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Library: The Art of Belt Fighting

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Author: merja
Date:Apr 1 2006

The belt is among the finest of all improvised weapons. It is legal, always
readily available, and devastatingly effective. It can be used at ranges from
four feet to six inches, it is incredibly quick, and will leave welts or
lacerations wherever it hits. Whipped in a blur and swung in a tight figure-8,
the belt becomes an intimidating weapon. In skilled hands, it can easily
defeat a knife, a club, or multiple unarmed opponents. It is a popular weapon,
having been used in streetfights and barroom brawls for decades. It is often
pulled in situations where a weapon is required, but drawing a knife or gun
might be considered too extreme x{2014} while it is possible to kill with a
belt, it is difficult to do so accidentally. To observe a beautiful display of
beltfighting, you can rent Fist of Legend starring Jet Li (he uses the belt in
many of his films).
     
BELT SELECTION:
There are two basic styles of belt x{2014} light and heavy. You will need to
decide which style to favor, but you should strive for proficiency with both.
The belts you choose should be comfortable, flexible, durable, stylish, and
able to clear your belt loops without binding or snagging.     Examples of
light belt would include thin leather dress belts and web belts with roller
buckles. The belt should be durable as well as flexible. The buckle should be
bare metal rather than encased in leather or other material. Square buckles
with sharp corners should be favored over smooth rounded buckles. The thicker
and heavier the buckle is, the more effective your strikes will be. Light
belts are very quick  are effective for snapping at the face and hands  and
are good for wraps, traps, and locks.     Heavy belts are typically wide
leather belts, such as garrison or western style, fitted with a substantial
buckle fashioned from brass, silver, or pewter. Optimally, the buckle should
weigh about a pound. Large, square brass buckles, such as are found on
garrison belts, may be sharpened along the edges or just at the corners (using
a file and sandpaper, before honing with a whetstone). Whatever buckle you
choose should be securely fixed to the belt. If it is simply held in place by
a pair of snaps, stitching or super glue may be in order to prevent it from
unexpectedly flying away. The heavy belt may not be as quick or as flexible as
the light belt, and it is ill suited for fancy techniques, but the oversized
buckle can be counted upon to deliver debilitating crushing blows. Used
correctly, it can break bones with every strike.     Some people favor concho
belts, which can do damage along their entire length. The ones that are
segmented have the best flexibility. Concho belts, however, must be worn
outside the belt loops to prevent snagging.     I have seen belts fashioned
from motorcycle drive chains. These are often chrome plated and fitted with a
special buckle. While these belts are indeed effective bludgeons, they are
uncomfortable, inflexible, highly visible, and far too heavy for daily wear. .
. besides, they make you look like a cartoon character.     Every month, your
belts should be examined for wear. Belts that are exhibiting cracking or dry
rot should be replaced.
     
DRAWING:
First, be aware that pouches, holsters, and clips (for knives or pagers) that
depend on your belt for support may prevent your belt from being pulled free.
Clips will invariably snag, but pouches and sheaths may simply drop to the
ground. If you intend to use your belt as a weapon, and would like to be able
to draw it quickly, do not attach anything to it.     You should be able to
unbuckle and pull free your belt quickly with one hand. This will take hours
of practice to perfect, so you can do so in a single fluid motion. Once freed,
you will be grasping the buckle end. While the leather end can be used to slap
with, and can even do significant damage if fitted with a decorative metal
tip, it is advised to use the buckle as your primary striking surface. It is
important to practice readying your belt less than a second after it has been
drawn. Only after having gained proficiency at instantly drawing and readying
your belt can it be relied upon to protect you.
     
RANGE:
The belt can be used at a variety of ranges, depending upon how many times it
is wrapped around onex{2019}s hand. Wrapped not at all, but simply grasped in
the hand, a size 36 belt gives you an effective range of approximately one
yard beyond your outstretched arm. Wrapped once, the range will be reduced to
about 30", depending upon factors such as hand width and tightness of wrap.
Wrapped twice, range will be reduced to about 24", which is optimal for most
defensive applications, giving you a good balance between range and control.
Wrapped five or six times, you will have a leather boxing glove with a short
blackjack attached.     Wrapping the belt around your hand will both prevent
droppage and protect the knuckles against cuts or impact  however, such
wrapping effectively attaches the belt to your hand, and you could be yanked
off balance if the belt is grabbed by your opponent x{2014} even if you
release your grasp. I recommend wrapping your hand only twice, before swinging
the belt so viciously that few adversaries would have the courage to attempt
to snatch it.  
     
