Thursday, May 23, 2002

Archone's Updated Weapons Drills

In my previous installment, I described a series of drills, designed to attain basic mastery of most weapons. Shortly after finishing it, I realized that I had excluded many differant weapons and styles. Whether with one or two hands, the weapons used with the previous drills are all SINGLE SURFACE WEAPONS. That means that they have a single striking surface. Furthermore, I failed to take into account the limitations of a student who does not have a job that involves hours spent on an empty lot, with weapon in hand, free to train as he or she pleases. Lastly, I made new discoveries in my studies of weaponry, and have to account for these new areas as well. These new drills will cover everything but flailing weapons such as a chain or nunchuku.

First, let's touch on HOW to strike.

I'm going to go off on a tangent here(and possibly take a lot of flak from groaning "hardcore" types), but please bear with me. Capcom, a noted manufacturer of video games, achieved international acclaim with the release of their instant classic, "Street Fighter II." Arcades had lines going out the door, for people wanting to play SFII. Today, I find it almost impossible to find anyone in the 20-30 age bracket who admits to having played SFII, or even responds to the name. Must be a case of mass amnesia, or something.

ANYHOW... SFII's characters were notable for two areas. Let's disregard the area of "special attacks" that involve massive fireballs and jumping uppercuts. The OTHER area, was that each fighter had three punch and three kick attacks. A "jab" or light attack, a "strong" or medium attack attack, and a "fierce" or powerful attack. Naturally, most early players adopted a strategy of only using fierce attacks. Okay, that's enough discussion of video games.

Now back to weapons training. Weapons training ALSO has three attack types possible. As this is MY system of training, I named them myself, quite imaginitively if I do say so. I call them, "Type 1," "Type 2," and "Type 3" attacks types. I call them this, because of the number of arm joints involved.

A TYPE 1 ATTACK involves only one arm joint in the execution. Specifically, the wrist. The hand is either held out, or shoots out in a flickering movement, while the power comes entirely from the wrist motion, in a type 3 lever action(Resistance at the tip, Force in the middle, Fulcrum at the end). If you are holding the weapon in a two handed grip, it becomes a type 3 lever in conjuction with a type 1, the most powerful lever possible(Resistance at one end, Fulcrum in the middle, Force at the other end). This is the fastest possible attack type.

A TYPE 2 ATTACK involves TWO arm joints. The elbow joint straightens out, bringing the awesome power of the tricep(well, it's awesome if you've done a lot of pushups, anyway...). At the same time, the wrist bends as with a Type 1 attack, combining the power of both joint in TWO type 3 levers(or if you use two hands, three type threes with a type 1). A much more powerful strike, but slower and harder to recover from.

A TYPE 3 ATTACK involves THREE arm joints. As the first two joints extend and flex, the shoulder brings those chest and back muscles into play. FURTHERMORE, the body drives off the hips, either from a stationary stance or stepping forward or back, getting the power of the legs and abdominals into the strike as well. Three type 3 levers(or five plus a type 1) in the arm alone, plus the considerably more complicated(to describe, anyway) power generation of the body. This is THE most POWERFUL attack type possible. Also slow as hell, but...

For the record, a thrust is a type 3 attack, as it involes the use of all three joints, plus the body. And it should be practiced with ANY weapon, regardless of configuration. A club tip jabbed into the stomach works very well(as long as it's not a collapsable baton), as will a hammer or hatchet head shoved into the face. It's especially effective with such weapons, because it's unexpected.

The weapon you use determines the attack types you'll use. A type 1 is most useful with a knife or saber, a light slashing weapon. The rattan escrima sticks can also be used effectively with a type 1 attack. Surprisingly, a hand axe, hatchet, or tomahawk can also be used with a type 1, as the head heavy balance gives it the ability to gash and hack a target with this motion. A type 2 attack is useful with almost any weapon you can carry, from club, to sword, to knife, to axe. A type 3 attack is useful with any heavy hacking or bludgeoning weapon, such as a hickory club-but not a light rattan stick- or axe handle, hatchet, hammer, heavy sword.

