Archive for Big Stick Combat

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!



Drop the Hammer

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on November 8, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Stephen Kinsey with the Broncos

I have written earlier of the hammer and the sledge as symbols of strength. The boy in the photo, Stephen Kinsey, entered Bronco Stadium with the team on Saturday’s game. Stephen has cancer, and he wanted to visit the Broncos as part of the Make a Wish Foundation.

I am an advocate of the big stick as a means to fitness and strength. I also believe in the effectiveness of the big stick as a weapon. But the photo reminds us that each day is a gift, and I hope it causes each one of us to think, “How am I making someone else’s life better? How am I using my strength (and skills, talent, resources) to help those who are less fortunate?”

Hit Harder in Close with the Big Stick

Posted in American Arts, Technique with tags , , , , , , on October 18, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Once again, do an experiment with me. Get close to the bag (about 2 feet back) and hit it with the staff grip, both palms down, overleft. [“Overleft” is a term of GM Estalilla of Kabaroan describing a strike that comes from 10 or 11 o’clock.] You will find that you feel a stinging in your left palm.

Now try a different strike from the same distance. In this case, your right hand grips the stick or bat at the pommel. The left hand is about a third of the way up, palm up. Now strike overleft. You’ll find that you can hit harder, without the stinging.

Windup for the staff strike. Note How Cramped the Body Is

Staff Strike. See How Awkward the Wrist and Elbow Are.

Windup for the Rap. The Elbows Are In, and the Torso is Covered.

The Rap. The Elbow and Wrist Are in a Natural, Strong Position

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!


Posted in Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Reader Hernan asks about the role of evasion in Big Stick Combat.

The greatest application of evasion with the big stick is the late GM Giron’s larga mano style. In his style the

Larga Mano with the late GM Giron's Son

proponent  maximizes the reach of the long stick by long stances, and stretching out to hit the opponent’s closest target, usually the weapon hand. The larga mano stylist may oppose the attack or blend/merge with it. Correctly applied, the attacker is trying to get at the long stick stylist, but can’t get anywhere close to him, and gets hit as he tries to get near. The lara mano stylist will pop in and tag the opponent, then fade back out of reach (retirada style).

I believe that the larga mano style is best understood in the context of a long, bladed weapon. GM Giron poses with a panabas, a machete mounted on a stick, and GM Somera’s larga mano video features him using a long sword. With a long blade, a hit at a distanvce can create a crippling injury, such as slashing an opponent’s wrist. The long blade cannot be grabbed.

Larga Mano, with Bahala Na Multi-Style

GM Somera. Note the long blade.

With a long stick, though, the same dynamics of the long blade larga mano stylist may not apply. Strikes with the stick may not be incapacitating at long range, and the end of the stick can be grabbed.

Although larga mano is a valid style, I decided against including it in Big Stick Combat, for several reasons:

1) Larga Mano needs space, which may not be available in the city or indoors.

2) A long stick can be grabbed at a time when the larga mano stylist is stretched forward.

3) Larga Mano requires leg flexibility and strength (which makes it great as an exercise), which some people may not have.

4) Larga Mano adds a degree of complexity to a style. I opted for simplicity.

To the extent that I evade, I step out to the right or to the left, in what Filipino stylists call the “female triangle” (V).

GM Estalilla’s concept is not to evade, but to move right into the teeth of an opponent’s attack and merge with him while blasting him in the head. This is audacious, and certainly takes guts to execute it. My concept is typically similar –move directly into an attack, smothering it with overwhelming power.

Travel to the Philippines

Posted in Princples and Theory with tags , on June 2, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Malapascua Island, Northern Cebu, Philippines

Tomorrow I’m leaving for the Philippines. I’ll be gone until August, and I don’t know how regularly I’ll be able to post. I am hoping to do some studying and improve as a martial artist.

I was thinking about my new video, and I was reminded of the time I first picked up a baseball glove. Like most people, my instinct was to put the glove on my right hand. After all, the right hand felt natural. The problem was that even though wearing a baseball glove on the left hand felt awkward, there was another piece of the picture –after I caught the ball, I had to throw it. Although my left hand was not as dexterous as my right hand, I needed to field the ball with the left hand in order to throw with my dominant right hand. Similarly, my stick style is a matter of fitting pieces together. I could go with a right hand over left grip, or a left foot forward stance, but other pieces wouldn’t fit.

As I see it, these are the pieces that must fit together:

  • The ability to hit with a one-handed right hand grip.

  • In order to maximize reach, I should be in a right forward stance, and grip the stick at its very end (not choked up).

  • The ability to hit two-handed for maximum power in bat grip

  • The ability to go into a two-handed rifle grip

  • The ability to change from single grip, to bat grip, and rifle grip almost instantly

  • There should be as little shuffling of the hands as possible to aid in weapon retention and for simplicity’s sake.

  • The ability to hit non-telegraphically

When I try to put these pieces together, Big Stick Combat is what I come up with.

I experimented with the right over left grip, but I encountered several dead ends, where techniques didn’t work (such as the underleft strike) or didn’t fit into the whole, such as “How do I swing with just the right hand , and go immediately into a right over left bat grip?) Such a system could be worked out, but in my eyes there were too many “glitches,” or rough spots that had to be glossed over.

New Video

Posted in Videos with tags , , , on May 31, 2010 by bigstickcombat

I’ve just uploaded a new video to my You Tube channel, which is in response to Josh Morale’s questions.