Friday, March 22, 2013

Arizona Police Baton Training


Luis (from Cuba) applies kubi waza to Todd (from Utah) at a night-stick (hanbo) clinic at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate on the border of Mesa and Gilbert, Arizona.
A common tool used by law enforcement personnel is a night-stick, also known as expandable baton, asp, telescopic baton, collapsible baton, tactical baton, kibo, kioga, etc. Similar tools used in law-enforcement include the side-handle baton (tonfa), billyclub, hanbo, and other batons. We even found a few sheriff departments that use nunchaku in place of a night-stick.
 
Training to use these weapons for law enforcement or for the general public is typically limited to a brief introductory course. If an officer would like additional training, he or she is limited to finding a gun dealer or security consultant that provides more basic introductory courses on how to use asp. Otherwise they must seek a qualified traditional martial arts school. We were surprised to find very few martial arts schools in Arizona provide intermediate and advanced training in these tools, even though these are commonly associated with Okinawa Karate and traditional Japanese Jujutsu. The only school we found that offers training in hanbo (taijutsu) and asp is the Arizona School of Traditional Karate on the border of Mesa and Gilbert.
 
One weapon known as a hanbo (半棒) is basically a stripped-down version of a night-stick. This tool for martial artists is a half-bo (one-half of a bo staff). A similar Japanese weapon is known as jo, which is used in many jujutsu and iaido martial arts schools. The jo (4-feet in length) and hanbo (3-feet in length) have different lengths and are used differently. Other similar weapons include nitanbo, bokken and tsue (martial arts cane).


Soke Hausel from Gilbert, Arizona instructs martial artists at the University of Wyoming in Laramie in use of the expandable baton (asp).
This hanbo is very simple but to use it effectively, some techniques can be complex, thus to be good at this weapon, just like any martial art, one must reach a level of mushin from constant practice.  Hanbo is taught in many traditional jujutsu and ninjutsu (ninpo) systems.
 
The origin of the hanbo is not known with certainty. It has been suggested that Kuriyama Ukon introduced the weapon to the Kukishin-Ryu (九鬼神流) school in the 16th century. In one account, it is reported that Kuriyama fought against General Suzuki Tangonokami Katsuhisa at the Nagashino castle in Japan in 1575. During this battle, Kuriyama armed with a yari (spear) fought General Suzuki who was armed with katana (sword). Suzuki sliced through Kuriyama’s spear cutting it in half, but Kuriyama was able to overwhelm the Suzuki with what remained of the handle of his yari. After this battle, Kuriyama developed the hanbo into an art that became part of taijutsu (体術). Taijutsu is a term often used interchangeably with jujutsu, and uses many arresting techniques in law enforcement, in particular, munadori waza (lapel grabs).
 


Officer Brett Philbrick of the Laramie Police Department uses restraint and asp on Kyle Gewecke from Gillette, Wyoming at martial arts clinic.
Other historians suggest taijutusu was part of Kukishin-Ryu since the 14th century.  Today, a hanbo is considered as a half stick that traditionally is three shaku (90.9 cm or 35.8 inches) long, or essentially half a length of a traditional bo. A bo is sometimes referred to as roku-shaku-bo, or a stick of 6 shaku.
 
Shaku is an archaic unit of length used until the Japanese adopted the metric system in 1961. Prior to 1961, a shaku was a common measurement that equaled 30.3 cm (11.93 inches), or nearly one foot in length. The shaku was derived from nature and is the average length between mature bamboo nodes.
 
Confusion arose because another measurement was in use in Japan that was also known as shaku. This latter shaku, was used to measure cloth and was equal to 37.9 cm (14.9 inches) in length, or the length of an average whale’s whisker. This latter shaku was adopted by law in 1881 for measuring cloth. To distinguish between the two shaku, the cloth shaku was referred to as kujirajaka (kujira meaning whale); and the bamboo shaku was referred to as kanejaku. The use of shaku ended in 1961, but periodically appears in traditional Japanese carpentry.

The hanbo has been used as a defensive and arresting instrument by Japanese law enforcement officials in the past. During the late 19th Century, low-ranking officers of the Edo period were armed with these wooden staffs. Such non-samurai police typically worked in teams attack simultaneously from all sides until they could disarm and restrain the individual with a rope. The Edo period occurred from 1603 to 1868, and is known as the beginning of the early modern era of Japan, and was a time of stability. It ended with the Meiji Restoration.  During the Edo period, samurai were important officials with many privileges. The Meiji Restoration included a chain of events that led to major changes in the political and social system in Japan, and was a result of the opening of Japan due to the arrival of Commodore Perry.

Dr. Teule trains with side-handle baton (tonfa) at the Arizona Hombu
in Mesa
During the Meiji era, the samurai class was eliminated and the wearing of swords prohibited. Additionally, all Japanese males were required to serve in the military for 4 years, which caused unrest with the samurai, who prior to this event, were allowed to bear arms – unlike peasants. As a result of the Meiji Restoration, samurai were no longer allowed to carrying swords, which was considered to be a very significant status symbol, and this led to a rebellion by the samurai, and to civil war.

Most hanbo kata have evasion techniques designed to avoid strikes by a sword followed by fast strikes to head or sword hand, or thrusts to the attacker's body. Not meeting the sword attack directly is characteristic response to an attack with a hanbo.

Randori typically involves two practitioners who actively spar, attempting to defend against incoming strikes from an "opponent." Such sessions are great refiners of applicable techniques, and excellent training for coordination, speed, and timing.

What matters most in the use of hanbo in randori is development of a spontaneity and accuracy of action. In modern taijutsu, members typically train to defend against an unarmed attacker or against an attacker armed with a knife or club. Defense techniques are often completed with blocks, strikes, throws and finished with restraints.
 

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