The Palm Stick is well known by many names among Filipino martial arts practitioners (FMA).
Among the most popular terms for this weapon are:
- tabak maliit (little sword),
- olisi palad or olisi palid (palm of the hand) and
- dulo-dulo (one end to the other).
The most common material for the production of a palm stick is hardwood, but steel or rigid plastic versions are also available or among some traditional eskrimadors using deer stages (sungay ng usa).
The Palm Stick today is also called in the more modern versions Pocket Stick,
and is one of the most effective weapons of self-defense at close range.
It is essentially a derivation of the Yawara stick, usually 5.5 inches (14 cm) long and 0.56 inches (1.5 cm) in diameter, slightly thicker or the same size as a marker.
Attached with a keychain for convenience and concealment, the Palm Stick looks like a harmless keychain in the eyes of an inexperienced one.
The palm stick is primarily an impact weapon that can be used mainly with shots of:
- snapping or
In a striking situation it is a very effective impact weapon and also a pain amplifier.
I personally believe that the most effective and harmful way to use the palm is through hammer blows and through trapping and striking techniques, which means that it immobilizes the opponent’s hand with a kind of grip or block so as to create an opening and strike without barriers on his skull.
All basic attack angles used in stick and knife training are applicable to the practice of palm stick.
For this reason in the study and training phase it is important to go from basic limb destruction exercises with a partner who pulls shots using something soft that simulates the palm stick and then before proceeding to specific self-defense techniques with this tool and finally sparring free both standing and on the ground to understand its potential.
In a grappling situation you can use the to pinch meat or dig on areas rich in nerves to create space to hit or exit.
It is important to understand the points of the human body where to apply painful pressures and study it from different positions on your feet and on the ground.
It is a very versatile tool and easily replaceable with many common objects.
While there are Filipino styles that offer an extensive program on the use of the palm stick, an experienced eskrimadors knows that it is just another extra weapon, because it has a principled approach.
If you understand the essence of Filipino martial arts, you know you can take any portable weapon regardless of shape and size and use it effectively.
“When you get to the root of a technique, it doesn’t matter what the hand is in your hand.” (Dan Inosanto)
While the angles of attack remain constant in arnis, escribe, kali training, the student must realize that there are subtle differences when switching from weapons to bare-handed combat.
A change in the range of the weapon and as a result the distance from your attacker greatly changes the way you close the distance and bring a shot to your opponent.
A weapon with a shorter range also means more danger to you than to use it because you’re basically closer.
Using a palm stick therefore requires a more important and dynamic footwork because you close the distance before you can get to deal damage to your attacker with your shots.
A palm stick cannot compete with a regular combat stick or knife in terms of stopping power.
It simply lacks the weight and mass of a hardwood stick or the sharp edge of a knife or its penetrating tip, so to stop an opponent with a palm stick you have to generate more force and must be precise going to improve the accuracy and accuracy of the target to inflict a disabling injury.
For this reason it is important to know the primary targets of the human body (striking) and where to inflict painful pressures (control, clinch and grappling).
The kinestic ability
The palm stick in the hand is used at close range, so the necessary attributes to fight in that type of distance must also be developed.
In addition to the speed of the hand, the strength of the arm and the positioning of the body, a crucial attribute in the use of the palm is the kinesthetic sensitivity.
The latter is the ability to read the opponent’s energy through touch.
Many martial styles have integrated in the development of attributes outreach exercises that are essential to “feel” when in contact.
In Filipino styles exercises such as Hubad – Lubad or Tapi-tapi and other close-up exercises in which they are taught to detect pressure or lack of pressure, direction, etc. in the limbs of the partner are good ways to develop kinesthetic sensitivity.
You have to understand that when you fight at close range you can’t depend much on your sight to detect your enemy’s shots and you need kinesthetic sensitivity when you fight to read, hear, “see” the sweeps to strike and how to deflect and avoid the blows of your attacker.
When you find yourself in clinch or tight in a grip, your defense will most likely depend almost entirely on your kinestheticsense.
The most obvious advantage of palm stick training is that it is an easy weapon to hide and that some common items can be used as substitutes such as a thick pen, brush, stick or other sturdy objects of similar shape.
Any object that is hard enough and has a similar shape can be adapted.
In the case of the balisong, some prefer to use the exposed tab of the closed blade to strike compared to the other end of the handle where the catch is located, because the latter is more susceptible to damage but this is not a rule and I personally recommend to use it in the position that in case of need allows you to open faster than the balisong.
