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When talking with others about Filipino Martial Arts, I have heard the following:

  • “It’s not like you’re going to get into a stick fight out there.”
  • “You’re not going to carry a stick out there anyway.”
  • “Why would I learn this stick stuff if I can study something real like XYZ?”

The implication behind these statements is that Filipino Martial Arts is a waste of time and is impractical in today’s world.

Why bother playing with sticks if the odds of getting into a “stick fight” is rather low? At first glance, this might be true. But those speakers do not understand the benefits to be gained from training in Filipino Martial Arts.

While you may not get into “stick fights,” you’d be surprised at how often machete, baseball bat, or sword attacks occur. Just type in those keywords on Google or YouTube, and you’ll find a good number of search results.

Let’s start with “machete attack” as the keyword on YouTube. Lots of machete attacks captured on camera. Here’s a particularly clear video of a machete attack at the New Orleans Airport several years ago:

If you are not able to view this video, click here.

How about “baseball bat” attacks? This topic yields a fair number of videos on YouTube. Here is one example:

If you are not able to view this video, click here.

What about “sword attacks”? While this does not yield as many results as “machete attacks” or “baseball attacks,” there are some videos depicting sword attacks.

If you are not able to view this video, click here.

Having lived in Oshawa, Ontario for several years, I recall several incidents involving the above weapons. Check out this article as well as this one. Also, read this account as well. 

“Okay, okay, okay. I get that someone may attack you with a machete or whatever. But how does stick training prepare you for that?”

Training with sticks or swords will teach you two things:

  1. Angles of attack; and
  2. Increase reaction speed.

Angles of attack is the first thing that students of Filipino Martial Arts will learn. Most FMA styles have 12 angles of attack.

For this post, suffice it to say that the most common angle of attack for a right-handed person is angle 1. In layman terms, this is a forehand strike. Knowing this is tremendously helpful in preparing for weapon attacks.

Secondly, training with sticks or practice swords will increase your reaction speed. The tip of a stick moves faster than a hand or foot. Regular, sustained exercise with weapons will improve your reaction speed as you progress. Recognizing the angle of attack and using proper footwork will enhance your defensive skills.

As one can see, the stick is a tool to develop your defensive capabilities. I tell my students to focus on the angle of attack rather than on the weapon. If you can recognize the angle of attack, your footwork, through proper training, will kick in and lead you to the appropriate response.

While there are no guarantees, I believe that stick training will improve your chances against a weapon attack, should it ever happen.

That, my friends, is why you train with sticks. You may not carry a stick, but the lessons gained from stick training will accompany you.

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