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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

Making It Up

In our classes we have introduced the staff - we are using 5 ft rattan staves (bankaw, sibat, or bo for you Japanese types) - to our curriculum.

The template I'm using to start with is the 12 Angles of Attack drill from Modern Arnis, modified to fit the longer, two-handed weapon. We are doing a drill of attack and defense for each angle in a two-man drill.

We've done a little... innovation... with our interpretation of the weapon into the 12 Angles template, especially on the defense side (where with a shorter weapon we'd be doing block-check-counter).

Or in other words, I've made it up.

Now, it's not like I just made it up having never studied the long weapon under competent teachers.

On the contrary, I studied bo pretty intensely in my kobudo program as well as some with a different teacher, I've studied two different jo systems a bit, and I have some exposure to FMA-derived staff from a variety of sources, including some that's found in Kombatan.

Not enough to call myself some sort of staff expert, mind you, but good enough for our purposes.

Our purpose is not to be a bad-ass fighter with a staff or to produce staff experts of any kind (I'm not one, so how can I teach anyone else to be one?)

Our purpose is to train people who are comfortable using weapons of any length (or empty hand for that matter) in their self defense, and are comfortable fighting against weapons of any length should the occasion arise.

Thus, after we use these drills to get very comfortable in manipulating the weapon, we'll then explore, say, empty hand vs. staff from both sides of the equation (empty hand *and* staff). Knife vs. staff. Stick vs. staff. Improvised self defense tools like backpacks against the staff.

Why do I bother with this?

Well, I've been thinking about it ever since I saw this:

The video without the lens of local action news can be seen here on Facebook: Homeless Man on Rampage in Downtown Denver

This incident haunts me.

This is the incident that convinced me that studying long weapons (both with and against them) myself was a good idea. Now that I'm co-leading a program with students here in Kansas City, I think it's a good idea for my students, too.

I want our program producing students who will not stand there and just get hit by people with a long weapon, because they don't know what to do.

Of course, the first thing to do - the smartest thing to do - would be to leave the area.

But if they can't, or they realize what's happening too late (because they're humans who can't be vigilant 24-7), they need to know what to do, and not freeze.

I don't want them to be afraid of this kind of weapon coming at them. I want them to have a plan. Ditto if there's a long tool like this in their weapon they can use to help them survive a bad situation.

They don't need to fight like an expert staff fighter, they need to survive and get out as fast as they can.

Therefore, we must include some study of the long stick in our program.

We're not making it a BIG part of the curriculum. After we get to a certain point in development - and that's what we're doing, basically, developing this with our students as we go - it will be intermittently studied here and there.

Because our time isn't very long (our guys get one class a week as it is right now), I wanted to create material for this weapon that fits very neatly into whatever else we do, so they don't have to learn any radically different concepts outside of the specialities of what long weapons are good at and what they aren't.

So I made up this drill, and a couple of others we'll be doing, using our most common template, inspired by what I've learned from others.

Nice thing about a rattan staff, by the way, is that it's useful for other drills, too. Just saying.

And honestly, it's fun and and a nice change of pace in class.

Even if I did make it up.

Do you... improvise... drills to address a specific need for your students? Or did you modify something you already know to a new tool or situation? Let us know in the comments!

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