How to Use a Stick in the Martial Arts
If you are learning realistic self-defense, you will need to learn how to use a stick. In almost any environment, you can find something to resemble a martial arts stick (or escrima / kali stick) to use as an improvised weapon or what we call an “Environmental Weapon.”
Roof and Wing Blocks with a Stick or Club
In this video, Sensei Rick Tew demonstrates the basic roof and wing block with a couple of sticks that were picked up from the ground in Lumpini Park, Bangkok. These sticks or natural clubs were already here and we simply added them to our morning training exercise to drill and practice the strategies of stick fighting in a more street combat or realistic environment.
The roof block is simply the idea that you are creating an angle with the stick, similar to what you might see on a typical A frame style roof of a house. The idea being that it can still protect what is underneath while providing a shield but also ensure that whatever lands on the roof also has the ability to roll or fall off of it. For a house that would be rain or snow, but with stick fighting it would be another stick, club, staff or other weapon like a pipe or crowbar. This is more of an offensive strategy. The pro is that you have more space to move, react and you can see more of your opponent and do not obstruct your vision on the side that you block as much as you would with a wing block.
The wing block is applying the concepts of the roof block, only you are resting your weapon onto the arm / shoulder that it is closest to. This is more of a defensive strategy. The pro is that you can rest your weapon onto the arm to provide a more solid base (great against multiple attacks) or to simulate a shield. The con is that you will partially obstruct your view on the side you are blocking on. This tactic is similar to a turtle pulling in its head. The shell offers a protective barrier but it is at the cost of some visual benefits.
In the Martial Science the idea is not to have one tactic or another, but instead, to learn both so you have a good balance and you can adjust or react accordingly. If you are trained in only one strategy, you will be limited and also robotic in your movements.
When practicing any of these types of drills – especially with environmental weapons like the stick – be sure to pay special attention to your EYES. It is suggested to wear eye protection if you are not used to this type of training. New students will discover that unlike a stick used in the DOJO environment that a weapon from the wild is unpredictable. It can break or dirt and debris can easily fall from it and into the eyes. One strategy we use in Modern Ninjitsu is to pull the loose part of bark and dirt from a stick with a single swipe and use it as a distraction or a way to temporarily blind our opponent.