The strongest criticisms against modern materials came from some Hawaiian acquaintances who took a very spiritual view towards using wood. They cited old stories of warriors who would have their weapons blessed by Kahunas (priests) before going into battle, charging their sticks and wooden swords with mana (energy). Supposedly such sticks could discharge this energy by mere contact, so they would be thrown into the path of approaching enemies, acting much like land mines and stunning or even killing them.
Well, it just so happened that I knew an old Kahuna living in the Bay Area, so I took my sticks there for examination. This Kahuna, who was virtually blind, claimed to have used mana energy discharge through his blind cane on several occasions to repel or disable muggers! His opinion was instant and positive – these plastics worked just as well for him as natural wood. As he put it, some plastics are slippery and don’t work, but these do fine. This is something anyone can tell; some materials feel slick, others do not. Those that feel slippery won’t keep a charge. His final word on this was that these sticks can hold as much energy as anyone can put into them, so STICKMAN sticks are officially “Kahuna approved”! I bet nobody else has gone that far to prove the value of their sticks!
One of the first people to see and try these sticks was Stickman’s teacher, the legendary Angel Cabales, grandmaster of Serrada Escrima. He thought the HITS were an interesting and useful innovation, with a good combination of light weight and solid grip, and when the Panther series was developed, he liked those too. Until his death in 1991, his name was used with permission in all advertising to promote STICKMAN® products. Some people look at things for what they are; if an old manong like Angel could see the value in something new, maybe these things would actually work!
Since then, many other teachers in the arts have used these sticks, sometimes receiving them as gifts, but often buying them for themselves. I was told by Simo Paula Inosanto that she and Guro Dan have taken HITS when they travel internationally, since these sticks will pass through customs inspections at a glance. “Clearly” an advantage over traditional wood sticks!
In 1998 Guro Jeff “Stickman” Finder was inducted into the U.S. Kali Association’s Hall of Fame by Tuhon Gaudiosa Ruby, for his contribution to the Filipino martial arts in pioneering the use of durable modern hi-impact materials for stick training. Between 1990 and 1998, thousands of STICKMAN® sticks came into use, not only in the USA, but as far abroad as Argentina, Australia, Guam, the Philippines, Singapore, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, and even Finland! Some companies that wouldn’t carry STICKMAN® products “because the money is in re-selling rattan when people break it”, have since begun making their own clones of our products, which inevitably sell for more money. Imitation, as it is said, is the sincerest form of flattery. Many imitators are no longer around, and I doubt that those who are offer as many varieties of materials, lengths and thickness as original STICKMAN® sticks.