The grab strategy is now deemed possible and “okay.” In the 1990s and early 2000s, I received a considerable amount of talk forum ridicule for demonstrating and suggesting that – if you could grab the knife bearing limb, it was good idea. The common criticism back then by the “know-it-alls” was that such grabs were absolutely IMPOSSIBLE!
Ridiculed, my High Home Films videos and the bigger TRS “Unarmed vs the Knife” video segment in 2002 were so maligned. I Had suggested that IF you could, you grab the limb and should INSTANTLY fight on.
This is a lethal force attack, you grab and knock-snot out of the attacker’s eyes, face and or throat, etc. I have collected news-feeds for decades on knife attacks and totally untrained people have been winning (and even disarming knives) with regularity, world-wide. Grabbing the knife limb is-was a consistent 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 a lot, thank goodness. They do tend to grab with two hands and maybe, arm wrap and body turn, etc. But some I see, I think, spend a bit too much time in the arm-grab-wrestle moment when they should be instantly attacking the face-throat. Whatever, at least the grab is deemed okay!
But what of this 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 ground. Watch for this next time. Watch these workouts with an open mind, keep an eye on the free hand and think what it could do to the demonstrator if actually used.
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.
This ignorance, this miss-step neglect of the other free arm-hand drives me BONKERS-NUTs especially even when watching quite a number of BJJ/wrestling moves. The free hand of the semi-captured or captured partner often just dangles out there, doing nothing. Or, the free hand does something non-fight ending so the wrestling can 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 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 attacker’s 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.
In 1986, I became fascinated by the Bruce Lee’s essay on “the stance of no stance,” idea. Whether hand, stick, knife or gun, I opted for the loose “ready stance,” and the “balance and power in motion” concept, a motion-picture-idea rather than a still-photo-idea.
Thanks to Bruce Lee, the Inosanto Family (and Ed Parker) when teaching since the late 1980s, I organized and demonstrated the Ten Probable Position-Problems to prepare people for the full spectrum of mixed weapon fighting possibilities. I was a cop then and we had to fight on the ground periodically, so even before the BJJ madness-fad, many of us trained in a diverse Police Judo, later re-named Police Defensive Tactics (both very incomplete). And, I was deeply involved with the Inosanto Family and they were deeply involved in “shooto” – “shoot wrestling.”
One might say there are three generics in “street fighting-survival” challenges. 1) standing, 2) kneeling-seated, 3) floor-ground. But inside each there are differing heights and needs, making up the ten. For me a system-art that spends too much time in one of the categories is forgetting the importance of the others. In any fight you may well transition through some of these ten. Investigate them through the Ws and H Questions, the who, what, where, when, how and why questions to best explore combatives. One such “Where” question is…”Where are you?” Standing? Kneeling? Seated? Floored-grounded?
Problem 1a: Unready Standing unprepared – the “stupid bus top.” This is a concept I learned from Ed Parker Kenpo karate in 1973. You are standing normally (like waiting for a bus). You are probably zoned out and unprepared.
Problem 1b: Ready Standing Ambush – the “prepared bus stop.” You are prepared but don’t look so to an opponent. (Think sucker punch approach, concept.)
Problem 2: Ready Standing – “Weapon” Forward or as in a right side lead. (Weapon as in hand, stick, knife, gun.)
Problem 3: Ready Standing – “Weapon” Neutral or as in hands-torso showing no lead. (Weapon as in hand, stick, knife, gun.)
Problem 4: Ready Standing – “Weapon” Forward or as in a left side lead. (Weapon as in hand, stick, knife, gun.)
Problem 5: Knee Height (or seated,) versus Standing.
Problem 6: Knee Height (or seated,) versus Knee-high or Seated.
Problem 7: Knee Height versus Someone Below You. This is the top-side of a floor-ground fight. (Might be two knees down, right knee up or left knee up.)
Problem 8: Floored-grounded On Back. This means fighting standing, kneeling and grounded enemies. Full spectrum, head to toe (think north-south-east-west).
Problem 9: Floored-grounded on Right Side. Usually this means fighting enemies that are knee-high or grounded too. Full spectrum, head to toe (think north-south-east-west).
Problem 10: Floored-grounded on Left Side. Usually this means fighting enemies that are knee-high or grounded too. Full spectrum, head to toe (think north-south-east-west).
