Input on using a cane for self defense?

Discussion in 'General Self Defense' started by geezer, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Some of my older Escrima students have asked me to teach them how to use a cane or walking stick for self-defense. I've shown them a little so far and they like it.

    The curious thing is that I have a very different idea about how to use a cane than 95% of the stuff (garbage?) I find on youtube. Consequently, I am putting together my own curriculum based largely on Latosa Escrima Concepts (my first stick art), DTE (Direct Torres Escrima), some stuff that comes from WC concepts, and other stuff I've messed with for years, ever since I was injured and briefly had to use a cane ...and promptly got into a fight (about 40 years ago).Anyway, there's a world of experience on this forum, along with some truly eccentric opinions. So I thought I see what kind of input I get.

    Here are some "disclaimers" I have started with:

    1. I have taught martial arts (WC and Escrima) for a while, but I'm not a huge fan of teaching "self defense" tactics taught outside a complete martial arts curriculum. Weak, out-of-shape old farts are better off staying away from conflict than trying to learn a few cheap tricks to make themselves bulletproof. And, being an out-of shape, over-the-hill old fart, I follow this advice myself! ;)

    For a more realistic approach self defense, I advocate first: awareness and avoidance, then de-escaltion and escape, and lastly (if you've really messed up with the previous steps) facing the choice of having to physically engage with an attacker ... who probably has the advantage (or else why is he attacking you?).

    2. If you really want to learn how to maintain a higher level of awareness or alertness to danger, or if you want to learn techniques of de-escalation, find an expert in that branch of psychology. Or maybe a good bouncer who does his job with a minimum of violence. I can only give some general ideas and "common sense" advice.

    3. A cane can be a good choice for defense if :

    A
    . Although you may need it for support, you can still stand strongly and move without it (even if it hurts) for short periods of time. If you need it just to stand, you can't use it to fight.:(

    B. You maybe "out of shape ...compared to what you were in your 20s or 30s, but if you can still learn to swing a stick hard and deliver a really good whallop! Otherwise you will just really annoy your assailant, and that's not a smart thing to do! :confused:

    C. The advantages of a cane (or any stick) are that it gives you range and is a "force multiplier". So the cane is best used at longer range for percussive striking, that is, swinging and thrusting, while hanging firmly on to the crook or handle end for the best possible weapon retention.:cool:

    ...Yes, in very experienced hands, it can also increase leverage in grappling and locks, but this approach is very risky for a weaker defender and should be avoided, So forget all those really cool locks, and tricks using the hooked end to catch, pull, or sweep. I mean does an old fart really want to tie up his weapon while pulling his attacker closer to him? Really!? :eek:

    D. Avoid canes with sharp spikes, or a sharpened end on the crook, or sharp and extreme serrations on the shaft beyond what is necessary for grip enhancement and so forth. For one thing, these unecessary accoutrements have just re-defined your innocent cane as an offensive weapon. That's not a good thing if you plan to carry it with you everywhere, even through security into public buildings or onto a plane.

    Nor is it useful to be jabbing painful. but not deadly spikes and serrations into an attacker if you are unable to otherwise fend him off and escape. It may just enrage him to the point where he totally effs you up. Kinda like the empty handed fighter that says "Oh, I"ll just beat the other guy with my deadly eye gouges and groin strikes." If you need that to win, remember that the other guy can go there too.

    Finally regarding those spiky bits. Even if you "win" by virtue of stabbing, jabbing and lacerating, be prepared to have a much tougher time in the next stage of the altercation, i.e. dealing with the authorities!

    E. One last point. Simplicity. If you are training something to use under stress, KISS. A few, simple, high percentage moves trained repeatedly to perfection are worth more than all the fancy "finesse" moves in the world. Learn to use range, angles and timing, hit hard and get away. Not glamorous or show stopping, but practical.

    OK, sorry for the long lead-in, but that's basically where I'm coming from. Most of the Youtube gurus and their clips that I've found so far are coming from the opposite perspective. And, most of the "self-defense" or "tactical" canes sold are BS. in my opinion. More on that later, but I just prefer a good piece of hickory. What do you guys think?


     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
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  2. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    Love this geezer.
    #1 why do they have a cane? If for support then that is going to greatly influence what one can do.
    When I teach cane work I have them stand on their supposed good leg assuming the other leg needs support and can't be used effectively for support much less good tactical footwork. Of course some may only have a weak foot, knee, or hip and only need the cane as a back up for support. These may well be able to utilize some effective footwork. The ability to generate powerful strikes become very difficult when one is unable to transfer weight during swinging of a blunt object weapon therefore, targeting and timing becomes essential.
    Using the cane for blocking, parrying, and quick countering attacks to the foot, shins, knee, groin, are good options but must be practiced. If the bad guy grabs the cane most will not have the stance structure to prevent it being taken from them.
    Sharp hard raps to the hand, face, clavicle, can be painful and time buying. Powerful swinging of the cane can be an option 'IF' the person can transfer weight from leg to leg and if there is room to swing. Otherwise it is a poor option.

