by Evan S. Baltazzi
Review by Joe Sullivan
Originally published in 1983 by the Charles E.Tuttle Company, this book on stick fighting was intended to be part of the American Self Protection (A.S.P) program created by Dr Baltazzi. There were two other books published in the series “ Basic American Self Protection” and “ Kickboxing: A Safe Sport, A deadly self Defense”.
Dr Baltazzi , a high ranking Black belt in Judo and Aikido, also trained extensively in French Savate and Western Fencing. By the 1970s Dr Baltazzi seems to have devoted himself more to the Western based forms of self-defense and less to the Eastern styles of martial arts.
His stick-fighting book is 200 pages long and contains over 400 photographs .The book is broken down into two parts. Part 1 concerns itself with “the basics of stick fighting ” and consists of physical conditioning, wrist exercises, grips, guards, parries, footwork, stances thrusts and slashes. The influence of western stick fighting and fencing is obvious throughout these portions of the book. His one handed grip shows a distinct western saber influence, while his two handed grips would have been right at home in a US military police baton manual .In the section on parries Dr Baltazzi shows what he calls a circular over head parry, which is also an effective series of horizontal cuts used to keep several opponents at bay. Also shown is a two handed thrust that is executed with a forward motion in conjunction with advancing foot work or a cross step, this efficient thrust is a common maneuver of la canne and the later military riot stick.
Single and two handed slashing is delivered by a whip slash, a spring slash or a circular spring slash.
Part 1 includes stick fighting and kicking integration. With the exception of a couple of practical low kicks to the shin / knee area, common to the older street savate methods, many of the kicks are waist level and above which I feel makes there use applicable only to fitness or dojo training and not for self- defense.
Another section contains ways of falling and rolling with the stick, which is useful should a person be pushed from the front, side or rear.
The final section of part one covers stick fencing. This was essentially a way for two people to practice and hone their skills .It includes many techniques from Sabre fencing with the added dimension of kicking, Baltazzi however advocates that not all sword skills are transferable to the walking stick –
“ Much of the sophistication of classical fencing is utterly meaningless in stick fencing and stick fighting; never less certain notions and practices are common to both. For instance, when using a stick it is not advisable to lunge to the same degree as in fencing because, unless you have an exceptionally fast recovery, you may expose yourself to a kick when your opponent dodges or parries your attack”.
Part 2 of the book covers a wide variety of actual “self protection techniques and scenarios”. Defenses against knives, guns, and sticks, even against being attacked in a bar with a chair or bar- stool is covered. Most of the techniques entail at least two situations –
(a) “Before, ” – when an attack is foiled as it is initiated and (b) “Secure,” – when a grip or some other form of attack has been secured.
This section concludes with “Combination sequences” which could be practiced solo for people with out training partners.
While I do not agree with all the techniques listed in part 2, overall I liked the book as it was a definite departure from the overly complicated stick techniques commonly found in stick fighting manuals of the era.
As I mentioned earlier, this book came out in 1983 and unfortunately is long out of print. It is very difficult to find and due to its rarity is often highly priced when it does turn up on the usual search engines. Hopefully a reprint of this manual will be forthcoming in the near future.