There seems to be some misunderstanding as to the weapons we use when people see our photos: "Is that a Shillelagh?", "Is that a Filipino stick?"...Yes and no to both and so much more. So today's blog should clear up some of the questions.

Walking Stick

Our main weapon is the 3' walking stick (actual size depends on the height of the user and/or personal preference, for example at 5' 10" a 2 foot stick would have me bent over like the Hunchback of Notre-Dame and therefore be very ineffective as a walking stick). A well crafted walking stick is legal everywhere, having a non-weapon use, and is easy to obtain (though obtaining one tough enough for repeated martial art abuse is another matter).
Is it a Shillelagh? Well if you are using a Shillelagh then it is a Shillelagh but many people differ on just what that term means; however our style is a blend of both Western and Eastern styles so the emphasis is on walking sticks (walking sticks are heavy ended like some Shillelaghs but the handle of a walking stick can vary from a knob, to a L shape, to a hook/crook).
We use the classic 1/3 grip because walking sticks have more weight at the handle end and the 1/3 grip helps to balance this weight. Also, when the stick is held in both hands it tends to be naturally divided into thirds anyway and when you let go with one hand then the hand left holding the stick is now left in a 1/3 grip. We sometimes grasp the stick closer to the handle if we want to play at a greater range using more of a Scottish sword style (our style is both close-in and long range depending on the fighters).

Short Stick (or Club)

In our second year we focus more on using the 28" rattan sticks common (but not exclusive) to the Filipino martial arts. Sometimes a walking stick is not at hand and you must use whatever you happen to pick up. This could be a stick you found on the ground, a hammer, or even your own broken (now shorter) walking stick. Why rattan? We love rattan because it will fray rather than splinter like wood and is therefore safer to training; the drawback is that it is lighter than most woods so you should train with various materials but still keeping safety foremost in your mind.

Long Stick

When we do the Chinese Wand Exercises we use a 4' stick (again depending of the users height, or rather arm span in this case). In Japan
such a stick is called a Jo but because we are Canadians serving an English speaking population we use English terms; also 2' 3' 4' and even 6' sticks were used in Ireland, all the same lengths in Japan would be called Tessen (iron fan), Hanbo, Jo, and Bo respectively. The Scottish Broadsword was commonly between 3 and 4 feet long. In India a form of stick fighting is often done with a stick about 4' long and French La Canne is close to 4' as well. In England a 6' or longer stick was used in quarterstaff fighting. So you see the common lengths were in use by many cultures beyond the popular Asian arts.

I hope this clears up some things about the weapons we use but CSFS also teaches empty hand techniques as well as ground techniques so come on out and train with us.