Text and photo by Perry Gil S. Mallari - May 6, 2012
For everyday carry of modern practitioners of Filipino martial arts (FMA), the telescopic baton, also known as collapsible baton or expandable baton, is the practical alternative to the hardwood baston or the rattan olisi.
While lacking the balance of its traditional counterparts, the telescopic baton possesses the advantage of ease of carry and concealment.
The telescopic baton is commonly made of a steel cylindrical outer shaft with two or three inner telescoping shafts plus a solid tip that maximizes the striking capability of the weapon. The baton is deployed via forceful flick of the wrist and is collapsed by slamming the solid tip to a hard surface. Telescopic batons come in various lengths with 16, 21, 26 and 31-inches the most common.
There are differing accounts on the origin of the telescopic baton with one version saying that its roots can be traced back to the 1960s when gangs in Ireland discovered that car antennas could be used as weapons. Interestingly, it was also in the 1960s that the steel collapsible keibo was introduced to Japanese policemen. The Japanese version of the expandable baton, with its sword-breaker guard, is based on the design of the jutte, a Samurai law enforcement weapon.
The most popular manufacturer of telescopic batons is the company Armament Systems and Procedures, Inc. It is no wonder then that ASP had become the generic term for the collapsible baton. It is my belief that if you’re going to bet your life on a weapon, then it is best to choose the best quality you can afford.
The purpose of this article is to present the capabilities of the telescopic baton to inflict trauma. With that said, I want to remind the readers that it is a tool of maximum force and carrying or using it irresponsibly could bring you serious legal problems.
Being an impact weapon, the telescopic baton is likely to cause blunt force trauma on the head, torso and extremities. To an FMA practitioner, the telescopic baton can be used closed or extended. When closed, the baton can be used like the tabak maliit or palm stick. It may lack the reach, but the collapsed baton possessed more mass, which make it a more damaging implement for hammering or jabbing on the bony parts of the body.
Since the most damaging strikes with a baton is always on the head; it is good to examine how much force is required to fracture the skull. The following is an excerpt from the “Manual of Forensic Emergency Medicine: A Guide for Clinicians” edited by Ralph J. Riviello: “The presence and extent of skull fractures depend on the severity of the blow, the instrument or weapon that impacts the head, the amount and thickness of the hair around the impact site, the thickness of skull at the impact site, the thickness and shape of the skull at the impact site, and the age of the victim. If the skull hits a hard surface, 33-75 ft-lb of energy is required to cause a single linear fracture.” The torque of most handheld power tools are measured by foot-pound (ft-lb), so, by observing the force they generate you will get an idea how forceful a “33-75 ft-lb of energy” is.
What material the weapon is made of will affect its performance, for this reason; it is useful to know how the steel telescopic baton measures up to other batons made of wood or plastic. A. Hunsicker in his book “Advanced Skills in Executive Protection,” cited a formal study on the telescopic baton in comparison with other impact weapons issued to police officers, it reads, “P. Gerais and P. Baudin carried out a study on various sizes of extendible batons compared with the standard issue PVC duty baton. The project also included a side-handle baton and a traditional wooden duty baton. Compared were those quantifiable mechanical variables, considered significant for trauma, and the intended application of the baton as an intermediate weapon. These variables included impact force, impact pressure, and movement kinematics, while performing striking swings with these police batons. The three expandable ASP batons, the side-handle baton and wood duty baton, all produced smaller impact forces compared to that achieved with the PVC duty baton. In a model of impact pressure, the extendible batons produced, on average, higher impact peak pressures than those produced with the PVC duty baton.”
Not considering its striking potential, the telescopic baton’s greatest stopping power lies in its use to apply chokes. In most FMA systems, the shaft and the butt of the stick are employed to execute locks, throws and chokes with the latter the most lethal and most adaptable to the nature of the telescopic baton.
Using the baton to apply pressure on the neck area is deadly and justifiable only in situations wherein there is an imminent grave threat to your life. “Pressure on and around the neck is well known to be potentially lethal action. Death can be caused following compression of the neck by any one of four mechanisms or by combination of two or more of them – airway obstruction by direct compression of the larynx or trachea, occlusion of the veins in the neck (however, the large reserve capacity of the venous system makes it unlikely that rapid death would result even if complete occlusion was achieved), compression or occlusion of the carotid arteries (occlusion of the carotid circulation for a period of 4 minutes or more may result in brain damage), the fourth mechanism by which death can occur during pressure to the neck results from stimulation of the vagus nerve by direct pressure in its course down the neck or as a result of stimulation of the carotid sinus. Vagal stimulation results in bradycardia (slowing of heartbeat) which may progress to asystole (a state of zero cardiac electrical activity) or, in some cases, immediate asystole,” (from “Clinical Forensic Medicine: A Physician's Guide” by Margaret M. Stark).