed stick, weapons with a point at each end, etc. Do they really do all of these weapons or do they just want to brag about doing all of these weapons?

For some of these styles I think one-upmanship is involved. “Look at Master Kidlat’s school; They don’t even do spear and shield.”

One guy on a DVD was teaching the 59 angles of the system. Nobody wants to admit that he only does twelve angles, and you really sound ignorant if all you do are five.

Nobody wants to look like his art is “kulang (“lacking,” or “kurang” in Ilocano). Oops, there I go, dropping Filipino language terms to make me sound authoritative. “What, you don’t speak Tagalog?”

I got the lecture the other day from some guy who does a retreating step, an advancing step, a cross-hopping step, the diagonal slide closing step, etc. It sounds even more impressive when you label these terms in Tagalog or Bisaya.

To put all of this into perspective, just this week a co-worker told me of his conversation with an American veteran of the Pacific campaign in WWII. In that conflict it often came down to hand-to-hand combat. The American faced Japanese soldiers who had martial arts training –he had none. In fact, he only had one technique/strategy, and that was embarrassingly simple.

Imagine the field day that the stylists with the 59 angles, the 27 weapons, the 17 different footwork methods, the Tagalog, Bisaya, and old Filipino alphabet would have with this guy. Why, he wouldn’t last 15 minutes! That ignorant grunt didn’t even have diagonal cross-stepping footwork.

Yet he survived and prevailed. In combat to the death the American vet’s only technique was to “bullrush” the slighter Japanese, who were trying to work their complicated techniques on him. Sometimes it came down to him slamming the enemy’s head against a rock. And now he’s a very old man telling his story.

Don’t fall into the trap. Don’t feel like you have to know it all. Be on the lookout for the baseless puffery of guys bragging about all of the stuff they do (and “stuff” is not my first choice of words) in order to make you feel like an idiot, like you’re somehow lacking because you don’t do everything, including the bow and arrow.