Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Learning the Cane

One of my favorite Bloggers, Jennifer St. Clair, asked an interesting question in the comments section of my article on the Fimbo.

She said:

"So if I wanted to learn how to use a cane as a weapon, how would I go about doing that?

I am a collector of canes/walking sticks. If I go on a walk, I have one with me, but I don't really know how to use them as a self-defense device."
I wanted to comment on this question in a main article because it allows me to address a few different issues that I feel are important, so I hope Ms St. Clair will indulge me in making her question a bit more public. So here is the answer (or at least an answer)

Jennifer,

Thanks for a really good question, and there are several options available to you, I hope that you will not mind me exploring each one in some detail.

The best way to learn is to find someone in your area who can give you hands on instruction. Of course this is not always possible, but you may be able to find someone in your area who can give you direct instruction.

The first thing I would look for is a Filipino martial arts school. These would have words like Eskrima, Arnis and Kali in the name. Filipino arts are stick and blade oriented so you get to learn what you want from the beginning. Other martial arts may sometimes teach cane length stick work as part of their curriculum, but often not until late in the training and sometimes the skills are not so practical.

Of course there are other benefits to studying a martial art, which may be useful to you.

If you find someone in your area, give them a call and ask to observe a class. If they are hesitant to let you watch a class the find someone else. The whole "secret" martial art that you have to sign up for without a proper investigation are of dubious value. The person teaching may have good skills, but the emotional baggage that comes with a school like that is not worth it in my opinion.

When you get to the school, look at the ratio of women to men in the class. If there are no women at all this could indicate a couple of different problems and you should be very careful about joining such a school.

Pay attention to how the teacher and students interact. There should be a sense of mutual respect between them. If the respect is all one way (student to teacher) this is also an indicator of problems. Be cautious of someone who insists on titles, someone who introduces himself as "Guru-Goro-sifu-sensei-shehan-soke MASTER Smith" should be viewed with a skeptical eye.

Pay attention to the number of women in the class. It will almost always be less than the number of men, but if there are no women you might want to look elsewhere. Some martial arts teachers have trouble with women being in their class, and you don't want to be in one of those.

Make a chance if you can to speak with any of the women students and get their take on the school.

Above all else though use your feelings and intuition, if the place does not feel right to you listen to to yourself. On the other hand you may feel very comfortable and that is a good thing.

If there is no one to study with directly in your area then another alternative is to take a seminar being given somewhere not too far away from you. While this is not as good as ongoing instruction, you can still learn some interesting and useful things.

If that is a direction you would like to check out drop me an email and I will see who I can recommend to you.

Your next option is video instruction. There are some good tapes and DVD's out there that can help you to pick up the basics.

The very best one will not be available for about two months (made by myself and my students) :-) It will be an Indonesian/African approach to the use of the cane length stick with self defense in mind. There are other good video instruction as well, again drop me an email and I will recommend some to you.

Those are your basic choices in a nut shell.

Now I am going to exercise one of the few perks that being an old (if still charming and debonair) guy, I am going to presume to give you a bit of advice.

Before you pursue any other martial training, find and take a good women's self defense course.

I have read through the archives of your blog, and so I have seen the entries about the abusive relationship you suffered with your ex.

The thing is, that sort of abuse leaves scars that can't bee seen from the outside, wounds of the heart and spirit. These sort of wounds will get in the way of being to defend yourself from attack sometimes (often really).

A good woman's self defense course is one of the very best ways I know of to regain the "fighting spirit" that is so essential for being able to effectively defend yourself.

A person is only as free as they are able to keep from being physically intimidated, it is a weird primate holdover, but it is something that women have had to deal with for much too long. Knowing that you are able to stop someone from physically dominating you is very freeing. A good women's defense course will give you that. The physical skills to defend yourself are one part, the will to do so is two parts.

You can get a some information on the subject from this Women's Self Defense Site run by two friends of mine who are very good at this sort of thing. You can also contact The American Women's Self Defense Association Which is a first rate group.

If I have overstepped I trust that you will not hold it against me.

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