Next, we'll touch on the angles again. If you're reading this, you're almost undoubtedly familiar with the concept of angles. Here's my designation of nine angles:

2 1 3
\ | /
/ | \
6 8 7

That's it. Other people use their own system of numbering. This is mine. If you really want to, superimpose your labeling over mine. "Take the best, and leave the rest."

Now comes the drills. Modified, and updated. Do you have an hour and a half a day to spare? That's all this will require.

First, choose your weapon, and the attack type you'll train in. You can choose another attack type to study later, you can choose another weapon to train in later. Please only choose a single surface weapon, though, for your initial weapon. LATER, you can study DOUBLE SURFACE WEAPONS. Start with simpler stuff. This will take you about 2 months.

Month 1: Basic techniques.

In the first week, practice 100, that's one hundred, ten tens, of each of the nine attacks, with the chosen attack type, every day, each hand(for single surfaced weapons that require both hands, i.e. a baseball bat, a katana, etc. switch between left and right handed grips). That's eighteen hundred techniques per day. You can do it first thing in the morning, you can do it in the evening after work. Doesn't matter. 1800 strikes/24 hours. That's all that matters. Also important is that you focus on the technique. Don't just throw it as fast and hard as you can. For this first week, emphasize the technical aspect. If you make a mistake throwing a technique, strike it from the tally and do it again("...80, 81, 82...oops, that one was off...82, 83, 84...). This should take you no more than an hour, assuming an average of one strike every 2 seconds.

In the second week, you'll begin double strike combos. First, deliver ALL the two strike combos that start with a angle 1 strike, i.e. double 1s, 1 2, 1 3, 1 4, etc. Five repetitions of each combo. Then five reps of each combo with the other hand. Then back to the first hand, for all the strikes that begin with a angle 2 strike, etc. This assumes 1620 strikes/day, and an estimated practice time of 28 minutes. Half an hour a day.

For the last two weeks, you'll work on triple strike combos. Let me showcase the "matrix" for the combos.


That's all 81 three strike combos that can start with an angle 1 attack. So you'd do an angle 1 twice, followed by each of the nine angles, for the first nine attacks, then imediately move one to 1,2,X, then 1,3,X, etc. Perform all of them in sequence, only 1 rep of each. Then do the other hand. Then the combos that start with angle 2 strikes, etc. That's 4374 strikes per day, but by now, you'll be delivering them with far greater speed, in rapid combos. Figure at least 1 strike per second, for an estimated time of about an hour and a half each day. Do this every day, for the next two weeks.

Now, you've trained your body to deliver technically proper strikes in rapid combos, even under stressful conditions. I recommend that you keep up your training in the triple strike combo drills, just to stay in practice, further hone your abilities, and maintain your callausses.

Month 2: Accuracy and speed

I used to use empty soda cans for this. Sheets of scrap paper crumpled into a ball works even better, and is easier on your weapon, as well. For a week, practice tossing the target into the air, then striking it out of the air. Do thrusts as well. These will be the toughest. But if you can get the "point recognition" necessary to spear a paper ball with the tip of your sword or stick, then you'll have AWESOME control over your weapon, which will show itself when you spar. And when you fight for real.

Second week, practice tossing two targets into the air, then striking them both out of the sky.

Third and fourth weeks, focus on hitting three targets at once. These will be the toughest, since this is supposed to be a treatise on solo drills, and it's difficult to toss three paper balls into the air in such a way that you can then strike them with three seperate attacks.

Okay, that's it for basic offensive training with a single surface weapon. Now let's move on to double surfaced weapons.

A DOUBLE SURFACE WEAPON, means a weapon with more than one striking area. This means any weapon that is used in pairs, such as a pair of knives, a brace of rapiers, double baston escrima. This also means two weapons used together, like combining a knife with a sword, or grabbing up a screwdriver as an improvised reverse grip knife in conjuction with a 1 1/2" crescent wrench as a club. This ALSO includes the quarterstaff, as a staff, in functional use, is a pair of sticks, joined together at the handles, to increase the power of the strikes thereby.

To learn to use a double surfaced weapon, first learn to use the single surface weapon. That means take the single baton, the single katana, the one knife, and train with it under the methods outlined above.

