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Greetings to All,

This is somewhat of a long question, i'll try to make it as concise as possible.  

So i was reading an article on Isometric excersize and how one can use it to augment your stick work and such.  The article did mention something to the effect that using heavier sticks during striking and such would 'mess up' the nuero-pathways all ready established through normal stick/striking patterns.  Instead, they recommended just using normal sticks and doing one's striking pattern at a very low velocity and holding a static posture with the stick and at various points in the movement of the striking pattern.  

     Coming from a previous background of doing static postures from other martial arts (Bagua, tajijuan, Hsing-I) that uses isometric postures throughout certain forms, it can be useful in training the body (as far as static strength).

As far as NOT using heavier sticks because they will 'mess up' the neuro-pattern movement (muscle-memory), I'm not sure I buy that statement.  I train with 1.5 to 2 inch diameter rattan sticks regularly and granted, they are heavier and I move slower with these sticks, yet when I use a normal 7/8 inch stick or a lighter rattan stick, obviously my speed is much faster only because I regularly train with heavy sticks.  I don't feel that they have messed up the pattern of movement for my striking pattern, but I could be mistaken in that sense.  

Anyways, do any of you think that using heavy weight sticks messes up your muscle memory?  And do any of you do or have tried using isometric training with your stick work?  All opinions and ideas are welcome.

Walter V.

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I'm not so sure about static postures and isometric training. It's something I haven't studied or experimented with so I won't comment much on that. I do know that many arts don't do it and their practitioners seem to be perfectly capable. I think it's an interesting topic worth examining but I'd be concerned if it's the best use of training time as most of us only have a limited amount of time to train.

As for heavy sticks messing up your swing/muscle memory. I think heavy sticks have their place and that its best to use a variety of weapon weights in training. I consider what attributes you're trying to develop with a given exercise and choose weapon weight to optimize that. Imo heavy sticks are good for conditioning the body but I'm not convinced they make you any faster. I agree it feels that way when you switch from heavy to light but it's worth coming up with a way to measure to verify if it's true. For regular technique and impact work medium sticks are good. For speed and reflex training light sticks are better. It's my thought that to get faster you need to actually move fast, lighter sticks enable you to do this. Learn speed with a light weapon and transition to a heavier stick to work applying that speed usefully. Training with different weighted weapons offers different benefits, use it to your advantage.

It would be (in my opinion) impossible to do "static stick work" and get anything out of it, for the simple fact that you can only reach full range of motion, and use the little rebound effects of the tendons and ligaments, if you are moving with some speed. And in my thoughts, using a heavier weight, much similar to weight training, forces those tendons and ligaments to have to get stronger, in order to rebound that extra weight. Static postures are good for your structure or foundation behind the strike, or to practice perfect technique in a gross body movement. But in order to get those strikes in right, they need to be practiced with some speed, some resistance, and whatever else you can think of. And hit a lot of objects. Hitting the air won't be the same as hitting a person. Those pretty forms can turn ugly real fast in a fight. 

These are just my personal thoughts :)

Robert Boger

Regarding the article on isometric exercise benefits on stick work, can you provide a link so that we may read it and further analyze it.

Regarding speed, I agree with JSPEEDY that the heavy stick will not make you any faster however once accustomed to the stick, your force of impact will be greater.

Here is the website.  I do not know if you'll be able to read the full article but this is the article i was referring to.  

Walter, there is a YouTube video of a body builder arm wrestling a professional arm wrestler. The body builder, who obviously has more muscle mass, could not take the arm wrestler down. Muscle mass obviously did not help him. On the other hand, arm wrestlers condition their muscles for a specific purpose: arm wrestling!

Physiotherapists say that the use of heavier weighted implements will slow you down when using lighter ones, and that it is all in the mind that you seem to move faster. They studied this with baseball players who used weighted donut rings on their bats when practicing their swings. However, what type of mechanics are you using to swing the heavier stick? Are they intended for lighter weapons or actual heavier types? Does your FMA style use multiple flick of the wrist-type maneuvers, or are you using body mechanics that are truly intended to accommodate longer and heftier weapons?

As an example, I teach Didya Mudgara Warrior Club Calisthenics, which has its roots in Cabaroan Cinco Tero Escrima, Ablon/Hilot manual medicine, and Indian wooden club swinging that serves as a platform to execute the maneuvers.The implements used are light two-pound clubs that are similar in appearance to bowling pins. There are static yoga-like postures and active swinging. The static postures are held at certain transitional points as strengthening markers and to increase the practitioner's range of motion. The swinging portion connects those points. Strength is internally and externally developed, even though it may not be visible on the physical body. An important fact is that the maneuvers are warrior-based, meaning that they are applicable to movement arts including sports enthusiasts and martial artists.

So, to summarize, examine how you are swinging your heavier stick versus your lighter one. Body mechanics would or should naturally adapt to the weapon's characteristics, not the other way around, that is, unless one has customized a weapon to fit a certain style with specific body mechanics. By seeing it in this perspective, you will not limit yourself—your muscle movement—strictly to what has unfortunately become a standard-sized Escrima stick.

I like how you referenced the how baseball players/bat swinging experiment.  Ya, my FMA style doesn't really us flicking type strikes, as the idea in Sina Tirsia Wali (very similar to Pekiti Tirsia) is that the stick is just a training tool for the blade.  Obviously, I can't always use a training blade to strike my striking bag(mainly cause I'll destroy my striking bag)  so we use rattan sticks.  Though ultimately I've been using a dulled training bolo that is similar in dimensions and weight to a real bolo blade that I would use. 

      But I never knew that using a heavier stick wouldn't help my striking.  I mostly use my heavy rattan sticks for getting the correct angle and movement of the strike, and I generally go at a very slow speed (almost at 'tai chi' like speeds).  The heavier weight of the rattan sticks don't allow me to 'cheat' the angles since I have to use a little bit more strength and muscle control to make sure I get the correct angle, orientation, and follow through.  

Your method of swinging the heavy rattan in Tai Chi fashion reminds me of how I used to lift light weights at a slow pace in order to develop my speed. I like how you use the heavy rattan stick as a weight to get the correct angle and movement of the strike.

Because I have a background in the northern Ilocano Escrima styles, particularly the Cabaroan styles, body mechanics are developed for using approximately 36-inch hardwood flat balila (flat club) or pang-or (long truncheon), not to mention the talunasan or pannabas. There is no doubt, however, that swinging a light rattan stick afterwards will fly in my hand! I look to the body mechanics, similar to how a baseball player or golfer would use their entire body to execute/manipulate the implement. Of course, if I happened to have a lighter rattan stick or a long blade in hand, I would adjust my movements to accommodate the weapon, which would include less hip rotation and more wrist and elbow action.
You tend to move faster if you switch from a heavy weapon to an equivalent lighter weapon.


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