<XMP><BODY></xmp>A quick guide to pole fighting

A Quick Course in Pole Fighting.

There are various ways to defend yourself with a pole or staff. The “Little John” Quarterstaff methods are already pretty well known, so I’ll not cover them in this article. Instead I’ll detail a method that is also applicable to spear or polearm use. This collection of techniques draws from Wing Chun’s “Six and a half point” Pole form, but also incorporates a few other disciplines.

Take a staff and hold it at one end. One hand at the butt and the other about a shoulder width above. The thumb side of each hand should be on the inside.

Hold the pole level and let your arms hang naturally.

You now pretend that you are doing some weight lifting:

The Straight Moves

Raise the pole up to shoulder level, then up above your head.

Drop it back down to shoulder level, then thrust your arms out in front of you, as though you are doing push-ups when standing.

Bring the staff back to your shoulders and let it drop down to below your waist.

These are the “straight moves”. The times you raised the staff or pushed it away from you could have knocked an attack off target or struck a foe. So too could the downward moves.

More of this in a moment.

The Pivot Moves

Next, raise the staff to about chest level, and experiment with moving the rear hand to move the staff tip around, using the forward hand as a pivot.

Draw an “X” and then a “+” in the air.

You can add more force or range of movement to these actions by moving the forward hand, twisting the waist or stepping appropriately.

The Circular Moves

Move the rear hand to circle the tip and draw a sort of clover leaf made of four circles. Start each circle with a vertical motion, then move it out to the left or right and back to where you started. This exercise will be familiar to fencers, and serves the same purpose. Full circle parries are probably too slow for actual combat with heavy weapons such as poles by practising making them is good exercise.

Part circles are more likely in combat. As well as being used to ward off attacks, circular movements can also strike.

Thrusts and Jabs

The only other staff movements you need to incorporate into your repertoire are the thrust and jab.

All of the above motions can be used in combination. For example, combining the circular and pivot moves will create a “figure 8” motion.

The same motions that are used to deflect attacks can also be used to deliver strikes.

Wing Chun has a saying that “the staff only makes one noise”. –which is meant to imply that a defensive move and a counter attack can be combined into one motion. A slam that knocks an attack away can be allowed to slide down the shaft and hit the hands. A parry can be made with a thrusting motion to strike.

Combine the above movements with some footwork. Some of the basic karate-type stances are useful here.

Make most of the moves from Rear stance, with the majority of your weight on the rear foot, but move into Front stance for a thrust or jab. Try dropping into Horse stance to add power to a downward strike, and make some defensive moves from this position. Imagine someone is attacking your forward leg, and avoid it by moving into a Crane stance. At the same time make a low parry with your rear hand high to sweep the attack away.

Play around with all these moves and you will soon be able to handle a staff quite effectively.

See also the section on Bayonet Techniques



By the Author of the Scrapboard :


Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence

Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.

Crash Combat. Second Edition with additional content.
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