It’s always fun and exercise to mix and match martial arts. I did it for years too. Rather…mindlessly too. I knew it had abstract benefits for reality, and frankly, mix and match was good for my school business and student retention (1989 to 1997). And we all know doing just about any martial arts is certainly better than sitting on the couch. But I still only “kept” what I could to glean in the “what works” essence for police work. Fifty years later, this filtering is still an investigation I am addicted too. I still find little and big things to alter and totally remove.
But some things I knew right away, decades ago were “street-wrong.” Like a few “boxing glove cancers” for one of the categories of no-no’s. Those big gloves change things. This photo above, below and those like them, just drive…me…crazy when I see them. This one above is obviously a police training session. Could be a rookie academy or an in-service class. They are mindlessly replicating a sport, face-cover from boxing as a routine stance. Police, military, combatives and self-defense people should not be exactly, mindlessly emulating boxing, (wrestling too), sports or arts as a doctrine principle for crime and war, survival fighting. Each martial, application-blend needs to be investigated.
This “PAB” – Peek a Boo does not protect your face without big gloves! In crime and war survival, not this peek a boo. It’s a boo-boo. Don’t believe little ol’ me? Then to support my observation of common sense I will use two recognized authorities on two points, 1) no protection, and 2) distancing.
Foremost, the great champ. Bass Rutten, – who is in a world of small MMA gloves not boxing gloves – described this peek a boo “stance” and face cover as, “It’s a ‘meat block.’ I will punch and kick right through that.” Okay. Well, that about sums that up!
Secondly, JKD great Larry Hartsell agreed, as I heard him say in seminars. He said it was a big, boxing glove position. Hartsell, a former state trooper and Vietnam combat vet, also advised that, arts aside, from a JKD “street fight,” perspective, keeping your hands up and right on your face as a standard, also allows the opponent to get closer into you, even closer than when hands up and out, further shaving off your reaction time. “Make him EARN that space, fight for that space,” he said. This was a great quote that really stuck with me. Of course, Hartsell was also paid to teach the art-sport of boxing, kickboxing and Thai – all wearing big gloves. Hartsell taught those sports-arts and you will see photos of him in that formal process, too. He knew what went where.
Arms and hands can move very fast, and people might overcome a myriad of strategy mistakes with sheer speed. But, fast hands are not an excuse to teach thoughtless, off-mission, doctrine.
Many reality systems, retreat to a doomsday position and protect their heads with forearms WHEN NEEDED. It is NOT their full-time, formal fighting stance. They retreat momentarily into it.
(A quick, protective forearm beside your head when needed is NOT a “turban block wrap.” Don’t get me started on these mandatory, “turban-arm-wrapping-head” systems. Another topic for another time.)
Allow me to go one step deeper here in this subject. Are fooled by PAB? And do you think it’s dominant in MMA and Bare Knuckle Boxing (BN). By being fooled, I mean, if you train in a sporty-art system that emphasizes the “peek a boo,” and you see an opponent, a criminal or whatever take up this or any tight face cover pose in front of you, you might be brainwashed into thinking, “Oh darn! That guy is ‘covered,’ I can’t punch him,” from much big glove training. Actually though, he is not safe. Punch those hands right on or around his face as though his hands are not there (yes, yes, palm strikes and hammer fist too. Yes.). Be like Bass!
PAB is Dominant In….? Once in a while I see a slippery, anomaly comment that PAB is dominant in MMA and BN. Huh? PAB is big glove boxing, method-idea. Just because MMA and BN fighters have head movement, footwork and high hands does not define them as PAB, And I don’t think that with small MMA gloves positioned right-on-face, PAB is a big consistent and dominant in MMA. Plus in MMA many worry about kicks and takedowns, low stuff, and dismiss PAB as an important MMA strategy. Curiously, one of the biggest, related questions searched on the internet is “Why don’t more fighters use the peek-a-boo style in MMA?”Suggesting that it is not a dominant strategy among the interested masses “out there.” Pro-side, PAB-ers usually lose the follow-up, discussion.
So what about bare knuckle boxing? I have seen the PAB term mentioned once in a while by some, claiming that such-and-such BN-er is a “PAB-er.” As with MMA, when you look at their films, no, their hands are just…high up, sometimes one in, one out, both sometimes out, sometimes open and “cupping” the outsides of their face, NOT routinely plastered on their teeth as a foundation. In MMA and BN, all use head movement and footwork, also ramparts of PAB. Hands in fights need to, should move in and out, up and down. And, hands in motion are tools of deception.
In summary. Which leads me to the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions and doctrines. Are you teaching-doing sports or reality? As I said, it’s always great fun and exercise to mix and match martial arts. But beyond fun and exercise…what is your real mission? Are you making the mistake of mindlessly mixing sport-art things up with survival? What are you trying to do?
Boxing-boxing is just terrific. Jab, cross, hook, uppercut, overhand. Terrific. But are you, missing the “big glove point,” over-using boxing? Are you as an instructor, practitioner of police, military, combatives and self defense systems…are you creating and-or enforcing the best doctrine for your mission? I just groan EVERY time I see this bare knuckle version of the gloved PAB stance. It actually hurts my soul! I groan. Bass Rutten, just…just smiles. For him? It’s…lunch.
Fitness and Fighting and Fitness in Fighting Seminars
Fitness is always important and I use the phrase “Gas and Dynamite.” “Gas” for endurance, fighting for a longer lengths of time, and “dynamite,” how much explosive power do you have? Add too much adrenaline in the mix and that messes things up too. Lord knows the subjects are important. Sheer strength is important too, huh?
Percentage-Fighting – Percentage-Exercising? There are numerous martial classes and seminars “out there,” that spend various, sometimes copious amounts of class times just doing common exercises. I noted for one example, that the late 1990s rise of Krav Maga sure had a lot of physical fitness packed inside each class. In those Billy Blanks days, million-dollar, fitness-with-martial-arts videos were very popular and rapidly emulated by wanna-bes. Krav is so utterly diverse now, and nowadays from so many sources unknown, I don’t know what the many, many brands of Krav are doing in this percentage regard.
Remember Tae Bo? But even during the “I want to be the next Billy Blanks days,” so many tried for, I had a rule back when I ran regular weekly school classes (1989 to 1997) that people should try to show up for class in some shape. My mission statement was:
I’m not here for you to lose weight.
I’m not here for you to become fit.
We will be covering fight material.
You may inadvertently get better fit or might lose weight.
We had fight stuff to do. That meant most basic “gas and dynamite” fitness workouts should be done on their own, off-class time. Give them a gas and dynamite, work-out list. Send them to the internet now. I was not going to run a fitness class along with, within a fighting class. You were not paying me to count reps and me watch you do an assortment of fitness exercises. Our fight time was mission-oriented, precious. Where did I get this idea?
In the 1980s I attended the week-long, FBI Defensive Tactics school for policing. In short, about half of each day was stretching and doing fitness exercises. The tactics material? Minimal time. I was a young, work-out nut back then and I thought, “half of this was a waste of time.” Many of the other officers were in pretty good shape too, and already doing martial arts on the side. I decided that the fitness portion was just…”percentage fitness,” off-mission. This experience made me think about the percentage times. I have no idea what what the FBI is doing now or if they even still ramrod such courses for city, county, state police.
