Impact Weapons, Hardness, and other considerations

Argus

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Hey guys.

So, I had a revelation when I was out camping / bushcrafting, and was making breakfast.

You know how, when you crack an egg on a countertop, it's sort of hard to get the right amount of force, and you sometimes have to try twice to get it to crack like you want?

Well, I went to crack an egg. But not having a countertop, I cracked one on a large stone. And, then, I smiled.

Seriously, go do this right now, if you have a stone laying nearby, and an egg to fry. You will be utterly amazed at the ease with which it cracks. No force is required. It's not just a little easier -- it's like night and day. And it feels so good. Really, it's something you have to experience. I showed this to my wife, and she was also amazed, and now we joke about how we should collect large stones and sell them as kitchen appliances.

Well, this lead me to thinking about impact weapons. Rattan sticks hurt, as I think we all know. But then I tried tapping my forearm, first with a rattan stick, and then a (lighter! but stiffer) hardwood stick. The hardwood stick hurts noticeably more, and I have no doubt could break bones much more easily. Of course, it will also break easier, as is generally the case the harder an object that you use. Basically, yeah: it breaks things easier, but it breaks easier. So there's a trade-off between durability and hardness. This might also be an important consideration when comparing, say, an asp baton versus a hardwood club: the hardwood club will likely deliver more force than an asp baton of the same weight, simply because it is more solid and less flexible than hollow metal pipes.

This is of course, something we all know. We all know that we train with rattan because it's durable, flexible, and lightweight, making it safer. But it's one thing to know something in theory, and another thing entirely to know it in practice, experience, and application.

I'm curious if anyone regularly trains with, say, a kamagong or other hardwood stick, and what, if any, modifications do you make to your practice? I would imagine that you might want to be much more reserved about crashing squarely into an opposing stick, force on force, and that you can't be nearly as quick in maneuvering the weapon. But, you can likely be effective, at least in theory, on targets that you wouldn't normally expect to be disabling hits if it were merely a rattan stick. What materials have you explored, and how do they change what you do when it comes to impact weapons?

Of course, this is not even to mention how things change when you pick up a blade as opposed to a stick, but then we're not even comparing apples to apples, really.

There's a good argument, I think, for not being "too specialized." I notice that when I pick up a new weapon for the first time, it often feels awkward, clumsy, and difficult to use -- especially if I've only been training with a certain length and weight stick, or something. It throws off your brain / body's ability to calculate distance, and your habits with regard to power generation, etc. But the more I change it up on a regular basis, the less pronounced this becomes.

I find that I learn a lot simply by picking up weapons of different lengths, weights, materials, etc. -- things change a lot more than one might realize, and this, I feel, is extremely important if you want to train with the stick as a proxy for any kind of improvised weapon. How would you effectively use an umbrella? A rattan cane? A hardwood walking stick? A club? An ASP Baton? The concepts are the same, but what you can and can't do with them is very, very different, and they feel totally different in the hand.
 

geezer

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There's a good argument, I think, for not being "too specialized."

I find that I learn a lot simply by picking up weapons of different lengths, weights, materials, etc. -- things change a lot more than one might realize, and this, I feel, is extremely important if you want to train with the stick as a proxy for any kind of improvised weapon. How would you effectively use an umbrella? A rattan cane? A hardwood walking stick? A club? An ASP Baton? The concepts are the same, but what you can and can't do with them is very, very different, and they feel totally different in the hand.

I totally agree with what you say in the quote above. I remember being at a Wing Chun seminar in another state having a conversation with another WC instructor who, like me, also taught FMA ...but in another, much more regimented FMA system. He teased that I was using some very short (24 inch) and heavy rattan sticks which I had brought along on the trip since they fit easily into my check-on bag.

He scowled a bit and pronounced, "Those sticks are too short. The proper stick size for you would be 28 inches."

My response was that while I totally respected his training, in the system I train, we focus on concepts ...and a key concept is transition. You've got to be able to transition from one range, weapon, or situation to another seamlessly ...so we don't train with any particular length or weight stick. We train the same kind of movement, power generation, focus and attitude with everything and anything we can get our hands on.

