FMAT: Would YOU let go of your stick?

Clark Kent

<B>News Bot</B>
Sep 11, 2006
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Would YOU let go of your stick?
By geezer - 10-25-2008 06:00 PM
Originally Posted at: FMATalk


A from time to time I've had the chance to train with a couple of guys whose system favors very close range stick fighting with a lot of free-hand stick-trapping. In addition to the FMAs, I have a long time in Wing Tsun. So when one of these guys latches onto my stick --somtimes tying up both their arms for an instant to control my weapon-- my old infighting instincts take over. Without thinking I release my stick and flow into empty hand strikes. One of these guys responded with surprise and said that my response was incorrect. That in a real fight you don't give up your stick. My suspicion is that at in a "real fight" at full power, the question would be moot, and he wouldn't be catching my stick. But if the same situation did come up, my perspective is that if what I did worked, then why not?

How about you guys? Are there situations in which you'd voluntarily let go of your stick. Or is that a big no-no?


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Senior Master
MT Mentor
Oct 26, 2003
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Springfield, Missouri
In order to understand why you should or shouldn't release your weapon in a real combat situation, it is first important to understand and accurately define the function of the weapon itself.​

Within a combat situation, weapons exist as force multipliers, meaning that by utilizing any specific tool within the confines of the situation, I can increase the amount of force, it's effect upon my opponent, or both, by incorporating that tool into my response. Different weapons have different effects, but can generally be broken down into impact, projectile, and edged weapons, with some tools being a combination of multiple purposes, such as a broadsword which is designed to create both impact and edged damage, while others may be designed to use one purpose to effect another, like bean bag guns which use projectiles to effect impact damage.​

The reason I make this point is because once you understand the specific purpose of the weapon which you are using, you understand that it exists not to hurt, maim, or kill your opponent of it's own accord, but as an extension of your will. Therefore, the question of whether or not to drop the weapon can not be answered in a vaccuum, it is instead your intentions which determine your actions, not the other way around.​

In the scenario you describe, your opponent has secured your weapon, and it is your belief that he has obtained control over that weapon. At that point, possession of the weapon is no longer yours, as he now decides where, and to what effect that tool will be utilized. While it may still be in your hand, you are no longer controlling the weapon, your opponent is. You may be able to limit, to some degree, his options in how that tool is implemented, but he is the initiating actor.​

So you must pro-actively define your intentions. Is it your intention to keep, or, having failed that, recapture, possession of a tool regardless of its usefullness? Or is it your intention to do whatever is neccessary in order to survive a lethal encounter with an aggressing agent? If it is the first, then by all means, struggle for the weapon with no regard to any other rapidly developing aspects of the dynamic encounter. If it is the second, then the weapon is merely a means to an end, and, having lost its usefullness towards that end, should be immediately discarded in favor of a more efficable solution.​

I always teach students that possession of the situation, and all its aspects, is their responsibility. Any weapon which is not their's must be eliminated as a threat immediately. However, understanding that weapons are merely extensions of will, sometimes disarming the opponent is not the quickest way to accomplish this. Dislocating an opponents shoulder will seriously affect his ability to swing a club with that arm. Similarly, striking an opponent unconcious will eliminate his ability to choke me. Remember, there is no inherent difference in a club or a choke so far as their definition as extensions of my opponents will are concerned.​

Understanding this, I then instruct them that the moment their opponent controls the weapon is the moment to abandon it. Fighting a losing battle will give your opponent more time to secure his control over that weapon, and devise a strategy to implement it. Abandoning it before he realizes he owns it my buy you time to act before your opponent, and perhaps even recapture the weapon, or repurpose it to your own ends.​

The reason so many argue that you should never release a weapon is because they fear what their opponent could do with it, and understandably so, but fighting from a fearful position is a sure way to lose. Instead, one must take an affirmative stance, and, having decided in advance what his intentions are should he be faced with adversity, act decisively.​

It is my belief that, having succeeded, you could only have acted appropriately. If we are results driven, and I believe in self defense you must be, then the results determine the rightness of your actions. You won. They lost. What else matters?​



Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Aug 28, 2001
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Terre Haute, IN
I too have a big guy's/karate guy's instincts to release the stick and go with what's natural, but while there's a time and place for everything, I think it's quite rare that this is the best option. (Training with Balintawak people has made me all the mroe reluctant to relinquish my stick.) Yet, it can happen that this is the way to go!


Dec 31, 2005
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I've got the big guy's instincts too, but I think it leads me the opposite direction. I'm concerned that if an opponent managed to seize my stick I would try a little to long attempting to out-muscle and wrest to regain control of the weapon rather than let it loose and free my arm for a counter or defense.

So yes, I think there could be situations where a person should let go of the stick and hopefully it is done in the most expeditious manner when it is required.