Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Off-Hand Stick

I came across an interesting website while Googling information about Zambia this morning:

Zulu Stick Fighting: A Socio-Historical Overview

One thing that really stood out to me was the idea of using a long stick in the off-hand to ward off blows. It kept reminding me of something that I couldn't place my finger on until just now...Fiore! Fiore has two techniques that involve a stick in the off-hand and he pairs the stick with the dagger instead of a club.

Using a long stick or spear to block a strike while attacking with the dagger. (

Warding with a club while attacking with a dagger, after having cast the other club. (

There are two items of interest worth noting:
  1. Compare the image of the Zulu fighters with the fighters in the first Fiore image. You'll observe that the Zulu blocking stick is used in conjunction with a small, buckler-like shield whereas the long stick from Fiore is done bare-handed. You'll also notice that the long stick is, in fact, lacking a spearhead. This could either be because it is just a stick or the artist got lazy about drawing the spearhead on it. Assuming the former is the true answer, this seems to imply that the long stick is an impromptu weapon rather than a weapon built specifically for warfare. This could be a walking stick or some random stick he was carrying around at the time, for example.

  2.  The other interesting item is in the second Fiore image, which is the usage of a dagger instead of using both sticks simultaneously. I find this very interesting because of the implied mindset of the person throwing the club. If you have two large clubs in your hands, why not just bum rush the person attacking you with the spear with the two clubs? Why use a dagger instead of the club already in your hand? I believe this implies a preference for an edged weapon rather than a blunt one. This makes sense because even though blows from a blunt weapon can do a lot of damage to a human body, it is the blade that most quickly ends another person's life. Why take a risk by being merciful to your attacker?

So all things considering, knowing how to defend yourself with blunt weapons (sticks\clubs) in your off-hand does seem useful. I can see using the long stick in the off-hand would be very useful for people who fight with staffs and for people who have big walking sticks when they go hiking. While just out-right stabbing someone to death with your other hand is probably not the best action legally, it can at least save your life. In fact I think I will try this method of blocking the next time I do sparring with my staff.

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