I'm not sure if I got through. He's a great athlete and martial artist, but very devoted to his system. I'm more of a ..."questioner". My old FMA teacher always encouraged that. ;)
 

Flying Crane

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I totally agree with what you say in the quote above. I remember being at a Wing Chun seminar in another state having a conversation with another WC instructor who, like me, also taught FMA ...but in another, much more regimented FMA system. He teased that I was using some very short (24 inch) and heavy rattan sticks which I had brought along on the trip since they fit easily into my check-on bag.

He scowled a bit and pronounced, "Those sticks are too short. The proper stick size for you would be 28 inches."

My response was that while I totally respected his training, in the system I train, we focus on concepts ...and a key concept is transition. You've got to be able to transition from one range, weapon, or situation to another seamlessly ...so we don't train with any particular length or weight stick. We train the same kind of movement, power generation, focus and attitude with everything and anything we can get our hands on.

I'm not sure if I got through. He's a great athlete and martial artist, but very devoted to his system. I'm more of a ..."questioner". My old FMA teacher always encouraged that. ;)
Chinese martial arts tend to have a lot of proper sizes for various weapons as well, often based on your physical measurements but sometimes simply a fixed size. I feel that a weapon is a personal thing and there is a lot of room to decide for yourself what the proper size for a weapon should be. A beginner needs guidance and probably should stick with a standard size for a while. But eventually that person has the experience to decide for himself what the weapon dimensions should be.

I suspect this was understood a long time ago, when use of these weapons was more common. Need a new staff? Go cut a sapling of an appropriate wood. How long, how heavy, how thick, taper or not? Up to you. What feels right to you.

Need a new sword? Talk to the smith. Discuss length of blade, length of grip, weight of pommel, size and shape of guard, balance point, beefiness and distal taper of the blade. These things all affect how the sword handles. What feels right for one person might be unusable for another.
 
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Generally speaking, Rattan is used because, its cheaper, and the softwood and the chracteristics of it make it safer to train with. It wont go splintering off into shards when it breaks, but rather "tear", that also means you can just tape up the "tears".(to some extent)

Although, i think people have forgotten, you would use a hard wood if you want to hurt someone, rattan would be used if its on hand, if you could pick a wood, you should go with some hard wood, like ash or oak. (or regional equals)

I wouldnt really call rattan that durable either, its properties allow it to be used for martial arts training as opposed to something like Balsa, but a ash pole would last just as long (if not longer) than it. Once its comprised its comprimised, its just when comprised its safer and you can ignore it, or do some minor repair unlike with a hard wood and its splintering. (plus the forces exchanged between two ash poles as opposed to two rattan ones is diffrent)

In other words Rattans diffrent, not really more durable than the hard woods.


Also, id think youd find things made to (optimally) emulate other objects try to replicate their shape, weight and balance more . You should also always take something out you plan on using as a weapon and practise with it a little, even if its just swing it about a bit, just to get the weight and feel for it. I have opened my swiss army knife and done some in air stabbing and cutting with it for example. (and yes that was keeping in mind of it being able to fold back on my fingers)

And now i jsut remmebered that video of somone breaking a rattan or other weak staff, and acting like thats a viable self defence move when if you had the choice, should go with a hard wood thats pretty hard to break.
 

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Rich Parsons

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...

He scowled a bit and pronounced, "Those sticks are too short. The proper stick size for you would be 28 inches."

...

The next time, someone says proper size explain to them it could be up to the length of their arm or shorter.
Why?
So you could carry it in a long sleeve shirt or jacket.

Diameter
Also depends upon hand size and grips strength and ...

Well you get the point. :D:cool:
 
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Argus

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I totally agree with what you say in the quote above. I remember being at a Wing Chun seminar in another state having a conversation with another WC instructor who, like me, also taught FMA ...but in another, much more regimented FMA system. He teased that I was using some very short (24 inch) and heavy rattan sticks which I had brought along on the trip since they fit easily into my check-on bag.

