Okay folks. Bare with me. I have a few martial ranks through the years, (like a FMA, guro BB test in Manila). So, this is a joke but not a joke. I have a joke-meme I’ve passed around for years with two loaves of cut-open bread, a “white bread-brown bread” meme.
The idea is that “Joe Jones,” white boys will hardly ever achieve respected status in FMA. (I know a RARE few are, yes, yes, but most people look to and seek, foreign sources, certainly Filipino in FMA, but often settle for any American in the states with a “Spanish sounding” name. Or at least foreign sounding name. Exotic. Same is true for the rest of the planet. Think about it. Make a list and really think about it.
“The ‘hierba’ (grass) is always greener….”
And bland, white, Joe-Jones-Gringos (like me) take a back seat. This is not new, it’s a martial arts “universal.” Who wants to learn BJJ from a white boy from Finland? NO! Brazil! Or at least have a cool Hispanic or foreign surname! I’ll fall for that!
Eventually you will have to settle for a …”Gaijin” in your neighborhood. He or she may be fantastic, just not as well known, (and will remain unknown, which is actually the whole point of this essay).
All this is just the subliminal (and overt) marketing of life and what we seek out, like Chinese food, or Italian pizza and who makes makes the best cars? Germans or Japanese? Are ex-cons the best street fighters? Do the Israelis have the best military fighting system? Is Silicon valley the best source for all things tek? Why pick the Marines over the Army? People should recognize natural and man-made…”lures.” Who has the “best” story for what? And why? What then, catches our fancy? What do we gravitate to?
In fact, when I think about it, I have felt like a white boy (and-or wrong religion) outsider in most martial arts I’ve ever down, with all the real leaders always from elsewhere, Japan, Philippines, Indo, Russia, Israel, China, the sewers of Spain (gag)…the popular systems and arts are always from elsewhere. And me? Always the…gringo. This though I expected, it’s just an observation on martial life.
Anyway, there were numerous viewers of that “bread” meme on various pages, some very smart and substantial folks, and they laughed and liked it when I half-joked that I might therefore just call myself “El Gringo,” as part of an FMA business nickname, (I still teach FMA here and there around the world along with mostly combatives.) Just a fun, name-game and partly a bit of satire on all those grand, tuhon-guro-supremo-GM master titles that keep inching up like bamboo. For 26 years now, I just tell everyone I teach to call me “Hock” and remain on an equal, friendly footing as I believe system-head-worship is confining and not good for evolution. Bad for some of my business, but good for your evolution and freedom.
Some attendees-students still insist on titling me. It’s a tradition, you know. If you must call me something? Truth is, I’m just a gringo, a white boy, outsider from Texas who knows a few tricks of the trade. Tongue in cheek? A satire on the name-game? For FMA…call me…”EL GRINGO!”
“Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes the stickman known as Gringo. This bold renegade carves a “G” with his blade, a “G” that stands for Gringo.”
(Sung to the Zorro TV theme with apologies thereto. I realize the great young, unwashed has never heard the Zorro theme song. Never saw the old show. Too bad. Then feast! Feast on this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQnle_3KuOE
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
A Bigger Picture. In the martial arts world, stick fighting is most closely associated with the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). A huge chunk of many FMA systems is indeed about the stick-versus-stick duel and closer-in stick versus stick events.
(Using a stick as an easy and fast target, as with developing the smart fanning strike shown here, is not necessarily learning how to stick duel.)
The stick versus stick dueling battle is really a pretty rough game of checkers if done right. Next inward, getting in closer is often called by many, loosely “stick trapping.” Many FMA-ers have turned this closer-in range, this “stick trapping,” into a complicated, chess match with copious options to train…forever. Many FMA-ers obsess about this closer-in, back and forth above other vital skills. To me, it’s simple math turned into unnecessary calculus. (I remind all here that I have been “doing” FMA since 1986 and I know a bit whereof I speak.)
Is this calculus necessary in the real world?
First with dueling. No. Almost all of us are highly unlikely to get into the proverbial 28” stick versus (coincidentally?) another 28” stick fight in a real world, dueling “street fight.” A study of the stick in common self defense should not be centered around mirror-image, stick-versus-stick material. Second with stick trapping? No. Not this much. Obsessing with stick dueling and stick trapping should be relegated more into a category of (fun) art, sport, hobby or exercise, with only abstract benefits to self defense.
Through my decades of policing, training, cases and rather obsessive research, I have personally run across a few impact weapon “duel-related” battles like drunken, softball bat fights at tournaments, or crowbar versus tire iron fights. Things like that. Still, they are rare in comparison to the messy, mixed weapon world that actually exists in crime and war. While dueling helps various attributes, there are indeed smarter things to do, to prep for a fight in crime and war. When you remove stick-versus-stick dueling and the calculus of stick trapping from FMA systems, there is so much less to worry about and train for. It’s vital to some extent in FMA, but even in FMA, there is always other stick things to work on like stick-versus hand, stick-versus-knife, even stick-versus-various, gun threats.
I am asked to teach FMA and I do so with a great big smile as it is one of my fun interests, but I always make this quick “really?” lecture. As readers know by now, I preach the “hand, stick, knife, gun, mixed weapon, matrix.” And while my Force Necessary: Stick course must touch a bit on the impact weapon duel because it has and can happen in, I in no way emphasize it. And a great many folks emphasizing self defense and combatives agree with me on this.
Watch out! These “reality” people are “window-peepers, peeping in your windows, watching you on Youtube.” quick to judge what you are doing and pigeon-hole you as artsy and off-mission for reality. Which leads me to the quandary. For self defense combatives, can you train stick versus stick?
