When I was boy, my father taught me how to fence. I never thought of it as a defensive method, however as I look back on those years I can definitely recognise its basic function as both defensive and offensive. Walking around with a sword in society today would by its sheer cumbersomeness would cause strange looks from everyone including the police. The tactical baton is a more conventional extension of the sword of years gone by. The baton does require skill to use effectively. The purpose of this article is to show you some of the skills I developed over the years and how they will make your use of the baton more effective. Of course you realise that any defensive weapon that provides distance between you and an attacker is the best. A rocket between you and them is great, then maybe a gun. Failing to have none of these, Tasers and then pepper spray will allow distance. The sword or baton requires reaction time and distance. They are impact weapons that require time to gain momentum in order to do damage. Time is defined as the distance between you and your attacker. This distance allows you to strike foward with power but allows you reaction time to slip back defend yourself when your attacker strikes.
As you might imagine, this distance requirement is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage, which really comes from the length of the baton, is that you may very well be able to stay outside the effective striking range of your attacker and yet still be able to strike back at him. This is especially true if you target the weapon, hands, arms, etc. of your attacker, and he is trying to strike at your body. In fencing there are rules as in any sport today. In the days that swords where used to defend or agress, there where no rules of engagement. You killed or where killed.
A big advantage impact weapons have over other types of close combat weapons is that you can effectively strike at the attacker’s weapon. This allows you to stop the weapon of an opponent, something most other close combat weapons can’t do. It is quite possible to disarm an attacker with a good strike around his grip . Besides the attacker’s weapon, you typically want to target bony areas when striking with an impact weapon. These include the wrist, elbow, knee, ribs, collarbone and head. muscle hits with a baton will cause pain and possibly some muscle cramping, but it won’t be nearly as enervating as a strike to bone. One solid strike to an attacker’s knee will probably end the encounter right there. That is another advantage of the baton – it has the ability to disable an attacker without having to kill him to do it. With a baton, anywhere you strike will do damage. BEWARE: Legally, any strike to the head, neck or spine is considered probable lethal force.
I’ve talked about where to hit, now let’s talk about how to hit. Your grip should be secure but not tight I was told over and over again that one should grip a sword as if it was a live bird, firmly enough so as to not allow its flight, but gently as to not injure it. The same holds true with the baton.
There are four basic types of strike available to you with an impact weapon.
- A slashing blow is one that intersects and then moves across the target to the other side. These are most often horizontal or downward angled strikes that, for instance, start on your left side and end on your right side. Swinging a baseball bat would be an example of a slashing strike. These strikes tend to be the most powerful type of strike. They also have the best flow of any strike; in other words it is easier to flow from one strike to the next with these strikes because you are moving with the momentum of the weapon, keeping the weapon in motion, keeping its energy and power, and simply steering it where you want it to go next rather than stopping it and starting it again. A horizontal slash (with the tip of your baton angled up somewhat) is very effective at striking and deflecting downward attacks.
- The second type of strike is the jab. This strike whips forward, impacts the target and then retracts back to its original position again. Although not as powerful as a slashing strike, the jab does have a couple of advantages: it is very accurate and can effectively strike small target areas, it can be used effectively in confined spaces. It is most used in sword play.
- The downward circular strike is really just a particular kind of slashing strike. It describes a vertical circle between you and the target that returns to its original position upon completion. This strike is very quick and powerful because it has the assistance of gravity and because in the typical ready stance, with your baton held vertically in front of you, you are already to execute the strike. Although it moves downward, also moves outward as it describes a circle, especially if you chamber the baton by angling the tip backward over your shoulder prior to your strike. Thus, you can use it to strike down onto the frontal face of an attacker (or weapon) at about a 45-degree angle of impact. The downward circular strike can be done to any degree within a 180-degree plane in front of you. It is quite effective at stop-hitting incoming horizontal attacks as long as you target the face of the incoming weapon and strike it away from you rather than trying to strike it downward.
- The last type of strike is the thrust. To be effective with a baton, the thrust must follow a similar line as the uppercut punch or hook punch (from the side). A thrust straight forward just doesn’t have any real power. The thrust is one technique that can be used at relatively close range if necessary. If done to the solar plexus of an attacker, it can be a very potent strike. One thing to be aware of with a tactical baton such as the ASP, your weapon is collapsible and a powerful thrusting strike may collapse it. Even if your weapon does collapse, there is a good chance your strike will stop the attacker at least long enough for you to reopen the baton.
a baton can also block or parry. To block with a baton, you essentially move it between you and the incoming attack, shielding yourself. A block can be quick – it requires very little motion to pivot your baton into position – it can be done inside the effective range of your strikes and it will stop an incoming blow. Somtimes however, there are times when a block is the only thing that will work.
Upon impact both of your feet should be firmly on the ground (although you can step into a strike) because your legs on the ground provide the foundation of your power. Again, it is somewhat similar to swinging a baseball bat.
Footwork and positioning is probably the second most important factor when using a baton in combat. It is rare that you want to move straight forward or backward. Ideally, when you step forward you want to angle to the outside of your attacker as if you were stepping along the lines of the letter “V” (starting at the bottom where the two lines meet and moving out towards the top of the “V” as you step). If your opponent attacks with a horizontal slash to your left side and you step forward angling to the right you have done several things: 1) you have not significantly changed the distance between you and your attacker even though you stepped forward, 2) you have given yourself a little more reaction time and a great angle of attack on the hand holding incoming weapon and 3) you have moved inside of the opponents ideal striking range and power, but have kept him at your ideal striking range. Likewise, when you strike at your attacker, whenever possible move and strike to the outside of his weapon hand as this will make it more difficult for him to strike back at you in return and make it easier for you to defend against his return strikes. When you move backward, you should angle back and out, along the lines of an upside down “V” as well. If an opponent is rushing this allows you to slip to the side, block his strike if necessary, and then be in a position to hit him as he goes by.
In every state, it is illegal to carry such a weapon concealed without a permit. In some states, it is illegal to carry one at all (even in states such as Texas that allow you to carry concealed firearms – but for some reason do not allow you to carry impact weapons, concealed or otherwise). In quite a few states a baton is legal to carry, as long as it is not concealed. So check with your local regulations, and the laws of any state where you will be traveling.
Regardless of what weapon you choose to carry, whether it is pepper spray or a gun or anything in between, remember that it is only a tool and the best advantage you will ever have comes not from your weapon, but from your brain and your attitude – those are the things that will determine how useful your weapon can be. And finally – plan, prepare, practice! Check out this video: http://youtu.be/OVYWMESM0-A