YOU WILL BE FIGHTING “HERE”… In many a fight, certainly an ambush, you might never get a chance to strike up a defined “stance.” Still, this study reminds everyone that fighting includes all these up-and-down height categories and they should not be ignored or forgotten.
EVERYTHING you learn, must be experimented through these 10 position (stance) problems. Every strike, kick, lock, etc…can you do it there? Can it work here? There? Up and down? Yes or no? This is the goal of the seamless survival fighter. You fight where you fight, where you are. A true fighter-survivor, so-called “combatives” person, fights standing, kneeling-seated and on the floor-ground, in and out of buildings, in rural, suburban and urban areas. Dissect, identify and discard sports and artsy cancers. A combatives fighting system is about doctrine-doctrine-doctrine, the training skeleton which recognizes chaos, crime and war and best prepares people to respond.
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I will start this essay off with the proclamation that I am an exponent and a proponent of boxing/kickboxing, all to the extent that or can be used in bareknuckle, non-sport self defense. When you fight you will not have boxing gloves, nor a mouthpiece. But, do these photos disturb you? They should.
They represents a GIGANTIC transition, mistake in “real fighting,” or…or…”non-sport, fighting.” Whatever you want to call it. This photo is representative of years of what I’ve seen. Decades even, and still do see it. That is placing your bare fists tight up against your face as some sort of standard fighting stance, misapplied from the Boxing “peek-a-boo.”
When teaching in the late 80s and 90s in my regular school, I taught in a city with two major colleges. The volume of people I saw come and go was remarkable. I never taught kids, Always adults. Many were students of other systems and I saw quite a number of folks whose definition of a fighting stance was to place their bare fists right on the their faces, or just barely off their faces, as in the photos above. Plenty also placed their finger knuckles right on their upper gum line or maybe their cheekbones. I interviewed them and
this hand-face positioning was leftover from boxing or kick boxing. Leftover big glove arts.
In boxing, everything is based around the big glove/ Every aggressive and defensive movement is centered around them. This does not automatically transfer over to bare hands.
Let’s jump right to my point. If you see this before you? Try and strike the bare fist glued on the face. Any strike you like. Hit it or them. It’s lunch. Lunch served up for you from yesterday’s leftovers. The original meal from yesterday? Sport, big-gloved boxing. It’s an odd leftover from that. It does not transition well. Hit the face via the fists.
Palms, hammers, and, we are going to discuss punching here. This is NOT an essay about fist-punching versus palm strikes. Lots of folks hurt their bare hands punching and remember…LOTS DON’T! Lots of people DO NOT break their hands punching. That’s another subject for another Training Mission book. Let’s take one thing at a time. This is not that time.
I would instead like to address the many “reality” training operations that way overuse big, boxing gloves in their classes, or some big glove boxing theories, ignorantly and innocently passing them off as self defense training. And the one major leftover – fists glued on face as some sort of fighting stance.
You see a lot of POSED photos with fighters and martial artists with their hands up and on, or almost on, their faces.
(note also the flagging thumb sticking up in this photo, another boxing glove leftover cancer.) Photographers try to get the hands and/or gloves up in the picture frame. These same people might not fight or use a stance like this, but the distribution of these photos help create the “fist on face” copy-cat motif. People will mindlessly replicate this. Even Instructors will mindlessly replicate this. And whole systems will too. Should folks without big gloves stand like this as some sort of official fighting stance? As a matter of system doctrine? I say no.
I have boxed and kick boxed since the 1970s. I still make my students kick box for various skills. And so many wonderful, important, simple things come from boxing. Examine it and experiment. Not everything transitions over to a crime or war survival struggle. Like gloves. Everyone knows, takes for granted, that you won’t be wearing big-ass, boxing gloves when ambushed, fighting wars, or arresting people, or as they say, “street fighting,” but I ask you to think this through, fully realize that some sport, boxing-big-glove, associated movements have some leftover cancers. Make the training mission connection.
