Hear me Out! Hearing Loss in FMA

Every once in a while, in a seminar, depending on who is there and what they want to do, we break out the Filipino double sticks. This is a rarity for me as few folks in today’s world want to do such stick work, certainly in comparison to the 1990s when they were all the rage. Everybody today wants to do "reality" fighting and MMA, Krav-like stuff, and Brazilian wrestling.

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There are really two main reasons to do FMA double stick work. The exercise/fitness/coordination reasons and for historical research/tradition. Okay, well, make this two and one-half reasons. Another half-reason might be that there are some people who just get addicted to them. For plain ol fun. I don’t mind doing them to make people happy for the two and half reasons. (I "sing for my supper," as the old expression goes).

And in the big picture the stick drills are not unlike punching/focus mitt drills on some level, as those patterns can get crazy too. I do get a kick out of people who ridicule certain FMA “dead drills” and turn around and do their own made-up, dead drills, and are too ignorant to realize they are doing the same essential "dead-ness" thing only different. One way to shut them up is just call them all “exercises” and not “drills.” Are there any “dead exercises?” Do we mock chin-ups? Push-ups? Dead Lifts? As dead exercises? After all, mitt drills, stick drills whatever – they are all EXERCISES that contribute to the end game.

Not my point here though, even though most people won’t read down this far and will comment on the photo alone. HA! Hearing loss is. I really want to talk about hearing loss and damage doing these things along with single and double sticks. Double sticks are worse because that bang fast and create more noise. I am damaged goods. We all are in this “bidness” for decades. I have brain damage and body damage and even my damage has damage. I also have pretty serious hearing damage. I need my hearing aids. Docs say that much of it comes from shooting guns (oh, and not on the range). Experts say that hearing loss can resort to specific, brain damage as some parts of the brain will like numb-out and die-away from the lack of nerve stimulation. (Oh I am sure Jimmi Hendrix and Cream had something to do this problem also.)

As law enforcement officer and 40 year Arnisador Chad Edward recalls for us "…gunfire, engines, power tools, sticks. Yup, most of us are old enough to remember being thought a wimp for using eye and ear protection." As far back as I can remember with firearms – the 1960s – we always had ear protection on the range. In the 70s? Yes. Military and police ranges required ear protection. Hunting? No. And of course, the rare occasional action-guy moment? No.

And another reason for my problem? Sticks! Hitting sticks since 1986. On these rare times we break out the double sticks in seminars, I am often without hearing protection and I am quick to remove my hearing aids and pack my ears with whatever I can, because the clacking hurts. Double stick noise is worse than single stick noise because they bang fast and create more noise. "Double the noise." But warning! This will sneak up on you. You think its okay, but it might not be. 

Mick Vodnoski, another Arnisador says: "I have to agree, those sticks banging together make a lot of noise. Do it for long periods of time could easily cause some hearing damage after awhile. There's been times after training with those sticks that I'll have a headache from all the noise after class."

I am at a point now where the raw clacking actually hurts. Stick on stick clack is not a cannon shot and it takes very little cover to cushion the sound waves. If I don't have ear plugs, even some tissue or toilet paper stuffed in my ears works fine.Now, it does depend on where you are and the acoustics, but I would suggest for your quality of life down the long and winding road, you think about your ears, your students' ears, and hearing, and not just when shooting. You might have hearing protection on your Batman utility belt, but what about your students when you are banging sticks? This problem sneaks up on you.

You agree?
Huh? What chu say?

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1: The Decibel Meter for phones. I don't want you, or ask you to go hog-wild crazy on this subject, but you can get a meter for your phone, "…an app on your smart phone that can measure decibels pretty accurately. You could measure it with your phone at your next stick class. 85 decibels is usually the standard requiring hearing protection. A gun shot is in the neihborhood of 160 db." – Click here 

2: Sound waves and the ears – Click here

3: Noise and ear damge fact sheet – Click here


Hock's email: HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com