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Escrima Stick versus Expandable Baton

Sep 10, 2008
Pick your weapon. Which one would you choose between the two? I bet that the majority of the public who mostly see the latter in action in the movies would pick the expandable baton since it is flashier. Witnessing the baton being whipped out so it can expand to its full length with a distinct locking sound seem sensational. Compare that with seeing a plain Escrima stick at the ready without dramatic and sound effects would seem dull. However, the essence of these impact weapons does not lie in their initial execution but with their purpose. They are meant to stun, hit, break, stab, jab, crush, restrain, and/or control your adversary.

In order for the stick and baton to perform their tasks, they have to be functional first of all. And in order for them to function, they have to be reliable all the time. This is how the Escrima stick is superior to the expandable baton. The former is a solid piece of cylindrically shaped material while the latter is of similar design with moving parts. The more mechanically complex a device, the more likely it will malfunction. The baton has to have sufficient angular momentum for the tip to extend fully and lock in place.

A co-worker of mine recently practiced whipping his department issued ASP brand expandable baton in front of me to no avail. His 26 inch impact weapon did not expand at all, possibly due to lack of angular momentum or the tip was stuck inside the handle or both. After 2 or 3 attempts, however, it finally expanded. Perhaps it needed dry lubrication on a periodic basis; but, what is the percentage of law enforcement personnel in general who actually take the time and effort to maintain them properly? Quite low indeed in my opinion. An expandable baton has to crucially work every single time in law enforcement work and in self-defense to deter or to project force.

Another flaw that the baton displays is its mechanical integrity. I had the experience of striking new Taiwanese made 16" and 21" expandable steel batons on hard surfaces such as concrete and metal only to have them retract back to their closing position. These hard impacts resulted in the joints becoming loose. Once this happens, the batons are permanently damaged. I just wonder if my duty baton would behave in a similar fashion; although, I do not want to find out. You will not encounter this problem with a solid piece of Escrima stick.

One of the effectiveness of an impact weapon is its hitting power. Sticks and batons are obviously designed differently. The former has a density, whether of wood or synthetics, that is evenly distributed due to its cylindrical design. Therefore, the center of gravity will be at its length's midpoint. Simply put, the stick feels balanced; hence, you can maximize its hitting potential with proper technique.

On the contrary, the latter has the bulkiest and heaviest part of its mass toward the handle end, making it bottom heavy. Thus, even when fully extended, the baton's striking trip does not reach full potential since the center of gravity is located near the handle. This is even more evident for longer lengths. My 26" duty ASP does not impact as hard as hard as my 21" Escrima stick when fully swung. Furthermore, I can feel more strain on my wrist when I practice with my ASP.

Having made these arguments, the Escrima stick is the clear winner. Its simplicity lends to its practicality. There are useful tips to consider when owning such impact weapons. Practitioners of Cabales Serrada Escrima usually utilize sticks with lengths from 16" to 24" with 21" being the norm. With shorter ones, you gain speed for power; with longer ones, you gain power for speed.

From experience, one of the best sticks is made from laminated hardwood; it has the proper weight, durability, and ruggedness. Dried rattan, more brittle synthetics, and even expensive hardwoods such as Lignum Vitae tend to break under hard use. One piece exotic hardwoods such as the Lignum tend to warp while another one such as Cocobolo tend to get dented more. As for synthetics, more durable and flexible polycarbonates tend to bounce more upon impact; it is even worse for longer lengths.
About the Author
A conservative American with backgrounds in law enforcement, martial arts, engineering, and info systems management. Please check my web site about self-defense devices, martial art training programs, child and home protection, and surveillance equipment at Striker701 Group.
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