Club (weapon)

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Hercules fights the Lernaean Hydra with a club

A club or cudgel is perhaps the simplest of all mle weapons. Essentially, a club is simply a large conic instrument to hit things with. Related mle weapons such as maces, and flails are variations upon the club.

Typically, a club is small enough to be wielded in one hand. Bludgeons that require both hands to wield are called quarterstaffs in English.


A simple weapon

The club is perhaps the simplest of all true weapons; a club is typically carved from a single piece of wood; any piece of wood that is narrow enough on one end to be grasped by the hand of its wielder can be made into an improvised club. Baseball bats and axe handles and pickaxe handles are common instances of clubs.

In folklore, fantasy literature, and comics, clubs are associated with barbarians and giants. The hero Heracles was famous for wielding a club. Many, probably most, stereotyped cartoon cavemen carry what is probably usually meant by the slang expression "ugly-club", a rough conic club so large as to probably overwhelm the strength of the best developed human wrist. In the game of Cluedo or Clue, players must specify which weapons a murder was committed with, among choices that include a wrench, a lead pipe, or a candlestick, and as to their purpose—a weapon inflicting trauma—each of these household items serves as a club.

The wounds inflicted by a club are generally known as bludgeoning injuries.

Specialized clubs

Various kinds of clubs are used in martial arts, police work, and other specialised fields.

Batons, truncheons, and nightsticks

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Old police baton

A baton or truncheon (nightstick or billy-club in American English) is essentially a stick of less than arms-length, usually made of wood, plastic, or metal, and carried by law enforcement, correctional, riot control, and security personnel for non-lethal self-defense or combat situations. A baton is used to strike, jab and block and to aid armlocks.

There are several variations, but most common are the telescopic or expandable straight baton and the side-handle baton.

At the end of the 20th century, a popular type of telescopic straight baton or friction lock baton was made of steel tubing which collapsed together for carrying, then slid apart to expand. A small metal knob on the end added weight when the baton was used as a bludgeon. Manufacturers include ASP, Monadnock, Casco and Hiatt.

Side-handle batons, typified by the Monadnock PR-24 Prosecutor that was made infamous by the LAPD in the Rodney King beating, come in both rigid and expandable models. The rigid models are typically made of polycarbonate. The expandable models usually have an aluminum chassis from which a polycarbonate section extends. Almost all side-handle batons in use are made by Monadnock.

Side handle batons are derived from the tonfa, a Japanese martial arts weapon, and are used with a similar fighting technique.

Both types of batons have their advantages and disadvantages. Side-handle batons are more flexible, enabling many more kinds of strike and block, but they require more training to use than straight batons. Side-handle batons are also very bulky. Expandable straight batons are more compact and are easier to carry covertly and when driving.

Up until the mid-1990s British police officers carried traditional wooden truncheons of a sort which had changed little from Victorian times, but since the early 1990s all forces have chosen to replace truncheons with more modern side-handle and telescopic batons for all but ceremonial duties.

Compare mace and staff of office for the marrying of defense and symbolism.

In the British Army the pickaxe handle is used as a standard guard baton, and is also used for measuring, so by Army rules must be exactly a yard long.


A blackjack (known in British English as a cosh) is a small, easily-concealed weapon consisting of a leather-wrapped lead weight attached to the end of a leather-wrapped coil-spring or rigid shaft, with a lanyard or strap on the end opposite the weight. Materials other than lead and leather are sometimes used to construct these weapons.

Blackjacks are popular due to their low profile and small size, and their potential to inflict enormous damage on human beings.

A blackjack is sometimes referred to as a sap, which is the name for a weapon of similar design (also called a slapper), which has a flat profile as opposed to a cylindrical one.

A second variation on the sap is a sandsock or sandclub, which as the name implies, is a weapon of flexible sheath construction filled with a heavy, fragmented weight. The sand of a sandsock may in fact be sand, but is more likely to be lead shot. The covering may be a pouch of leather or heavy cloth, such as denim or canvas. The sandsock is almost universally used as an improvised weapon.

Blackjacks can be used to inflict devastating damage on bones and tissues, and are considered in many jurisdictions to be deadly weapons. Blackjacks are also illegal in many jurisdictions. Traditionally used by police officers, they have been replaced to a large extent by telescopic and side-handle batons.


A Shillelagh is a wooden club, typically made from a stout, knotty stick with a large knob on the end, that is associated with Ireland in folklore. They are traditionally made from blackthorn (sloe) wood (Prunus spinosa) or oak (the Shillelagh forest in County Wicklow was a forest of oak and produced some fine examples). The wood would be smeared with butter and placed up a chimney to cure, giving the Shillelagh its typical black, shiny appearance. Shillelaghs may be hollowed at the heavy "hitting" end and filled with molten metal to increase the weight; this sort of Shillelagh is known as a 'loaded stick'. They are commonly the length of a walking stick (distance from the floor to one's wrist with elbow slightly bent). Most also have a heavy knob for a handle which can be used for striking as well as parrying and disarming an opponent. In the folksong "Finnegan's Wake", "shillelagh law" refers to a brawl.


A Knobkerrie, occasionally spelt knobkerry, is a short wooden club with a heavy knob on one end traditionally used by Southern African tribes as a weapon.

The word Knobkerrie derives from the Dutch knop (button), and the Hottentot kirri (stick).

The head, or knob, is often ornately carved with faces or shapes that have symbolic meaning.

In sports

Clubs or club-like implements figure in a number of sports. The tools used in golf to hit the ball with are called golf clubs, although golf clubs are perhaps less traditionally club-like than baseball or cricket bats, both of which are still made of wood; a baseball bat is a round club traditionally made from ash tree wood; a cricket bat resembles a paddle and is traditionally made from willow wood. Few golf clubs are made of wood in current play.

A much smaller wooden truncheon-like bat is used to strike the ball in pelota, a game similar to jai-alai.

The Shillelagh Trophy is an annual football game between members of the University of Notre Dame and Purdue University and takes place in Indiana, United States.

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