Friday, July 29, 2016

Quick Stick Tips

This week I had the chance to share a few Filipino martial arts (FMA) sinawalis with fellow students at my Krav Maga school. A sinawali ("weaving") is a training pattern one can perform solo or with a partner. I promised I would share what sort of sticks I use and where I buy them.

My oldest pair of sticks are rattan, slightly more than 28" long and 3/4" in diameter. They are fairly light and are good for solo speed and demo work. One of my instructors, Mr Jim Conklin, advised me to not use them for partner work because they are more ornamental in nature. I listened, so you won't see them here.

My primary sticks (shown at left) are rattan sticks, roughly 26" long and 7/8" in diameter. I bought them from Kombat Instruments Limited.  I really enjoy these sticks. They are heavier than my 28" sticks and are great for partner work.

I wrapped the top, or striking portion of the sticks, with green electrical tape from Home Depot. Why green? I figured everyone uses black, so if I used green it would be easier to recognize my sticks at the school if they got mixed up! Why wrapped? Mr. Conklin told me it would help keep the rattan sticks from splintering during moderate to heavy use against a partner's sticks.

Not pictured are a set of new sticks, roughly 28" long and 7/8" in diameter, also from Kombat Instruments Limited. I sent these to my Kung Fu school near Boston. When I fly I don't check baggage, and I don't want to explain why I'm trying to carry rattan sticks onto a commercial flight! I figured I would try slightly longer versions of my favorite sticks and see how they work out when I next visit the Boston area. When I'm not there, they're available for anyone to use.

When you visit KIL you will see many other stick options, ranging from 24" to 31" long, and 5/8" to 1 1/4" diameter. I will probably get 24" and 31" sticks at some point, just to see what it is like to train with them. I will most likely stay with the 7/8" diameter, which seems comfortable for the size of my hands. I can't imagine what it would be like to hold and swing a 1 1/4" diameter rattan stick! I'm 5'9", and 155 lbs. If you're larger, you might want larger sticks, and vice-versa if you have a smaller frame.

You might be wondering about the swords in the picture above. Those are Chinese training double broad swords, a gift from my Kung Fu instructor, Sifu Michael Macaris. They are much heavier than my sticks. However, I can use them the same way as their rattan cousins. In fact, some FMA systems teach students to consider sticks to be substitutes for bladed weapons. Therefore, you can imagine "cutting" rather than applying blunt force. One of the cool aspects of FMA is that practically all of the weapon techniques have empty hand applications, or single stick versions, or knife versions, and so on.

Do you practice FMA? What sorts of sticks do you prefer?

Disclaimer: I simply like KIL gear -- I'm not getting compensated for referrals.

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