Yes. Some. It seems so, and not just for the rare event when dueling might happen. For the so-called, reality based training, the trainer and trainee, the work-out partners should still both often hold sticks sometimes. Sometimes? In stick training, it is much easier and faster for both partners to hold sticks for various goals. Ease, target practice and stick blocking to name three.
- Ease – You do it. Partner does it. You do it. Partner does it, whatever you are working on. This probably is best done when the attack is with any weapon, could be a stick or a knife, or many empty hand attacks. Just be aware of the purpose of the exercise. Easier and faster with both holding sticks. Both are holding sticks. It looks like stick versus stick training.
- Target practice – As displayed in the photo above and below, often stick strike training is best done by hitting another stick. You can use a kicking shield, yes, but it might be faster and easier switching sides by both partners using sticks. And you can hit his stick hard. Again, both are holding sticks. It looks like stick versus stick training.
- Blocking practice. Learn to block just about ANYTHING coming in with great force, the force that a stick can produce.
(Target practice! And you can hit hard. He can learn to block well too.)
So even if you are a self defense, combatives person you might find yourself looking like an FMA-er and appear to be doing “too much stick versus stick” to short-term window peepers. But dueling is not your real, end mission.
In summary, a few quandary warnings to think about…
- Will reality-based “window peepers” blasphemy you as artsy? (Hey, I know I will hear from many of you that you don’t care what others think. But, I am “just sayin”…)
- Is a “reality” person getting too use to subliminally seeing too many stick attacks? Remember to replace that stick with a knife. A lot. (It’s still FMA to go stick versus knife!)
- Use the other guy’s stick for safe, quick target practice.
- Once in a while, worry about impact weapon dueling in combatives.
- Be “on-mission” in practice and doctrine. Doing FMA? Do FMA. Doing generic combatives? Do that.
The self defense, Force Necessary: Stick matrix…
- Stick versus Hand.
- Stick versus Stick (not too much).
- Stick versus Knife.
- Stick versus some Gun Threats
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.
HANDS-LANDS – Touching the “hands” of the master. Touching the “lands” of the master. Hands-Lands.
(This was a spirited discussion on FMA Discussions. Many say you MUST go to Philippines to “get it.” Many say no. Not needed. I said…)
I started attending Remy Presas seminars in 1986 and I was just another person in the crowd. One attendee was also an Ernesto Presas guy who asked me if I knew Ernesto. I did not and he pulled me aside into a curtained-off meeting room from the big seminar. Two others were there too and we started doing Ernesto stuff. This guy trained me in Ernesto’s material for years, which is different than Remy’s. Four or five years later we wound up in the Philippines. Once back in the USA, at the next Remy seminar, attendees told Remy I was over there for three weeks and even stayed at his old Negros house, etc. He liked this, called me over and wanted family gossip and so forth and only then did we made the solid connection, because he knew I was THAT committed to go over there. I started hosting Remy for years, etc.
Later at a Remy-Dallas seminar at Steve Selby’s school, Remy made a speech about training and with whom and “Touch hands with the master,” or as he would say it, “Touch hans’ TO de’ master.” He pointed to me and said, “Hock has gone twice to de’ Philippines already. I don’t know why? Because…I am here!” Everyone laughed as did I, shaking my head. You could tell by his smile that he making a joke. But why go?
The pro-go Filipinos in the FMA Discussion seem to want you to see the lands, walk barefoot on grounds, breathe the air, eat the food, dive deep in the history otherwise you won’t really “get it.” Like live there? “Going native” – is “to adopt the lifestyle or outlook of local inhabitants. Furthermore, must we also “go native” with all these martial arts we take? While Bruce Lee said all these things were just “Kicks and punches,” must we go down a national rabbit hole and become Colonel Kurtz? I went a little native in South Korea. Lived in the village, etc, but didn’t become a Kurtz. The military grants you time and grade in obscure locations, otherwise you are in-and-out tourists.
Tourists. I often look at folks traveling to the homelands of their martial arts. So many go to Okinawa, Tokyo. South Korea. A friend of mine even went to NORTH Korea for a Tae Kwon Do pilgrimage! (He said it was scary.) All serious Thai Boxers go to Thailand (although in my “heyday-times” of Thai -1990s- many also went to Scandinavian countries for Thai). I think it’s a pilgrimage some want to take. I think it is situational and circumstantial. After my P.I. trips, we got Ernesto coming over the states with gigs and the P.I. trips were long and expensive for me (and my job). The circumstances, the situation, the need was over. But I will confess, me having “gone over” several times was a big marketing help for me.
People like to travel and touch for really unique reasons, lest of all over martial arts. I have a good friend in England who worships the Spaghetti Westerns of Clint Eastwood. He and his wife visited the small town village in Tabernas Desert and the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in Spain where they were filmed. He has small glass jars of the sand from there as souvenirs. The human drive to visit.
Look at all the people running to Israeli for religion and Krav! The Japanese see Americans going over and dressing like they are ninjas and they laugh. One Japanese-American told me it would be like Japanese coming to America and dressing up in Civil War clothes and taking part is a Civil War recreation. WHY!?
I like for people to be happy and if they want to go, and afford their journeys if they can and should go. I would like to go to Frank Sinatra’s house in Palm Springs. I might not get a glass jar full of booze, but I would like to sing a song there in the backyard.
