Tag Archives: obsidanmichi answers

Could you give me some background info on stick fighting, such as with a bo or a staff? What would be some advantages or disadvantages of stick fighting, especially in present day? And would it be tactical for a secret agent to specialize in stick fighting, especially when on missions or whatnot? Thanks!

Well, you’re going to have to settle on what kind of stick you’re using: such as a baton or staff because length is important. You’re also going to have to designate what kind of staff fighting they’ve been trained in because techniques differ based on style. Depending on the era, a secret agent may get more use out of Filipino Eskrima stick techniques than he or she would out of a bo staff because one can be hidden fairly easily while the other is more common. A spy does not carry weapons that make them stand out in a crowd. A staff is a long arm and thus a very tall weapon, if the spy does not exist in a culture where carrying a staff is common (such as modern day US) then they will forgo it entirely.

A spy may carry a staff in a historical setting when they were common, such as Medieval Europe, or appropriate corresponding periods in China and Japan when looking to pass for a specific kind of peasant or soldier.

However, depending on where they are going, a spy may choose to carry a tactical baton on their person. A tactical baton is a police weapon, it folds up easily and can slip into a pocket. However, they are illegal to own in most states without a permit. It’s also meant for tagging someone in the back of the skull. It is meant to hand out a single pounding, not take a pounding from another weapon.

Staffs and sticks are bashing weapons. They don’t stab or cut, instead they cause blunt force trauma. They are very effective weapons. However, if you’re feeling cheesy, a wooden stick can be snuck past a metal detector (but not an x-ray machine) and people whether it’s onlookers or guards will remember the person who fought with the wooden stick because it’s unusual.

If you want to have a secret agent who specializes in stick fighting in the modern day, then they only have one real option: a cane. An umbrella would also work, but many people will wonder why your spy is carrying an umbrella if they are traveling to a place where rain is not a constant. A wooden cane is justifiable, easy to explain, and carry into places that normally would not allow them. It can also be taken places where a tactical baton would be discovered and removed.

However, while a cane is an excellent self-defense weapon, it can get tricky in modern combat if you’re spy is not acting via surprise. A cane does not have an advantage against a gun that is already drawn. A cane has a reach advantage against someone with a knife, but lacks being comparably lethal. The kills will also be fairly recognizable and they will take longer.

The short of it is: while training in combat with sticks is justifiable for a spy, it’s unlikely to be their specialty. In the modern world, a spy needs to be trained on a variety of guns, knives, and in a variety of hand to hand styles to be successful. A cane may look odd on someone who does not fake a limp or is not elderly and a fake limp is difficult to maintain long term. If a character is using the cane to support their own weight because their leg can’t maintain it on it’s own then they’ll have difficulty fighting with it. (This won’t stop someone with a limp from being a spy.) In the modern world, it’s not a sharp choice because there are better ones available.

Remember: a spy isn’t looking to stand out, they want to blend in and disappear. Pick styles and weapons that fit into the frame of who they are pretending to be and ones that reflect the culture (and social status) they exist in.


To the anon in the last post who was talking about a fight between equally matched opponents: remembered recently reading a book called ‘The Lions of Al-Rassan’ in which two characters who are equal in ability have to fight each other as part of the finale battle. In my opinion it was quite well written so maybe you could check it out! I hope it could maybe be helpful to you ^^ (On the whole I thought it was a pretty good book, too!)

I haven’t read the book, so I can’t vouch for it. However, I have read the Fianovar Tapestry and all three books in the trilogy are excellent. So, this one could definitely be worth a look.


How does one exploit an opponents inertia, momentum, and body physiology? I thought that was their speed, weight, and power?

Yes, but thinking the other way tends to result in students putting too much stock in size, height, and weight. Most of the common misconceptions about martial combat involve erroneous assumptions about how techniques work and what kind of people have the advantage. For example: the common reasoning behind why women can’t fight is that they’re often shorter on average than most men, their build is naturally more compact than their male counterparts, and they often weigh less. The assumption is that because they weigh less and have a more difficult time developing upper body strength, they generate less force.