(By the way, I also attended a similar Secret Service program that bypassed all the fitness stuff. Their core system at the time was getting to the deep sides of, and-or behind the suspect. This was in the late 1980s and frankly folks, this looked a whole lot like what the “new kids” grappling proponents are doing today, the arm push, the arm drag or slip-unders, etc. to get to the rear, lest we think this positioning idea is such newborn genius. But I digress. More on that course in another essay.)
Too Much Strain? Through the years, with an eye and ear on police fitness and training, there were-are occasional, regular, exercise-related training deaths. Like SWAT school guys, forced to run excessively in a course, keeling over and dying, for example. Most SWAT guys are just patrol folks rarely called out and not like full-time, big city “SWATTERs” training like pro-football players every day. We’ve seen reports of out of shape, cops dropping dead in tactical classes or on the range. Some in shape, dropping too! Course operators, police or otherwise, must learn that you cannot overload attendees with their personal, lofty ideas of Delta-Force, SEAL fitness that show up for a few days or week-long course! Dear folks, do arrive in as best shape as possible!
When does a quick, 5% class warm-up become a 30% or 40% or more “Cross-Fit” workout? Martial classes are already “sweaty.” There is already a certain work-out, fitness element to doing fight material in a weekly class or seminar. Depending on the subject matter, they can be tough. It is functional and directly related to the physical movements, thus the term “functional.”
Pushing a wheel barrow with rocks in not mission-related, functional. I am acutely aware of a somewhat famous instructor who has seminar attendees spend a disproportionate amount of time pushing wheel barrows full of rocks up and down hills and other similarly torturous endeavors. The actual fight workout time was therefore shortened to less than half a day! And to make matters worse, he offers the same material up year after year after year. I am aware of attendees who won’t go back. Now without a doubt, the wheel barrow trudge is a helleva workout, like pulling or pushing cars, but what if a rookie, middle-aged person shows up, is shoved in front of wheel borrow of rocks and dispatched to the hill for 10 journeys up and down and…has a heart attack? Or dies? This is not like a ten-week, military course or lengthy academy where one builds up to a performance. This is a 2-3-4 day weekend!
I just run seminars now, no weekly classes since 1997, and I will not conduct pure exercise sessions within, because of the aforementioned experiences and problems, precious training time and potential low fitness levels of some attendees. My age range of attendees might be vast sometimes, 17 to…78! In an opening speech, I encourage attendees to “not-do,” and “sit-out,” when they see something they shouldn’t try. But…so…ask yourself, when does a quick, 5% class warm-up become a 30%, 40% or 50% Cross-Fit workout? Does your new customer know this when they get your first sales pitch?
If you sell your classes as part fitness and your customers know they will be extensively running laps, doing push-ups and so forth within, to get fit and in shape as a mission, then the instructors are on-mission with their sales pitch. Bravo. But you still must worry about the students…passing out or…or dropping dead! Some coaches advertise-offer a customized hybrid of fitness, nutrition and some MA for activity. For example how many people are so-called “boxing” as in hitting bags and mitts for weight-loss and fitness and will never, ever actually box another person!
Gas and dynamite. Gas up and keep the powder and fuses handy and dry. Endurance and explosiveness. I think fitness exercise basics should mostly be done elsewhere. Fight class time? Seminar class time? We have fighting to do. I only bring up this topic here, so that I might get you think about it. Who, what, where, when, how and why? The mission statement. The percentages of what equals what?
Every competent person, every competent organization has or should have a refined “mission statement.” It’s where you start. Like so many operations, and in a training company like mine, the mission statement is how you build and direct doctrine, avoid dogma, confusion and even hypocrisy. People-companies within their sphere must seriously define, the – “what we do.” One way to really help define what you do is to also seriously define what you won’t-don’t do.
Mission Statement Consequences? – Keep in mind, there will always be both good, planned consequences and unintended (bad?) consequences. Be flexible enough to make sense of things, changes and challenges.
In the 1990s, interested only in the generic, mixed-weapon world of hand, stick, knife and gun, self-defense survival (and enforcement-security), I decided to refine my Force Necessary mission statement to also explore what I don’t do, what I cannot make, and what I would not produce. This is a truth-and-honesty mission statement for me and for my “customers-practitioners.”
By simply understanding won’t you are not, you are not trying to limit yourself, you are trying to be realistic and stay…on a mission. The “no” reasons, the “why,” for each topic listed below might take a few lines, a paragraph or perhaps in some cases a book chapter to explain, but not a whole book to explain. But, no such details are pontificated here for a such a short essay as this.
I don’t teach firearms marksmanship. I am familiar with the landscape, but I leave that to the many great folks that do that so well. I’d rather spend all that time in interactive, person versus person, simulated ammo training. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you. I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in this field you can find for bullseye shooting, if that is your goal.
I do not make champion kick boxers.I am familiar with the landscape, but, while nothing replaces “ring time,” as Joe Lewis warned us, we must experiment with kick boxing methods, please note the word “champion.” I will never make you a sport, champion kick boxer. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you and I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in this field of kick boxing you can find, if that is your goal. (By the way, how many advertised coaches actually do produce champions anyway?)
I do not make champion boxers. I am familiar with the landscape, but while nothing replaces “ring time,” we must experiment with bare-knuckle-boxing methods, please note the word “champion.” I will never make you a champion boxer. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you. I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in this field of boxing you can find, if that is your goal. (as you might begin to spot themes here? One such theme is a dedication to the short cuts of cheating. Cheating the rules.) (By the way, how many advertised coaches actually do produce champions anyway?)
I do not make champion wrestlers. This incudes BJJ. I am familiar with the landscape, but again, while nothing replaces “ring time,” and while we must experiment in with wrestling-grappling methods, please note the word “champion.” I will never make you a champion, sport, wrestler-BJJ person. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you. I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in the field of wrestling you can find if that is your goal. While I look with awe at many of these fine people, and forever look to steal only survival information, I find the very, very simple basics important. Beyond that, I find much of the tap-out nuances fun, but off-mission. (By the way, how many advertised coaches actually do produce champions anyway?)
I do not make champion MMA fighters. I am familiar with the landscape, but “Ring time!” And yes, while we must experiment in MMA methods, please note the word “champion.” I will never make you a sport, champion MMA person. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, nor should you. I can send you to experts I know, or suggest that you get the best veterans in the MMA field you can find, if that is your goal. While I look with awe at many of these fine people and atheletes, I forever look to steal only survival information. I find the very simple basics important. (By the way, how many advertised coaches actually do produce champions anyway?)
I don’t teach any other official martials arts except very essential, Filipino Martial Arts “on demand”- when asked. I am happy to do so, and when I do, I trim it down to rawest-raw, universal, generic essentials. I do not regurgitate whole systems. Though I have black belts in several martial arts, I only use parts of them. (And truth be known, also, I do not do katas and katas are often part of perpetuating these other systems. So…I send you to my friends for classic stuff.)
I don’t follow any sport rules. I am only guided by the “law-law,” use of force, ethics and the rules that keep you and me out of jail. “Using only that force necessary”…heard that before? Which is the very name and filter of my courses.
I don’t do any katas. I have other fighting things to do with that time I think is more productive. So I don’t do or teach katas. Zero.