BASIC MOVEMENTS:
The Japanese have an entire fighting style devoted solely to using the belt as
a weapon, known as obijutsu, and the belt is one of the traditional weapons of
the eclectic Korean style known as hapkido. It takes at least five years for a
skilled martial artist to achieve true mastery. I could devote an entire
volume to all the various aspects of beltfighting, but that would go way
beyond the scope of this project. Marines, bikers, cowboys, and other violent
individuals familiar with streetfighting seldom rely on fancy tricks that take
years of practice to perform properly x{2014} they favor simple techniques
that show immediate results with a minimum of preparation. Since self-defense
techniques have much more in common with streetfighting than classical martial
arts, we shall focus primarily upon the quick and nasty moves. If you have
never used a flexible weapon before and are nervous about injuring yourself
with the buckle, you can either remove the buckle or use a length of rope
until you become more comfortable (wussy). The belt is far safer to use than
the nunchaku, manrikikusari, or kusari-fundo.
     
1. THE FIGURE-8: This is the first movement you should learn. After wrapping
your hand once or twice, slowly swing the buckle in a wide horizontal figure
eight in front of your body. After you feel comfortable doing this, you can
swing the buckle in the same pattern on either side of your body as well.
Next, you can practice tightening and loosening the pattern. After that, you
can practice vertical figure-8s and alternate between swinging the belt far
from and close to your body. Finally, you can increase your speed. The
figure-8 is the most efficient pattern for introductory beltfighting, being
easily learned and intimidating to face. It forms a whirling shield of pain
from which dozens of attacks can be initiated without warning.     Some
self-defense "experts" advocate whipping onex{2019}s belt in a circular motion
over onex{2019}s head to deter assailants, but that is silly as well as
ineffective.     2. FLAGELLATION: When practicing or fighting with flexible
weapons, you will occasionally hit yourself x{2014} this is an eventuality,
and is to be expected. In practice, you will learn to redirect a missed swing
or rebounding buckle so that it misses you, wraps harmlessly around your arm,
or strikes a low-injury area at reduced speed.     You should practice
swinging your belt back and forth horizontally, allowing it to wrap around
your body and strike your back. By wrapping and unwrapping your hand, you can
see how the buckle will impact you at various ranges, so you have a better
idea of what to expect. Remember, the bucklex{2019}s velocity will be
considerably reduced after passing the apex of its swing. With practice, you
can learn to redirect missed swings, sidestep them, or allow the belt to wrap
harmlessly around your forearm without striking you. In the event that you
cannot avoid being struck, chances are the impact will not result in injury if
youx{2019}ve been training properly.
     
3. RANGE ADJUSTMENT: While practicing attacks from the figure-8 pattern versus
your imaginary opponent, you should also practice extending and shortening
your range by wrapping and unwrapping your hand "on the fly." This is done
one-handed, and results in a nearly instant adjustment. Maximum range is used
for snagging wrists and ankles, snapping into the face, or keeping a knife
wielder at a safe distance. A single wrap gives you a better grip, and is good
for keeping multiple opponents at bay. A double wrap gives you the best grip,
and is good for serious fighting at close range. Additional wraps make your
grip increasingly uncomfortable as well as drastically reducing your range,
but this might be necessary for certain applications, such as grappling or
sapping.     4. THE SLAP: This technique has a low potential for inflicting
serious injury, and is ideal for times when only moderate use of force is
required. The buckle end is grasped in the hand, and either the extended or
doubled leather strap is used to strike with. This will leave welts when swung
with force, but will neither break bones nor maim. A concho belt used in this
manner can draw blood. Anywhere on the body can be struck with an extended or
doubled strap, but strikes to the face and exposed flesh yield the best
results. The belt is not wrapped around the hand for this technique x{2014}
range is reduced by folding the belt in half (doubling) and striking with the
extended midsection.     5. THE HORIZONTAL SWING: This is the most common
attack, as it is simple and effective. The buckle is swung at the target along
a straight horizontal plane, from either the outside or the inside, as hard as
possible. The buckle will streak towards the target, impacting it with great
force. The target can be struck repeatedly, in a rapid back and forth motion,
incredibly fast x{2014} it is actually possible to strike an assailant four
times in one second using this technique. The horizontal power-swing to the
head is the most devastating move in beltfighting x{2014 } a light belt can
maim, and a heavy belt can kill.     Horizontal swings can be directed along
declining planes, like targeting the rungs of a ladder. The uppermost rung
would encompass the head of a standing opponent, the next lowest rung would be
the shoulder and upper arm region, the rung beneath would be the elbows and
extended hands, the rung beneath that would be the groin and lowered hands,
and the bottommost rung would be the knee and shinbone region.     The buckle
of a light belt will leave contusions and small lacerations, and the buckle of
a heavy belt will do the same thing, only more severely x{2014} often cracking
bone and ripping large gouges out of exposed flesh. If you miss with the
buckle, the strap will impact your target and the buckle will wrap around,
striking at reduced speed. It is imperative that you repeatedly practice
striking targets at various distances until you gain familiarity with your
weapon, otherwise, it will be far less effective in your hands. Pumpkins.
melons, water jugs, and styrofoam heads all make excellent targets. It is
possible (though unlikely) that the buckle may rebound at you, so be prepared
to dodge if necessary.  
     