What of the name-game and FMA? This is actually a whole other FMA discussion subject, somewhat related though, but the real success stories in FMA, those with sought-after instruction and with bigger groups are really all Filipino people. Or they have a name-game-stretch-connection, with Spanish or exotic sounding names yet have never gone to motherlands. Dan Inosanto, a real important FMA pioneer, has never been to the Philippines that I recall. How many land-locked, Americans just have exotic foreign names and have large groups? (They could be good or bad but still get the immediate attention.)
Even though I have been over there – this is why I do not flash myself around as some kind of special super-duper, FMA Person. I will never be an FMA real deal. I am happy to help others get an understanding, etc, if they are interested, but I am just a white boy in Texas. I can only think of a very few white boys with consistent, international FMA success, oh like Bill McGrath and Deiter Knuttel from Germany. Otherwise you gotta’ be Filipino or have a Spanish sounding name and,or seem to be Filipino or could be Filipino. Or else, you better be seriously attached to one. The truth (skill) bears out later.
Origins and names…this is a universal, martial idea-draw. As a parallel, looking at ads and videos would you want to take Brazilian Jujitsu from a Tim Smith? Or a Jose Gonzalez? Who has the immediate advantage? Most would instinctively go with the Jose. (Makes me think, speaking of other parallels – how many Yankees are going down to Brazil to learn BJJ, to go “native” in that native homeland, or have all the experts moved up North?).
On “Going native,” furthermore, must we also “go native” with all these martial arts we take? I do think back through the years of Systema people getting so wrapped up in it that they started becoming communist. Posting pictures of Putin and remarking in pro Russia statements. How some Silat people became Muslim? And then even radical Muslim. I’ve seen it. Krav people becoming Jewish. Like Bruce Lee said – all these things were just, “Kicks and punches,” must we go down a native rabbit hole and become Colonel Kurtz? Studying how to kick and punch should not ordinarily alter your politics and religion.
Touching the “hands” of the master. Touching the “lands” of the master. Hands-Lands.
Hocks email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
#marlonbrando #apocolypsenow #franksinatra #spaghettiwestern
- disarm one side, hit head to stun, takedown.
- disarm both sides, hit head to stun, takedown.
- hit head to stun, no disarms, takedown.
I was thinking about the classic park in Manila. “Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park or simply Luneta, is a historical urban park in the Philippines. Formerly known as Bagumbayan in the era of colonialism under the Spaniards.”
For many a decade if you trained in Manila, the Philippines, a must go-to place is this park. Many, many famous people have taught and gathered here. And when we were in Manila, we were either at the Presas school, this park or at the college where Ernesto taught Arnis at those times.
It did bother Ernesto a bit at times at the park, because various FMA grandmasters would set up folding chairs and watch us. He would whisper, “You see dese guys? Dey are grandmasters. Dey are spying on me.”
This above photo is me and Shelley. Early 90s. There were only like 6 of us there, so it was pretty intense. Under his scrutiny all the time. We would go about 4 hours in the morning and about 3 1/2 hours in, there would be a break. Ernesto would say, “Take a break, then…examination time.”
This photo – Since we were so few, we also had his black belts as partners too, who were very helpful too. With Renato “Boks” Centro.
“Examination time?” we’d say in the beginning days. He was always “testing” us, but this would be a more real test for the last part of 3-4 hours. So…there was no break. We would walk off behind some trees or bushes and work through those ten minutes to hurry-review what we did. Then some water.
“Come on, COME ON!”
Then lunch. Then another 4 hours. 6 days on. 1 day off pace.
That top photo again. Me, Shelley Millspaugh and the big man GM watching us. Captain Rene, a Honduran fighter pilot is behind us. Shelley Millspaugh added: “Great memories. That first camp was as intense as you could’ve made it. I haven’t had that type of intensity since. GGM was the Energizer bunny. Never stops.”
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
After witnessing several bolo (machete fights) which I chronicled earlier on the Presas Group Page) , and after the somewhat underground “sport” of bolo fights began to disappear from deaths and maimings, rounded sticks replaced the bolos in fighting for money. (Not sticks shaped liked swords but rounded ones – something else I wrote about on the Presas page.) Remy fought these fights for money in boxing rings, cockfight arenas and wherever betting groups might gather. He told us that after a while, numerous people approached him to teach them and their sons how to stick fight.
“But I am leff,” he told them. Left-handed. “And dey were right.” He said he could not teach them. They pushed the requests.
“But de money became so good…I become right.” He started to teach them the stick with his right hand. Much of it was longer range stick dueling (“of course, you could just hit de man in de head with a stick.” – he would often say, when discussing complicated moves.)
And as Remy has said often, the double sticks help teach the “other side” anyway.
In short, really short – lefty versus righty has always been a big thing in sports. The southpaw boxer. The lefty pitcher versus the righty hitter in baseball. Lefties are 1 in 10 people. This is an advantage for them simply because most sports folks and fighters have built up a “versus righty” repertoire, a library in their head, even like in their “subconscious” of what tiny steps and moves a righty does to hit, kick and position them. The most subtle increments are stored in the brain. We use them as tip-offs. We see less of these reps from a lefty, as there are less lefties.
“I become right. I become good.”
And he made a lot of money teaching righties. But still fighting too. (and he had a few jobs too. Working at a family shipyard and…not known by many, a barber.)
He would say in seminars about the money stick fights…
“Round one, I am right.
Round two, I am right.
Round three…I am leff. I win!”
His eyebrows would raise. We all would laugh. We got it.
Remy became as ambidextrous as possible. In close quarters, he could switch hands effortlessly and really foul up your brains. He taught this inside the newer tapi tapi. He taught this on the single stick versus double stick drills, as you must go single stick right and left-handed versus the double sticks. (Ernesto did this too.) These were Presas “leff” priorities which I can’t say I found “up front” in many other FMA systems.