I don’t do unnecessary, artistic moves. You know them when you see them, well, I’ll take that back, maybe most won’t know them, and be amazed, infatuated and seduced instead? One should look efficient and ugly when fighting. If I-you appear pretty and artistic in action, that should be by accident. Trim this fat. Combatives is checkers not chess.
I don’t do emergency or tactical medicine beyond some very initial, raw advice. There are plenty of really, terrific medically-trained, veteran EMTs and doctors available for this. I’ve never settled for 2nd or 3rd or 4th stringers instructors, and I can send you to experts, or suggest that you get the best veterans in the emergency medicine field you can find, if this is your goal. (Get veteran EMTS, medics and “Docs,” they are the BEST!).
I don’t teach kids. VERY rarely when asked, yes. But 99% of the time? No.
I don’t require uniforms, just wear “street” clothes as in the clothes you think you will be fighting in. What will you be wearing when forced to fight? Wear that. No pajamas. No bare-footy. No Spiderman body suits. Your police or military unforms and gear, or your street clothes. Reduce the abstract.
I do not long-lecture on anger, fear and pain management like I am some kind of an expert psychologist. I am familiar with the landscape, but I only brief these issues and quickly steer people to real experts. I can lecture on many topics like crime and criminals and fighting and writing, I am comfortable with history and war, but I don’t have P.H.D.s in the complicated, mind game.
I do not, will not worship a martial arts system and a martial arts system leader. Such worship is a mind-trap and counter-productive. If I am not mistaken, Bruce Lee said the same thing. Be free to question, skeptical, distrust and investigate everyone and every idea. You can like them, respect them, have coffee with them, but not worship them. (Nor should I be over-trusted or over-worshipped.)
I don’t want to be called any titles. I am just a guy that’s “been around a few blocks” with a bag of tricks. And we are getting together, scratching our heads, experimenting with the mixed-weapon fighting problems of crime and war.
I don’t put up with any racist crap. That’s white on black, black on white or any color-on-color crap. One of my American heroes is Martin Luther King. What he says, goes, and works for me.
I do not and will not ignore your past martial experience. You have climbed off the couch and done stuff! I like that.
There’s a few more but this is getting too long. I could offer many examples in each category, dramatizing my ideas, but I think you get the idea of the reverse concept. This actually is not about me! This is about what such a list looks like and about you and your list.
A martial arts customer-practitioner needs a mission statement too and most NEVER-ever have. They just walk into schools like “dumb and dumber,” looking for things that the school doesn’t offer, that they saw in a movie last week. Revealing your different reality doesn’t always fit with the join-up, lobby sales-pitch.
Just in the teaching business with a school? Exist in that classic 5-square mile, demographic in a hunt for customers? You are at ground zero. As school-owners, don’t follow me and my “don’ts! Remember I have no school, my market is different, so don’t mimic me. Keep the kids and the uniforms and the dragon posters! Stay alive! And look, many people “change hats,” right within their diverse school. Then you should have a mission statement for your karate class, one for FMA or BJJ class and any other mission-hat-statement for your self defense class. I do want you to be happy and healthy, pursue your interests and hobbies and be successful. If you are happy? I am happy. But you still need appropriate mission statement…hats. It’s all a hat trick!
There is a not-so-old expression (and at my age I know what an “old” expression is) the new kids call – “staying in your lane.” What you are not, helps you understand what you are and helps you stay in your so-called “lane.” (This is true of life in general too.)
But for me exactly? If you are questing for the above traditional, sport and art goals, I can only quote Bob Dylan,
“It ain’t me babe, no, no, no, it ain’t me babe, it ain’t me your looking for babe…”
In the big picture of fast and furious, speedy, adrenalized stick fight, where does the single stick disarm exist? How can it? Let’s take a look. An important way I think for starters, is to first examine the overall Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) subject of stick versus stick disarming. I identify really only FIVE stick vs. stick disarm categories…in the universe!
1-Impact Disarms (pretty self-explanatory).
2-Stick-side snakes(the stick and stick limb circles clockwise or counter-clockwise)
3-Support-side arm snakes, (empty hand limb snakes (circling clockwise or counter-clockwise)
4-Strip and keeps (because you caught and kept the stick, then push-pull it away from him)
5-Strip and sends (because you caught his weapon limb, and push-pulled the stick off-off-off)
(Note: Collect disarms and stick them into categories for organization)
(Note: Take note to see if instructors sneak a simulated, stunning blow in, as soon as possible within the disarm steps. Stunning really helps.)
(Note: Some intermingling gets involved but usually the real core, successful move can be identified by the successful one. You’ll know it when you see it.)
Thus far for me, all the disarms in the universe, the galaxy (!) fit well into one of these 5 general categories above. Impacts and lots of circles and push-pulls, huh? Which is another way to help teach and summarize-explain the subject. List the raw movement concepts within the 5 disarm categories. Here are the three raw movements inside all the disarms categories.
Disarm Raw Movement 1: Hits! Impacts (a hit to arm, the knee or head, torso, even a hard hit on a stick, can cause a drop),
Disarm Raw Movement 2: Circles! (both arms clockwise and counter-clockwise circles)
Disarm Raw Movement 3: Grabs, push-pulls and pulls-pushes. (Grabs on weapon, grabs on weapon-bearing limb)
I have had the opportunity to dissect and teach this list of 5 disarm categories (and their 3 movements within) around the world for years now and some, even semi-famous FMA instructors refused to believe this 5-list rendered, simplicity.
“How can it all be that simple? NO! It can’t be,” they sometimes say, “well then, what about this one?” they ask and show a disarm.
“Well that’s a strip and keep because you caught and keep this stick,” I would say.
“Well then, what about this one?” Demo…
“I would say, strip and send because shipped the stick away.”
And so on and so on, the challenges were fun to explore and always help me refine, refine, refine.
Five categories. Three raw ways to do them.Simple? Complicated? Traditional disarms are often taught and passed on in disorganized ways, usually created by artistic people with no scientific sense or teaching-organizational skills (like so many nutty katas, huh!). As a student in various FMA systems since the 1986, I have seen many of these disjointed disarm lists that miss the opportunity for smooth education, conformity and simple understanding.
For example, many disarms are glued to traditional angles of attack system. “Guro Jose” has 10 angles? And he demands – “Do this different disarm at each angle. And here they are. Memorize!” Many traditional disarms are passed along by doing…say…one mandatory disarm at their angle 5, (6, or whatever angle), when actually an angle 5 attack might be disarmed by 3 or 4 different ways. Best to pick a disarm category first and experiment doing it against all 10 angles. It will work sometimes and then not. One might call that process reverse engineering? This is a way to make your own list. Self-discovery experimentation is great, recognized, retention method.
Anyway, a search for easy, relatable explanations and mental retention must be conducted. But for many FMA systems and instructors, simplicity was-is not their mission, and after all, complexity is the fun – wow factor- cool goal. That fun, wow stuff, and-or then the regurgitation of their historic art is more important than say…the simple, sheer freedom to fix and improve things.
After the list of disarms with the 5 categories, understanding how they are executed with the 3 raw movements, it was time-saving and thorough for me to make the next list of counters to disarms. (For me, the counter study was really related to thwarting the 3 movements. What universal things could be done to counter them?)
