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"The [Inay(an)] System (of Eskrima) is Complete" ~ Mangisursuro Inay 1944-2000

Inayan Eskrima and basic law enforcement training

North Carolina basic law enforcement baton techniques in comparison to Inayan Eskrima

My first introduction to Inayan Eskrima came in the last 1990s during one of many trips I took to a martial arts seminar in Wisconsin. Guro Kevin Schoenebeck was there and, after one of our training days, he handing out sticks to anyone interested and ran some Sinawali drills with us. This introduction also seemed to spark an interest in my head instructor, Soke Marty Ferrick. After a couple of years Soke Ferrick had established a relationship with the late Mangisursuro Michael Inay and had begun integrating Inayan Eskrima into our standard curriculum.

Around 2000 I started the Kadena de Mano instructor program as taught by Suro Jason Inay. My previous background was in Japanese Jujutsu (柔術) as taught by Soke Ferrick with a smattering of Moo Duk Kwan (무덕관) in my early years. This made for a good foundation in that I could punch, kick, lock joints, destroy joints, and throw people. My years working toward my Kadena de Mano certification expanded my skill set more than I could have imagined.

Since then I have learned some Dequerdas and Sinawali in other regular classes but not nearly to the extent of my Kadena de Mano training, however many of the basic theories regarding footwork, body positioning, and defense seem to remain the same. Last year I completed what is known in North Carolina as Basic Law Enforcement Training, a course designed by the state Department of Justice that runs just over 600 hours and, “is designed to prepare entry level individuals with the cognitive and physical skills needed to become certified law enforcement officers in North Carolina.” This course is mandatory for anyone who wishes to become a sworn law enforcement officer.

The self defense portion of this curriculum is known as “Subject Control and Arrest Techniques” and is mandated to be 40 hours in total length. With around eight of those hours assigned to in-class lecture that leaves 32 hours to provide the cadets with what should be a good base. However, like many things, the content is influenced by policy and perceived social norms. The class is divided into covering seven pressure sensitive nerve areas, firearm retention, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ground defense, and baton techniques. However, most interestingly, the course includes no empty hand standing fighting. To be fair to the program, they do say that what they teach us is nowhere near enough and that we should all seek further training elsewhere for the sake of our own safety. However, I do feel that what they do teach is lacking in some respects.

This is where Eskrima has come in to fill in the gaping holes.

The absolute lack of empty hand standing fighting training is salvaged very nicely by the Western boxing, Inayan boxing, and empty hand drills of Kadena de Mano. As such, any attempt to compare the two systems is easy to disregard and therefore is not the focus of this text. The major contention between my Inayan training and the state organized training comes in the baton portion of the curriculum.

The baton training is broken down into two sections, deployment (It is the type collapsible steel baton made famous by Asp) and striking, and within these sections the basic stance is covered as well as footwork for the striking. The comparison between the two systems will start at the logical root, the basic stance.

The Stance

The Interview Stance:

Description from the text:

“Feet approximately shoulder width apart, with body weight equally distributed on both feet. Knees slightly bent, reaction leg forward. Reaction hand is up to protect the face, head and upper body. Weapon leg is back slightly. A closed baton may be held in the weapon hand between the waist and shoulders. Once opened, the baton is moved to the Combat Position.”

The Combat Stance:

Description from the text:

“The Combat Stance is designed to maximize the availability of the baton while placing the officer in the best defensive position. The stance sends a strong visual message to the subject that the officer is prepared for possible aggression. The relationship of the feet in the Combat Stance is the same as in the Interview Stance. The feet are slightly wider and the overall stance is deeper. The reaction hand is at eye level with the elbow bent protecting the upper body. The weapon hand holds the baton at jaw level. The baton cap points at the subject. If the baton is open, the shaft of the baton rests on the shoulder.”

A Basic Inayan Dequerdas Stance:

Key Elements:

Feet – Shoulder width apart, weapon side foot forward, both feet pointed forward.

Body – Mostly squared off with a slight bias towards the weapon side.

Weapon hand – Centered and forward with the weapon vertical or slightly forward, guarding the upper torso and head.

Guardian hand – Centered and behind the weapon, hand open.

The only real similarity between these stances is that the feet are shoulder width apart which provides a solid base while allowing for quick movement.

The differences start where the similarities left off, at the feet. The baton stance has the weapon side foot back and turned to one side. The turn helps to facilitate the “bladed” stance which will be discussed later while the rear position coincides with the weapon itself being in the rear, which will also be discussed later. The Inayan stance has the weapon side foot forward and both feet facing the opponent. The basic premise behind this is to get the weapon closer to the opponent and to keep the body facing the threat.

