31 August 2012

Too important to keep my mouth shut anymore Part II

There are basically three ways to cause trauma to the human body: burning, cutting, and crushing. There are basically two types of weapons, edged and impact. Even a bullet is a hybrid that goes really fast. The reason for this article is to talk about the bull**** and fairy dust about knife fighting. If you thought that some people were not very happy with my comments about firearms training, you have not seen anything yet.

First of all, I never want my name associated with “knife fighting”, as it conjures up a vision of two guys with bowie knives dancing around trading cuts and stabs. I think the notion is immature and silly.

A long time ago, when I decided I wanted to immerse myself in edged weapon training since it was the weapon I feared the most, I found there were basically two options. First a cultural martial art, or the seminar route learning from people who usually had various martial arts backgrounds, but decided to repackage it and sell it their way.

Cultural martial arts- this is where I started, mostly Tanto Jitsu. Then I dug real deep into the OSS Applegate and Fairbairn type stuff. Then, some of the MMA stuff. The problem was that the military type stuff was based on battlefield rules, therefore not requiring you to justify your actions. The MMA took a long time before having any idea about which end was up.

Seminar route- in about 2001 I had to choose a career goal for my police department, and jokingly submitted that I wanted to become an expert in “edged weapons” for law enforcement. Much to my surprise they actually accepted it and began to send me to some very cool classes, many of them with names anyone in the edged weapon community would immediately recognize. I had a good time meeting and playing with these people.

The problem was that every time I was shown something I asked myself whether or not I thought that I could pull it off under the type of stress I often found myself in, and secondly could I teach it to other officers in a short amount of time to the point where they had confidence in it, and I had confidence in them doing it. I found little that passed that test.
I basically found the same thing in the knife world that I found in the gun world; people who loved their specialized toys and were making grandiose plans to get their toys into fights, even where they may not be the best option.

You may have read before that when it comes to any tool I break it down to Selections, Carry, Deployment, and Use. In the knife world, much time is spent on the selection, the perfect knife, with the perfect lock, the perfect blade profile, plain edge or serration, and so on. A little time was spent on carry options. But, the one thing that nobody seemed interested in teaching was the deployment. Most of the training started with the perfect knife in your hand. Learning how to use the knife got a lot of attention too. Most of it teaching the student to trade intentionally targeted cuts and stabs. This was usually done with the knife being the focus. Nobody was teaching that if you were cutting or stabbing someone who was trying to kill you that it is perfectly OK to bash their head into that wall at the same time.

We have all heard that you need to know how to use a knife to defend against it. I say bull****. What exactly does that mean; know how to use a knife? When I picture myself having to defend against an edged weapon attack, it is not against the skilled MMA practitioner, but rather the guy who will attack in a cyclic manner like a guy who in prison who is not motivated to take anything from you except for your life.

That meant that my love of cultural martial arts was going to have to take a back seat to understanding psychology, anatomy, and physiology. It also meant that I needed to know more about how these attacks happened. Here is what I found.

Most people who are cut or stabbed never knew it until afterward. They thought they were being punched. So, training that was predicated by seeing the weapon would fail at the most basic level.

Talking to my buddies in corrections and on the street, and looking at my personal toy collection from the street, showed that the average size of an edged weapon used by a bad guy in or out of prison was around 3 inches, or about a third the size of the size of most training knives.

Edged weapons are contact distance weapons, so the person has to be able to touch you with it to harm you. That means you need to be at contact distance to defend.

If you do not see the weapon before the attack, why would you have your own knife out? And if you both have your knife out at contact distance, isn’t the most likely outcome a mutual slaying?

I arrived at the conclusion that about 95% of edged weapon training needs to be open hand combatives vs a spontaneously deployed small weapon. Here is the gist-

Move to the outside when you can

Control the weapon arm (preferably fully extended)

Smash them into the ground or wall

Strikes to the head, especially the sides and rear

Train doing this against furtive movement and gradual increase of violence and change of conditions. The knife they don’t get out is the knife that will not hurt you.

Since I have been teaching this, I have to point out that the “if you are in a knife fight you will get cut” mantra is more bull****. That is like saying if you are in a car accident you will get hurt. How the hell do you know?

In order to use a knife for self-defense, you would first need to be in a position to do so. That means that you would have to be within arm’s reach of someone who is trying to kill you. It also means that you will have to deploy your weapon against them, and if you are, there is a good chance that they have a weapon you can see as well. If sage wisdom says you will lose if trying to draw a gun against a gun that is already drawn, you will lose; then how do you think drawing a knife against a deployed knife will work out for you.
In spite of so many experts on the internet that are quick to tell you exactly what they would do in a situation, I think very few people have the stones to stab someone in self-defense. And if you think you do, and have a loved one in your life carrying a blade, do you think they would?
I believe that the average person is way more willing and likely to cut/slash to get someone off of them. This is a naturally defensive move, like swatting bees away from your face. The problem is that as you are defending you are usually going to be moving back or falling to the ground. As you go backwards, your hands go out to the sides in attempt to regain balance. This is called the Moro response. These wild attacks to the outside of your attacker’s limbs and across their chest are going to be superficial. That is why the only thing I teach for “defensive” use of the knife is Inverted Edge Tactics. It works for everyone, with no more motivation than trying to get away from the threat in every position, including the ground and sitting down. You do not need to invest in a special knife. But as previously mentioned, you need to learn to get it out under stress. Something besides someone trying to cut or stab you. I prefer headgear and boxing gloves. Just plain cardio exertion, or someone cutting you with a training knife, is not enough. You need the physical violence.

Because of the reasons listed above, I will continue to personally train in traditional edged weapons training, as I do in fundamental marksmanship skills, but when putting together classes to teach other people edged weapon survival without knowing their background or amount of time to training I will teach Spontaneous Attack Survival and Inverted Edge Tactics. They are intended to give the student the alphabet, the longer classes allow them to work on sentences, then at subsequent classes or on their own they can work on paragraphs and essays. None of which is possible without the alphabet which does not care about peoples feelings.

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