Any early-phase counters
Any mid-phase counters
Any late-phase counters
OKAY! Quick Disarm Tip: FMA stick is primarily a play within the Rectangle and-or “X’” box, and-or figure 8 circle, areas in front of your body betwixt the two opponents. Not as many training attacks come down from straight above, or up from low-low (there are a few more low than from straight down, still not enough). How did I determine this? Just examine your system and other system’s angles of attack drills to check this. One or maybe two angles of their 8, 10 or 12 angles comes straight down from above. The rest are side-to-side thrusts or slashes in that rectangle. In Guro Jose’s system, only one angle came down from above, the other 9 were other attacks. This means his system by innocent doctrine, de-emphasizes the common from 12 o’clock high, downward attack! One out of ten. On these high and low problems…
I spent a lot of time with one of Inosanto’s top 5 instructors – Terry Gibson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who has since passed away. Seminars, hosting him, privates in the 80s and 90s. He is responsible for a very large chunk of my FMA training to name one of the Inosanto Family topics (forever grateful to him). He gave me several disarm tips worthy of passing along versus these occasional high-low, top and bottom stick attacks. Here’s one – move them to the sides:
“Hock, connect sticks high? Then force the contact DOWN to the left or right sides where there are more and easier disarms. Low? Connect sticks low? Then force the contact UP to the right or left sides where there are more and easier disarms.” (Okay! Did Moses bring that tip down on another tablet we didn’t see? It was very helpful, conceptually.)
Okay, back to making your own list and using it in sparring. Free and eclectic. You got your list! Next, can they be done fast? Under pressure? The subject of this essay! We can all do them slow, sure. But so, in the big picture of fast stick fighting-sparring, how does the proverbial stick disarm exist? Can it exist? I know a lot of veteran hardcore stick fighters and they say they hardly ever saw a semi-elaborate move. It seems that in a full-blown stick fight-sparring (but with protection-see below), all semi-elaborate moves and elaborate moves are very hard to do and hard even to see-find in usual stick sparring.
In the same way we only see…ohhh, what? Eight, ten basic, non-elaborate, fundamentals in UFC fights, over and over again, and nothing elaborate seems to manifest, because the elaborate is usually hard to insert in the world of full speed and adrenaline. (I might add the impact disarm is probably the most common?)
I have found that in order to fully understand the possibilities of disarming in full action mode, I had to cut stick fighting-sparring into two categories and understand “stun, no-stun.”
Stun, No-Stun? Protective gear or not, you can do a few more things, go a little deeper in moves, be a little more “semi-elaborate” when an opponent is stunned-wounded. (Some come to you diminished, are naturally slow, untrained, etc. like their stunned!) If very stunned? Then elaborate! Sooo, protection matters!
Sparring Category 1: Helmeted, protective gear for sport-fun-hobby. Less stun possibilities.
Sparring Category 2: “Street survival,” for lack of a better term. No protection! I mean, do you really think you’ll be on Johnson street, with your 28” stick and get into a fight, coincidentally with another guy with a 28” stick? The “street” reality of such a dual, 28” stick duel is mostly nonsense for most of us. Odds are in most countries, no. But remember, no helmets, no pads, more stun.
So, single-stick sparring within the Stun, No-Stun universe:
Stick sparring WITH helmets and gear protect against such stunning diminishments, making disarms and elaborate moves a bit harder to pull off. Less stun factor. Which might explain why you don’t see many. I wouldn’t let this depress you or dismay you much, because it’s not fully a real-deal…
Stick fighting WITHOUT helmets and gear allow for more serious injury and then that might allow for a bit more elaborate material. Of course you are crazy to train this way, full out, all the time. You and-or your brain won’t make it to 30, 35 or 40 years old? You’ll dribble when eating.
Stick sparring with sturdy helmets and protective gear frequently ends in grounded wrestling matches because of the protection and limited, reality stun factor. Much FMA stick-duel instruction is given under this art-sport umbrella. Stick sparring without any such gear at all frequently ends in an ambulance.
Disarms! Who or what, where, when, how and why…are you? These questions define your training mission, your end goal. They create the important nuances of doctrine (and disarming). I surmise that that many practitioners think about all or any bit of these points and just play around in the art for the wow, the fun, the hobby. Wow! Which is absolutely fine, I only ask folks…just…know what they are doing who, what, where, when, how and why.
Like our Hoplite above. He stuck the pointy end in first, but then, what happens next?
THE POINTY END (Of Knives and Bullets)
“Just stick the pointy end of the knife in, that’s all you need.”
(Like our Hoplite above. He just stuck the pointy end in, yeah he’s first in, but then, what happens next?)
“Just stick the pointy end of the knife in, that’s all you need to know.” No training needed? I bring this up, because I do often run across people whose entire suggested repertoire for knife training, is to “stick the pointy end of the knife in,” that’s all that simple-stupid people need. KISS! They “keep it simple, stupid!”
Heard that before? I’ll bet. “Just stick the pointy end in”…and, it’s always a cute remark. It’s funny because, I do often hear this knife idea espoused by people who shoot a lot. Gun people. And they might spend thousands of dollars a year working on “sticking the pointy end of a bullet” into someone – ahhh, so simple -right? Why not then just say – stick the pointy end of a bullet into someone, that’s all you need. Why spend all that money, stupid? Obviously dumb to say, you’ll never hear it from a gun person, yet some regard the knife with one such simple, stupid one-step.
Wise gun people obsess-worry about shooting:
* skills and drills,
* grappling while armed,
* draws and interrupting quick draws,
* taking rooms,
* target acquisition,
* related verbal skills, situational de-escalation,
* quicker kills rather than wounding,
* wounding rather than killing less-than-lethal methods,
* assessing the enemy,
* and THE LAWs that will keep them out of jail,
* etc., etc!
As well the wise should worry! But some critics fail to make the same, gun-to-knife, connection with all these same choices and problems. Proper knife training requires the same litany list!
You see a connection? The abject lesson is, and the mere mention of the gun-guy simplicity statement as an example is, knife-gun, gun-knife (and with sticks too with nuances) will have most of the same problems.
While it is true that lots and lots of totally untrained people have successfully stuck the pointy end of knives, sticks AND bullets, into other people, but in the process of doing so, have also been counter-stuck-struck by pointy knives and bullets in the same split-second or in the overall encounter. This point is VERY important.
Knife fighting is more than just sticking the pointy end of the knife “in” the other guy. Like our Hoplite above. He stuck the pointy end in, but what happens next…stupid? Even the KISS method calls people stupid.
But even regardless of the gun connection example, and just considering the knife alone, for all training I ask – what exactly is “simple.” Simple can be different for every person, thing and situation. I guess we know it when we see it, huh? And speaking of formulas, it took Einstein to reboot KISS, by saying, “keep it simple, but not too simple.” And besides, everyone’s level of mentality and performance is different. What is plain ol’ simple for some, is very complicated for others and vice versa. Some people easily absorb and use complication as simple. Once again, it all comes down to the who, what, where, when, how and why.
Stick the pointy end of these ideas into your brain. They’re simple, but not too simple.
Notes on Paring Knives, Kitchen Knives for Knife Fighting?
This is my knife, there are many like it, but this one is mine.” – Paraphrasing the rifle creed of a Marine.