6. THE SNAP: To do this, the belt can be held at your side or in front of you
with the buckle hanging downwards. The belt can be fully extended, doubled,
tripled, or (with thin belts) even concealed in the hand. Suddenly, with a
flick of the wrist or quick movement of the lower arm, the buckle shoots
directly towards your opponent in a straight line. As it impacts, it is
immediately snapped back and readied once again.     This technique is
primarily used to surprise and disorient an opponent. It has little risk of
serious injury due to its low power, but is difficult to defend against. The
primary targets are the face, hands, and groin. The snap takes time to
perfect, but it is worth the effort x{2014} a master can repeatedly strike
targets the size of a quarter, allowing him to pluck out an eye at will.    
7. THE OVERHAND SWING: This can be a powerful attack, but it is easy to injure
yourself if you miss. The belt comes up from behind you, over your head, and
comes crashing down on your opponent at a high rate of speed. The primary
target is the top of the head, though the face and hands can also be struck.
If you overextend, the buckle will hit the back of his head at reduced speed.
If you miss, you will need to sidestep to avoid inadvertently striking your
knee or shin. If you crack your own shinbone, you will find yourself at a
grave disadvantage. After sidestepping, you can redirect the belt to strike
again. This move is dangerous, and requires hours of practice to perform
safely.     8. THE UNDERHAND SWING: This is a good move because it is usually
unexpected. The belt comes up from the floor behind you, swinging with
increasing speed upwards into the target area. Targets include the groin, the
hands, and the underside of the jaw. This is a difficult swing to master,
primarily due to difficulties in targeting. The underhand swing is as
dangerous as the overhand swing if you miss, due to the fact that you can
inadvertently strike yourself in the head. This swing takes hours of practice
to perform safely.      9. DIAGONAL SWINGS: These are usually implemented
without warning from the figure-8 pattern, which is suddenly greatly expanded
as the attack is initiated. After you have mastered all the previous
techniques, you can feel free to use diagonal attacks in combinations with
horizontal and vertical ones. This gives you a great deal of versatility.
     
10. FANCY STUFF: In addition to smacking and slapping, the belt can also be
used to trap, bind, block, throw, snag, and choke. These moves take years of
practice to master, and are beyond the scope of this project. One technique
that I will share is the simple block. To perform a block, the belt is grasped
with both hands at shoulder length apart. There should be slack in the belt,
allowing it to bang loosely between where it is grasped. To block a stick
attack, the belt is suddenly raised into the proper position (either
horizontal or vertical) and pulled taut. It will block almost as well as a
rigid staff. With practice, the stick (or arm) can actually be trapped by
wrapping the blocking belt around it and pulling in a spinning motion that
will throw most assailants off balance. If you have mastered all the prior
techniques and wish to learn more, consider obtaining some good books on
ninjutsu (of which there are few x{2014} youx{2019}ll need to be very
selective). Be wary of unknown "ninjutsu masters" offering instruction, as
becoming a ninja is a popular delusion among the freakishly deranged. If you
feel you must attend classes, make sure your instructor is reputable.


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