Saturday, February 1, 2014

Two Handed weapons training - why bother?

You might know that I've added on studying the Jo in my training.  If you've never studied it, the Jo is a two-handed short staff that legend has it designed specifically to fight against a two-handed Japanese sword.  The techniques you are taught greatly mimic that sword in many ways.

I mainly study Modern Arnis, where the weapons work is generally with one-handed weapons (stick, knife, short sword or machete).  The idea is that the empty hand is available to grab and punch in concert with the weapon.  I find one-handed weapons to be very practical, especially in modern times.  There are numerous environmental tools that can be adapted to what I've learned (everything from a pen or pencil, to a racquetball or tennis racket, to an umbrella or cane, or even a laptop or a backpack or lunch tray).

From top to bottom: (A) Bo (B) Jo (C) Bahi-Bahi Arnis stick
(D) Everyday rattan Arnis stick (E) Short club from
a sawed-off pool cue I keep in my house for defense
I have had (brief) training in the Bo, but to be honest, it's not my favorite weapon, as I find it huge, heavy and impractical for my personal strategy of self defense. I do not - and will not - use a small "toothpick" type Bo, which is about the size of a Jo anyway.  I never walk around with anything as big as a Bo, nor is one generally available in my environment (unless you count a floor lamp, I suppose).

I took up the Jo because I think the shorter staff has practicality in modern times. The Jo is about as long as a walking stick I use to hike with, or a broom handle, or even an (unbroken) pool cue.

Also, as someone interested in weapons in general, I wanted to learn two-handed techniques in case the need ever arose and such a tool was available.  Remember, a part of my personal self defense strategy is, whenever practical, to use my environment to arm myself versus an attacker. So, it's unwise to not have experience in longer weapons.

So, while my key strategy is based on a shorter stick (or equivalent) where I can use one-handed techniques, I'm studying Jo to add skill with longer weapons to my arsenal.

I'll study a bunch of other weapons in the due course of time (including the Bo), because it generally interests me, but in my opinion, what I'm learning in Arnis, plus the Jo, adds up to a pretty good weapons-based self defense strategy that does not include firearms.

What I have learned thus far?
  • The Jo has a lot of techniques where you switch grips.  That's not an easy thing to do, especially in the middle of delivering a strike.  This shows the flexibility of the short staff, as you can actually do these changes in grip relatively easily, since the Jo is not very heavy.
  • I have to remember, when thrusting with the Jo, to twist my hands so that they are both positioned on top of the Jo (palm down).  In Arnis, we often twist the opposite direction (you end up palm up).
Do you practice the Jo? Have you adjusted from single handed weapons to two-handed weapons (or vice-versa)?  What difficulties did you encounter?  I'd love to know!