I had the privilege of attending a pot-luck dinner this last weekend hosted by my son’s Scout troop, during which, one of the boys demonstrated three different knife defense techniques.
The attacks were:
- Underhand stab with the right hand
- Overhand slash with the right (angle #1 for you Filipino martial artists)
- Vertical, reverse-grip stab straight down with the right hand.
If you’ve served in the military, you’ve seen the defenses performed, or learned them yourself in basic training. They are very basic, stiff, and unrealistic, but you had to perform it by rote. I’ve learned and taught them myself, and proper performance of the techniques depends on a cooperative and reliably predictable partner feeding you the attacks.
By contrast, please take a look at the video below from the program, “Fight Quest,” where the hosts learned some techniques in a short time and have to compete or demonstrate them against exponents of the style or system that they’ve learned. In this case, Filipino martial arts.
The first fight on this video is of one of our hosts, the white dude squaring off versus a Filipino representing their Marine Corps. As you can see, it’s not even close. The knives are coated with dye or ink to simulate the damage that would be caused by cuts or stabs, and it' isn’t pretty.
The problem with standard knife defense techniques taught all over the world, including in military service and police academy class environments is that people don’t attack that way. Only an extremely unskilled attacker will attack in those fully-committed stabs or slashes. Same goes for displaying the weapon; even a moderately skilled knife attacker will not display the weapon, but instead, use it before you knew it was there.
What’s the solution? How can you defend against something you can’t see, or of which you aren’t aware? What are the differences between what you need to know as a civilian, law enforcement officer, or soldier?
- Get a rubber knife and eye protection (important), a reliable partner, and try to defend against a knife you can see, on displayed openly, and against reasonable telegraphed attacks.
- Then, have the partner do everything in his/her power to cut or stab you without letting you grab him or strike him. In other words, upgrade his level of skill to something more realistic.
- Integrate a hidden knife into any sparring session where you do wear eye protection. It doesn’t matter whether it’s grappling, kickboxing, or MMA-style integration.
- Add magic markers to the mix whenever possible and strike versus white t-shirts to display what will really happen.
I think what you will find is that the knife almost always will cut you, regardless of your skill, especially if you try to defend it in the manner that you’ve been taught in the past.
Finally, seek qualified instruction through seminars, videos, and tapes, and drill, drill, drill. Once you become aware of the danger and iniquitousness of knives in most areas, you’ll learn to carry one yourself, and watch the hands of anyone who makes your “spidey-sense” go off.
Stay safe out there!
Photo source: US Army FM 3-25.150 (FM 21-150) p8-21
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