He scowled a bit and pronounced, "Those sticks are too short. The proper stick size for you would be 28 inches."

My response was that while I totally respected his training, in the system I train, we focus on concepts ...and a key concept is transition. You've got to be able to transition from one range, weapon, or situation to another seamlessly ...so we don't train with any particular length or weight stick. We train the same kind of movement, power generation, focus and attitude with everything and anything we can get our hands on.

I'm not sure if I got through. He's a great athlete and martial artist, but very devoted to his system. I'm more of a ..."questioner". My old FMA teacher always encouraged that. ;)

Curious, where did you get those fat 24 inch sticks from? I've been looking for some sticks exactly like that.
Not sure where the best place to source rattan is in Japan. Maybe I should just figure that out and make my own sticks.
It's always so much harder to find raw materials than finished products...
 

Flying Crane

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Curious, where did you get those fat 24 inch sticks from? I've been looking for some sticks exactly like that.
Not sure where the best place to source rattan is in Japan. Maybe I should just figure that out and make my own sticks.
It's always so much harder to find raw materials than finished products...
Buy a plank of whatever kind of wood you want. Cut it on a table saw into square dowels. Shape it down on a belt grinder until it is round and the thickness you want (original plank needs to be at least a little thicker than the final diameter desired). Sand until smooth, to 600 grit or so. Finish with linseed oil. Excellent results. Not terribly difficult.

I could make you a pair out of hickory.
 
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Argus

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Buy a plank of whatever kind of wood you want. Cut it on a table saw into square dowels. Shape it down on a belt grinder until it is round and the thickness you want (original plank needs to be at least a little thicker than the final diameter desired). Sand until smooth, to 600 grit or so. Finish with linseed oil. Excellent results. Not terribly difficult.

I could make you a pair out of hickory.

Ah, I can find or make hardwood sticks. I was just looking for Rattan for partner practice and use in class, etc.
Thanks for the offer though!
 

Flying Crane

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You also do woodworking, I take it?

I do as well. All hand tools because I've been living in apartments all these years. I enjoy making my own practice swords / knives / etc though.
My woodworking is limited to making staffs and spear shafts and hiking staffs and sword hilts (wood for the grips) and scabbards. Ive never made a chair or cabinet or bookshelf or something like that.

I used to do it in an apartment that was an open live/work space, but since we were able to buy a house I have a lot more freedom with the garage and open spaces when it comes to making a mess. I used to carve out grips and scabbards with a hand planer and chisels but a belt grinder and a router gets it done a whole lot faster and with better accuracy. Glad I had the experience of the hand tools, but also glad to have the power tools.
 

geezer

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Curious, where did you get those fat 24 inch sticks from? I've been looking for some sticks exactly like that.
Not sure where the best place to source rattan is in Japan. Maybe I should just figure that out and make my own sticks.
It's always so much harder to find raw materials than finished products...
About 10 years ago, I got a batch of thick rattan sticks from Frank's Cane and Rush that were very thick ...like 1 3/8 or 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Most were pithy and light but a couple were reasonably dense and heavy, ....in fact a little heavy to use at 28 inches, so I cut them down shorter ....a couple of pairs at 24 in long and one especially heavy piece at about 21 in long. I really liked that one, but lost it somewhere, ages ago. Probably left it at a park after practice or something. :confused:

Franks Cane, "Cut Rattan Poles with skin on": Bamboo and Rattan Poles
 

Alan0354

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I find it very hard to choose a cane(stick). Look at the collection I have so far.
Cane collection.jpg


I started out with very light rattan as on the far right. It's only 6oz. As I get stronger, I got the thick heavy rattan canes I could find, they are about 11oz cut to 30". That gets too light, I turned to Cold Steel City Stick(expensive!!). I changed the fancy silver knob to a cheap rubber handle to make it look cheap and ordinary. They are like 13oz. It was good for a while.

