If you are serious about self-defense, sooner or later you are going to need to learn to fight with a weapon. Coming out on top in a fight is about recognizing and taking advantage of any edge you can. Don’t put yourself in a corner by declining to be versatile! There isn’t any stand-up fighting situation in which having a weapon in hand isn’t going to help you, but where to start? There are a number of options, but there is only one best option and that is escrima. Escrima comes from the streets of the Philippines and encompasses several weapons and empty-hand techniques, but is most famous for its use of a rattan stick. If you would like to know why escrima is the first weapon you should learn, read on!
1. Practicality: You Can Find a Stick Anywhere
This cannot be overstated. No amount of training will help you IF YOU CAN’T USE IT. Break off a broom handle, snap the leg off a chair or table, grab a cane, but remember that there are options. You only find swords lying around in the movies, sticks are for real life.
2. To Master is Hard, but to Start is Easy
Most weapons have a pretty high learning curve for just gaining a grasp of the basics. My master used to say that learning Nunchaku for the first time is really just practice in being a spaz. If you pick up a katana without investing some serious hours you’re more likely to slice through your own femoral artery than anything else. Even a bo staff tends to be awkward and unwieldy for a beginner.
In contrast, an escrima has a relatively intuitive feel in the hand. Almost anyone can at least be trusted to hold one without causing major damage to themselves on the first go-round. Better still, the foundational techniques are few in number and rely on an understanding of angles that you swing through. This allows you to gain confidence quickly and keep you practicing instead of nursing a black eye from upteenth time you hit yourself with a flying nunchaku.
3. You Can Build Your Own Equipment
Have you ever started at a new school and been overwhelmed by the costs to get through the door? I know I have. The bad news is that will probably continue for as long as a martial arts school is a business but the good news is you can trim a few bucks by building your own safe-to-use practice escrima! For the cost of a length of pvc pipe and some foam you can build a stick which will make an accurate fascimile of the real deal. Its easy to do, takes hardly any time, and most importantly, keeps you practicing.
4. Escrima Isn’t Just About Sticks
One of the reasons that escrima is an awesome practice to learn is that you are not restricted to the use of a rattan stick! Born as it is on the streets of the Phillipines, it adapts to the situation at hand out of necessity. Don’t have a stick? No worries, it works fine as an empty-hand defense. Faced with an attacker with a knife? Not a problem, same principles apply. Got a sword pointed at ya? Well, you’re in a very strange neighborhood and should probably consider relocating, but none-the-less you’ll find yourself prepared for whatever may come!
5. Escrima Moves Beyond Stand-Up Striking
Martial arts today is thoroughly immersed in an MMA revolution, and for good reason. Many fights, if not most, do eventually hit the ground and any practitioner worth his or her belt now needs to be prepared for such eventualities. While escrima is not a ground-fighting art by any means, a careful viewing of the video above will reveal a valuable place for escrima practice in a well-rounded practice. Watch the old master use his rattan sticks to repeatedly create a fulcrum, or pivot point, that easily sends the younger student to the mat. Any practitioner of Aikido, Hapkido, or Judo will instantly recognize the seamless redirection of an attackers energy aimed at vital points and joints resulting in endless takedowns.
This won’t help you if you’ve already been taken to the mat, but it will absolutely make you the one doing the takedowns and give you the initiative in a fight.
6. Escrima Fighting Looks Cool
It’s fast, exciting, and up close and personal. What more could you ask for?