“This is my paring knife, I eat food with it in public, I claim to trick police and still kill criminals.” – the creed of tricky, niche knife instructors
To me, (and the law) generically speaking, a knife is a knife. Sure there are many different kinds of knives, some better at some things than others. But in a primitive level, a knife is a knife. So, when some folks pop up “on the competitive, martial market” advertising their niche wares, at times there are arguing that a smaller, paring/fruit knife is really good for knife fighting and for tricking the local gendarmes, my answer is “ahhh…well, yeah maybe, okay…”
I would never have excluded paring knives as a potential weapon. Of course not. Perhaps I have worked way too many police cases where kitchen knives, big and small, mostly bigger, have been used. Of course they can be weapons. Always have been. (One must recall that the size of a knife used when stabbing is a big forensic issue in deaths and aggravated assaults.)
There seems to be a little in-and-out (pun intended) fad/craze about using paring or fruit knives for fighting-killing criminals, instead of toting around bigger tactical knives or tactical folders, if even as some sort of a clever trick played on the local police. The trick you see…is to pocket carry the small, food knife, stabbed in a piece of fruit, all of which may or may not all be inside a plastic, zip-lock-like bag? This MUST be a James Bond trick! Huh? Toting an unsheathed paring knife around is one thing, sticking a pear in the pointy end, in your pocket is another thing.
Fruit Stuck on a Knife, In a Pocket? The hope is to attain some level of “plausible deniability,” which is rather self explanatory, and more of a government public relations expression than a legal definition. “I carry a knife to eat cut-able fruit for a quick snack, Mr. Patrolman.” This will not work for you in many anti-knife, countries, or many cities and-or states in the U.S.A..
You know the paring knife, those little kitchen knives just about everyone has and uses at home? The kind of knife here in the United States and many other countries, you can buy for about a d two or three dollars in the common, Dollar Stores, Walmart, or in every grocery store. One guy told me that when he lands from a plane ride into another state or country, he quickly runs to a cheapy store or supermarket right away, and buys a paring/fruit knife for self defense. No he is not “Gray man” or “Jason Bourne.” He sells car parts and just anticipates brutal attacks on every corner, or hotel room. Is that preparation a good idea? Too much? Too little? Whatever, although I don’t know how he’ll carry the raw blade around, but its good for the hotel room and…thereabouts. I don’t know. Why not?
And I do consider the classic these defense problems too, and at least in hotels, especially in the no-no, weapon-free states and countries I work in. I don’t exactly, often travel to the best and safest places all the time. I was in a motel in Africa one night, and the power went out, various people filled the streets outside and…well, that’s another long story…
But let’s take for a moment an official look at these paring knives. Professor Google defines one as, “… a small, short-bladed knife, used for intricate cutting, peeling, mincing and dicing. The blades are simple, sharp and precise. Length Range: From 3.5-4 inches, although some come in 2.5 inch ranges. Ideal for: Peeling and cutting small fruit and vegetables, even cracking nuts open.” Tons of them everywhere. They are pointy, sharp and cheap and you probably can get them anywhere.
Cheap knives. Expensive knives. Food prep knives. I saw a fixed-blade knife in a big knife show one weekend back in the 1990s. It was very cool and not officially assigned to kitchen duties, but for all around other knife-stuff on up to killing Nazis. It was about $175. Then that same day, my wife and I were in a kitchen store in an outlet shopping mall and they had kitchen knife sets for sale. From a short distance, I saw a set with similar designed wooden handles and blade “color.” I looked closer, I swear, I swear, the middle knife in the set of 8, looked EXACTLY like the $175 knife I saw earlier at the show. The whole kitchen knife set was like $19.99. Sure, probably the knives were made differently. But how much? (Great knives can be obtained, cheap at “Home Depots.”) Now…what does this mean? I don’t exactly know, but I must ask my standard who, what, where, when, how and why” questions:
I ask you these same questions every time I start a knife session. While we spend a whole lot on special “fighting” knives, we need to mention it is long known, world-wide, in law enforcement circles that simple kitchen knives of all sizes are used a whole lot, oh like in 90% of all knife-crime attacks in the entire civilized world. The rest of the world? Good chance you are going to be attacked by a knife-like, handy “work-tool” they use in the jungle, woods, garages or farm fields, thereabouts. I have a friend who works security in Mexico who translated a famous, underground phrase into English for me –
“You will be killed by a 5 peso knife.”
And then of course, next there is the use of the “tactical knives” to take up the statistical slack. Small percentage left though, huh? In or out of the field, the military rarely uses a knife in combat, opting for guns and grenades, but rather they are used as a handy tool, and when it does, it won’t be a little kitchen knife. As the one and only wise, Paul Howe, retired Delta Force, war vet likes to say,
“I like my tools to be weapons, and my weapons to be tools,”
Knife Tool-Knife Weapon. Whether 5 pesos or $500, I am not a collector of knives, per say, so I do not collect them just for the sake of admiration and collection, if you know what I mean. And I mean to say that while I really do like the looks of some knives, but to me, they are just tools. I don’t collect pairs of pliers, screwdrivers or hammers either.
Do you see what I mean? That is how boring I am. Simple tools. Use-able. I understand that some people really do love collecting knives. Fine with me. Have fun with it, I say. If you want to spend $1,000 and get a super-duper, steel blade that will stab-penetrate an Army tank? Go for it. If you’re happy? I’m happy. I’d like to look at them too. Hold them for a few seconds and flip them in my hand. “Size” them up, and so forth. But, I’m just not going to buy it. Buy it and then…what? Stick it in a drawer with so many others, Somewhere in my house, waiting for the next tank war?
Instead, I suffer horribly from, my malady is, the collection of simple knife TACTICS. Knife moves. Knife movements, Knife techniques. Knife situations. Knife law. Not the collections of knives.
Kitchen versus tactical. Knives and Names. Worry about the name of your knife and the name of your knife course. Most of you already also know how I feel about carrying knives called like, Close Quarter Combat 7 or, SEAL Team, Throat-slitter 6, or studying knife courses with crazy names. (Remember the more macho you really are deep down? The least you need to flaunt it.) Its all fun and games with macho, militant knives until you actually use your “Klingon CQC De-Bowelizer” in a fight. Or, you have graduated from knife courses with violent names similar to “Beserker,” or “Destructo.” What about that “Prison-Stick em” course offered with special “prison-stick em’ knives? Or, do you like to proclaim yourself some sort of a “bastard child” of some international, “knife mafia.”
Police and prosecutors will, we/they will take a hard look at this and add tour fetishes to the demise of your freedom, or life even. Trust me on this. I have worked these cases. How extreme can this be? I recently saw a webpage banner of one of these out-lander, knife “families” and one wrote a little ditty ON THE TOP BANNER about “cutting someone balls off and sticking them in the newly-knife-emptied eye sockets.” YOU…are a sick fuck. YOU…are why the rest of us carry knives and guns.
The name of your knife and the name of your knife course, like your comments on social media, whack-job tattoos, etc. works against you. If you think you are defending yourself with some macho, knife cult course, how well will you defend yourself AFTER you stab the crap out of someone, with all this mess in your background? (After this essay was first published in 2016, this idiot, or after the idiot group leader’s mandate, this sick idiot took that banner down.)
