Impact Tool Applications

Impact tool applications means the lawful and proper use of a baton to stop an assaultive subject by striking appropriate target areas on their body. The term can also relate to grappling uses of the baton on resistive but non-assaultive subjects and on subjects on whom strikes are proving ineffective. It is an education the first time you strike someone, as hard as you can, with a steel baton and have them barely wobble as they continue their attack.

Always have an exit/disengagement strategy in mind in every altercation. The higher the level of force involved the more critical your exit strategy may become. Always plan your way out before you go in! If you see the need for a striking tool then you are looking at a serious level of force and should make a habit of planning your escape in all such situations.

There is a lot of documentation on subjects being shot repeatedly with large caliber hollow point bullets, in vital areas, yet they continued their attack undeterred or further enraged. Never depend on any tool or specific technique to protect your life, the public or to produce even an immediate effect on your subject. This includes any type of impact tool.

That said, the judicious application of a baton is a fight finisher in most cases. When these tactics work they tend to work beautifully. That's why they've been around as long as man has existed and will continue to be employed for the foreseeable future. Proper baton use saves lives and minimizes injuries in countless altercations around the world. That is both the reason they are used and the court justification for their employment in use of force scenarios.


Proper targeting is a primary factor in determining baton effectiveness and minimizing or controlling injuries. The basic rule of thumb is to strike the center of mass of the subject's delivery system. This equates to striking at the midpoint of the muscle mass of the attacking limb.

Thus, if the attack is 'hand delivered', a weapon or hand strike, strike the center of the forearm muscles. In a kicking attack, deliver the baton strike to the middle of the muscle mass on the upper leg if possible, targeting the calf when the upper leg is out of your reach. Likewise, if the subject is attacking someone else and their forearm is out of your reach, you might choose to target the muscles in their upper arm.

For most applications this is all you need to remember about targeting. For precision and full effect, especially in grappling situations, think 'pressure points'. Expect to produce some very visible bruising but no long term harm or injuries.

When facing weapons assaults, especially when striking muscle mass/pressure point targets has proven ineffective, targeting bony areas such as the backs of the hands, wrists, elbows or ankles, shins and knees will often produce exceptional results in stopping the attack. This type of targeting will usually produce injuries but are a viable option to more lethal alternatives. This choice comes down to discretion and articulation but at least you'll be alive to try and explain your decisions.

The problem today is that many 'training systems' will not teach this type of targeting as it is not considered politically expedient. Proper articulation training for the officer's appropriate choices and teaching a complete system would save lives. Officers and subjects!

Strikes and Striking

Once again I take exception with the more (politically) popular systems which do an excellent job of teaching the striking they choose to cover but deliberately limit the number and types of strikes they teach purely to minimize their own liability fears. I've never believed in sending anyone out on the street with only half the tools to do the job.

This is not to say that courses should not be broken up if it is to facilitate student learning and retention of learned skills, but, offer the complete system. Also, producing 'instructors' in such limited systems is akin to making yellow belts martial arts instructors. Sure they can teach white belts but there is just so much they don't know.

Also most of these 'systems' teach only one striking application. They strike at right angles to the target and 'return' their baton by reversing along the same line of their strike.

Nothing wrong with that; as long as it works. When it doesn't or when facing more than one attacker, another type of striking application may produce more favorable results.

Think of your baton as a short sword or long knife. Hit hard then drag or slash, as though 'cutting' with your 'knife'. This provides a totally different energy transfer as your baton stays on target longer as opposed to the 'bounce back' effect of the former type of striking.

You need to practice this before an actual use of force is required because your follow through is also different. This type of striking tends to compromise your opponent's structure. As he tries to regain his balance he will experience a 'stall' in his movement.

Since your strike followed all the way through you will now be set up to strike him again but on the opposite side of the same limb. This is usually devastating, even on subjects who failed to respond to repeated, same side striking.

Of course, if you only teach a couple of strikes this would never be an option ;-)

That is why these systems come and go. Ultimately they all fail too many people and clients move on. Learn a complete system. One that teaches strikes on at least every angle/line on the "Union Jack". Emphasis should be on structure to generate and deliver power, as opposed to 'stances'. Finally, learn to strike or grapple with every part of your 'stick'. If the subject closes on you, the standard swinging strike with the body of the stick just won't work. You'll have to create space to employ these tactics.

Stick Grappling

I don't mean rolling around on the floor trying to tap the guy out with your stick. Grappling applications with an impact tool refers to any time you use your baton for joint articulation assistance or 'rolling' type applications. This used to include a whole realm of neck restraints and spine locks which are now forbidden in Canadian police and correctional services.

Today baton grappling usually relates to joint locks, come alongs and rolling pressure point activations. For cases where striking doesn't work or would be inappropriate, grappling tactics can provide an effective alternative for impact tool applications. Do not neglect to practice using your stick from the prone position. It can be every bit as effective as standing options.

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