(I remember one Inosanto seminar many, many years ago in Irving, Texas where, for about 2 or 3 hours on a Sunday, we did left-hand sumbrada. It freaked all the experts out. We became bumbling idiots)
“You must do boff leff and right!” – Remy Presas
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@forcenecessary.com
Join this Facebook Presas memory page, click here
.This is where I have fallen down. Where my knife course has fallen down. Before the fall, in the 1990s there was a “resurgence” if you will, a re-look, re-examination of older knife material (which essential was a lot of knife dueling). Some might call it “knife fighting,” but I don’t like that term. But you are still indeed, fighting with a knife when you are…fighting with a knife. Still, I don’t like many terms, images, messages, logos relating to the knife and knife fighting. By that time in the 90s, I was in police work for quite a while, both in the Army and in Texas, most of that time as a detective. I’d seen and experienced working on a lot of knife crime, as in aggravated assaults, rapes, attempted murders and murders. I myself have been attacked by both knife and ax.
I know the depressing, dark side, the wet side in juxtaposition to all the smiling people having fun, slap-dashing around in gyms playing tag with wooden and rubber knives. Knife training is often treated quite cavalierly. This doesn’t have to be the case as very serious cultures exist, like the culture of pistol training is quite serious and full of foreboding and legal scares. Careful, mature training cultures do exist, and this must certainly become true in knife training also.
In the early 90s, this edged weapon resurgence was sort of an international turning point in knife training. A reboot if you will? It first resurrected the old military knife courses and the semi-legendary names of yesteryear. They weren’t “kuraty” superstars. A sophisticated look at them however, revealed, they weren’t so sophisticated. So several of us, using the newer sports training methods of the time, and bolstered by years in Filipino martial arts or other historical backgrounds, stepped up and made “new” knife courses. Gone was the martial arts uniforms, belts, etc. We wore jeans with pockets and regular clothing belts. Street clothes.
Some of the 90s knife pioneers? James Keating. Tom Sotis. Kelly Worden, Bram Frank, Bob Kasper, yours truly, to name just a few, but there really were only a few of us. Paul Vunak is a late 80s pioneer in many areas. (Still, some of these guys were overdosing on knife dueling.) We wore shirts, jeans and shoes. I even taught at times in a suit and tie. Skeptical, we didn’t trust the old stuff and we didn’t trust the established martial arts either, even the Filipino applications of the knife are often tricky and too “duely”. (Do you want to walk around wearing a vest with 12 knives? Seriously.) Be free. Think free. Be skeptical. Are you a replicator? Or an innovator?
Still, the old just helps the new. This was also part of a bigger “breakaway” from establishments that was going on in that decade. The world was seeing MMA (or at least ground wrestling) on TV like never before. And somehow a collection of old stuff, dressed in athletic pants, painted in the “Israeli mystique” – Krav Maga – was really shoved down the throats of Tae Kwon Do schools as mandatory, by clever (and insidious) shaming, business groups, like NAPA in the 90s.
The “Mixed Revolution” was in the 1990s martial air! Jeet Kune Do was spreading into a heyday. Inosanto JKD/MMA was already doing Thai and ground, and so much more. Ever hear of “Shoot?” But, I guess the Israeli mystique was greater than the Bruce Lee mystique?
Mystique? Yes. Ever so important in advertising, sales and manipulation. That’s how we pick shoes, cars, purses and pistols (politicians, religions and…) Manipulation. More on that later…
My knife course had a few odd, infancy names in 1990 and 1991, but it was quickly called “When Necessary? Force Necessary: Knife!” But that 5-word title was a little long and clunky and it was shortened to just 3 words – “Force Necessary: Knife!” I do prefer the longer, clunky name, as it completely explains exactly what I mean to say. Only use that force necessary when absolutely necessary. But I got around the country and quickly, the whole world doing that knife material. Lots of traveling, lots of seminars. It lead to being voted Black Belt Magazine, Weapon Instructor of the Year and also into their BB Hall of Fame. (back when readers actually mailed in votes.) I also “scored-very well” in the non-arts, growing “combatives” world.
Black Belt. Tact Knifes. Hall of Fames. TRS. Such was the jargon and the martial/political stage of the 90s. Today, it’s hard to grasp that the total, martial world communication back that existed was with a mere 6 or 8 international, martial arts magazines. That’s it! Try and list them. Yes, Black Belt, Blitz, Martial Arts Illustrated, Inside Kung Fu, Inside Karate. Think of some more. Try and list them. They were the filter for us all. Talk forums developed slowly later and now, like the magazines, are almost all extinct.
Now? Nowadays, I don’t know where the martial arts communication filter exists, specifically. The…web…the gazillions of webpages? The gazillions of podcasts? The gazillion of….Instagrams? Facebook? Yesterday’s business card is today’s webpage. And any dipshit can pay to have amazing looking webpages. The battle for exposure takes a business up and down many extremely, frustrating, costly roads.
Of course with all businesses, this 1990s knife movement kicked off a new interest and a fair number of new knife courses popped up through and to, by 2005-ish, often by less experienced, less organized people, and in my opinion doing less comprehensive programs. But this business evolution is to be expected. Invent a new “widget?” There’s a knock-off. Then knock-offs with an “S.” In the big picture of training and education however, not widgets, this can be a positive thing. Awareness. Curiosity. Growth.
