The stick is probably the simplest and oldest weapon on our planet, alongside the stone. It is very natural to grab a piece of wood and use it for fighting. Of course, not all types of wood are equally suited for this purpose. The fighter has to find wood which does not break easily and is hard enough to cause damage. The weapon’s length determines the method of use and the way to use it with greatest effect.
This is the point where a piece of wood begins to become a weapon and where the human being begins to become a warrior: when he visualizes the fight, and thinks about which moves could work and which are not practical, and starts to practice. A stick is not just a stick, but something with which the warrior develops a close relationship. The stick he chooses as a weapon has been carefully selected for weight, balance, grip, length, etc. as a result of the warrior’s experience and research.
This process has occurred everywhere on earth where trees grow, but with some differences: woods were different because of the climate, the chosen length of the stick (or pole) was different because of the wood and the habits of the people, and thus the art became different because of these various circumstances.
To see and research all this in depth, as a cultural subject, requires more than just a willingness to hit each other with a wooden stick. And as you begin to see the beauty of the geometry of the art, the economy of movement, and the history behind this form of combat you will see the value of devoting sufficient time to research it further.
So I like to use the term ’stick fencing’ instead of ’stick fighting’. The word ’fighting’ conjures images and feelings such as: wild, chaotic, rush, brutal, instinctive. In contrast, ’fencing’ means something that is elegant, logical, calm, controlled and beautifully drawn. Both words can be true when describing stick combat, but for the direction of the practice beseem the word ’fencing’.
Of course it is not possible to study every kind of Stick fencing. Our starting point is the kind of Stick fencing which finds its roots on the Philippine Islands, and is called Kali (among other names). So we use sticks made from rattan, 55-60 cm in length. It is possible to use two sticks at the same time, or one stick keeping the other hand free (or grab another weapon with the free hand, like a knife.) *
We develop our skills with this tool, so from one perspective we try to see all the opportunities the stick gives us. On the otherhand we try to find the most effective methods and tactics for each particular fighting situation, and not get lost trying to learn thousands of techniques.
To maintain creativity and also effectiveness, we are researching other kinds of stick fighting arts as well.
* See the articles about the different kind of sticks and stick fighting cultures look at the Blog.