Filipino martial arts
Consider that Filipino martial arts are originally an art born on the battlefield and have a reverse progression compared to other traditional Asian martial arts.
First you study the weapons and then the bare hand.
In arnis, escribe and kali, the student trains with weapons first and then progresses to the fight with his bare hands.
A quote from the late escribe master John LaCoste in the book Inosanto The Filipino Martial Arts reads:
“If you want to learn how to use your fist, you must first learn how to use the weapon.”
By shortening the weapon, all techniques work just as well in bare-handed combat, what changes is the footwork and the way you close the distance but the use of weapons is preparatory for any martial art or combat sport.
The tactical torch for self-defense
When used effectively, the tactical torch is an excellent tool for self-defense.
Combine the power to blind an attacker with night-adapted vision with the benefits of the palm of his hand.
It’s hard to imagine how effective an extremely bright light is, until you’re shining with one in the dark.
All you can see is the light, as in the image on the left, and when the light goes out, you see black as your eyes adjust to the change.
But imagine what your attacker will feel, because immediately after losing his sight he is kicked in the balls, hit in the solar plexus or hit in the face with what amounts to a large metal bolt.
Not only is the torch a great self-defense tool, but you can carry it anywhere, including where weapons of any kind are illegal to carry.
General principles: Prevention should always be the first option
It is always best to avoid physical contact whenever possible.
Using the torch as a deterrent, rather than immediately as a weapon, should be the optimal choice and if you keep the distance and blind a potential attacker, it may be enough to escape.
If it is not, many combinations will work with a “flash and bash” strategy, including striking combinations in which you replace the light for blows or elbows.
So dazzle and hit with your free hand! To simplify it.
Since most people instinctively carry their hands on their face after being dazzled, the attack preference is generally to kick low, however hitting low changing attack line, or grab with the other hand to strike with the torch or hammer with the hand holding the torch from top to bottom to hit the head with the light as an opening move Etc.
This defense with the torch as a palm stick also works well as an attack after a glow and can be performed on the face, throat, sternum or solar plexus.
So dazzle and strike with the same attacking hand!
This two-stroke approach requires training, so if you choose to carry a self-defense torch, you need to do specific ox training to be able to use it properly.
Another important point is that the light must already be in your hand.
It won’t help if it’s in your pocket or purse.
When you carry a flashlight in self-defense you should carry it in your hand when you walk outdoors at night.
Apart from its size and shape, much of its use is quite similar to the Yawara stick and as with the Yawara stick, the main areas of self-defense attack include bone, fleshy and nervous targets such as knuckles, forearms, nose bridge, shins, stomach, solar plexus, spinal, temple, ribs, groin, eyes, etc.
What changes is the type of approach in use if your training is in Filipino martial arts compared to traditional martial arts and systems if you consider that the study of the stick is very thorough and is very preparatory for the study of the palm stick that only needs some distance-related readjustment.
The palm stick sockets
The palm stick is usually held in an ice peak socket (for blows of a hammer punch) or forward grip (for stabbing attacks and pressure points).
Common uses include hardening the fist (punch) to strike, attacking vulnerable parts of an attacker’s body and obtaining a lever on an assailant’s wrist, fingers and joints.
With the keys attached as in the case of the kubotan it can also function as a weapon that shakes or if you use paracords to improve its grip you can get a weapon with greater range.
As a weapon for pressure and pain control, it can attack any point that a finger can, but with greater penetration due to the smaller surface area at the ends.
Examples of using the palm stick
For example, a law enforcement officer can wrap his arm around the suspect’s neck and simultaneously dig the tip of his palm into his small back.
The officer can also reach the suspect’s neck and armpits from behind and cause pain by digging the end of his palm into the top of his pectoral muscle.
A typical pain pressure technique is a “seal” block of the wrist in which the attacker’s wrist is captured and sealed with both hands and the body of the palm of the hand stretched out on the radial bone to bring it to the ground.
The downward compression pressure is then applied to the bone to lead to hold the attacker and control it.
His techniques are strongly linked to the techniques of martial arts “empty-handed” but it is not really so because in the Filipino formation is a mix of Panantukan, Suntukan, then used with a deep integration in Filipino boxing with all his philosophy and approach to combat.
Have a good workout with the Palm Stick!
Street Fight Mentality
Ps. Important! In training, always pay close attention to safety!