Short Stick

Short Stick

The short stick (Some call it tanbon some call it the kobutan ) embodies "cobra." Like the cobra, the short stick holds its position patiently, then explodes, countering to a pressure point, joint, or vulnerable bodily organ. It s usually constructed of hardwood, and extends to twelve inches. Generally, it is favored by the more experienced fighter. This is because it enhances the "inside" fight. Gone is the comfortable distance provided by the Bo, or the speed and ranginess of the middle stick. Of the three, the short stick is perhaps easiest to learn. Conversely, it is the most difficult to master. Because of its small size, the margin for blocking error is large. It is exclusively an insider's weapon, those who study short stick become expert at inside fighting as an ancillary benefit.

Though relatively small, the short stick’s strongest advantage is the dramatic increase of energy it can deliver to a target. We call this leveraging your personal energy. Whether it s a strike, a pressure point application, a throw, or a joint lock, the leverage generated is extraordinary, certainly far beyond what someone would expect from its size.

I suppose I might add the short stick could be considered a concealable weapon. But what’s there to conceal? Anything you can do with a short stick, you can do with a rolled up magazine, even a newspaper. It’s ubiquitous!

Short stick work is fully integrated into training at Ironcrane Dojo. As is the case with many weapons, learning the movement and strategy of the weapon also benefits empty hand movement. Over the years, I have heard it expressed that insights gained from weapon work, particularly as benefits empty hand movement and efficiency, can be gained no other way. In my opinion, this is true.

I would summarize that short stick... 

  •           Improves confidence in the inside fight 
  •          Elevates the precision of all blocking movements 
  •          Augments efficiency of response and counters, particularly off of blocks 
  •           Increases skills in addressing and responding to multiple attacks 
  •          Enhances visual perception and reaction against multiple attackers

 These two accompanying photographs (taken of my combat short stick), should give you clear understanding of the look and proportions of a typical specimen.



I have attached several video clips. These are demonstrations of short stick techniques, excerpted from our instructional video Sticks, Tricks and Useful Bits , which is no longer in print but can be viewed here. Included below are the basic strikes and blocks, along with some explanatory narrative, and then a few demonstrations of how flow develops once the basic techniques become familiar.


These clips are for entertainment and general informational purposes only.  Actual self defense should be practiced in a controlled environment emphasizing safety, and only under the direct supervision of a Black Belt instructor, and only after you have been cleared by your personal physician.

8 Strike Pattern


The Live Hand


8 Block Pattern


8 Block Pattern II


Blocks Applied


Simple Striking Movement


Complex Striking Movement


Facing Two Attackers


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