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Time & Measure
Muscle-Powered Weapon Readiness for Survival

I will be coaching a karate class on stick use this Saturday, will have 1.5 hours to take these empty hand self-defense practitioners from "never used a stick" to "can use a stick to enhance their survivability in a criminal encounter."

This requires minimal friction with the existing system, which is a hard style of karate. I will have them take their guards and put the sticks in their hands. A new person cannot function out of a weapon guard for months anyhow, so I will start them out with a shoulder load, as they already keep their hands too close to their shoulders, as I discovered while working with this class on boxing.

I will only divert from the existing doctrine on one point, a point that most empty hand fighting methods naturally promote to the detriment of the practitioners survival chances.

Very few martial artists or instructors believe that an aggressive, predatory approach is in fact an a attack if no striking or grappling is initiated. This is a dangerous perspective in unarmed encounters and disastrous in armed encounters. I am currently working up the numbers for my last 115 weeks as a pedestrian in Baltimore. I believe I have been attacked about 25 times and have only been in contact once, with a pitbull. I have derailed virtually all of these attacks by accessing a weapon in the ready, in some cases actually deploying to guard. This type of thing is just plain Greek to karate people.

I will use the following structure for maintaining Time & Measure in Criminal Encounters.

1. Vigilance.

When armed you must expand your vigilance zone. Any person or persons who are approaching, following, converging on, or have redirected their attention and direction towards, you, are attackers and must be tracked.

2. Readiness.

Any person closing with or sticking with you, must not be permitted within ten paces without you accessing your weapon, which means to get your hand on it. Do not draw or brandish your weapon or adopt a guard until they have continued to close with you despite your change of attitude.

3. Combat

Combat with a weapon begins beyond the range of that weapon, with maneuver, standing your ground and deployment of the weapon. Do not permit a person within three paces without attaining guard with your weapon, which in this case, is the shoulder load with the stick.


1. Vigilance.

You are walking with your stick, carrying it at rest in the middle, not in a fighting orientation. Three young men who are crossing your path 30 paces ahead, notice you, make signs or speak to one another, and then change direction to intercept you. This is an absolute sign of aggression. Improve your position relative to them, taking high ground, crossing a street to make them risk traffic to get at you, etc.

2. Readiness

10 paces can be covered in two seconds by a fit man. This is about two traffic lanes in a city street. Any aggressively moving person or persons that breaks this perimeter must trigger weapon readiness, which means sliding the stick to a sword [a fist length of weapon behind the hand] or club [a finger width of weapon behind the hand] grip, depending on the weapon and your strength and training.

3. Combat

Now that you have placed your stick in a fighting grip and hold it down by your hip, if the aggressor continues closing you are about to be in contact and most place your weapon in guard, the basic guard for the stick being the shoulder rest, with your other hand half extended and raised to check a rush or a grappling attempt.


Most combat situations that involve hand weapons, are stopped from progressing to physical contact by the aggressor's realization that they are 1) dealing with a vigilant target, 2) failing that that they are dealing with a ready target with weapon to hand, 3) and failing that they are dealing with an armed and combative target.

Vigilance, readiness and combativeness, unaccompanied by verbalization, are key to de-escalation of the predatory selection process from the prey's perspective.

Twerps, Goons and Meatshields: The Basics of Full Contact Stick-Fighting

Add Comment
PRAugust 11, 2017 3:49 PM UTC

Can you explain the pitbull encounter? They're an increasing problem out here.
LaManoAugust 10, 2017 4:43 PM UTC

More great basics on threat identification and avoidance.

If you (A) Look like you're ready (B) React like you're ready and (C) Stand on guard like you're ready if it comes to that, the chances of it "coming to that" go way down.
LynnAugust 10, 2017 12:38 PM UTC

You will probably hate this idea, and maybe the karate instructor would object, but would you consider bringing a few books to sell at the end of class? It would be to their benefit to understand your view of aggression as you have documented in When You're Food, etc.