In today’s society it is against the law to carry almost any type of object which may be deemed as a weapon. The cane may very well be one of the last “permissible” weapons available which you can carry to defend yourself without violating the law. Fortunately, the cane is easy to learn, versatile and an extremely effective weapon for self-defense.
The use of the cane in not uncommon to other martial arts. Many of the Korean martial arts include some instruction in the use of the ji pang e for self-defense. To see how the cane was used as a defensive weapon in ancient times, let’s take a look at its evolution in Korea.
Korean monks sometimes carried the cane during their travels. The cane served them in several different ways; it was used to help them maintain their balance climbing hills and over rough terrain. It was also used to help the monks defend themselves from bandits and wild animals during their travels throughout the country. Some Buddhist temples had animals they raised, and the monks would used their canes to help oversee their herds and flocks. If the temple was attacked, the cane could quickly become a defensive weapon, used to drive the invaders off.
Types Of Canes
There are primarily three different types of canes. The first type was from five and one-half to seven feet in length and curved like a hook at one end, similar to the canes carried by shepherds. The second type of cane was about waist-high, straight, with either a knob or short straight handle. The third type of cane is the type most commonly used both in the past and today. It is about waist-high, straight and has a curved (hook-type) end used as the handle. The common people favored it for its practicality.
The Shepherd’s Cane
There are primarily three different types of canes. The first type was from five and one-half to seven feet in length and curved like a hook at one end, similar to the canes carried by shepherds. The curved portion of the cane was quite often used for the application of kwan jyel sul (joint manipulation techniques). This was the type of cane the monks used for herding animals and sometimes as a walking pole on their travels.
Sometimes, in order to escape from bandits, a monk would use the curved portion of this long version of the cane, to hook a high branch of a tree, climb up the cane to the branch, then pull the cane up with him. This is another example of how certain monks got the reputation of being able to become invisible. The monk could remain hidden in the tree until the bandits had moved on. If it became necessary, he could use the cane to strike the bandits as they passed under the tree, or he could use the hook portion of the cane to pull them off of their horses. When the encounter was over the monk would again hook the cane to the branch, climb down, then continue on his way.
Another favorite tactic the monks used was to hook the top of a high wall with the ji pang e, then pull themselves to the top of the wall and over. A perfect example of how they could “walk through walls”.
The Aristocrat’s Cane
The second type of cane was about waist-high, straight, with either a knob or short straight handle. This type of cane was not as popular with the monks because it was not as practical for their needs. However, the straight cane was used very often by the hwa rang, members of the upper classes, and members of the royal families.
The cane became not only a sign of importance and wealth, but a deadly weapon for self-defense. Many times the handle bore the crest of the family, and was made of gold or silver with jewels embedded in it. In some cases a blade was concealed in the cane. A sharp pull on the handle and the blade would be ready for action. For the upper classes the straight cane was what suited their needs for both appearance and self- protection.
During the sixth century, Korea was divided into three separate Kingdoms; Koguryo, the largest of the three, was in the north, Baek-Je, the second largest was located in the southwest portion of the Korean peninsula; and Silla, the smallest of the three Kingdoms, was in the southeast. It was in the Kingdom of Silla where a group of young warriors called the Hwa Rang (flowering youths) were created. The hwa rang were instructed in several different forms of defense were also part of Buldo mu do (Buddhist martial arts); kwan jyel sul (joint manipulation), hyel do sul (striking vital points of the body), and ji pang e sul (cane techniques). They were instructed in the use of the cane by Korean monks including the famous Won Kang. As part of their specialized training, the hwa rang trained in the application of techniques using the cane for striking, throwing, controlling, and the application of kwan jyel defenses. They also carried the cane as a sign of their social position and status.
The Everyday Cane
The third type of cane is the type most commonly used both in the past and today. It is about waist-high, straight and has a curved (hook-type) end used as the handle. The common people favored it for its practicality. Korean Buddhist monks also used this type of cane for self-defense because the hooked portion aided them in the application of kwan jyel techniques, allowing for better control of an opponent without the use of excessive force.
Today the cane may be used as a means to defend yourself. You need not use an excessive amount of force to subdue an opponent, you can use kwan jyel techniques to immobilize the opponent by using the cane to help augment the techniques. The elderly can use kwan jyel techniques with a cane for self-defense with very little training.
The cane, combined with kwan jyel techniques, is one of the most practical and useful tools for self-defense you may find today. Be sure to use extreme caution when working with cane techniques. You will be able to exert much more power than you believe you can when you use the leverage of the cane to give added strength to your techniques. Always let your instructor guide you each step of the way with your training.
Grand Master John W. Rankin
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