Then I switch to two hands, I need a heavier stick. I went to United Cutlery Night Watchman cane. I first had to not only cut to 29", even drilled 3/8" hole 7" deep into the front of the cane to reduce weight to 17oz. Then I got stronger, I got new ones and made it to 30", but still drill hole to reduce weight. The latest is 30", no hole and put the rubber foot( hard rubber) on. It's 20oz. as shown on the left of the picture.

After I keep switching and swinging between different sticks, I find 20oz is too heavy, it's works, but the recovery time is a little longer. Now I am taking off the rubber foot, it helps. Right now, down to 18oz. Still slightly slower than using the 11oz rattan.

I am still experimenting. This is a long journey. I really do NOT want to get wood stick, I bought one from Amazon, I hit the heavy bag, it lasted a whopping 2 minutes before it cracked into two!!!

I am pretty sure it's hard for you to name a stick on the market that I have not researched already. But if by chance you know of any in between 18oz and 13oz stick that can take a beating on the heavy bag, please let me know.

I don't think rattan by default doesn't hit as hard. It all depends on the thickness. The rattan canes I have that is over 1" diameter WITH skin is no joke. Of cause you take MOST of the rattan on the market that is 7/8" skinless, that won't do a lot of damage.

As for the idea that one can swing faster with a lighter cane to make up the weight, I think it's only true to a certain point. I think at some point, your hand is the limiting factor of the speed. That is the velocity is not getting faster if you use a 6oz cane from a 10oz if it reach the limit of your hand. So for me, finding the sweet weight is the key. My guess, for me, 16oz might be the sweet weight.
 

Alan0354

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I kept reading people use rattan stick/cane for practice and sparing because it is safer, and not hit as hard. I have a question, anyone compare wood stick with rattan that is 1" or bigger in diameter, more importantly with full skin and burn hardened like the picture shown?

Cane 2 low.jpg

I don't have a hard wood cane to compare. I have a 1" popular wood stick from Home Depot, I compare by tapping on my shin, the rattan is every bit as painful. I tried to bend it, the rattan did not give. To me, it is every bit as hard.

I have been constantly looking at least all canes, I can assure you it's NOT easy to find rattan like this. I saw sticks and cane are mostly 7/8" thick, mostly no skin, mostly not burned harden. You really cannot compare wood with those rattan sticks. I personally bought a pair of 7/8" rattan sticks even with skin, I can bend it with my hands. You use those to tap on your shin, it's not painful.

If anyone have this kind of thick rattan, compare to hardwood stick and let me know. I am about to give rattan another try if I can find rattan canes that are over 1 1/8 inch thick and that are 13 to 14oz when cut to 30". Rattan is durable. You can see in my cane collection, I have one rattan that I wrap the tip for hitting heavy bags, it lasted so far. I really hit with that stick on the first set to warmup. there is no sign of softening I can feel yet.
 
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Argus

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I kept reading people use rattan stick/cane for practice and sparing because it is safer, and not hit as hard. I have a question, anyone compare wood stick with rattan that is 1" or bigger in diameter, more importantly with full skin and burn hardened like the picture shown?

View attachment 27220
I don't have a hard wood cane to compare. I have a 1" popular wood stick from Home Depot, I compare by tapping on my shin, the rattan is every bit as painful. I tried to bend it, the rattan did not give. To me, it is every bit as hard.

I have been constantly looking at least all canes, I can assure you it's NOT easy to find rattan like this. I saw sticks and cane are mostly 7/8" thick, mostly no skin, mostly not burned harden. You really cannot compare wood with those rattan sticks. I personally bought a pair of 7/8" rattan sticks even with skin, I can bend it with my hands. You use those to tap on your shin, it's not painful.

If anyone have this kind of thick rattan, compare to hardwood stick and let me know. I am about to give rattan another try if I can find rattan canes that are over 1 1/8 inch thick and that are 13 to 14oz when cut to 30". Rattan is durable. You can see in my cane collection, I have one rattan that I wrap the tip for hitting heavy bags, it lasted so far. I really hit with that stick on the first set to warmup. there is no sign of softening I can feel yet.