So, when did I fall? It happened slowly and then one day you are down looking up. How’d I get down here? Not enough Instagram pictures? Some 25-odd years later, in about 2015, on a popular public forum someone asked me what I thought of Johnny Swift’s new, knife, quick-draw article. Of course it was named something super-spiffy like “Armageddon Instrument Production,” but it’s just knife quick draws. Brand new, Biblical-worthy advice Swift preached, and published in the new amazing world of web-jargon magazines called something like “Organic Micro Evolution of Edged Prophetic Dynasty.” (I just made that magazine name up, but how far am I off? Have you seen these seminars names lately? Aren’t you impressed, or can you see right through the pretentiousness?) Twenty and 30 year-olds salivated!
I read Swift’s ground-breaking, testament as featured in “Retrograde, Skill Supremacy, Fusion Elite Magazine” and I replied on the public forum –
“Oh, I have to like Swift’s article. It is virtually, word-for-word,
from my 1992, Knife Level 1 outline.”
My review/remark caused a lot of guffaws and a few smart ass remarks, among the 20 and 30 year old readers, most of whom were so submerged in modern “dynasty jargon” and up to their beards in mystique, and lost in the gazillion web world, they’d never even heard of us older guys from the 90s. I mean, who am I to comment like this on their latest fad-boy genius? I added that I was not suggesting that Johnny Swift plagiarized my outline, as it might have innocently been co-opted, or the older info has become so, ever so embedded into the “knife world” it was deemed as open knowledge. I get that. Sure. That happens. (That level 1 outline is/was free to the public and has been distributed for literally 3 decades, and my knife books have been for sale since about then too.)
I reminded the guffawers that the spread of education is a good thing and that at very least, I only partook in that process. I said that the old just helps the new, and you have to remember the old, so history doesn’t repeat itself. As a great gun instructor Dave Spaulding likes to remind us, “It’s not new. It’s just new to you.”
One guy was clever enough to say, “Well, sorry I missed you when I was 5 years old.” Ha! I told him that was a pretty damn, funny retort. It was. But missed me? Dude, I never left. But actually he never knew I was around to begin with. That is part of the mysterious “fall.”
I added in that discussion with Mr. Wise-ass that the spread of education was a good thing, and I only partook in the process. Seriously, I frequently read as new, many old catchy terms, ideas, expressions I published and advertised decades ago.
My really big mistake in the knife world, training business is…I think, not emphasizing the knife training course only. Alone. My obsession was/is with covering the bigger picture. Hand, stick, knife, gun. That’s “where it’s at” for me (is that phrase too 90s? Yikes, maybe too beatnik 60s?). The 1990s evolved into the 2000s and my step-by-step into what I really wanted to do all along since the 90s. My goal is to create the best hand, stick, knife and gun courses. It’s a mixed weapon world. Each subject I have is a carefully constructed 4-pillar, foundation. But I think when you shoot for this holistic picture, each separate pillar seems to get a little lost, a little less appreciated, a little less noticed. It also makes me appear to be less specialized. This ain’t true. There’s a big mixed weapon matrix:
But anyway, back to the knife! Inside a comprehensive knife course is:
- * Knife vs hand.
- * Knife vs stick.
- * Knife vs knife.
- * Knife vs some gun threats.
- * Standing, kneeling, sitting and on the ground.
- * Saber and reverse grip experimentation.
- * Skill developing exercises.
- * Knife combat scenarios and situations.
- * Legal issues and smarts.
- * Who what, where, when, how and why questions
- * Criminal history knife stories.
- * War history knife stories.
I do get a kick out of the occasional lame-brain who pipes up and says, “Knife training? Just stick the pointy end in the other guy.” Especially when these same complainers spend about ten thousand $$$ a year – plus – shooting at gun ranges. Why not just stick the pointy end of the bullet in the other guy, too, Brainiac? Is it all really that simple?
But, not focusing just on the knife is a marketing problem. I don’t advertise or highlight “just the knife” like other courses do. This is one point where I have really fallen down and why my knife course has fallen down through the years.
Another problem for me? No “flags.” I have no crutch system, no flag to fly, like Pekiti, JKD, Brazil-Mania, Krav. Silat. Arnis. Bruce Lee. UFC. It’s just little ol’ me flapping in the wind. I can’t draw in extraneous-system-people, capture super search terms, as some of those are obligated to attend, even arm-twisted by “the system” they’re in. Brand names are…brand names.
Plus, I avoid and dodge macho, death messages, grim reapers, and death images mystique. I would never advertise that I am “always bladed.” And I am not in any “mafia.” I am life-long cop. I fight the Mafia. I am not in any “cartel,” or a “cult” etc. Look, I can make the distinction between something that is a little fun and ironic and something/someone that is sick and weird. It takes a little investigation too, to not jump to conclusions, but sick and weird is sick and weird.
Various other ultra-violent, whack-job messaging should be reserved as a primer mentality for very serious, military, combat groups. THEIR psychology. Their prep. Not cops and certainly not every day, walk-around citizens. Mimicking them makes you look like a wannabe punk. Look at the lawsuits filed on cops and citizens. Go ahead, have a little death-engraved-logo on your cop gun and see what happens when you shoot someone. Have a patch or tattoo of a grim reaper with a knife, or a skull with a knife through it, and see what happens when you have to use a knife. We the police, the prosecutors search your history when you are in an assault, knifing or shooting. Mature survival is enduring the end game – as in the legal aftermath, is a big part of a well-thought-out, course. (Again, mature gun easily people understand this.)
Not like this silly fucker in New York for example – I read one New York City, very popular, international knife “cartel-liberty” group headline paragraph:
“I love it when I carve someone’s balls off and put them in his empty eye sockets.”
