Why we use a Stick

One of the things I love about Balintawak is that the body mechanics work regardless of the tool: empty hands, blade, stick... kitchen spoon, ball point pen, umbrella, rolled up news paper... you get the point. That's because the power doesn't come from the tool, it comes from you. Of the three primary weapons we use, empty hands, blade, and stick, only one won't lie to you and that's why it's our primary training tool.

Empty hands

We've all seen those heavy weights who just slug, it's a war of attrition not skill. They aren't particularly technical and frankly they don't need to be. Physics is physics. However, pushing isn't torque and they aren't being very efficient which might explain why so much of the action happens in the first round or two of heavyweight fights. Lighter weights on the other hand have to be technical to generate the force required to put their opponent down. An example of how the stick can draw attention to improper body mechanics is the issue of elbow flare. Many people learning to punch will flare their elbows out as they throw a jab or a cross, removing the structure and therefore the power of the strike. It has the additional detriment of both telegraphing your intent and lengthening the time it takes for your punch to go out and come back. You can't flare your elbows with a stick, it angles the stick in the wrong direction. Well you can, but you're going to hit yourself in the head.  


A blade is a forgiving weapon for the person wielding it, you don't really need any mechanics to do damage. You can drop the right end of a knife on a guy and do damage. It can make up for your lack of technique and allow you to feel like you are doing more than you are. It's not that you can't learn mechanics this way, there are plenty of fantastic arts that successfully teach them. However, if you are looking to generate maximum power in minimum time you need to pick up a stick. Not only will a stick not lie to you, it will go out of it's way to tell you what you are doing wrong. If you have no control it wobbles, if you have no power it bounces. It amplifies everything you do because it is an extension of your movement, making it easier to see and easier to correct. Iron sharpens iron, but rattan sharpens us. In Balintawak we use the stick, but we are the weapon.

GM Taboada illustrating a concept with the help of Nebrido Nocon at a seminar in Richmond VA (5.14.2016)

GM Taboada illustrating a concept with the help of Nebrido Nocon at a seminar in Richmond VA (5.14.2016)