Short answer? Maybe for some people. Are you one of them?
Simple how to guide
If you already know that collapsible batons are for you, and you just want to read a basic introduction on how to use them, then read this article.
If you want to know more than the bare minimum then read on.
It’s a bad club
It’s a collapsible club, a stick that folds up so you can conceal it. But it’s a fairly light club. Here’s a caveman. Look at his club. You see how it gets thicker towards the business end?
That’s so there’s more weight behind the hit, and more weight means more momentum, which means more damage.
Now look at this top of the line ASP baton – see how it gets thinner towards the end?
There are 2 general ways to hit someone harder with a stick – use a bigger stick or swing it faster. Collapsible batons don’t have much heft to them, so you have to swing them fast to cause damage (excluding jabs). Now go watch a couple collapsible baton videos and see how often they’re actually used to hit vs the guy using the baton to do something “fancy”. Mostly they’re doing pain compliance or restraint type techniques.
How to use a collapsible baton
If you want to carry a collapsible baton, it behooves you to get hold of Kelly McCann’s stuff on batons.
Due to the lack of weight (mass for you momentum purists), a collapsible baton doesn’t hit hard enough to break bones (in most cases). Causing enough damage to someone’s body to make them stop attacking you isn’t that easy with a collapsible baton.
More likely is to use the baton to cause pain, and “minor” damage. It won’t physically incapacitate someone if you hit them on the small and fragile bones in the wrist and hand – but it might give them a gut-check about what they’re doing.
A hit to the hip bone will likely have a similar effect. Ditto for ankles.
It’ll be difficult to use a collapsible baton to snap someone’s arm or leg bones (humerus, femur, radius, ulna etc.). These are big strong bones, covered in shock absorbing muscle that can take a lot of sideways force before breaking. But the joints are a different story.
Joints (specifically the elbow and knee joints here) have minimal protective covering to absorb damage. Ever see riot cops? Noticed the knee and elbow pads? They hurt like a bitch when hit (pain compliance), and if they’re straightened out and carrying a load when they’re hit, they have a chance of breaking. Not a clean snap/fold your arm the wrong way kind of break, but you can cause structural damage to the joint.
Imagine hitting someone’s elbow while their arm is bent and is just waving around in the air. Now imagine if they hold onto a light pole, straighten their arm, and then you hit the elbow joint (from the back, not the inside). It’s the difference between kicking someone’s knee from the front when the foot is in the air mid-step (knee bent), and having them stand on one leg, and kicking that knee (from the front or side).
Another good target is the biceps muscle to try make that arm less effective (and cause pain).
In the picture below consider the green targets to cause pain, the yellow targets are for causing damage (broken bones etc.), and the red areas are where permanent damage is likely (e.g. paralysis and death).
Targeting depends on goal
And now we get closer to the crux of the matter. If you want to hurt someone, you hit them different places than if you want to damage them (broken bones territory) and you hit them somewhere else if you want to kill them. So let’s get to the lethal force talk.
The head and neck surely are great targets. Probably the most effective at making someone stop attacking you. So why haven’t I mentioned targeting the head or the neck yet?
The first reason is because you have to have some distance (and time) to do a full swing at someone’s head or neck in order to do damage. If you have that much distance, could you not use it to escape? Maybe you can’t, but maybe you could.
Also, pulling your arm back that far to take a swing leaves you vulnerable.
The point I’ve been getting at is that, yes the collapsible baton can cause some damage, but they’re not that good at it. Batons are more effective in lethal force territory than in less-lethal territory. But people tend to buy them for their less-lethal capabilities. And that brings us to my biggest objection to these batons.
Why people buy them
People (in my opinion) buy collapsible batons because they’re looking for a non-lethal option (keep in mind that it’s actually called “less-lethal” these days). They know a gun is serious shit, but a baton seems less “serious”. It gives people an “out” from committing to their actions. It lets you bullshit yourself about being serious, without having to put in the effort to really think stuff through. Too many people buy one, throw it in their pocket or handbag, and now feel they’ve got self defense covered.
And that’s a dangerous attitude to have when hitting some in the wrong place can kill them. That’s why they invented pepper spray. Among pepper-spray’s many uses are letting people use a weapon with minimal chance of damaging anyone by mistake.
My other problem with batons is that I worry they give people an excuse to be assholes with them because it’s a “lower level” option. I’m met too many people who buy a less-lethal option because they think they can just whip it out willy-nilly if they feel “threatened”, just not threatened enough to pull a gun. And again, if they hit the threat in the wrong place and kill him …
For me (personal opinion here folks), a collapsible baton is too serious for the light stuff, and not serious enough for the heavy shit. It has too narrow a niche for me to justify carrying one every day. Although they do flick open so nicely …
Stuff I left out
You can grab both ends of the baton and do a nice, pain-inducing push or pull on someone.
You can do all kinds of restraint and joint lock moves too.
But those things not as caveman simple as hitting someone. It’s a club for crying out loud.
Do you have the time and effort required to master some restraint techniques, or some Eskrima/Kali competence? Are you likely to run into someone carrying their own club you need to fight? No, then collapsible batons are for hitting and jabbing. In which case the batons have too narrow an application in my opinion.