Well, rattan certainly does vary a lot. I have not personally tried it, but apparently Indonesian rattan is much harder and denser than Filipino rattan. I've handled a few rattan sticks from training partners that were unusually dense and stiff, and included more nodes than usual -- should have asked where they came from. My best guess now is that they may have been Indonesian rattan or something.

When I or most people do make generalized statements about rattan, we're talking about the most common sort of rattan training sticks that we have experience with. There are certainly exceptions to that rule.

As for hard wood sticks, I do want to point out something: they can be very sturdy indeed. But you are unlikely to find a mass produced hardwood stick that is sturdy. You would need to get a competent wood worker to make you one with a careful eye for materials and the way the grain runs in the wood. A straight grained young-growth hickory cane should stand up to a LOT of abuse. Japanese white oak, such as bokken and jo are made of, would be decent too, provided, again, that it is very straight grained.

Someone who makes bows or bokken might be ideal. Actually, I know someone in the USA who makes very high end training swords out of hard wood, and should be able to do a decent job.

Most mass produced sticks will have the grain running every which way, and will use sub-par materials in the first place, so it's to be expected that they break on the heavy bag.

Aside from the materials, you should also consider power generation, distance, timing, and target selection. There are many targets that you can still be extremely effective on with a lightweight rattan stick. You should know what those are. Also, practice striking with the tip (corner) of the stick, and you'll be able to do a lot more damage to certain targets -- you will ruin your heavy bag this way, though. Definitely make sure it's protected with a thick piece of leather or something.

And don't just limit yourself to strikes. A two handed thrust is also capable of generating an incredible amount of power, and you don't need a heavy stick for that at all -- even a light weight umbrella will do. You may need to learn a little more about grappling and weapon retention in case your stick or hand is grabbed, though.

All in all, that's an incredible amount of research that you've done on commonly available canes, though. You should be the residential expert on this topic soon enough, I think!
 
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Alan0354

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For people that want single hand cane, the Cold Steel City Stick or this is the hardest I have:

Cold Steel Black Pistol Grip City Stick Polished Finish 6160 Aluminum Head 91STA 705442013532 | eBay

You can see it's a lot nicer looking than the two in the picture of my collection. I change the handle to make it cheap and ordinary looking so it doesn't attract attention. At 30", my cane is 13oz. It is perfect for single hand.

One thing is the stick is very thin, I have to put a rubber foam tube to get a better grip as shown in my picture. If anyone interested, I can give the link of the foam tube I bought on Amazon, it fits perfect.




I wonder how much air resistance can affect the speed. When I swing this stick, it's the loudest. The big rattan cane is very quiet. I wonder whether the velocity of the cane when I swing is faster with the Cold Steel as it's smaller in diameter.

Don't discount the air resistance, it is a fact that aerodynamics is very important for cars at 60mph. Air resistance becomes a major factor in airplanes and cars. I have no idea of the velocity of the cane when swing. Someone might know the answer.


My favorite United Cutlery Night Watchman is mainly for two hands. It's heavy, definitely harder than Rattan and wood, not quite as hard as Cold Steel City Stick. But it's very hard to get it below 17oz. I cut to 29" and drilled a 3/8" size hole, 7" deep to get to 17oz. It is HARD to drill a straight hole down the cane. I ruined two to perfect the technique to drill a straight deep hole. It is NOT a candidate for single hand cane.
 
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CB Jones

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We like the purple heart wood for bos.

Probably going to buy one pretty soon if we can find a good company that sells them. If anyone knows of a company that sells them.
 

dvcochran

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We like the purple heart wood for bos.

Probably going to buy one pretty soon if we can find a good company that sells them. If anyone knows of a company that sells them.
I had to look up Purple Heart wood. It is in the Aramanth genus. Spiny Aramanth is some of the foulest weeds that grow in pastures and feed lots. A perennial nuisance.
I did not realize it could grow large enough and hard enough to make a bo staff out of.
Here is a link you may be interested in.
Martial_arts.html
 

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