Shit man, you probably work in a fucking supermarket. And you think and talk like this? You need to be on watch list. These idiots give us all a bad name. But images and expressions like this, or near like this, this mystique, does attract a certain sick customer, usually young, or young in the brains anyway. (After my public complaints and comments on this, this moron took that line down.)
No Mystique? Which leads me back to the first paragraph. We know the established advertising fact the “the grass is always greener on the other….” side of the street? Other country? The sewers of Spain. The temples of Thailand. The monasteries of China? The borders of Israel…the…and so on. Me? I appear to be just a bland, white guy with some info. I don’t even have any tattoos! Many well-known knife people are Filipino, just cause, because…they are Filipino. They may have never been to the Philippines, but they have an exotic sounding name.
And the serious military angle? Even with them, take a look at the most sophisticated, revered, respected, top-flight, Special Forces vets and most play it quiet cool like a gray man.
Lackadaisical about making rank and instructors. I don’t really run the classic franchise business as seen in self defense, BJJ and Krav, other combatives courses, and Lord knows, classic martial arts. I am often lackadaisical about promoting people and making instructors. Other systems do this like precision clockwork, where I fail to emphasize this. It does hurt the proverbial martial, business model.
In the same vein, I shun all titles like guro, grandmaster, sensei, etc. “It’s just Hock,” I say, which also does not fly well with some organizations who base themselves on this structure. Also, street clothes please. It’s almost like I am insulting them? I’m not trying to. You do whatever you need to do to survive.
After the fall. However boring, I still do see some “knife people” all around the world. There are “normal” people, martial artists, historians, survivalists and hobbyists, gun people out there, interested in generic, evolved, knife material. There are. And that is who I mostly see when the knife topic comes around. Since I disdain the crazies and the fringers, they usually avoid me too. I know they know, I don’t like them.
I always do a few hours of knife in every seminar and I do have the occasional knife weekend seminars when and where I realize I need to catch up with people’s rank requests. And, normal people can always, sort of, hide their knife interests inside a classic martial arts name. To me the knife is inside of, part and parcel of, hand, stick, knife, gun crime and war, survival education.
So, me. Boring. No mystique. Not isolating the knife enough. Not promoting people fast enough. No skulls. No flags. No carved out-eyeballs. No macho. Just generic methods. Here is where I have shot myself in the…well, stabbed myself in the foot, in the knife training business, even though just a few of us are those innovator pioneers and turned the tide in the 1990s into what it all has become today. For better or for worse. Maybe you young fellers will learn from my mistakes?
It’s always good to mention and/or thank your prior teachers once in a while. I always do. But, before you young knife guys make any sarcastic jokes about me again (and Kelly and Bram, et al?) Keep in mind…your modern instructors might have “peeked” at all my and our long, established materials, and would not confess to it. I might just be your grandfather. Our materials have become such standard doctrine that these young guys don’t even know of us.
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
Get what is still called the greatest knife book ever, 1000s of how-to photos in the topics above, click right here. (Now in a second updates edition.)
The Whisper Tip of the Reverse Grip Knife
I’ve heard the whisper. Have you? The secret tip.
“If you see a guy hold a knife like this (reverse grip) watch out! He really knows what he is doing.”
Said the tipster who knows nothing, anyway. A receiver from another tipster who knew nothing. I have heard that “insider tip” numerous times. One time, I was even told this tip by a guy who had never been in the Marines, but heard this tip from a “Marine friend.” The irony was I was in Triangle, VA, hotel restaurant next to the Marine base Quantico, there teaching Marines among other things – “knife.” Some of it saber grip knife.
I have nothing against the reverse grip. I teach it too. But, how many times have you heard or been told, or been taught the reverse grip is the only grip to use? Because there are some popular courses out there preaching this idea. I am often both depressed and fascinated by the paths and ideas of various knife courses. Some appear to me like death cults, others have what seems to be oddball, incomplete conclusions. Take for one example, the obsession with dueling. While dueling can happen, it is not the only thing that happens in a knife fight (ohhh, like ground fighting?) Most never cover legal issues and just cut and stab away. Some way over-emphasize Sumbrada patterns. I could go on. Another is the various obsessions with knife grips.
In the 1980s, I was at a Dan Inosanto seminar and he said. “there is no one perfect knife grip, just the best one for the moment.”
Man! That little phrase stuck with me forever as a baseline. Sometimes I think I have short-changed myself as a teacher when I state my mission statement is total “hand, stick, knife, gun.” I think it subliminally shortchanges the 4 individual courses in the minds of practitioners. Courses of which I think are terrific, otherwise I would improve them or not teach them at all. I have slaved over these courses for decades to keep them simple and thorough. “Each course is stand-alone.” So, my stand-alone knife course seems to get buried inside this bigger mission – nomenclature.
I worry about knife grips too. With my Force Necessary: Knife course, I insist that a practitioner learn and experience BOTH the saber and reverse grips. Then after much COMPLETE study, they choose what their favorite grip is, based on the “who, what, where, when and how and why” of their lives. I never tell them to automatically favor any one grip. Pick one, but make it an EDUCATED choice (and not a whisper tip choice). I like both grips. But some don’t like or respect both grips and for odd and incomplete reasons.
The first time I received any training with a knife was in a Parker Kenpo class in about 1972 when they received Kenpo knives and dull trainers from Gil Hibben. The knife was designed to be held in a reverse grip and used in a kick boxing format. This initiation caused decades of Kenpo-ists to hold their knives in a reverse grip as though Moses, not Gil Hibbens, had handed them knives from the mountaintop. In the late 1990s I was teaching in a multi-instructor camp and a old Parker Kenpo black belt was there with his little group. I was covering saber grip material ( a pox! ) and he would horde his people over into a corner and show them the “proper, reverse grip way” to fix what I was doing saber style. Which by the way his was more complicated and somewhat awkward than the simple saber material I was covering.