The body position with the baton stance is “bladed” with the weapon hip back and turned away from the opponent. Primarily this is to keep the holstered firearm away from the opponent and the vast majority of the training in basic law enforcement emphasizes this positioning above all else. The Inayan body positioning has the body mostly squared with the weapon side slightly forward. This is to keep both arms within equal range of center and to get the weapon closer to the opponent.

Next is the weapon hand, a very important part of the equation. The baton stance has the weapon hand back and up by the cheek, mimicking a Western boxing position, with the weapon tilted back beside the shoulder and the pommel pointed toward the opponent. The premise behind this apparently to have the arm do the work of guarding against an attack from that side while the weapon is “loaded” for a strike. The Inayan position has the weapon hand forward, lined with the center of the body, and with the weapon vertical with a slight tilt towards the opponent. This is to keep the weapon closer to the opponent and centralized to be able to move to any necessary defensive position.

Finally, there is the matter of the guardian hand. The baton stance calls for this hand to be leading, raised to eye level, and open. This is apparently to act as a nearly static shield against any attacks coming to the one-line area since having the hand this high leaves the three-line area open. I can only assume that the side of the bullet proof vest (which is acceptable against bullets but not so much against knives and bludgeons) is expected to guard the midsection of the officer, if they are wearing one. The guardian hand in the Inayan position is behind the weapon and prepared to block or parry any attacks coming in at the one-, three-, five-, six-, nine-, eleven- , or twelve-line angles. It is also there to support the weapon should it be used as a blocking tool. In fact, the reinforced blocking in Dequerdas is one of the aspects that I find most interesting and useful.

In reference to blocking, the training program takes the following stance:

“Criminals have infinite techniques with which to attack the police. However, police officers must rely on training and departmental policy. Police training programs have limited time. They cannot develop a skill level that allows officers to block every possible attack combination. Consequently, officers who choose to stay and block an attack can be overwhelmed and injured. This may result in the officer being forced to use deadly force in order to survive the attack. However, it is possible to teach officers to avoid the line of attack with simple movement and redirection drills. They can then strike their opponent’s ‘delivery system.’ This will enable the officer to end the assault and this return control to the officer.”

Actually the only blocking part of the training we (my class of 15) received entailed keeping the guarding hand up to “block” the swinging of a hand or foam covered stick at a wide one-line angle while we struck a thigh-level pad with our own foam covered stick. As for the evasion, we were taught to step to the weapon side, strike, and step back to the original position. With this experience under our belts we later fought two one-minute fights against someone in a Red Man suit where we were only allowed to use the baton. As can be expected, when the Red Man came in with straight six- and eleven-line attacks nearly everyone in the class was punched repeatedly in the face. Fortunately everyone was wearing a thick foam helmet with a solid plastic face guard.

Deployment

The training text describes two methods for deploying the baton.

Opening to the sky:

Description from the text:

“…provides maximum visibility. However, should the baton slip out of the officer’s hand, it travels farther away. This method of opening also requires the swing be stopped and reversed to execute a strike.”

This technique involves swinging the baton from the belt level to the shoulder and into the Combat Stance position. Sufficient centrifugal force is required to overcome the interior retention clip tension and expand the baton. The advantage is that it brings the weapon immediately into the Combat Position. The drawback is the Combat Position itself. The training system maintains that a strike can not be performed as the baton is deploying with this technique. A strike could come from this just as easily as it can come from the other deployment method which will be expounded upon next.

Opening to the ground:

Method 1:

Method 2:

Description from the text:

“…allows the officer to continue the opening swing into an immediate strike. It also minimizes travel if released. This method of opening provides minimal visibility.”

There were two methods taught for this technique. The first involved deploying the baton in the middle of an attack swing. The second involved deploying the baton to the rear of the officer, presumably in an attempt to disguise the fact that the officer has just expanded a steel stick. The body positioning for the second method involved turning the body even more than what is used for the Combat Position, while deploying the baton behind the rear leg. Then the baton was brought up to the shoulder and the officer assumed the Combat Position.

I believe that the method of deploying the baton with the strike is tactically sound. However, the method of deploying the baton behind the officer and then having to bring it around into position seems like a considerable risk, since the opponent could notice the movement and rush the officer before the baton can be brought into position. This would be similar to deploying a folding knife out to the side before bringing it back into the center position.

The Strikes

This brings the focus of my comparison to striking methods. Before I continue further please remember that my Dequerdas training is not nearly as in-depth as my Kadena de Mano training so there may be aspects to Dequerdas of which I am unaware. This is one place where the baton training covered an aspect which Dequerdas seemed to miss, attacking with the baton in the “closed” position. This is probably due to the fact that the rattan stick is meant to represent a medium length blade like a Barong, Bolo, or Golok and those weapons simply do not collapse into their handles. The closed handle of a baton can, however, be used in ways which are covered in Kadena de Mano.