Back to he pocket-carry, fruit knife. Can you walk around with a paring knife and be safe from police scrutiny and keep safe from self-inflecting wounds? Yes, and you could of course, carry your sheath-less paring knife inside your pocket, for one cool example – with a little clever Origami (folded paper ala Japan) sheath. (See video link below.) It won’t be a sheath-sheath, but you won’t sit down, say, and stab or cut your thigh. Will the knife come out freely from the paper sheath or require two hands to clear the knife in your desperate quick draw?
Will this world of crime-war-law treat you better if you have a cute little, paring knife and not a commando hatchet “in your pocket?” In the real world, a paring/fruit knife is still but a knife. Whatever knife, in the end, a knife is a knife. To a cop who pats you down, a knife is a knife. We all already know about the record high use of kitchen knives.
I am also told the fruit/knife/bag idea was originated some by other people years and years ago. I also heard this idea years ago with walnuts. Stick the small knife tip inside a walnut and have it and some of these nuts loose in your pocket. A walnut is smaller than an apple!
“Oh noooo, London officer, or Sydney officer, (______ insert city officer) I just like nuts and use this illegal knife to crack them open.”
The nut rig might be better in a little paper sack with some other nuts awaiting shell dismemberment? Or maybe better – a metal lunch box? Then you get to look like Charlie Brown walking to school all the time. (Again, where are you walking to and from?)
Using that wet, fruit pocket carry for “plausible deniability?” You know, I just don’t think so. Maybe in some way, rural area of Mexico? Or a picnic area on the coast of Greece? I think these fruit and nut knifers are really S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G this bag, pocket method of carry in a desperate ploy to sound all insider-innovative. To me? Not so much. Being a cop and being around cops for most of my adult life – a cop sees a knife. A knife is a knife. What happens next will all fall into local length laws, knife laws, personalities and the situation, etc.
So your knife has a piece of fruit in the end, maybe in a bag? Anyway, can you:
wear baggy enough pants for all this?
stab a guy with such a short knife with its tip already in fruit? When “God made his little green apples,” some of those apples are hard. Better pick a really soft, more squishy-collapsible peach then. Think about that.
stab, with knife in fruit, all while inside a zip-lock-like bag, you holding the handle outside of the bag? As some “experts” actually suggest? Think about this people! And let’s remember the lesser penetrations and lesser success in using really small, naked, knives, lest of all, ones laden with fruit on the end, lest of all, all of this inside a bag.
also, plastic bags reduce some slashing effectiveness and knives with stuck fruits severely limit the already limited slashing surfaces and effects.
This fruit-bag trick will probably not fool anyone unless the police deem the carrier is like a certified Forest Gump type. Or maybe the investigating authorities are dimwits? The situation will rule out.
If this paring, fruit knife…is “legal” in size and so forth, you don’t really need the fruit or nut excuse, the plastic bag excuse, or the “hungry-later” excuse. Fruit -on-knife fighting. Review the pros and cons for yourself, and don’t become an ex-con by misconstruing knives and the law. There are many different knives. Which one is yours?
(I say lost because, I have no memory of doing this interview!)
What got you into the martial arts?
That is a very long story, but even as kid, I was always interested in tactics and fighting. Maybe movies and TV spurred my interest? The how-to tricks. A vehicle to learn this stuff was martial arts, which I started in 1972 with Ed Parker Kenpo. I was about 18 years old? No kids back then. But martial arts were never my end goal, just a ways to learn those tactics and tricks. I personally find martial arts themselves to be distracting. All sorts of biases and things happen in this training process that gets one off the path of clean, unarmed and mixed weapon, generic fighting.
Incoming mob/crowd, you have 30 mins to teach a complete novice how to fight. What do you teach them?
The suggestion in the question is – me and a group are about to be bombarded by a mob or group? My questions to best answer that question is who, what, where, when, how and why? The answer has to be customized for the situation. Who is the mob? What do they want? Where are we? When is this happening? How specifically will it happen? Why? If IO knew that? I could answer something. It is so, so situational.
Short times? Generally, I almost never, ever do short, self defense training classes. I have to be really be pushed, coerced or “guilted” into doing one. Fighting info is too big and too perishable as it is for people in regular training. I know some people that like to do that but I don’t for that reason, I am just not geared up to cover short segments/deals. I do have do a speech on “Who, What, Were, When, How and Why,” though. A speech, nothing physical, that is pretty important for all to know and that speech can be squeezed into all kinds of very short or longer time frames.
As a self-protection expert, what do you consider to be under-taught or under-appreciated concept in the self-protection field?
The seamless mix of hand, stick, knife and gun training is way, way and foolishly under-taught. No matter where in the world you live, no matter the laws and rules, criminals and enemy soldiers use knives, sticks and guns. You fight them, you pick up their weapons. “We live in a mixed weapons world” is one of my opening mottos.
It is commonly taught that if someone demands your wallet or purse, you should throw it to the ground and run. Is this good, universal advice? If not, are there cues as to when we should do this or not?
Many instructors just say “always run away, which is “simpleton” advise. “Simple” better advice is “run away, if you can.” Based on military and police history as in crime and war, you should pick and choose and gamble with just “turning around and running away.” Sometimes the mugger wants your watch and ring too, not just the wallet. They chase you. Then, they also chase you out of a predator instinct. The military once called it “The Caveman Chase.” And remember, you are easier to kill from behind, another long known concept that goes back as far as Alexander the Great. Easer to kill, not because you can’t see the attacker, but the attacker can’t see your face, doesn’t personalize you. Much more about this in my knife book. The goal is an “orderly retreat,” as a method to leaving, whatever that is situation-by-situation. Also, who are you leaving behind when you run? How fast and far can you run? How fast and far do you think the attacker can run? What clues do you have that you can run? Maybe the physical make-out the robber? I can’t answer that with any certainty.
A common argument in the self-defense community is that if you really want to protect yourself, buy and carry a gun. What are your personal thoughts on guns and conceal and carry?
Oh yes, on the handgun. But you just have to figure out and be trained on how and when to use it. Well, the whole who, what, where, when, how and why to use it. That goes for any weapon for that matter. But I use the breakdown for training.
There/Not There – why are you “there” in the first place? Why can’t you leave?
Pull/Don’t Pull – When and if do you pull the weapon out?
Point/Don’t Point – Is the weapon out, or ready in some way and concealed in some way? Bladed body, etc. Or, do you point it at the enemy?
Shoot/Don’t Shoot – All of these require an essay to dissect.
If you look at the entire self-defense community, the majority of people learning to defend themselves are men. Men with little or no fighting experience are often concerned (apart from being harmed) with defending themselves and getting sued, taken to court and/or arrested. What do you tell your students/clients who are concerned with this issue?
In the end, remember that for citizens in modern times and civilizations, your willingness to fight, no matter how righteous and defensive your actions might be, may often end with you going to jail, with considerable legal fees and maybe with some added doctor bills to boot. You may well be vindicated later but at a physical, emotional, and monetary loss. You can very easily be arrested and you could be sued. Violence sucks. It’s a negative experience. But you are stuck in that nasty vortex.
Regular people should fight criminals to escape (and a criminal could be your drunk Uncle Harry. Once he attacks you he is officially a criminal). So, winning for most, regular people is just fighting to escape. No over kill, no maiming, no killing unnecessarily. (My courses are called “Force Necessary”) You fight to win, but what is winning?. There are 5 ways to “win,” or to “finish” a fight, whether soldier, citizen, security or cop.
You leave. You escape from the opponent (using the “Orderly Retreat” concept), with no physical contact.
He leaves. No physical contact. You use threats, demands and intimidation to make the opponent desist and leave.
He stays. Physical contact. You inflect less-than-lethal injury upon the opponent. Injure and/or diminish to a degree that the opponent stops fighting and won’t chase you.
You and he both stay. Physical contact or verbal control. You control as in arrest, contain and restrain. You capture and, or escort the opponent. Or, you detain/capture the opponent and await the proper authorities.
He dies. Lethal methods. We fight criminals and enemy soldiers. Sometimes we kill them.
I get concerned that so many systems teach fighting like everyone you struggle with is a Nazi commando doomed to a neck break or scooped out eye balls. The system you train in, the things you say on the web, the tattoos you have, the names of the weapons you carry, your associates, everything can be used against you in court. I can tell you story after story about this.
Many self-protection specialists say that self-defense is more of a mental game than a physical one. Is this your opinion? Why or why not?
That is one of those intellectual hair-splitters that I don’t care to hair-split. I guess you need both but to what “exact” percentage at any given time, I can’t say. 50%-50%? You could be mean as hell in your head, but gas-out in 40 second fight. Then your mean/tough mind is in a skull on the ground getting bashed because you didn’t physically train enough. It’s both sides seamlessly working in unison. Why split it? Some folks got it, some folks can get it, some folks never will.
Women and children are the most victimized individuals in any society. Should women and children be taught differently than men? Why or why not?
“It’s a mixed person’s world” is one of my mottos. In many ways everyone should be taught differently. Every person is a different size, shape, strength, age, fitness level, job, situation, etc. with weak spots, ailments and laws to work around. There is no cookie-cutter fight system for all. In the end, it is the responsibility of each person to find their favorite things they can do well, for facing the problems they most likely will face. The instructor is supposed to facilitate that process, not make cookie-cutter robots. At some point you can teach statistically high “blanket” items like “hand striking” of course, especially in the beginning, but we can’t forget the eventual, necessary customization. And customization and prioritizing shouldn’t ignore lesser, probable events. Crazy stuff has and can happen.
Another big concern and why so many people are doing jiu-jitsu now is the perpetuated line that “most often the fight will end up on the ground.” In your experience, do you find that this is true? Either way, what traits/abilities are essential in someone to adequately defend themselves?
Well, for starters, when I did jujitsu it was a different time. Lots of standing solutions and takedowns. Judo was the ground wrestling arena. Today, the Brazilians have utterly redefined the term, as well as advanced the ground chess game.
But I think that everyone should be able to up, down and fight everywhere. I don’t like to see Billy Bob’s Kick boxing school on one street corner, and “Big Ralph’s Wrasling” school on another corner. Fighting is fighting and you fight where you fight. Seamlessly. Standing, kneeling, sitting and on the ground. You fight where you fight, with and without weapons. That is the end goal for me and what I teach people to pursue. But, in order to amass an education in these subjects we must meet experts in each of these fields. Again, all sorts of biases and things happen in this training process that gets one off the path of clean, unarmed and mixed weapon, generic fighting.
A collaboration of criminal justice colleges years ago came up with the four common ways we hit the ground, as best they could from research.
We trip and fall
We are punched down (usually sucker punches)
We are tackled down
We are pulled down
The very fact that you can often land on the ground, is reason alone to worry about it. I am a big fan of generic, MMA-ish, fighting with an emphasis on ground and pound. MMA has become very clean and generic for it does. It wants to win and system borders be damned. Plus, nothing replaces ring time -to quote Joe Lewis.
We are now in the New Year. What resolutions do you have and/or goals for the year?
I am supposed to be retired, you know. HA! I hope to trim my seminar schedule down to one USA city a month, one international city a month and one Sunday a month in the Dallas/Ft Worth area where I live. Technically, this means I am home two full weeks a month, but I can already see this is stacking and packing up differently than I planned for 2017 already. But, I would like to teach way less, write way more, and just hang out with my wife most of all.
Bonus Question – What book or resource (besides your own material) have you suggested or gifted most and why?
Oh man…DON’T get me started on THIS list, as I recommend a different book in every one of newsletters every three weeks for years, but here are just a few.
Respect the Head Shot? Do you? Really? One of the conundrums in FMA stick sparring is figuring out the realistic importance of the head shot and emphasizing it in a training doctrine. Ignoring the strike (as in “pretending” it didn’t happen and “sparring-on”) because you have a helmet on is training doctrine mistake. Making it “count” in a helmeted world is important and should be a mandatory training doctrine mission.
Quick example. My friend Raoul is power lifter. A brute. In the 1990s, he so wanted to attend one of these stick fight events because…well…just because. He was also an agile guy and total, FMA “nut.” So, he did travel and attend one. The rules? Rattan sticks (Big Raoul has quite a war club). Fencing helmet. Hand gloves. You could wear elbow and knee pads. It’s a world were serious injuries abound and most people over 40-ish have to quit doing it.
Raoul’s fight begins. And within 20 seconds he bashed the other guy in the head so hard…so hard it ‘crinkles-caves-in’ the helmet a bit at the forehead area and the receiver is stunned. The ref stops the fight and asks if the guy is okay. He says yes. The fight continues and in a short time, the fight ends the typical wrestling match on the grass, which is so typical because with gear, rules and CRIMINAL and CIVIL LAW, you really can’t maim-kill off the opponent, no matter how rough-tough the fights are advertised to be. True reality is always gone. Raoul is choked! That is to say, he has to tap out. Losing, he was pissed. They peeled the helmet off the other guy and his face was bloody from the crosshatch pattern of the mask down the left side of his face. Blood.
Raoul shouts: “Who won this fight! I did in first 20 seconds with that head shot!”
Of course he had, but the rules….the rules! These rules affect training doctrine, whether the individual fighters, the instructor or the entire system-art realizes it. It became obvious to me in the 90s that if you train with gear, many people, most people probably, sort of ignore or misread the head shot as if it is any other body shot (they’re all bad), especially when helmeted. The sparring just goes on and on. I do not wish to name names and systems but I studied with a big, organized outfit that routinely stick sparred at the end of every class, No gear, but with rattan. Just for about a minute or two. Light sparring, NO head shots. Over time, this removes the head-shot-methodology from your “muscle memory.”
International competitor, Arnisador Teresa Cronin adds, “Well said Hock. I’ve seen a man get his head split open from a shot to the top of a WECAF helmet, blood pouring down, but the sparring continued like nothing happened. I also noticed in my own sparring I would sacrifice my head, because it didn’t hurt, to close the range.”
And get this – I recall a crazy competitor who tried to develop – follow me now – a way to crash his metal helmet into a stick head shot, so has to cause a painful vibration in the hand of the striker, essentially head butting the stick strike. Dreaming of a disarm?
All this eventually, subliminally de-values the head shot and distorts its importance in a “real” stick fight.
A “real” stick fight? What’s that anyway? Well, it is unlikely that most people will be in an actual life-or-death, stick-vs-stick duel-fight. If so, the head shot is still VITAL. It is instead, more likely in crime and war, that you will use a stick-like object vs. unarmed, vs. knife or vs. some gun threat. Needless to say, the head shot is still VITAL.
The challenge is to create a sparring system and competitions that values and embeds important strikes like the head shot. I organized it all out with the “Killshot” stick fight system since the 90s. If a fighter got clubbed in the head? Bubba, it’s over! The stick arm gets significantly hit? Whistle! “Switch hands!” And so on. But then you are sort of managing a tournament (point-style?) style fight, which of course, also sucks. I know, I ran these Killshots for years.
“I got him! No you didn’t!”
But in training and the organized fights we ran in the USA, Germany and England, a clear club to the head means the receiver officially LOST and “sits down, sits out.” In training, take a break for a second, reward and recognize what just happened and discuss went right or wrong. You have to think of ways to memorialize proper performance like head shots, even with small, training tricks.
“You sit down. You let your head get smashed.”
“Stop! Hey, you did good. You got that head shot in. Continue.”
The head striker is rewarded for getting the head shot. This builds the training structure to recognize and respect the head shot. With this sort of structure, fighters begin to develop head strike strategies and conversely head protection strategies, as a priority.
Remy Presas would frequently when teaching, stop and turn to us and say-remind, “Of course, you could just hit de man in de head with a stick! But, I want you to learn the art.” I found this admission, oddly perplexing, but he wanted to remind us…the difference. It made me think about what I was and was not doing.
(For the record, I don’t run these competitions anymore as they were a pain in the neck to do, and I haven’t made-sold these Killshot shirts shown above for decades. But when occasionally teaching FMA these days, I do cover these head-hunting, stick methods. I am 70 years old. If I sneeze too hard? I might wake up in traction, so I do not stick spar any more either, other than a few seconds to demo something. I can’t beat my gardener up anymore. But I can teach you how to beat up my gardener.)
The grab strategy is now deemed possible and “okay.” In the 1990s and early 2000s, I received a considerable amount of trash talk. forum ridicule for demonstrating and suggesting that – if you could grab/wrap up the knife bearing limb, it was good idea. I had suggested that IF you could, you grab the limb and should INSTANTLY fight on. The common criticism back then by the “know-it-alls” was that any and all such grabs were absolutely IMPOSSIBLE!
Ridiculed, my High Home Films videos and the “bigger” TRS “Unarmed vs the Knife” video segment in 2002 were ever so maligned. .
This is a lethal force attack, you grab-wrap and knock-snot out of the attacker’s eyes, face and or throat, etc. I have collected news and news-feeds for decades on knife attacks and totally untrained people have been winning (and even disarming knives) with regularity, world-wide. Today’s times have youtube videos. Grabbing the knife limb is-was a consistent successful factor. As with medieval art attached, if you need to look back-back-back.
Some of you will say “What? We’ve done this grab all along.” But some of you can’t say that. Training is tricky thing. Common sense does not always reign supreme. You see there are always several martial “boys clubs” out there that are rather mindlessly revered and followed, then replicated. They now show the knife limb grab-wrap a lot, thank goodness. They do tend to grab with two hands and maybe, arm wrap and body turn, etc. But some examples I see, I think, spend a bit too much time in the arm-grab-wrestle moment, like pushing the top of their heads into the attacker’s head, etc., when they should be instantly attacking the face-throat. Whatever, at least the grab is deemed okay!
But what of the attacker’s other arm? I have seen MANY (and rather famous) experts doing this grab-wrestle on film and both parties, the attacker and defender frequently ignore the other’s free arm. Standing or grounded. Watch for this next time. Watch these workouts with an open mind, keep an eye on the free hand and think what the attacker could do with it if the demonstrator actually used it. This is why the quick, face-neck strikes are important, to short circuit other free-hand attacks,
Specifically, the knife attacker gets grabbed, plays along with the capture in training and never instantly buzz-saws in with the free hand to the face and neck of the defender-grabber. Then the opposite, the defender grabs the knife limb and the attacker doesn’t instantly destroy the defender’s face or throat. This works both ways.
Quick Warning-Watch Out! A lot modern double hand limb wrappers like to change from facing the opponent and “drag” the knife arm forward so that they get behind the opponent. You might get cut, thigh or otherwise during the arm drag.
This ignorance of the free-loose hand, this miss-step neglect of the other free arm-hand drives me BONKERS-NUTs especially even when watching quite a number of BJJ or any wrestling moves. The free hand of the semi-captured or captured partner often just dangles out there, doing nothing. It is free to tap-out. Or, the free hand does something non-fight-cheat ending so the wrestling can continue and continue and continue.
But, it is only bonkers to me when the instructors claim what they are doing is “street.” Sports-okay, because the free hand cannot cheat. (I don’t do sports so my bonkers filter is extremely low.) And why are sport people doing knife anyway? They are off-mission and their solution-blend is also often, innocently, off-mission.
My ridiculed 1990s formula for “grab knife limb and attack” was:
A: Single-hand limb grab and instantly support hand strikes face-throat. Buzz-saw continues…
B: Double-hand limb grab, when knife limb seems sufficiently secured, one hand instantly releases and strikes face, throat. Buzz saw continues.
Extra! Get your knife limb grabbed? Your support hand instantly busts in on defender’s face, throat.
I could write a small book on this “other hand” subject, but at least the modern boys clubs like the grab again! Defending or attacking, knife or not, the support hand is a both a vital tool and a vital worry. You should not be taught to mindlessly ignore it.
My last two years in the late 90s I wound up back in patrol (I was a real “Adam 12” dinosaur patrolman from the 70s) resurrected back into uniform after some 17-plus years as a detective.
All thanks to some upper-management, “flip-the-applecart” plan. (Lets make the foot-doctors into heart-surgeons and heart-surgeons into foot-doctors.) So, after catching a hitman and filing 12 organized crime cases, I found myself on midnight shift patrol one day, or should I say…night. I had some fun, yes, did some stuff, yes, but it really was a waste of time, grade and experience for me and the flipped others, AND the citizens who rely on expertise.
I had enough military (Army) and quasi-military (policing) in me, to “buckle-up,” “shut up” and go where they sent me. I never once took a promotional exam, (military police or Texas police) wanting to remain in line operations in patrol and investigations. Maybe I should have though? To thwart numerous, deskbound, admin, idiot ideas?
Some of my friends took these tests and remind me they created some ideas for effective change, But me? I was selfish. I wanted to catch criminals, and I spent a blissful 17 years as, what many use to call, a “lone wolf” detective. I was-not, am-not a socially driven public servant by today’s standards, turning and improving agencies into pubic-happy-machines or solving big problems. I just wanted to work cases. Selfish – I confess I used victims as vessels to wrap my hands around the throats of criminals. I mean, I wasn’t rude or dismissive of victims, but I new my mission. Thus, I am-was a dinosaur.
There are numerous stories about why I eventually retired in the Wolfpack Publishing book with their exciting title Kill or Be Killed. Nowadays, I tell all my police and military friends to NOT be like me. Take tests. move up. Build financial security. Build your family. Yours and their future. Don’t remain powerless, bottom-rung, cannon fodder like I was.