stick length in FMA

Discussion in 'Filipino Martial Arts - General' started by jarrod, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    greetings all, i've recently been studying a couple of stick fighting methods based off of using a walking stick, this got me wondering, why is the stick used in FMA so comparatively short? i know that the answer will probably depend on which FMA we're talking about, but i'm interested in any answers. i know that in some styles the stick is supposed to simulate a machete, which is a fairly common tool in the region, but i was just wondering if there were any other reasons.

    jf
     
  2. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Usually is is meant to mimic a particular sword and is about that sword's length. All the FMAs originally were sword arts with the stick used as a training tool; it's only relatively recently that some of the FMAs truly emphasize the stick over the sword.

    Stick sizes can be as short as serrada's 18 inch sticks to tapado's 4-foot stick (more like a jo).
     
  3. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I don't know about you. I'm perfectly happy with the length of my stick.

    OK, I apologize. It was just too obvious. Actually, in the FMA styles I practice we use a lot of different sticks... everything from six-inch "palm sticks" (a "dulo dulo" or yawara-like stick) to long, heavy staves. The idea is that you should be able to make the transition to whatever weapon you can get your hands on.

    On the other hand, we do begin training with a fairly short rattan "baston" of about 26" by 1". A little bit shorter, longer, or heavier makes no difference. We use a short stick because we start training in the "corto" or close range where a short stick is advantageous. And it is also more manageable to have a group in a confined space training with shorter sticks. But, as I know you've heard, "size really doesn't matter". Whoops, there I go again. I know. I'm sooo immature.


    BTW I believe that European walking stick and cane arts are said to be influenced in varying degrees by Western fencing or sword traditions as well. And that would translate well to the comparatively longer length of a walking stick (as compared with some of the shorter FMA bastones). Personally, unless you are in very confined quarters, I feel that a longer weapon is advantageous. But above all, you have to use what you've got.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2009
  4. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    oh i'm happy enough with the length. i just wish it wasn't so damn heavy! hard to get a good grip on the thing.

    "it's not the size of the wand, it's the magic in it" :lol:

    jf
     
  5. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Heavy? Curious comment.

    Are you training with hardwoods? Rattan?

    If you're training with rattan, there are different diameters of sticks to use. I have some wider (heavier) rattan that I use more for building up arm strength.
     
  6. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    i'm not real sure what type of wood it is. in the morning, it feels like hardwood, but it seems quite a bit lighter later in the day.

    jf
     
  7. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Probably a hardwood then.

    Rattan is a lot lighter, but hardwood makes for better conditioning and a better weapon.

    Be careful with whacking anything with a hardwood cane. Practicing in the air is OK, but once you start hittin' stuff, hardwoods can splinter and shatter. This can be dangerous for anyone in the area. Rattan frayes as it wears, its a safer training tool :)
     
  8. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    thanks for the tip. you are absolutely right; i have often gotten myself into trouble by overusing my hardwood.

    jf
     
  9. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    A friendly reminder for all... MartialTalk is PG13.
     
  10. chris arena

    chris arena Green Belt

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    We tend to spend much of our time with single stick lenghts of 24". This is a bit shorter than the average 26" 28" sticks, but we fel that the shorter lengths give a better hand-to-hand transition as we feel that the odds of getting into a stick fight is rare, but the chance of bieng empty hand against the stick is far greater.

    However, we do use the longer sticks for Sinawalli double stick work and even shorter palm sticks as well.

    As far as canes. I play with a rather heavy duty 7/8 Rattan Cold Steel cane and a much lighter Maple Shillaligh. Both canes are 3' in lenght. I practice some of the Irish stick work, but can do all of the single stick FMA work as well when I hold it in the Irish style. (choked up about 25 to 30% down from the hilt. Works great. I have even done some free flow sumbrada work with my cane against my group using the short stick. Works fine!
    Don't get trapped on one particular length. If you can't translate the techique into empty hand, then, what good is it on the street today?

    ps. I also play with the 5 and 6 ft Sibat Staff. the fun part of playing with all of the lengths is the personal discovery one gets on how a different lenght of the weapon can radically change identical technique flow, range and body mechanics.

    Tons of fun.
    Chris A
     
  11. David43515

    David43515 Master Black Belt

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    I wonder if the idea of occationaly using two sticks didn`t also inlfuence the shorter FMA stick length.
     
