Stick Work by Lt. Col. E. W. Fairbairn

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    While perhaps not the last word on stick work, this treatise is, at least, a good start point for those unable to locate stick/baton training. In addition to this fine yet short work, I’d recommend the following; get anything by Mr. Remy Amador Presas (Grand Master Modern Arnis) and/or Mr. Angel Cabales (Grand Master Serrada Eskrima) and use “Stick Fighting” by Masaaki Hatsumi and Quentin Chambers as an adjunct. As well the western stick work of John Styers flows very well with Fairbairns.

    “Basic Stickfighting for Combat” by Michael Echanis may be good as well however, I’ve never read it.

    By W.E. Fairbairn


    A man without a weapon to defend himself, especially after long exposure, is very likely to give up in despair. It is remarkable what a difference it would make in his morale if he had a small stick or cane in his hand. Now, add to this the knowledge that he could, with ease, kill any opponent with a stick, and you will then see how easy it is to cultivate the offensive spirit which is so essential in present-day warfare.

    1. A small stick of 18 to 24 inches in length and about i inch in thickness will make an ideal weapon. (If one is not available, it can be broken off a tree.) Note. – If you are to be successful in the application of this method, it is essential for you to have the element of surprise on your side. This can best be obtained by taking the position shown in Fig. 86.

    2. Retaining your hold of the stick with your right hand, ‘swing the other end up and catch it in your left hand about six inches from the end. This should be done without looking down at your hands or stick. Pay particular attention to the position of the hands (Fig. 87).

    Note. – The reason for using this unusual hold of the stick should be obvious. It is not at all likely that anyone (not previously aware of this particular method of attack) would have the slightest suspicion that he was in danger of being attacked.


    You are close up and facing your opponent, as in Fig. 88.

    1. Strike your opponent across the stomach with the left end of the stick by a vicious circular motion towards your right-hand side.

    In delivering this blow, there are four essential points that must be carried out simultaneously:

    (a) Your loose grip on the stick, both hands (Fig. 87), must be changed to one as strong as possible.

    (b) The movement of your left hand is towards your right-hand side.

    (c) The movement of your right hand is inwards to the left, but much shorter than that of the left hand, because of your right hand’s coming against your right side.

    (d) The movement of your left foot is forward towards the right. This permits you to put the weight of your body behind the blow. See Fig. 89.

    NOTE. – This blow across your opponent’s stomach would not, if he were wearing thick clothing, put him out, but it would surely make him bring his chin forward, which is exactly the position you want him in.

    2. Keeping the firmest possible grip of the stick with both hands, jab upwards with the end of the stick (left-hand end) and drive it into his neck and kill him (Fig. 90). The mark you are after is the soft spot about two inches back from the point of the chin.


    You have missed your opponent’s chin when you attacked as in Fig. 90.

    3. Smash him down the face with the end of the stick, as in Fig. 91, putting all the weight of your body behind the blow.

    4. If necessary, follow-up with a smash across the left side of your opponent’s face with the right-hand end of the stick, as in Fig. 92.

    Note. – You have taken a step to your left front with your right foot to permit of the weight of the body being behind the blow.

    5. If at any time after the initial attack across the stomach your opponent’s head is high in the air, exposing the front part of his neck: Aim to strike the “Adam’s apple” with the center of the stick, putting every ounce of strength behind the blow. This should kill him, or at least knock him unconscious (Fig. 93).

    Note. – Methods No. 2 (the point, up under the chin) and No. 5 (the center, into the “Adam’s apple”) are finishing-off or killing blows, but you must first bring your opponent into the position that permits you to deal them effectively. Method No. i (the point across the stomach) will, on account of its unexpectedness, enable you to accomplish this, and your attack should always start with the stomach attack.

    The W.E. Fairbairn Umbrella Attack Drill
    The present-day umbrella, which is around 18 to 20 inches in length, is an ideal weapon for the purpose of defense against the more serious methods of attack, and students are advised to study and make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the application of the various blows as demonstrated:

    Providing you make yourself proficient in the use of the umbrella, at least one or two of the “Drill Strokes” perhaps with a slight variation, will more than enable you to deal effectively with any assailant.

    -W.E. Fairbairn, Hands Off.

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