Finally he had to approach me and said, “you know, the reverse grip is the superior grip.”
I said, “no it isn’t.”
He glared at me.
“You can do just as much or even more with a saber grip,” I added.
He stormed off – his 7th dan “master” self, all upset that someone younger in blue jeans and a polo shirt told him flat-out no. (oh, did I mention that he also makes and sells reverse-grip-only knives?) My next session by the way, I covered some reverse grip material, as I am…an equal opportunity stabber.
People pick grips for odd reasons too. I recently read from a guy writing about his grip choice. He said he once saw someone with a training knife, saber grip, stab a mitt and the guy’s hand slipped up on the blade. This made him pick the reverse grip. Really? That? Well, as a detective who has investigated knife crime for decades, I can tell you such slippage happens with BOTH saber AND reverse grips. It depends on the knife! It’s shape, handle texture and any guard/hilts, design, etc. Dear Reverser – your hand slips down on a reverse grip too. Jeez. In fact, a hammering reverse grip deals a mighty blow and your hand needs to be protected perhaps even more, versus an ice pick grip slip.
There are people and courses out there now that mandate the reverse grip, ignoring the saber grip, therefore treating the saber grip as worthless? Mindless followers argue that:
“well, the reverse grip is the Filipino way.”
“The reverse grip is the Pekiti Tirsia way.”
“Ex-super-copper Pete Smith says the reverse grip is the best.”
People! People….people. FMA does BOTH grips. Pekiti Tirsia also teaches tons of saber grip material. And Pete Smith? He is just, flat-out, wrong-headed about this. He is not as smart as you think. He is not as smart as he thinks.
And I will go you one more reverse grip oddity that’s worse. There is a sub-culture out there that wants you to fight reverse grip, with a single edge knife, with the one sharp side, “inside,” facing back at your body. Not edge out to the outside world, where the enemy bodies are attacking you, but edge back at you. Dull edge at the enemy. This is its own unique thinking disorder. The world you are fighting is OUT there, not in your armpit. And why must you hook and haul ALL your enemies, ALL the time inside and close to you? Can you? Can you hook ALL people, ALL the time, in for your one- trick, special magic?
You should have a double-edged knife, which is legal in some places, or you should have a knife with one complete sharp edge and the other side/edge 1/4, ½ or ¾ sharp anyway. (the so-called “false edge,” a confusing term for “civilians.”) Then the edge-in-only argument becomes moot, because you can still slash and stab, and stab and slash the outside world. But to purposely plan and buy and limit yourself to one edge, then limit yourself with that edge-in only, is…is…just a thinking disorder. It’s a dangerous, thoughtless, thinking disorder. People even make up these excuses…
“Well this type of knife is meant for…”
“I like this type of knife because when the guy is here, I can….
“It works really good for getting his arm away when he’s choking me…”
The guy is…here? How’d he get there? Dude, your “meant for” list is too small when you consider all the possibilities you might face. So then, are you going to carry 3 or 4 different “meant-for” knives for when the he’s here, one for one he’s there, and two for when he’s everywhere? To cover all your “meant-fors?” All knives work well on an arm when someone is choking you. Dude, maximize your survival with the most versatile knife. “Meant-for knives” is like putting 2 rounds in a six gun, and then carrying 3 pistols.
Why in the world…WHY…buy a fighting, survival knife to save your life and the lives of others that is single-edged? And then…and then…carry it, and use it, edge inward?
You do know sometimes in a fight, things don’t always go as “stabbingly” as planned. The reverse grip, edge-OUT offers a slashing possibility, an ADVANTAGE that might diminish the opponent. A double-edged, or 1/4 or 1/2 edge or 3/4s on the other side is ALWAYS going to be an advantage.
Reverse grip tip in accidents. When the Samurai commit suicide – seppuku – they do it with a reverse grip. There’s a reason for this. It’s easier. The tip is already aimed inward. (Incidentally, the helper that will kill him if he fails? Holds a saber grip.) This “easy-tip-inward” is one more point no one seems to consider when raving about reverse grips. The tip is often aimed back at you. About once every 4 weeks on the nightly reruns of the “Cops” TV show you can see a reverse grip knifer get tackled by cops. When they turn the suspect over? He was – “self-stabbed.” One of our lesson plans with the reverse grip is self-awareness of these maneuvering problems.
I cover dropping to the ground and we see people stab their thighs, and when tackled or shoved against the wall, we see the “Cops” incident of the accidental self-stabbing. Tell people to practice falling while holding a knife and watch the accidents. If people are running and holding a reverse grip knife, and they trip and fall? Watch out! There are more reverse grip “selfie” accidents than saber grip ones. Just be aware of this!
Having written my extensive and popular knife book, which took years, studying crime, war and forensic medicine, working cases and the streets, you discover that there are about some…what.. 30 or so ways to fight people with a saber grip and about 25 ways with a reverse group. But, after 8 ways each, does it matter?
There are many pros and cons for each grip. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST THE REVERSE GRIP. I teach it also and I believe better and more thorough and thoughtful than most…or I wouldn’t try. I just don’t like the blind acceptance, the secret whisper about which grip is the best and which is to be ignored. And folks, the single-edge-inward version is just dangerous nonsense. And It bothers me that people thoughtlessly accept courses about these things. Question everything. Get educated. Then pick a knife and a grip you need for your world.