  12. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I think that would be an oversimplification. There are FMA systems that use two long sticks (tapado), and some that use a long and short stick (espada y daga), two short sticks, and about every other combination conceivable. Also, consider European fencing such as Spanish esgrima, and Chinese and Indochinese sword arts which influenced many FMA systems. They also use double weapons, sometimes with two long weapons. Ever see double rapier fencing?

    Anyway, I don't have the answer either, but I caution against jumping to easy conclusions. The FMAs are really diverse and complex.
     
  13. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Two tapado-length sticks simultaneously? Most of the techniques are double-handed, aren't they?
     
  14. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    It does vary from art to art and on what weapon it might be a model for, but here is an answer that might get your attention.

    The stick should be cut from your arm pit to the palm heel or center of your palm. This way when you put it up your sleeve to carry it, it is nto as obvious and seen until you let it drop down into your grip.
     
  15. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Or, as I've also heard it, if you spin the corresponding sword at arm's length you won't cut yourself!
     
  16. thekuntawman

    thekuntawman Purple Belt

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    well, they say, it isnt the size of the stick, its the motion of the hand (kali joke, get it?) sorry i have bad humor.

    the stick is not always suppose to be a sword. in many styles it is just that, a stick. but there is some truth to the saying about size of the stick, because if you have mastered fighting with this weapon, you will be able to use it against anyone of any weapon. your understanding of what your doing, and your ability to figure out what the opponents doing, and the amount of training and experience you have in changing your strategy will determine whether your offective or not in the fight.

    unlike what many people say about cane fighting (walking canes), you really will need more than just a few techniques to defend yourself against the experienced street thug. now if your attacker is a regular dope addict, who hasnt had lots of fights, then, maybe. but a person who has had many fights will have a knowledge of timing and technique (that sometimes he doesnt even know about) that you cant learn in a class. so the cane is a good effective weapon, just not everybody has chosen to train it. me myself i like this weapon very much for fighting.
     
  17. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    You are probably right. I don't do tapado... just saw something on youtube, and you know how reliable that is. Thanks for the correction. --Steve
     
  18. avm247

    avm247 Yellow Belt

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    I've think I've posted this before but I thought I would post it again as an update for new forum members :)

    In Estalilla Kabaroan, we use different stick lengths, singly and in pairs or equal or unequal length... In our Sencilla subsystem (single hand, single weapon) I prefer a longer stick...up to about 36" or so...but can make do with anything from 28" to 30"... in our Bambolia subsytem (two handed, single weapon), I prefer longer sticks, like my 36" or maybe even a 40-48"...but I'm most comfortable with a 36"... in our Compuesta (double weaponry...one in each hand - equal or unequal lengths), we can use 28-36" sticks (as one would for Sinawali techniques) or one short and one long (as in espada y daga) or one long and one really long (bankaw y baston) or two really long (doble sibat or doble bankaw or sibat y bankaw)...

    Different lengths, for different subsystems, for different situations...kinda like golf clubs...you can't always use a driver when what you need is a putter.
     
  19. Darrin Cook

    Darrin Cook Yellow Belt

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    Jarrod,


    I would have to agree that the 28 inch rattan stick is designed to simulate the machete. No other real world item handles like a 28 inch or so rattan stick. My contention, though, is that real-life field machetes are heavier than the typical “show” machete many FMA stylists train with.


    Kabaroan uses a stick of approximately 36 inches in length. According to the late GM Giron, the larga mano styles are based on the "panabas" which is a machete-like blade mounted on a stick. There are other brush-clearing machetes of longer length than the shorter bolo.


    GM Estalilla also explains that the Kabaroan stick matches the length of the European walking cane that was in vogue in the Philippines.

    What is interesting, though, is that GM Estalilla's father used a stick about 46 inches in length, reaching from the floor to the “didi” (nipple). Traveling merchants used to carry their merchandise on a pole slung over the shoulder, with a basket on either end (“pingga”). This pole could be used to fight off dogs or bandits. Sometimes these vendors would engage in challenge matches, wagering their merchandise.



    (See also http://www.fmaforum.org/index.php?showtopic=2790 )
     
  20. Darrin Cook

    Darrin Cook Yellow Belt

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    Rich,

    "The stick should be cut from your arm pit to the palm heel or center of your palm." The size of stick you mention is used in Serrada. One advantage of this length is that in close your stick doesn't get caught on your other arm, or the opponent's arms or weapon.

    Jarrod,

    I should also add that the founder of Tapado, the late GM Mamar, deliberately chose the longer stick (approx. 4 feet) to give him a greater reach advantage as well as a greater margin of safety against other eskrima stylists using the 28 inch long stick.123
     

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