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‘Why Fan the Head With the Stick’
A Man Question from Ed

“James, on your recent video you demonstrate fanning the head portion of the post with a heavy stick. In Twerps, Goons and Meatshields, you write that this is a point-scoring technique and not a serious combat option. So why fan the head with the stick?”


Ed, in competition, the only time you fan a head is to score points in an Arnis match, or to stun a man in a free-fighting match whose shoulder you have checked with his free hand without permitting him to grab your stick as you move around him.

In a survival situation, fanning has crucial uses. Let me sketch the two survival settings, keeping in mind that I’m wielding a stick of such a weight that I could smash in the head of a man wearing a fencing mask or non-reactive helmet.

Anarcho-Tyranny Setting

This is our current reality, where law-abiding citizens face equal or more serious threats from the criminal-friendly judicial system and liberal law code than they do from most street predators. If Tyrone—headed to college with a 4.0 despite having dropped out of Heroin High at age 14—attacks you, you do not want to spatter his brains on the sidewalk, but rather stun him and step away as he bleeds to avoid his pathogenic essence. Striking to the head with a blunt weapon is regarded in case law as intent to kill, just as is stomping the head of a downed person.

Every idiot that watches zombie TV knows that this is how you kill people, undead or alive.

Collapse Setting

Take your pick: meteor, La Palma landslide, tsunami, Yellow Stone Caldera Eruption, the return of Big-Headed Yakub on the Mothership, the collapse of the petro-dollar… In any collapse situation where you are fighting to keep from being eaten by hoodrat cannibals, you want to smash through the head and turn it into a bowl of scattering gelatin. However, even in this situation there may be reason to fan, especially with a reactive club like an aluminum bat.

First, unlike in Arnis competition, fanning must not be done while standing in front of your opponent, but in concert with a free-hand side clinch or as navigating off a checked elbow or shoulder around your target. This tactic is applicable to all situations.

Here is the most realistic survival situation, the one in which you are outnumbered. When using a blunt weapon against a pack of goons, you hit the near man first, and then use him as a post or a speed bump. If he falls, he is only a split-second obstacle, but if his ear is smashed, his eye is hanging out, his head is gushing, and he’s standing there dumb or flailing as you step around him, then you have a post, a human shield, your very own western journalist of the moment to keep between you and the lead or steel that might be coming your way.

Using this fanning strategy will be forced on you in a tight spot. In an open situation, only go to it against a soft target, an enemy who is not squat, powerful and helmet-headed, but tall and thin, or maybe just a hanger-on.

The best use of the fan against a strong man in tight circumstance is by checking his lead shoulder, so that his head dips down and you fan down over your own head as you scoot, scramble and shimmy out of his grasp.

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