    Those I have taught 'self defense' cane work to was over a multiple session period. Took them through awareness and verbal judo first for prevention first and then to delivering quick short power striking and targeting.
     
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  3. Rat

    Rat Master Black Belt

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    Have you looked into the lord and savior vigny cane fighting? :p

    I wish the non physical defence skills were more common TBH and also to some degree if you fight back you mitigate your chances of being a victim as they decide to go and find somone else. A percentage of criminal would probably leave to find someone else anyway.


    Also some armourors do pretty decent canes if they do wooden weapons, i think purple heart armoury does decent quarter staffs etc and they are a dying business.

    you can get away witha swagger stick if you dress right also, so you dont necessarily need it for any pragmatic use.
     
  4. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Well thought out.

    Many cane systems are designed around someone carrying a cane as an affectation, gimmick, or fashion statement, maybe as an accessory aid (like a hiking stick), not someone who needs that cane for balance or walking due to some sort of infirmity. That said -- there are ways to use the cane even if you have limits on mobility. If you're totally dependent on it to avoid falling over, that greatly limits your options -- but otherwise, quick strikes returning to a grounded position can work. Your escrima background can be very useful -- but try it out with realistic canes that you can buy at a drug store or medical equipment place, not some special purpose "combat cane." (You're already on that track...) Among other things.. those day-to-day canes don't take a ton of punishment...
     
  5. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    @geezer, I am in complete agreement with everything you are saying. I am a bit surprised that your Escrima students would need separate instruction on the cane; I would have thought it translates pretty directly and they could figure it out.

    At any rate, too bad you aren’t closer to me, I would share a bit of the white crane staff with you, I think it does translate well and could be useful in your endeavor. Does not translate well in the online venue however, to try and explain it and pass it along to you.
     
  6. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Thanks for the generous offer! And it's just as well that you don't try to share the Crane staff form online. I'm a bit of a dummy and really have to learn in person ...with a very patient instructor.

    As far as separating the cane course from escrima in general ...actually I don't, at least with our regular group. Being able to adapt the basic concepts to a variety of weapons is very important in what we do. Rather, I was offering some specific instruction with the cane directed at a small group of older guys with limited exposure to the escrima curriculum.
     
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  7. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    OK getting back to the ideas set forth in the OP, let me post some examples from youtube. The first one below embodies everything I personally detest about the way people present the cane for self defense. The man featured is a "Grandmaster" with dozens of videos, and a very successful commercial program teaching through videos, seminars, etc. leading to various certifications. He also sells a line of "tactical" canes, and has one heck of an imposing gi:



    And here's the same expert with a kata teaching some useful power hitting ;)




    Not fraud busting here. Just talking different approaches. But honestly, those videos make me want to double-stomp the groin!

     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  8. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    So I wasted a lot of time on youtube looking for good clips to give you some idea of something somewhat "not-stupid" relating to cane or medium length (about 36 in.) walking sticks used for defense. Mainly there is just a lotta lotta garbage!

    Some of the legit systems I didn't really get into include French La Canne since it is more of a whipping, dueling system, more like sabre with stick. Same for Venezuelan Esgrima de Garrote (which I actually tried many years ago).

    I did find a few brief clips that, while somewhat different in the details, share the same approach I advocate. Like this one by Michael Janich:



    Then I came across this by James Lafond of Lancaster Agonistics. Another fat old man who has the same ideas I have. Yeah!



    Simple techniques, good power, good movement. That's more like it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  9. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I looked all over youtube and couldn't find some very good old videos by my first escrima instructor, Rene Latosa in the early 90s. Somewhere I have them on old VHS or DVDs. Anyway I believe the following is a short bit from one of those discussing the use of medium to long sticks and staffs. The fragment I found here deals with staffs, but I think you can get the idea of how Rene preferred simple, direct technique applied with significant power. The same was true of all his stick work, from palm-stick, to short cudgel, to bastón, to cane, to short and long staff.

     
  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't watched the videos yet (currently on the slower of our networks), but I agree with your OP. I see far too much cane work that seems directed at an athletic 20- or 30-something who happens to be carrying a fighting cane (has to be such, or the crook won't be wide enough), and is far more complicated than is really a good idea. When I carry a cane, it's usually to prevent or alleviate moderate pain (rather than for actual support), so I can do pretty much the same stuff I could do when not carrying one, but that's unusual for folks carrying a cane. I do think it's a good idea to practice as if one leg or the other is of limited reliability, since that's the situation where you'll be most likely to have a cane (unless you're lucky enough when attacked that a random old guy is standing nearby and you can steal his).

    What I personally know with the cane is basic striking and a few leverage moves to assist with takedowns. I could pull of some locks in the dojo (and it's fun to play with), but I wouldn't rely upon them in a defensive situation, except maybe some leverage-assisted shoulder locks after a takedown. Frankly, the cane feels more like an encumbrance in locks/pins/submission, and I'd probably be better off tossing it clear at that point.