A double surface weapon allows for a far greater variety of attacks, and far faster combos, since you can strike with the second weapon while recovering with the first. Unfortunately, double surface weapons also require far more control. Having practiced using the weapon with one hand, you definately know how to deliver single strikes(I'll discuss the quarterstaff in greater detail later), precisely and accurately. So we'll go straight to combos.

In the first two weeks, you'll work on two strike combos. But with two weapons, combos become far more varied. With just the angle 1 attack, you have four possible combos: Left Left, Right Right, Left Right, and Right Left. Mathematically, it works out to 18 squared, or 324 possible 2 strike combos. Five of each. 3240 strikes a day. Assuming at least one strike per second, that's a workout time of just under an hour. It WILL be difficult at first, learning to coordinate the strikes. That's what this is for.

In the next month and a half, you'll practice triple strike combos. Now, it's 18 cubed, or 5832 possible combos. Just with angle 1 strikes, you're looking at EIGHT possible combos:

Left Left Left
Right Right Right
Left Left Right
Right Right Left
Left Right Right
Right Left Left
Left Right Left
Right Left Right

You're not even going to try to do ONE rep of each combo. Not unless you have five hours a day to spare. Instead, you'll divide the training into thirds. The first day, you'll do all the combos that begin with the first three angles. The second day, you'll work on the second three angles. Finally, on the last day, you'll start with angle sevens and end with thrusting nines.

I find that the easiest way of keeping track of the combos, is to do the first set of 81 combos(all the ones that start with an angle one) entirely with the left hand. Then, without pausing, move on to all the angle 1 combos that focus entirely on the right hand. Then the Left Left Rights, Right Right Lefts, and so one, just as I stated above. After 1 and a half months of daily practice, you'll have done 14 of each combo. I suggest you keep this up. Even if you were working on single surface practice before, practicing two single surface weapons at once will not only maximize your efficient use of time, but also increase your control over both weapons thereby. Furthermore, you've been swinging a weapon every day, for(assuming you went straight from completing your training with a single surface weapon to using two weapons in tandem or suchlike) for four months. Look in the mirror. Are you a little leaner? A little more muscular(Oh, did you decide to use an axe or heavy sword? A LOT more muscular, then)? The hell with Tae Bo...

Now, a little aside as to how to properly use a quarterstaff. I said the staff is used as two sticks joined together. I meant it. Forget what you've been taught about slamming the stick into your armpits with every strike. The idea is to hit the OTHER guy with the ends of the staff, not yourself.

First, take the quarterstaff in the traditional grip, divided into thirds. Now, let go with one hand, and hold it as though it were a single stick. Now, deliver type 1 attacks, practicing with each hand. Good. Now, grab the staff in the traditional grip once again. Now, again deliver type one attacks with each hand, while AT THE SAME TIME, you guide the other end of the stick, with a hooking, uppercut, or overhand motion. Thus, the right hand strikes with the left tip, and the left hand adds power to the blow, while when the left hand strikes with the right tip, the right hand guides it and adds power. When you deliver what would be a forehand strike with a single stick, like say a type five attack with the right hand, the other (right end, in our example)end swings down and comes up on the other side of your body, while the other hand(left) makes a backhand motion. It sound complicated, but try it, and you'll see that it's like doing figure eight moulinets, it looks fancier than it actually is.

Practice doing these strikes, every day, for the next couple of weeks. Then proceed to the double surface combo drills as outlined above. I recommend you use a FULL staff, made of heavy oak, instead of the lightweight competition bos. Not only will it accustom you to using heavier objects such as metal poles as improvised staves in a pinch, but if you are into competitions, then using a heavy staff will make those flimsy little sticks fly in your hands like magic.

Next time I post, it'll be on so called "special moves," a la streetfighter(only more realistic), that can be applied to real weapons in real life situations(as opposed to swinging a wooden sword and cutting down a skyscraper on the other side of the street, or whatever your favorite fantasy character likes to do...), as well as defensive training.

Well, that's it for this installment. Any feedback would be much appreciated, send it to:

NOTE: Posted 8/5/2014 and backdated to 5/23/2002 to mirror my old site. As the contact email was from 2002, it may not work anymore, but take out the "NOSPAM" before emailing. At the time of mirroring, this article on the old site received at least 2,258 pageviews.


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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps