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Author Topic: The Jab in Real Contact Stickfighting by Guro Crafty  (Read 7291 times)
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Posts: 42473

« on: December 27, 2013, 05:58:44 PM »

“The Jab in Real Contact Stick Fighting” ©2013 DBI
By Guro Crafty

As we have had occasion to discuss many times over the years, in order to avoid “spending the night in the hospital and to leave with the IQ with which we came” we must do things in a different way from a death match.

Amongst these different ways is the use of head gear—specifically fencing masks. Previously we have discussed the issue of the weight of the masks, but all of them protect the face, albeit with the risk of some impact getting through to the face in the “first generation” masks. This is as it should be for what we do. Losing an eye, getting a nose pulverized, losing perhaps several teeth in an instant, and similar consequences might leave us lastingly damaged and diminished in our mission to prepare ourselves to “walk as a warrior for all our days”.

Of course, this also means the way we fight is distorted from a real world “die less often” fight.

Amongst these distortions is that we tend to use heavier sticks so as to command attention and impose consequences through the protection of the fencing mask, especially as we use second generation and third generation masks.

We also tend to jab less or not at all; not only because it tends to have little effect to the face, but also because the heavier sticks tend to be more challenging to jab well and if we hit with little effect while our opponent is swinging a heavy stick with powerful intentions, things could go poorly for us—and so many of us wind up with stick fighting skills limited to roof blocks and various slashes.

For those of us who think of the stick as a tool for DLO (“Die Less Often”) situations in the street, this can be a real void in our game. A light stick is a fast stick and a more deceptive stick and a fast jab to anywhere in the face , especially in or near the eyes and other particularly sensitive areas, is going to tend to really alter the direction of the altercation.

Additionally it is worth noting that in DBMA we have the concept of “Consistency across categories” i.e. we look to have the same idioms of movement for weaponry, empty hands (e.g. MMA), and for the street interface of gun, knife, and empty hands—what we call “Die Less Often”(DLO). Thus if we do not have a jab in weaponry fighting, we will tend to not have one in empty hands or DLO. (The same principle applies to redondos-- be they frondos, brondos, or horondos)

So, what to do? After all, we don’t want to get tagged in a Real Contact Stick Fighting fight while using a technique that may lack the impact that commands respect, nor do we want to fail to install a tremendously relevant skill for the real world.

We have seen analogous conundrums present themselves previously with sport knife dueling, thrusting, and stick & knife wherein “scores” in the context of Real Contact Stick Fighting yield less result than they may well would have in the real world, not infrequently at the cost of taking shots that would not have otherwise been taken due to the lack of pain and/or damage from these “scores”.

For what it is worth, my sense of things is that as we have persisted in these areas we have seen people develop genuine skill in delivering such scores. The attitude is not dissimilar to the “counting coup” some Native Americans did before the white man disrupted the existing eco-systems of aggression.

“Counting coup” was where a warrior would get so close to an enemy that he would touch the enemy with his weapon without harming him—at the risk of his life, a proof in the eyes of all he could have killed him but did not. Great respect was given by all on both sides for such acts. In the context of skirmishes between tribes defining boundaries of territory, the boundary could shift without the losing side feeling the need to avenge a fallen warrior.

My suggestion with regard to jabs has two parts.

In the first part, it is to take a similar attitude—to risk the consequences of not pulling off the jab unscathed in order to develop the skill of doing so in the adrenal conditions of a Dog Brothers Gathering in order that one actually install this skill which IS quite relevant for DLO situations.

The second part is to realize that one CAN develop a jab which imposes consequences even when the opponent at a Gathering is wearing a fencing mask and light gloves! And with this one becomes not only better prepared for the street, but also a better stick fighter at Dog Brother Gatherings.

In my opinion, unfortunately some of us regard traditional FMA as being mostly being what I sometimes playfully call “martial arts and crafts” (a term I see taking hold elsewhere by the way). This is not without reason! There are fanciful notions to be found in many systems!

However, let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater. In my opinion there is A LOT of true fighting value to be found in the FMA, and that includes learning how to jab well. A good jab is much more than simply flicking out from the elbow and retracting – though that can work, particularly with targets on an unprotected face! But for a jab to work on a face/head protected by a fencing mask or on a hand protected by the gloves such as we use, we are going to need more than that—and this may well make the difference in the street as well where bad people whose pain tolerance may well greatly increased by adrenaline and/or drugs may not be damaged or deterred as readily as we might think.

In Dog Brothers Martial Arts, the three main FMA systems of influence are Inosanto-LaCoste Blend Kali; Pekiti Tirsia Kali; and Lameco Eskrima, and each of them has particular jabs well worth studying. Amongst the jabs we teach (the naming is my own, I tend to be quite awful when it comes to keeping proper track of terminology):

*the Inosanto Four Count Jab

*The Pekiti stick Jab (see Top Dog’s seguidas in DVD#4 of our Real Contact Stick Fighting series)

*The Pekiti Pakal Knife Jab

*Lameco 1 & 2

*Lameco 3 & 4 (the first motion of each)

*Lameco Pluma

*Happy Dog Jab (a.k.a. The Lameco “I” jab)

Anyway, there it is—some thoughts which may be of use to you as you begin your training for 2014.

Walk as warriors for all our days!
Guro Crafty
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Posts: 58

« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2014, 12:09:14 AM »

As a lefty, I have always loved the jab, especially the inside jab.  This post reminds me of the old school boxers and the cheesy movie about Gentleman Jim.

Nostalgia aside, I think there are several good points and questions raised.

One basic point:  If an opponent cannot feel a jab through protective gear, what makes us think a really dangerous person would?  That is a question that gives us pause.

The second point comes to our own ego.  If we ignore a hit because the headgear or gloves lets us, what have we gained?  An illusion of our own abilities and a false sense of self?  This is where it gets really tricky.  If we stop the encounter because of a  hit, we are teaching ourselves to stop when it matters.  But if we ignore hits because of gear, we are imagining ourselves to be ubermensch.  I think the compromise is to keep fighting but acknowledge the touch and hit- a reverse counting coup.  And, after the encounter, giving the training partner credit to keep us humble.

The questions come.  Is there more than one type of jab?  I think there is.    There is the 'feelgood' jab.  A line from the shooting world (in keeping with the cross categories pattern) goes thus:  Most people shoot to make themselves feel better.   I think it is from Clint Smith.

Many people throw the jab because they don't know what to do but feel like they should do something other than dance around in a guarded posture. Note how many boxers launch bad, off balance attacks as soon as the 10-second warning smacks the mat.  Perhaps it is merely my opinion, but our actions should have a purpose and intent.

Assuming intent and clear purpose, I can see at least three types of jab-which become the same thing at higher levels.

The distracting jab.  One is merely trying to draw a reaction and thus set up for a later move.

The trapping jab.  One is trying to occupy a limb/weapon while one is busy elsewhere.  It's very similar to the first jab but with a bit more stickiness.

The positioning jab.   This is a jab that is designed to move a head or limb into position for the following strike that does the real damage.  It should have more ooomph and structure behind it.

Which brings me to another thought.  What is a jab?  It's not a KO shot but it should have something behind it.  A balancing act.  If there is nothing behind it, people will (and rightly so) ignore it. I am reminded of a training partner who was dancing around with a knife  like US Army 101 knife fighting meets West Side Story.  What that tells us is that the person doesn't really want to fight and we should just go. Too much effort and we put ourselves into an off balanced position like we're in a Rocky movie.  Going back into the martial arts and crafts, to me, that is where working the drills with increasing power while never breaking good structure and balance comes in to play.  Work the drills and pull our ego out of it.
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2014, 01:27:28 PM »

"One basic point:  If an opponent cannot feel a jab through protective gear, what makes us think a really dangerous person would?  That is a question that gives us pause."

As I understand it, the idea is that any jab with a stick, even a relatively light one, to the teeth, nose, temple, eyes, anywhere near the eyes, etc is going to tend to have effect upon the recipient.

What is a jab?  In DBMA we define it as shot that retracts.  A shot that carries through we call a "slash".
Frequent Poster
Posts: 58

« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2014, 02:27:09 PM »

Thank you for the elucidation.  I always admit that my experience in stick fighting, especially full contact, is rather limited.  Most of my experience is with empty hand and firearm.

From the times I have been clocked in the head with various hard objects, I can say that it doesn't take much to elicit a response.  Even a whipping branch from a willow tree coming at the eyes tends to make one duck as much as a boxer's overhand right.  Many years ago, one of my most influential teachers told me to respect every fist as much as a knife. To do otherwise is to teach ourselves bad habits.  If we rely on headgear to protect us, we are like LEO's relying on body armor or the old knights relying on the breastplate.  Headgear should be insurance not a bulwark.

As a warning to go along with the use of heavier headgear (a topic I remember from the past), my experience is that heavier, rigid headgear tends to amplify the brain rattle and the shock felt in the neck and spine.  Punches that would lightly rock me bareheaded would really jar my brain and spine.  So, perhaps those using the heavier head protection are merely trading one type of damage for another.  The force has to go somewhere.

I was speaking somewhat rhetorically when I asked what a jab was, but I again thank you for the clarification, Crafty.  I think what I was trying to say is that perhaps one should jab a little deeper before retracting to compensate for the headgear.  In one of my arts, we call this the difference between a whiphand and forefist.  The same shot, thrown with the same speed. But the forefist takes slightly longer because the additional 2-3 inches of penetration increases contact time..  It may be that one needs to practice a slightly deeper stick jab to offset the change in distance to target caused by the headgear.
Posts: 1

« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2016, 03:23:02 PM »


that was one of the most well thought out and argued articles on a specific technical issue in martial arts I've read in a long time. I'm going to recommend it to my FB friends and students.

Tuhon Bill McGrath
Pekiti-Tirsia International
Power User
Posts: 42473

« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2016, 06:30:03 PM »

Tail wags for the kind words Tuhon Bill.

Coming from you that is high praise indeed.
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