Batter Up!

I’ve heard a lot of stories of people keeping bats in their back seat or trunk of their car, because it is one of those weapons that can’t necessarily be labeled a weapon if gangbangers or robbers are pulled over. You’ve probably also seen a handful of movies where a father uses a bat to defend their home, or thwart off his daughters boyfriend who tries to sneak in her bedroom window.

Maybe you can use a weapon like this for your own personal protection, but before you put an old Louisville Slugger near your nightstand, or in the trunk of your car, I think it is important to teach both the offensive and defensive uses of the weapon. This month we’ll cover the offensive viewpoint of the “bat”, and then next week we’ll specifically teach on how to defend against a thug wielding this large impact weapon.

We will start with the offensive uses because I’ve always believed that learning the offensive capabilities of any weapon helps you better defend against it. Once you learn the movements, range and targets you better know what to look for and protect yourself against if that same weapon is used against you. Plus, if you learn the offensive perspective first, I find that you take some of the fear out of it, when you’re facing an attack with one. Not that you shouldn’t feel fear, or respect the weapon, but by educating yourself on the weapon, that confidence usually has you defend against it more effectively.

Whether I’m teaching the offensive or defensive applications, there are three main kinds of attacks I’ll cover: a double handed swing, single handed swing and thrust. As you can guess, they each have their pros and cons, and we can actually use this tool to improve our hand-eye coordination, arm strength and dexterity.

We’ll start simple with one hand movements to help you build some grip, wrist and forearm strength first. There is an exercise called “carrenza” which is like a boxer would use shadowboxing, but instead of throwing punches, you’re using different movements and strikes with the bat. Learning how to handle a weapon is one of the more overlooked fundamentals of any weapon. Whether I’m out on the gun range, or practicing knife disarms with students, I’m amazed on the difference in confidence and competence of those who simply put in a little “weapon’s handling time”.

Using carrenza will help you move the weapon, while coordinating your own body movements to better maximize the strikes of the weapon. Using a bat, my suggestion is to move your feet with basic step slide movements, while practicing a basic single handed four count striking pattern, with single hand, double hands, etc. You can learn more about both of these, including ideas of angles you can practice in this video:

Using only one hand with a bat may seem awkward at first because of it’s weight and size, but a handful of sessions will have you build up coordination, speed and power quickly. With that being said, the next step is to do the same drill, but practice the movements and swings with a double handed grip. You’ll find that swinging for the fences may be powerful, but will throw off your balance and take away your control. Therefore, my advice is to use short and bursting strikes which will not only give you control, but allow you to use multiple strikes in a short amount of time. Once again, use the video above to accomplish this. As you do, experiment with thrusting movements, which can be a great alternative strike especially with a two handed grip in close quarters.

As simplistic as it may seem, practicing these movements will allow you to use a bat much more effectively, while also giving you an edge of how to defend against it, as we’ll cover next month.

Sifu Matt Numrich

Sifu Matt Numrich is a martial artist and self-defense expert, renowned for his training in Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Martial Arts.