Not so.

Strength comes from the way the joints work together, because most women have wider hips than men do they can generate more momentum. The rotation of the hips and shoulders together is what creates the force for a punch. Their naturally lower center of gravity means that they can create a stronger base when dropping their weight into their feet, this means they can easily unbalance a taller fighter.

Terminology changes the way we see the world. Words influence perception, by changing our perceptions we change our approach to a problem. You don’t switch to different techniques to face a bigger fighter, you can use what you know against an opponent of equal to greater size. When I was studying martial arts, our techniques weren’t broken down to: here’s a special set for facing a big guy, here’s the normal set for everyone else. What matters is what you know versus what they know.

If you want to exploit someone’s technique, you have to figure out how the body functions and how the pieces work together. For example: someone swings at me, I lean back, they miss, but their momentum will continue to carry them forward and because of that momentum it will take slightly longer for them to come back around. In the meantime, they’re vulnerable. I hit them in the ribcage they’ve provided for me, or depending on what’s open to me I might go for the shoulder. The shoulder is a joint, stun lock the joint and they can’t use that arm for another swing. Now, they’re in pain and they only have one arm they can use. Pain and fear are distracting, they lock up the mind. I have more openings, depending on what I have I could go to the stomach or since I’m already high, I could go to the throat with an elbow. When they have reached the point where they can no longer fight back, I leave.

This is how you exploit: one technique to the next, to the next, when you have your opening don’t let up until they’re done. Debilitate, incapacitate, and finish them off. So the question is: how does the body work together and what points on the body can I exploit to keep them from attacking me?

Let’s do another: a shin is exposed bone that’s unprotected by the muscles of the body, when hit it hurts. Now, pain has distracted my opponent. He’s facing me, his feet are on an even line between each other. Because I’ve kicked him, I have to put my foot somewhere, I step down between his feet. I’ve now changed the balance equation, I put my hand on his chest and push, he stumbles backwards. Now, he’s far away from me and outside of hand range: front kick to the stomach. Now, his shin is hurting and the wind is knocked out of him, the fight may end here or if he’s not done yet, I may step forwards and since he’s already doubled over wrap my arm around the back of his head putting my forearm against his throat and arc my back into a guillotine choke and hold him there until he either passes out or dies.

Reaction depends on the opponent, the techniques your opponent uses will provide your reaction. Create opportunities from the options they give, know how the body works and what it needs to function, then don’t let up until it’s over. When martial artists talk about combat like it’s a dance, this is what they’re discussing: the give and take in the combat between fighters that begins to look very intricate to an untrained outside observer. It has absolutely nothing to do with actual dancing, but you know artistic license.

The problem is that writers and untrained practitioners only consider the technique and that’s all they see. They’re thinking: how do I exploit the technique? Or how do I exploit their speed? Their weight? Their power? That’s the end result.

How do I exploit their arm? There are lots of options: shoulder, elbow, wrist, the gap between the ulna and radius bone, the place on the upper arm where the biceps and triceps meet, the pressure point midway up the forearm. How do I exploit their leg? There are lots of options: hip, knee, ankle, shin, foot, heel, toes. How do I take their speed from them? Exploit their legs. How do I nullify their weight? Change their balance by moving your feet. How do I negate their power? Take it from them by using all of the above.

There are vulnerable points everywhere on the body. All you need is to know that they’re there and what they lead to.


I want to write a scene about former thugs getting into a sober, rage-driven fist fight and every time I write it, I can’t seem to get into the mindset. Do you have anything that could help?

My advice, write it like you would any crime: Motive, Method, and Opportunity.

The Opportunity is the fight and where it takes place. The Method: rage guided fists. So, ask yourself: what’s driving the rage? What’s making them so angry that they would come to blows? It must be something important to them. This sounds like the kind of frustration builds up over time until you just snap and the violence comes out. This fight was probably a long time coming between the two of them, so figure out where it started and you’ll have the mindset you need.