There were three strikes taught with the baton in both the closed and open modes, the “weapon strike,” “reaction strike,” and “straight strike.”

Closed mode weapon strike:

Description from the text:

“Baton held in a full hand grip with the thumb across the baton tip. This prevents the baton from opening during the strike. Strikes originate from either the Interview or Combat Stance, and are directed at a 45 degree angle toward the center mass of the subject’s body. The primary striking surface is the cap."

Key Elements:

Footwork – None.

Guardian hand – Remains in the same position at eye level, hand open.

This is very similar to a one-line with the main difference being that the target is not near the junction of the side of the neck and collarbone. The target instead is near the junction of the pectoralis and the anterior deltoid. The strike is then meant to drag across the muscle at a downward 45-degree angle. It is meant to act as a simultaneous strike and push so that the officer can gain distance to either fully deploy the baton or acquire a different weapon.

Since this is a defensive strike it means that the opponent has already entered within a three foot distance. Most Kadena de Mano Eskrimadors would not be in such a hurry to push the opponent away. When they are that close the option to destroy limbs and control the opponent is apparent and almost too tempting to resist.

Closed mode reaction strike:

Description from the text:

“The reaction strike is designed to quickly return the baton to the weapon side. Strikes are directed at a 45 degree angle toward the center mass of the subject’s body. The primary striking surface is the cap.”

Key Elements:

Footwork – None.

Guardian hand – Remains in the same position at eye level, hand open.

Special note – This strike is meant only to follow the “weapon strike.” It is not meant to be a strike by itself.

This is similar to a two-line in the same way that the “weapon strike” resembles a one-line. Interesting to note is that this strike is taught to only follow the weapon strike. It is not meant to be used by itself. If the weapon strike does not succeed in immediately damaging or driving off the opponent then the officer is to react with this strike to “return the baton to the weapon side.” This concept limits the thought process of the officer to thinking that a backhand attack can only follow a forehand.

Closed mode straight strike:

Description from the text:

“The straight strike is executed from the weapon side with the baton grasped firmly in a vertical position, tip up. The primary striking surface is the fist. The strike is directed at the center muscle mass of the body.”

Key Elements:

Footwork – None.

Guardian hand – Remains in the same position at eye level, hand open.

In simple terms this attack equates to using the collapsed baton as a roll of quarters and punching the opponent in the chest. Much like the other closed mode strikes this exists to drive the opponent away and it is not taught to be delivered to any other target.

The closed baton, which can make for an effective impact weapon, is relegated to a very minor role. Gunting techniques in Kadena de Mano seem to be perfectly suited for a heavy metal objects and a nerve center strike with the pommel of a baton would be very effective. Nerve center strikes are part of the curriculum and there are many outside of the “deadly force” zones. Also, considering that the baton is held in a position which resembles the inverted/ice pick/Earth grip, many of the trapping techniques from Kadena de Mano would easily translate. It would stand to reason that using a closed baton in these fashions would be in the best interest of the officer.

This brings me to the open mode baton strikes.

Open mode weapon strike:

Description from the text:

“This is the most powerful and most often used strike. It gives an officer the ability to regain control, and can be done from any tactical position. The officer should use a full hand grip to maintain control and possession of the baton. The weapon strike is delivered at a 45 degree angle. Strike with the last three inches of the baton to the center muscle mass of the subject’s weapon delivery system. Allow the baton to dwell momentarily on impact to gain the full benefit of fluid shock. Recover to the Combat position. The officer should ways strike as hard as possible. Continue striking only so long as resistance continues.”

Key Elements:

Footwork – The weapon leg is to step to the side with the other leg following and moving to the rear as the body turns towards zone two of the opponent.

Guardian hand – Remains in the same position at eye level, hand open.

This was taught as a strike to the common peroneal nerve located on the outside of the thigh. The turning sidestep is very similar to the footwork used in a female triangle with the feet exchanging at the base. In general, this technique follows the Dequerdas concepts of evasion, flanking, and attacking. However, the way this technique was taught involved striking a target below the waist. Considering that the baton is, on average, thirty-two inches long that means that the officer has to either drop their body by bending their knees or leaning over at the waist. This was taught with an upper body lean which obviously violates the premise of keeping the shoulders in line with the hips and also places the head of the officer within range of any other attack the opponent may want to deliver.

The guardian hand is meant to be kept up at eye level, exposing torso of the officer to a lower body attack from the opponent. With both the baton and guarding up in nearly a Muay Thai guard they are out of position to attempt an effective low angle block or parry. In many cases law enforcement officers do not seek defensive training beyond what they receive during their academy days and, as such, teaching them a defensive position that leaves a sizable portion of the body exposed is dangerous.

