Saturday, August 9, 2008

Stick Fighting Without Protection

On a recent surfing expedition through YouTube, I found a video of a Kali (stick fighting) martial arts group that does full contact sparring with very little protection, only a fencing mask and a pair of gloves. Check out the vid:

I did some full contact stick fight recently myself. We didn't use helmets or gloves though we did wear safety glasses and the sticks we used were foam-covered. I can't help but offer up some respect for these people who are willing to experience pain to understand their art. Even with the foam covering, the hits we doled out and took often hurt, however, it was unlikely that anyone would have split a knee cap or get injuries that would require stitches the way we did it. That being said, there was enough risk of pain that it made you not want to get hit.

The risk of pain makes you give respect where respect is due. You are less likely to be willing to take a hit just so you can land one yourself, as would happen regularly if you were wearing protective armour. This is not to say that I'd be willing to lose my knee cap for training's sake, I do have a dojo to run, but I do believe in pain being an excellent teacher from which to learn.


Anonymous said...

It is definitly a way to keep you on your toes and make you think twice about becoming lazy when defending.

Steve said...

Ah. The Dog Brothers are relatively well known down here in the USA. National Geographic did a full 1 hour show in the group. I think this was the teaser for it.

Very interesting group of guys.

Warrior In Scrubs said...

As a Filipino, I have much respect and admiration for the Dog Brothers for embracing and promoting a martial art outside their own culture--Eskrima/Arnis/Kali.

However, I still prefer the "old way"--no headgear, no hand guards, but still with lots of art in all the movements.

Here's a sample:

Anonymous said...

I have much respect for the Dog-Brothers, they’re hard as nails and true martial-artists. However, I wouldn’t use their sparring-method myself: too much risk of serious injury and most of us are just training for fun/exercise/self-defense, not for war.

If I knew my life was on the line and in combat you’d be using machetes or swords I’d be willing to train full-contact stick-fighting in order to increase my chances of survival but if you have a life outside the martial-arts and there’s little change of your life being threatened you wouldn’t want to risk your limbs and health in such an enterprise.

I like the idea of training with covered-sticks though: the risks are severly limited but you’d still experience quite alot of pain when hit hard. Pain is a great teacher and I’m more than willing to experience it (even a relatively high dose of it) in order to become a better martial-artist but I draw the line at injuries.

If you get seriously injured you can forget about training for quite a while (maybe even permanently) and where does that lead you? Your skills will be blunted and even if you recover you’ll more-than-likely be more vulnerable to further injuries.


Lori O'Connell said...

Yes, I'm not a big proponent of injuries. And stick fighting isn't part of our standard curriculum. It's just fun for me to play with it because the principles are fairly similar to fencing (I used to be a national level competitive fencer). Stick sparring teaches you a lot about distance and timing.

That being said, the foam escrima sticks that Century sells have a plastic rather than wood base. The only real danger is getting hit in the eye so I always wear some kind of eye protection. The hits to the body, if done hard can sting occasionally, but they don't cause real injuries. The worst I've seen is light bruising. So if you want to give stick sparring a try without much risk of injury, those foam-covered plastic sticks are a great purchase. They're reasonably priced too.

Anonymous said...

I think studying at least some stick-fighting is a good thing and one more building-block in one's education as an all-round martial-artist. I's great for developping a sense of timing and distance (as you mentioned) and you'll be better prepared should you ever be attacked by someone with a stick. Not that stick-attacks are very common in the western world but it still pays to be prepared and it doesn't necessarily have to be a stick: a handaxe, baseballbat or billyard-cue are all good substitutes. The basic angles and ways of attack will always be the same.

Stickfighting is not a basic or easy skill but it is appropriate for the higher levels (first dan and up) to complement their unarmed skills and it's fun to boot. For my first dan exam I'm required to show basic competence with weapons, I'm already reasonably proficient with a knife and sensei's going to teach me some old hanbo-jutsu skills and the basics of the filipino cinco-terro system (a simplified version of traditional escrima) so that's definately something to look forward to. One day I hope to be able to study the ancient kenjutsu and iaijutsu-kata, to me they are the epitome of martial-skill and the manifestation of the true warrior spirit. The sword is the soul of the samurai. Check out these video's, they are amazing.

His self-control is unsurpassed and his kiai downright frightening. This is a true grandmaster who has devoted his entire life to his art and perfected his skills to near divine heights.

I'm not going to comment on this one since it's obvious this is way out of my league (or anyone's for that matter). The man's a legend.