Archive for baseball bat

Pete Gray: Baseball Warrior

Posted in American Arts, Princples and Theory with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Pete Gray was a professional baseball play despite the fact that he only had one arm! In the minor leagues Pete stole

Pete Gray Bats One-Handed

63 bases and had a .333 batting average, which earned him an MVP award.

Pete is amazing for overcoming the disadvantage of batting with just one arm. Think how hard it would be to bat with just one arm. How many Filipino martial artists are handicapping themselves by swinging the stick with just one arm?

One unexpected difficulty Pete had in batting was an inability to hit a breaking ball. Because he only had one arm, Pete could not check his swing. One of my discoveries as I explored the two-handed method of stick wielding, holding the stick like a baseball bat, is that the second hand adds an extra element of control. Having a second hand on the stick helps you to redirect the stick, to brake it, and to exert greater control on trick strikes that change direction. The second hand helps you to control the opponent’s stick at contact, like a live hand.

“Gray also proved himself an accomplished bunter. In order to bunt, he would plant the knob of the bat against his side, and would then slide his hand about one-third of the way up the shaft of the bat.” This ability to move from stick grip at the end of the bat to carry grip at the middle of the bat just might come in handy against a closing opponent.

Above all else, Pete Gray is a great example of what all of us are capable of if we push ourselves to overcome our limitations.

Broken Bats

Posted in American Arts, Weapons with tags , , , , , , on September 18, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Reader Old Dave sent me the following:

Hi Darrin,

I’ve been musings on some of the aspects of the Big Stick, and have a couple of questions about baseball bats.

First, why would you use a typical wooden bat instead of an aluminum bat…given the pictures attached?

And second, where do you keep your bat so that it is handy in case you need it?

And given the thump value of a bat, how do you practice mamo-a-mano a without serious injury?

Keep up the good work…I enjoy visiting your site.

Best regards,

Ole Dave

P.S.  I’m a hiking staff (jo) stick guy, about 51 inches long and 1-1/8 inch diameter.


I realize wood bats can break, which is why I prefer a good aluminum bat. It’s just that it’s hard to find aluminum bats that are both long enough and light enough. I find softball bats tend to have the right characteristics.

The problem with some bats, and we must realize this up front, is that they are not designed as weapons. Yes, they make good weapons, but they are not built from the ground up with that purpose in mind. Bats tend to be too heavy and lightness is sometimes achieved by taking mass from the handle and putting it at the striking end, resulting in a weak handle. There are some interesting articles here and here about a rash of bat breaks (and not just splits, but multiple breaks in which the bat just fell to pieces) and how the league investigated and solved it.

I’ve also taken to making my own bats. The key is to keep the weight light, and to narrow down the handle while still keeping it thick.

I keep the bat in my car, and have others throughout my house. When I go for a walk I take a stick with me. Eventually I will design a nice-looking walking stick that I can take into a store, yet will still be solid enough to dish out punishment.

I think the plastic bats are a good deal for training and sparring. (here and here)

Let me add that the longer short staff, the hiking staff, that you mention is an excellent weapon, especially if you live in an open environment (e.g. field, farm, mountains) where you can use the weapon’s length.

Thanks for reading and contributing!

Baseball Bat Retention

Posted in American Arts, Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory, Technique, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Check out this video, especially beginning at 3:35 or so, when Master Porter executes several disarms. My point here is not to belittle these disarms, but to show, as GM Estalilla so often says, “For every move, there is a counter, and for every counter there is another counter.”

1)  One counter to the stick disarms (or empty hand disarms, for that matter) of a baseball bat is to drop the butt end of the bat as you squat and drop your weight. An upright stick is on my logo in part because it is inspired by GM Maranga’s teaching, that once your stick is in the upright position, it is very difficult to disarm you. When your stick is in the horizontal position, look out! because you are vulnerable to disarms.  This is another reason not to do horizontal strikes, or at least to be watchful.

2)  Another counter is to let go of the stick with the left hand. In the stick disarm in which the stick is threaded between both arms, letting go with the left hand removes much of the leverage. GM Maranga teaches that at a certain point in a disarm or other stick technique you may find yourself in a locked or arms/hands crossed position –Get out immediately! Once you let go with the left hand, you can strike with it, say a gouge to the opponent’s eyes, and then regrip the bat.

3)  One more counter is to spread the hands apart into rifle/bayonet grip. By sliding the left hand further up the bat you increase your leverage, particularly when coupled with returning your bat to an upright position.

Baston vs. Baseball Bat

Posted in Other Stick Methods, Technique, Videos, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , on August 31, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Check out the following video, featuring Master Shaun Porter of Lightning Scientific Arnis. Master Porter  prefaces

Short Stick vs. Baseball Bat

his demo by stating how baseball bats have become the weapon of choice for street thugs in the UK.

His counters to the bat are:

1) Jam with live hand and thrust to body

2) Jam/block with stick

3) Hit the bat and merge with the swing while stepping back, then move in.

4) Hit the hand while stepping back and evading the weapon.

Note also the disarms at 3:25.

Master Porter makes a couple of points that remind me of GM Estalila’s teachings. Hitting the hand is not the easy solution you think it is. In medium range momentum will carry the bat into your hand, or body, head. At long range if you hit the hand and the opponent loses his grip, you are facing a potential projectile in the form of a baseball bat.

I’m interested in your feedback on these techniques.

Baseball Bat in a Clinch

Posted in Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory, Technique with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Let us imagine that your opponent has closed on you and the two of you are in a clinch position.

Options with the short stick are to try to whip the end into the opponent (abaniko/witik strikes) or to thrust with the tip. The Dog Bros excel at grappling, thrusting techniques.

With a long stick you can choke up and attempt the same -whip strikes or thrusting/gouging.

But the baseball bat is interesting. If you choke up on it, most of the weight is in the forward end, so now you have mass that you can whip into the opponent’s head. It’s like having a brick in your hand during a clinch.

Trying to whip the rattan stick into a clinched opponent. Not very effective.

The long stick is not much better. Abaniko/Witik is still not very effective in close.

Note how I am able to jam the heavy end of the bat into a clinched opponent. With the bat I have the advantage of weight/mass going for me.

Real Life Combat: Baseball Bat vs. Bolt Cutters

Posted in Real Life Combat, Videos with tags , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Check out the video.

A “deranged driver” (in the audio’s words) hijacks a dump truck and runs through red lights, evades and then tries to run over police, goes up onto the curb, etc., for 45 minutes.

Finally the dump truck is clipped as he runs through a red light, and the truck tumbles. The psycho bolts from the truck and makes a run for it. When the fugitive is confronted by a citizen, Doug, he pulls a pair of bolt cutters from under his shirt.

Fortunately, Doug is also armed with a baseball bat. Doug starts dishing out punishment to the psycho, who backpedals and dodges many of the blows.

1.  At 1:50 Doug starts swinging. Note that he is swinging one-handed, The psycho steps back, but what if he lunches forward on the offbeat? A 2-handed grip would help retain the weapon, and also help retrieve it. After a swing misses, a 2-handed grip “closes off” the body to prevent someone from closing and grappling (tackling).

2. Note that Doug never blocks the bolt cutters. The psycho is on the defensive, and he is so busy evading Doug’s strikes that he cannot launch any strikes of his own.

3. The fight comes to a clinch. Doug is in what I call “carry grip,” with the right hand halfway up the bat. In a clinch this enables Doug to land telling blows with the heavy end of the bat.

The War Club

Posted in Weapons with tags , , , on April 17, 2010 by bigstickcombat


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