Open mode reaction strike:

Description from the text:

“A reaction strike is less powerful than a weapon strike. It should be executed rapidly as a means of returning the baton to the weapon side. The striking have is palm down. The target area is between the shoulder and the waist of the subject. The reaction strike is a forgiving technique. It allows swift recover of the baton to the weapon side. The strike performs a clearance, moving the subject away from the officer.”

Key Elements:

Footwork – The guardian side leg (which has become the rear leg after the maneuvering for the weapon strike) steps back to the original position while the weapon side leg follows and returns to the rear position indicative of the Combat Stance.

Guardian hand – Remains in the same position at eye level, hand open.

The text gives an excellent target for a baton strike. An attack to that area will hit either the ribs or, if the opponent has their arm down, it will hit any number of good targets along that appendage. However, this was taught as a strike to the femoral nerve on the inside of the thigh. Much like the strike to the common peroneal nerve this required either dropping the body or, as instructors demonstrated, a forward lean of the body.

Much like the closed mode reaction strike, the system maintains that this strike is meant only to follow after the weapon strike. The text also makes the declaration that a backhand strike would be weaker than a forehand strike. Speaking strictly anatomically there are more, and larger, muscle groups involved in a backhand strike than with a forehand. Compound that with sound technique and there should be no chance of a forehand being stronger than a backhand.

Also similarly to the closed mode strikes the system maintains that such a strike would drive the opponent backwards and give the officer space. If this strike connects with the ribs or leg the chance of the opponent being driven backward is slim. A rib strike would cause the opponent to buckle to that side and possibly collapse as would a strike to the leg.

Open mode straight strike:

Description from the text:

“The straight strike is a short range technique used to create distance. Employ the strike when in close contact with the subject. It is also used when an aggressive assailant closes the gap despite warnings or other strikes. The baton is lowered from the Combat Stance. The reaction hand grasps the end of the shaft, palm down. The weapon hand rotates forward as the baton is thrust downward at a 45 degree angle toward the center mass of the subject’s body. The striking surface is the middle shaft of the baton.”

Key Elements:

Footwork – None or a slight step forward into the strike.

Guardian hand – None since both hands are occupied by the baton.

This is another instance where the baton is treated like the stick that it is whereas Dequerdas usually treats the stick as the bladed weapon it represents. The text explains this as a downward angle which runs a very high risk of slipping down the torso of the opponent instead of driving into them. Fortunately, this was taught as a straight line strike with a rapid recoil making it a strike that is to act as a shove. This technique, above all the others, is the most effective for driving an opponent backwards to gain distance.

Conclusion

During one of the many Eskrima classes I participated in outside of the Kadena de Mano program one of the instructors paraphrased a statement made by the late Mangisusuro Mike Inay. He reportedly said that if he needed to quickly teach a group of people how to defend themselves with a weapon he would teach them as much Dequerdas as he could and give them each a machete. With that in mind, it should not be difficult to teach Dequerdas to law enforcement so that their batons are used in a more effective manner. The bias against blocking is dangerous, especially with insufficient training in evasion and redirection. As I said in the beginning of this text my Dequerdas training has thus far been limited but, even with that small amount of training, I feel that Dequerdas contains information and techniques that are vital to the survival any law enforcement officer.

Comments

Great article!

 Greetings!
I enjoyed reading your article. You're right that there is a ton of dekuerdas in there. If anything, dekuerdas would be a great force-multiplier for the average DT training.
I attended and graduated a full-time  CA POST academy back in 2007 and was amazed at how little practical baton training took place (in my personal-Inayan point of view). While we spent hour after hour practicing firearms drills (awesome!) the chances that an officer will get into a full-blown gun fight are far less than a hands-on brawl. About 6-weeks in I had to ask one of the tac officers why the stick training was so outdated. (The riot training was actually pretty good and seemed to be taken right out of the dekuerdas realm.) The first reply I got was that liability was a big factor (good ol' Californians and their video recorders) and that most officers "modified" their defensive tactics after getting some street experience! Before I knew it we were talking on a regular basis (off the record) about practical martial arts training for LEOs. This tac officer was a great resource and had nearly 40 years experience in kendo and jujutsu. Great stuff!
On a side note, I really miss the Red Man training. The first time through I went at him like a stickfighter and beat him into the ground. (As you could imagine, I got a talking to after that.) For the final test they snuck a pro-am boxer with over 30 years of experience into the suit. Man! Other than one strike to the jaw I did really well, but that single strike slammed my into my head like a Mac truck! Never judge a book by its cover! Take care!
All the best,
Guro Josh