I’ve taught hundreds of people how to fight with a cane. I genuinely believe that a cane can be an excellent “low profile” weapon in the right hands…assuming the person wielding the cane has a little training or practice. Before I talk about how best to use the cane, let’s take a look at how NOT to use it.
Check out this link: Man, 78, Fights Off Robber With Cane
This 78-year old man confronted a burglar who was stealing a television. The man began striking the burglar in the head with the cane. The burglar was unfazed. He took the cane away from the old man and then walked out the door with a new TV. The homeowner is actually very lucky that the burglar didn’t beat him to death with his own cane.
It’s a sad story, but it is one that happens all too often. The folks who use a cane for protection are the ones carrying it because they need it for balance and mobility. When they remove their balancing device to use it as an impact weapon, they fall, their strikes are ineffective, or they get their cane taken from them.
That doesn’t mean that a cane is a poor choice for a weapon or that folks with mobility issues shouldn’t use it for fighting. It just means that some thought needs to go into both your weapon and your tactics before you depend on them in a life threatening encounter. If you are considering using a cane as a weapon, here are some things to think about….
Make sure your cane is designed for fighting. The cheap aluminum or orthopedic canes sold in drug stores will break if you hit something hard (like a skull). Instead use a stout oak or hickory “hog show” cane found in farm supply stores for about $10. Better yet, check out the Ka-Bar TDI fighting cane. Although it’s been discontinued, used canes regularly become available on Ebay.
If you are especially young, burly, or don’t need a cane to get around, don’t carry one as a weapon. Trust me. I’ve tried. Although I love its attributes for fighting, I can’t quite pull off carrying one in public. It attracts way too much undesirable attention. Save the cane until you get a little older or have some mobility issues.
Don’t rely on a cane as a weapon in an airplane. Many people carry canes onto planes because they are some of the few weapons that will be allowed past security. The cane may be fine in the airport itself, but is very difficult to use effectively inside the plane. There simply isn’t enough room in an airplane cabin to swing the cane to create optimal power.
If you are in extremely close quarters, make sure you know how to use the outside bend in the crook as well as the sharpened handle as weapons. The crook can be used as an uppercut-type punch to the throat or face. The sharpened handle end can tear at the face and neck.
If you have mobility issues and really need the cane for balance, try using alternating low and high thrusting motions with the tip instead of “swinging for the fences” in your best Babe Ruth impression. The thrusting strikes are quicker and more difficult to block. They also leave your cane closer to the ground for support if you need it.
Make sure you know what to do if someone grabs your cane in a fight. This happens in almost every cane fighting incident I’ve seen. If your cane is grabbed, instantly transition to another weapon or execute a practiced retention technique.
Make sure your cane fits you. Many canes are too long. Shorter is generally better. Make sure that the cane isn’t so slippery that it will slide out of your grasp if your hands get sweaty or bloody.
Don’t try to “hook” heads, necks, or limbs with the crook in a fight. You will be fighting his entire body weight with the strength of your arms. Despite what a lot of the martial arts “masters” advocate, hooking doesn’t work that well in real fights.
Train in techniques that allow you to maximize the cane’s swinging momentum for long range strikes. The cane can be swung almost like a tonfa or PR-24 baton at long range, doubling its velocity and power. Students in my classes regularly break six-inch diameter PVC pipe when using the swinging techniques.
The cane can be a great weapon if you know how to use it. Check out TDI’s “Integrated Impact Weapons Course” where we cover all of these techniques. If you’d like more information, or would like to schedule Active Response Training to teach a cane class in your area, please send us a message using the contact page.
If you can’t come to class, I’d recommend Michael Janich’s Martial Cane Concepts as a great video to start learning how to use a cane effectively in combat. Unfortunately, the video was published by Paladin Press. Paladin went out of business last year, so the only copies available are on the used market. You may be able to find something cheaper on Ebay until Mr. Janich re-releases the title through another outlet.