03 November 2014

How MCS was created Part III- Knife Fighting Bullshit

By mid 2001, I was training 4-5 days a week even thought I was working 6 days on/ 2 days off with a two three day weekend every six weeks.  We rotated shifts every 28 days.  In addition to my regular patrol schedule, there was plenty of OT, court, and SWAT call outs.  Like many cops, I was running on empty and most of the time on autopilot.  When I was on nights, I would sleep until about 4 PM, get up, and my daughter and I would go to Judo.  I would watch her class for an hour and then stay for my class.  This had me getting home about 8 PM.  I would grab some dinner and hopefully a cat nap before being back at midnight.  The one part of this shitty schedule that made me happy was that I knew if I was training and learning on autopilot fighting Harold, that it meant that the skills would come to me when I needed them.  Because face it, you are probably not going to get attacked on the best day of your life.

As my training progressed, it became time for me to pick a specific Japanese weapon to concentrate on besides the Katana which was required.  I always loved edged weapons but nothing scared me more than getting cut, so I picked the Tanto.  Even with something as down to earth as what I was learning, what I learned about the knife was more about using it as a weapon and less about defending against one.

The first things I concluded from common sense, research, and experience was

1)  That you would likely never see the weapon you were stabbed or cut with.  Everyone says they thought they were being punched.  So the vast majority of time needed to be spent defending against all attacks as if there was an edged weapon you could not see.  The idea of starting your defense when you saw the knife was habit that could prove deadly.

2)  The training knives that were being used were about 2-3 times bigger than what you would face in the street.  Judging from my collection and what I could find out from other law enforcement and corrections officers was that the average weapon would be less than three inches.  On the long end you had 6 inch screw drivers and on the short end were box cutters.

So as I eluded to in Part II, they began to send me to edged weapon courses.  Over the period of about two years, I trained with several well known knife instructors.  What follows here is not a condemnation of them or what they taught, but rather how it did not fit my application.  I guess I was looking for something like Cliff Notes to Survive Edged Weapons.  During my entire career as a student and a teacher, I have been on a quest for concept based information that I could teach in a short period of time to moderately interested individuals that had a high probability of retention and use.

For the most part, I hit it off with all the instructors, some of them could really teach.  One thing they all had was that they never served in a career in which they were in a position to put their hands on people on a daily basis.  Much of what they taught was from Japanese and Philippine martial systems.  None of them ever had to write a report to justify their actions to their department or State's attorney.  Being a history buff, I really dug all the history and background but knew that my average in-service officer or rookie in field training would have their eyes glazed over before I got to the point of what I wanted them to return.  Now, teaching the citizenry, I think about the middle aged Dad who realizes he has no idea how to defend himself and decided to attend one of our classes.  He too would be overwhelmed.

The best metaphor I can come up with is it was like they were all teaching auto mechanics, but only for a specific vehicle.  Before you got to class you had to have been studying that model for some time, if you were not up to speed on that specific model you would be lost in the sauce.  Basically, they would be speaking a different language.  I wanted to learn skill sets that were applicable to any vehicle.  With few exceptions, me and the guys I attended with were usually the only ones whose jobs might put them in a position to have to use the training the next time they worked.

There are two basic things I was interested in, using a knife as a last ditch deadly force option, and defending against the most likely edged weapon attacks.

What I found was that the stumbling point that was being ignored was how were you supposed to get the knife in your hand.  The concentration was using the knife to fight, not the fight itself.  Most drills and scenarios began with knife in hand.  When I would ask about how you were supposed to deploy the knife during a fight, they just kind of looked at me.

It was the same look I got when I asked about defending against edged weapons open handed.  People are making a lot of money teaching "knife fighting" some thing I never wanted my name associated with.

The other thing that was also curiously absent was blocks of training on anatomy and physiology.  This is what prompted me to coin the term Combative Anatomy.

The belief that if you were in a position to use a knife to defend yourself it would likely be to cut someone off of you instead of a scene from West Side Story, was the foundation of Inverted Edge Tactics.

The need for a principle based open hand combatives program evolved into SAS (Spontaneous Attack Survival).  The first several times I taught SAS it was to police departments, corrections, and even the United Air Force Special Operations Command's Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element (DAGRE) teams.

Unlike what I learned in the dojo and at the courses I attended for edged weapons, everything in MCS is plain talk, meaning that we use all commonly understood words to expedite learning.

Stay tuned for How MCS was created Part IV- Paul Castle.

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