What use is stick practice in FMA?
When giving a seminar or teaching FMA to someone new, I am always asked this question. Why do we practice sticks? We don’t carry them around with us in the street and they are just sticks after all. These are really valid points/questions and observations.
It is very normal for people to make quick judgements on things that are not fully evident solely based on the knowledge they have and not the knowledge they need.
Regularly people have said to me FMA is not effective and it’s better to do MMA or BJJ, Boxing, Street fighting or whatever. Unfortunately you can’t just cover up and do a Gracie BJJ guard or an Archie Moore boxing cross guard for those older people among us because when you are dealing with weapons, crow bars, swords, knifes, broken bottles you will be cut, stabbed or maimed. We cannot risk taking one stab or cut as it may prove fatal. In Boxing or MMA you could take a lot of blows and you still may be able to win the fight.
In FMA we learn to evade, move and to nullify the weapon or threat. For self defence you must always expect to be confronted by a knife or weapon. That way it won’t be a surprise when one is produced and your attacker won’t gain that psychological advantage as you will be expecting it.
There are many benefits we could list about using sticks (rattan) firstly using a stick represents a sword (it would be a short practice if we used a real one) meaning that we get used to training and dealing with long range weapons as we could be attacked in the street with a machete, baseball bat, club, chain or any other nasty thing you can think of. Using sticks for practice is a lot safer and you can make your mistakes without getting cut in half or fatally damaged although stick fighting can be very brutal.
Other benefits include speeded reaction times e.g. seeing attacks quicker and countering them, the stick in the hands of a semi skilled person can reputedly travel over 100 miles an hour as opposed to a kick or punch which by comparison is a lot slower.
Timing, rhythm and flow are some of the many benefits when using sticks as you learn to blend effortlessly into strikes, locks, blocks, disarms, takedowns and so much more.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that you can use the same movements from the stick to the knife and then it readily translates into empty hands with the same movements. No sticks required!
Coordination is also improved as a result of doing sticks as when you can do 20 or more different two stick drills like the Sinawali type the movements become second nature making your weaker side become natural by working both sides of your brain, improving your overall skills and well being. Also if your right hand is taken out of action in a fight you just transfer to your left as we always train both sides equally it will not make any difference as you will be just as comfortable.
So why do we do Sticks?
By GM Angelo