The knife is a very forgiving weapon, in that you can do a whole lot of screwed-up, stupid shit with a knife and get away with it. This is not an excuse to stay stupid. You have to think beyond that to create a comprehensive program and promote real knowledge.
Look, I really don’t care what grip you use as long as it is an EDUCATED, informed choice, and not some mindless, mandate from some short-sighted, and, or brainwashed person, or from that ignorant knife whisperer who knows somebody, who knew somebody else, who…
Some Responses: “Years ago I was grappling with my training partner and had a wooden training knife in the reverse grip. Long story short, we went to the ground and I fell on the training knife and caught the tip in the ribs. That definitely made my eyes water. Since then I’m very iffy whether I’d ever use that grip with a live blade in a real situation. I still train both grips but I much prefer the saber grip due to the added reach, maneuverability, and the sharp end isn’t pointing back at me most of the time.” – Neil Ferguson, USA
“I was at a seminar where an “expert” told us that if we see a man using a knife in that grip to “Run! That man is a professional!” First off, I’m gonna run either way genius! A twelve year old can get my wallet with a two inch folding knife. Stitches are expensive! Furthermore most women use that grip when they stab. Are they professionals??” Zane Issacs, USA (This leads us to wonder, do we not run when the man has a saber grip? – Hock)
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
When was this? This big, “Filipino martial arts turning point” for me? Keep in mind, this is just me and my personal view on things. Don’t hate me cuz I’m viewtiful!
I started doing FMA in 1986, in among other arts like JKD, and had been doing the classic karate and jujitsu (not the Brazilian wrestling version of today). By about 1993 I had covered a lot of FMA material, been to the Philippines twice. Got black belts from both Ernesto Presas and Remy Presas.
The big turning point came with double sticks, of all odd, obscure things. In 1993, a friend called me and said, “Hey Hock, this weekend, Guro ______ is coming into Dallas! He is going to do two full days of the ______ double stick drills. Are you coming?”
Two full days of…double sticks? I guess this phone call had an epiphany moment for me when several ideas flashed through my head. I found myself confessing…
“Two days? Double sticks? Well, I think I’ll pass. I mean, how many double stick drills are there anyway?”
“You’re gonna miss it! A chance to learn THEE _______ double stick drills!”
When we hung up, I examined my epiphany moment. Well, from the Inosanto world, the Remy Presas world, and Ernesto Presas world, I’d already collected about 50 double stick drills according to my anal retentive lists I keep. FIFTY ! I suddenly asked myself,
- “Why am I doing this?”
- “How many more double stick drills could there be, anyway?”
- “How different could they be after a certain basic point?”
- “What makes them different and worth knowing?”
- “How are they the same?”
How ARE they the same? I realized that it was more important to organize the drills, not from the hero-worship-“who” or the hero worship-“what” fan club systems, but instead how are the drills all the same? (It is counter productive and stifling to worship system-heads and systems.)
How are they so similar. And how and why am I wasting my time collecting endless double stick drills from a nearly endless group of known and unknown system-heads who all think theirs are ever-so-special. Many of which are so much the same and with only one slight different tweak here or there. Rather, smarter, I should instead try to understand the essence of all of them. The essential core. Then, teach the universal core.
I was already contemplating the differences between the Remy and Ernesto double stick programs. Remy seemed to have 5 or 6 basic patterns with variations. Ernesto had the classic “must know” list.
Then…then I asked myself why I didn’t view ALL aspects of the varied FMAs the same way? Why not find the universal core of FMA itself? Find the very of essence…
- single stick
- double weapons
…in this clean, kind of scientific manner? Study these cores first. Deal with the needed and dismiss the probably unneeded and-or redundant and-or prissy variables.
There will always be happy museum and happy history collectors, who collect ANYTHING from ANYBODY. And then those who like to sort-of, name-drop stuff like – “at this point, Roohan moved his kneecap this way, while Roohan kept his meniscus right here…” I can talk some of that artsy smack too, just from training years osmosis. I can delight the esoteric fanatics with these tidbits of meniscus positioning. I can also tell you that Ed Kranepool played first base for the Mets in the 1960s. Hey! I do know stuff! But how useful is it?)
Annnnd with that idea? I started constructing the generic PAC course. Pacific Archipelago Concepts, an irreverent, skeptical look at the related core of those related arts. This includes all the big systems in the Pacific Ocean. A lot of this work had been done, like with Kajukenbo (karate, jujitsu, kenpo, boxing).
This clean, generic, non-worship approach did not make me popular with some existing FMA entities, (some are cult-like) in fact I was suddenly shunned by some. And in the seminar business, it is still not my most popular or even my favorite course to teach, as I usually cover generic “combatives” for lack of a better term. But hey, FMA is fun to do, good exercise, a hobby with numerous abstract mental and physical benefits. And when asked to, I will happily cover it. I feel like if I can spread the core-foundation. Then anyone can more quickly blend into any FMA system they wish to pursue.
(By the way, I carried this “core” perspective over to combatives. In a way, this “double stick epiphany” in 1993 was an important idea in more ways than one. It gave me a mission. A purpose. A vision if you will. My pursuit, my study, my interest, my goal, is the universal generic.)
Back to 1993! I later asked that friend back in 1993,
“How was the _______ double stick seminar?”
“It was great!” he said, “We did 30 drills. Most of them we already do, others just a little different here and there.”
Already do? Imagine that!
Hock’s email is hockhochheim@forcenecessary,com
Get the full info on the PAC-FMA course right here, click here