    And I don't think any of what I personally know would be useful for someone without some reasonable MA training. It depends too much on understanding basic principles of movement, structure, etc. I haven't taught any to others at this point - just haven't had students with interest yet. Before I'd do that, I'd probably want to find someone who's teaching some FMA-derived cane work and learn a bit more from them.
     
  11. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    I like Mike Janich, he has a very thoughtful, realistic, and simple approach in most every thing I’ve seen him show.
    In the second video the most salient point made was about if you are using a cane you are probably too weak to wield it with power striking.
    Retention and targeting as well as implementing an active plan of aggressive resistance will deter most attackers looking for an easy victim.

    I go back to the importance of awareness and personal space. One has to have time and space to place the cane in position to be used effectively. This will be determined in a large degree based on the ability to move with stability as well which will be determined by the individual attributes.
     
  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I wonder if a lot of the hooking techniques are adaptations of things from an older era when someone might have been carrying a shepherd’s crook. That would make sense for a younger, able-bodied person to have a stick with a hook. Then that stuff got modified inappropriately into cane material, which would not work well for an older person in poor health, who has weak or injured legs.
     
  13. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    Most of the cane stuff I have seen, assumes that you can stand and move pretty well without the need for a cane. (like everyone else here said...) I used to train with Steve (below) in Jujitsu. I realize he uses crutches and not a cane... but watching him shows many of the things that need to be taken into consideration when doing cane work for someone that needs the cane to stand and move. Steve has no use of his legs at all, they have braces on them so that he can use crutches. Note how when he is on the ground, he moves his legs with his hands. He also has no hip movement.

    In the jujitsu video, its interesting to note that once he goes down... he is not getting up. There is a good chance, that if you need a cane or crutch... you won't be getting back up once you have gone down.

    In the second video, he is doing some kind of kung fu form contest. Some interesting things to note here is how he has to prop himself up, to use both hands, or one hand to swing the crutch. We take for granted that we can take steps and even transfer our weight from foot to foot. If you are in need of a cane or crutch to stand... you need to establish your base, before you can generate power.

    The last thing (or first thing) to notice in these videos is lack of mobility. Whether standing or on the ground, mobility or the lack thereof is a real thing. Like every other art, we have you punch me in the face, I will parry, block then slip behind you type moves. Doing these with Steve was very interesting. Where I can parry and step in to take your back, Steve cannot. He has to find other ways to get to the rear of his opponent that compensate for his lack of mobility.

    If you are going to teach cane techniques to folks who really need the cane... these are somethings to consider.



     
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  14. snake_monkey

    snake_monkey Orange Belt

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    The main concepts I would use for cane fighting can be found in WC, Shaolin Cane, Straight Sword / Longsword. Its almost the perfect length for anyone to use. Add a hand for leverage to use for sweeps, counters, and disarms. Use the wooden stick element to your advantage to break their guard like when using a straight sword then move so that you can use the cane to your advantage...that choke with the staff can make it easier to control an opponent.
     
  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    How would that approach deal with the limited mobility of someone who needs a cane?
     
  16. snake_monkey

    snake_monkey Orange Belt

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    That's a good point which I didn't address, although I may have just assumed that using the stick defensively was the main point. So to answer this I would say use the stick defensively as in fencing. I would say improve wrist strength using empty hand forms and exercises, and train with the cane, straight sword, and bo staff to improve. As far as controlling an opponent, if this is your only option then you have to do what you can sometimes this can be a simple shift in weight or in stance, but definitely use that stick to your advantage. Something is better than nothing right? Again, I'm sure there are weapons experts that can tell you more about it than me!
     
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  17. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    as a starting point, your last comment on hickory hit the mark, before you get involved in complication you need a stick( we call them walking sticks not canes in the uk) that is heavy dense enough to be a a weapon, ( or at least have a big brass knob on it.)that's not common as the tendency is for them to be light, which then requires significant power in order to actually hurt some one if you can achieve that at all

    I have a telescopic aluminium walking pole, that in its shortest mode is an 3xtreml6 effective riot baton, with a nice pistol grip handle and a wrist strap something like that would be ideal
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
  18. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    What you are describing tends to be pretty physically active. What about someone who has limited mobility and needs that cane for actual support? That person cannot even train in the way that you are describing, never mind actually employing that kind of skill in a real altercation
     
  19. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    well there no way round that someone who is elderly or otherwise enfebled cant really defend themselves with or with out a stick, but not every one who uses a walking stick is otherwise in bad health

    my mates dad, who was well into his 70s beat up two teenage muggers whilst sat on his mobility scooter, who made the mistake of coming in range, he was monstrously strong, my first encounter with him was as a cocky 20year old and i gave him some back chat whilst sat on my Bonneville and he picked me up 300 lbs motorbike and all and tipped me over a 5 foot wall and put the bike down unharmed, made sure I was at a safe distance after that
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
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  20. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    @Blackstaff this is the thread. It may help to read through the whole thread, particularly geezer's posts. Or it may not. Who knows.123
     

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