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10 Points of Contention in the FMA

1) The best defense is a good offense so blocking is an inefficient tactic.

2) Elaborate disarms don’t work in actual combat. Disarms are only incidental during the course of a fight and cannot be planned.

3) Abaniko strikes are not effective in actual combat because they lack power.

4) Thrusting techniques are useless with a stick unless aimed at the eyes or throat.

5) Stick grappling makes no sense because it’s easier to grapple without a stick.

6) Light weight sticks are not strong enough to hurt someone in a real fight.

7) Multiple strikes to the hand or arm will never happen because the hand will retract quickly after the first hit.

8) Padded sticks teach bad habits because people are too over daring since they don’t cause pain.

9) Stick and dagger tactics don’t work because no one is foolish enough to attack with a short weapon against someone holding a longer one or while a person still has a longer weapon at the ready.

10) Why train with a stick or sword because they’re situational and chances are you’ll never encounter a scenario where both you and an attacker are armed with either?

During the course of my training I have heard all of the aforementioned statements and/or questions. Do you have any points of contention to the points of contention?

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Thanks for your reply Jerome! I'm sure that you and many others understand that my intent in posting threads such as these are to start a discussion and illicit feedback from the martial art community. Sometimes people will agree as will others disagree with statements made on the forum and that's a good thing because we all learn from each other and I think it will help to preserve and further promote the arts.

Best defense is avoiding an attack not offense... defense is defense and needed.. How can ypu counter is you cannot attack.. I guess you haven't Bern hit with a powerful abaniko... trusting is not only to puncture but also a way to create distance... multiple hand strike is for practice only it usually goes hand then head or other vital parts.. watch videos of actual confrontation in south American and it will show you that a knife is a good equalizer vs a guy wirh a machete.. (better chance of survival). So many wrong things in this 10 points..
Do you train only with stick(s)?

Hello Zach, i've been absent for a while. But I sure like coming back and finding these topics that you've started.

1. Yes the best defense is a good offense that is when your not blocking or redirecting. remember its better to block than to get hit.

2. No you don't go looking for disarms, but you still need to practice them. How can you make something happen if you cannot recognize it when the opportunity presents itself. Remember you can't pull off what you don't practice.

3.Abaniko strikes lack power?? Tell that to to people that I have personally snapped their sticks in half (brand new) while they were still holding them.

4. The thrust actually requires less effort to do a lot of damage (lots of force concentrated into a small area.)

5. Any advantage in a fight is better than none. Anything in your hands can provide leverage. Have you ever had a fang choke applied, try it then come back and tell it does not work.

6.Depends on who is using the light stick, me personally I like a medium weight but really dense stick.

7.Yes the hand retracts quickly after the first hit, thats why i'm hitting the other one.

8.Depends on the padded stick the asp one wearing no pads can drop you but still safe enough not to break bone. They sure do hurt like the dickens lol.

9.Yes the shorter weapon is at a disadvantage, but you need to make due with whatever is available. A short weapon is better than no weapon.

10. better to prepare and not need it than to need it and not be prepared. 

Thanks Dan for your insights which are so very welcoming. I've been away from the fourum as well over the past several months. I'll be getting back to it soon though. I miss the interaction with the martial arts community. Hope all is well and I'm looking forward to posting and engaging in conversations.


4) Thrusting techniques are useless with a stick unless aimed at the eyes or throat.

 As a range fighter, thrusting is great for ranging, I use it all the time when sparring. Nothing annoys your opponent more than "poking the bear". As for power the shock value of getting speared in the face or between the eyes works great to take the fight out of your opponent.

During a tournament I accidentally/purposely thrusted my opponent in the groin. This stopped him dead in his tracks. I did it because he was committing fouls, and the ref. wouldn't call them. I ended up with seven stitches in my chin, due to his fouls.

My friend was aggressively greeted by a coked-up drunk on his porch. We had been collecting driftwood, because my friend is a wood carver. The much larger guy came at my friend and he faked a strike to his face. The aggressor turned his head away, and my friend snapped an abaniko to his nose. The guy went down like a ton of bricks, and was out cold for a couple of seconds. My friend had splattered the guy's nose all over his face. The guy tried to get up, but my friend did a sprawl and brought him face down, and held him down.

Multiple strikes to the hand or arm can work if you follow the hand back as it retracts. The arm is actually a decent sized target. I haven't had too much difficulty hitting either in sparring. Also, a retracting hand opens up more targets, especially the head.

Where I live machetes and pocket clip knives are very common, and cheap. I'm glad I've trained with a sword. Sticks are everywhere. One must have situational awareness. Some miscreant was going to shoot me with a pellet gun, so I ran around a corner house. Guess what I found, a huge stick. He came running after me, and I picked up the stick. He stopped and told me to drop it or he would shoot me. I told him he'll get one shot off, before I'll be all over him with my stick. He actually backed down after a bit of negotiation.

I know I'm a little late getting into this particular discussion, but this list of contentions looks very interesting. I was trying to go through them one at a time and determine whether I considered the statements true or false. I realize after a few readings that it isn't about consensus or agreement. As with most applications of a FMA curriculum, most of the responses here have been about the practicality of the tactic or strategy employed by each statement.

It seems to me that often strategy and tactic are the only consideration for a martial arts curriculum. My "point of contention" is to ask why this is so? Why do instructors need to select curriculum based solely on the practical application of the tactic/strategy in either sparring or combat applications?

Michael, I feel it all depends on the instructor's life experiences, what he wants to propagate, and what market he wants.


If you are saying that instructors create curriculum and teach according to the experiences they have had in life then I agree with you. Most of us will have some sort of bias that we bring with us as instructors. That is one of the ways that we extract or delete drills or skills. When we are unable to create the effect we want with a technique we will naturally shy away from its use.

In Zach Jenkins' original list of contentions, numbers 2, 3, 6, 9 and 10 specifically mention the validity of tactics/strategies in relation to "self-preservation crisis events". Isn't it possible that disarms, abaniko, lightweight sticks, stick and dagger tactics and even armed defensive tactics in general, can serve some function to a martial artist besides combat?

I re-read all of the posts in this thread, and I believe yours was the only one to mention the term "market", which I assume to mean marketing demographics. I know I'm going to get someone upset, but, I wonder if our overall lack concern for this is, in part, one of the reasons our curriculum focuses on combatives in the first place? 

Michael, I agree with you too. Myself and many students have experienced a meditative effect while training sinawalis, for ex. It's exercise and comradery, too. Expressing ones-self privately or in a demo has been important to me.


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