Theodore Roosevelt coined the saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”, when summarizing his theory on foreign policy. It is a proverb many people in the defense industry use when describing the proper attitude of being non-aggressive, yet prepared when one needs to protect themselves.
Everyone should know how to defend themselves with a “stick”, the most common improvised weapon you’ll find anywhere… but it doesn’t have to be big per se, one just needs to know how to use it. Metal, wood or plastic… it doesn’t matter because they are everywhere.
Here are some examples: umbrellas, crowbars, bats, PVC piping, broom handles, longer culinary tools, car antennas, chair legs, gardening tools… the list goes on and on.
Besides being everywhere, you should also have a couple weapons in key places around your living areas such as your garage, living room, bedroom, office and in your car. They are obviously not illegal to have in any state, and you’ll almost never get questioned about them.
The best length is around 24-40” in order to maximize reach, but still being able to control it with one hand. It’s weight is also determined by the wielder of the weapon, but no more than 2-4 pounds is ideal for quickness and agility. Having it too long or heavy will throw off your balance and not permit you to be quick and agile. My suggestion is to find the type of stick which you are comfortable with given your size, age and experience level.
Picking up a couple pairs from online martial arts stores, of either “escrima or kali” sticks would also be perfect, of either rattan (lighter, porus fiber) or cobalt (heavier, more dense).
Whatever “stick” you choose, they are a great tool to be used for non-lethal defense, but can also turn into a deadly tool if need be. Therefore, once again, they are a tool you need in your arsenal given it’s flexibility of force and anonymity of suspicion.
Just having a “stick” or even being aware of them around you is only a piece of the puzzle. You must incorporate both defensive and offensive training in order to be competent as well.
Both offensive and defensive strategies can be summarized in a basic five angle count system of strikes and movements. Assuming that you are right handed, Angle #1 is moving the stick from a high right corner, down diagonally to the bottom left corner. Angle #2 is making an “X” of that and moving it from the top left corner to bottom right. Angle #3 is a horizontal movement from right to left, followed by left to right for Angle #4. Finally #5 is a stab, using the point of the stick. Working with these angles for several hundred reps not only takes much less time than you think, but helps build comfortability and “stick” handling skills you’ll want to have. Once you have these basic movements down, you’ll have down your basic defensive and offensive plan.
When using a stick, whether it is an umbrella, crowbar or half of a pool cue you’ve cracked in half, there are three tips you want to keep in mind:
- One of its attributes is its distance, therefore we never want to let anyone inside the range of it’s reach.
- The main defensive tip is to always strike the closest incoming limb which is attacking you, whether it is a fist or hand holding a blade. As they lunge forward, we strike that incoming target and move back simultaneously.
- Offensively we are using a series of “X” patterns of the “1’s and 2’s”, aiming for the collar bone and clavicle area. These multiple “one-two” punches with a stick are difficult to defend against especially if done quickly, which is why having a lighter stick trumps more heavier ones like a bat.
For training, the biggest yet most simplest way to prepare in using a stick is to practice “shadow boxing” with one, or several of different lengths and weights. Just as a boxer shadow boxes with his jabs and crosses while moving around, we can do the same with our 1 through 5 movements to build balance, footwork, agility and quickness. The more we move, the more
comfortable we become. The more comfortable we become, the more lethal we are with this tool.
A final secret which I have used for years is practicing with an axe handle, which is heavier than I would like for combative reasons, but is a great tool to strengthen my forearms, making my movements lightning fast while also giving me a heck of a workout. You can use three to five one minute rounds for either a warm up or cool down to your workouts, or as the workout itself if you want to add on rounds and extend the time, as it builds great upper body strength, improves cardio and also gives you the fluidity of effective and efficient defense.