If you are indeed a boxer, then you must wear boxing gloves. Same with Thai. You are a boxer! In western boxing, everything is about the big glove. Every aggressive and defensive movement is centered around those big gloves. If you are not a sport boxer? Don’t wear them, or at least limit them for very special purposes (more on that later.) The MMA glove is superior tool for MMA, and/or that real, street fight prep. Best? No gloves at all for prep, but with extended time periods on mitts and bags , MMA gloves can be a skin and bone saver and your training can endure longer periods.
I first saw these bare-hand, “strike-the-cover-hand” methods in JKD, FMA and Silat back in the 1980s. We did material about palm striking, hammer fisting and punching the opponent’s bare hands when they were on the face, or very, very close to the face, and “trapping/delaying” their bare hands when on their chest area, if they seemed pin-able. But for me and I know others, the training was so segmented, we never grasped the big picture. We would put our Thai clothes on and change mentalities and methods and then do that. Change clothes again and do something else. Rules. Segmented. We would box and just do that. Rules. Segmentation. Karate and do that. These rules and segmentations are not good. No blend. No evolution. Sometime, somehow, in the 1990s, the light switch came on for me to truly blend.
I want to make some quick points about this mistake.
Point 1: Getting hit like this is not good. I mean…think about it!
Point 2: Distance? If you are unlucky enough to be in some kind of fight, will there be a stand-off, “duel,” square-off situation? It’s possible. Maybe. Yes. If so, if you plant your hands on your face you are letting your opponent get closer in to you than if your hands were out, toward him more. JKD’s Larry Harstell once said in a seminar, “Make him earn that space, don’t just give it to him.” Your reaction time sucks enough already without allowing him to get closer in to you, shaving even more time off.
Point 3: He’s covered? If you are a regimented, segmented, programmed boxer wearing gloves and you see your opponent boxer lift his or her big, padded, boxing gloves up to their face, this is some proper, padded protection. You think…”oh well, darn, he’s covered right now.” To some extent with big gloves this is true. But when an un-gloved person follows this same gloved habit with bare fists, the regimented boxer might see this also, as “cover,” and still hesitate to strike because he thinks…“Oh well, darn, he’s covered right now.” Leftover thinking from gloved boxing habits. The bare-hand guy is not “covered/protected.” No big gloves! You have no padded gives. He has no padded gloves. If you have an open path to the head and hands on his face? Travel it. Hit them. Hit these bare fists on his face.
So, in bare knuckle fight theory, not big glove theory – and well, maybe in big glove theory sometimes too – hands always on your face like this is a problem. Again, “Make him earn that space, don’t just give it to him.” People like to argue about fists-on-face as being fine, but they cannot win an argument on this distance issue. The “earn-the-space” distance issue alone wins the argument. Think about how many self defense people put up the classic “fence-thingy” – hands up, hands out, palms out to keep people away. Distance theory. Your hands can sometimes keep people away. Find your comfortable, performance spot.
Sometimes, this cover doesn’t work even when wearing gloves
Hand are fast, Your hands. His hands. Fast. And structural mistakes can be overcome by moving your hands around quickly as needed. Lots of people quickly and smartly use their forearms for sudden protection. Fast hands might save the bare-fists-glued-on-face guys, but, fast hands are no excuse to justify stupid doctrine. Most “fighters” retreat to forearm covers and hands way back in the instant that they need them, nicknamed “doomsday blocks.” They don’t use this position as a fighting stance standard. Once escaped, they return to “normal, up-front” hand positions.
I am writing here about maximizing potential strategies and doctrine. Know your goal. Know the best way to achieve it. Remove abstracts, or at very least reduce the abstract. In training, it is almost impossible to completely remove the abstract…because…it’s training. So, reduce the abstract where you can. This is a constant challenge.
Bare fists on face? I once again must resort to one of my hero’s remarks, champ Bas Rutten when he said on this subject “Ah, the meat-helmet defense. Would you put a focus mitt up to your cheek and let me punch it? No, because it’ll still KTFO. (knock you the fuck out)”
Several traveling seminar instructors these days, I think are running out of ideas, and have started to add/teach pure, BIG-GLOVED boxing.
Self Defense/Combatives Seminar: Learn to Box!”
I think this is a misleading mistake, unless they openly advertise –
“Self Defense Weekend! Plus – 2 hours of Sheer Sport Boxing.”
Okay then, mission properly advertised honestly and well stated. You’ll do self defense stuff and pure sport boxing. Or, how about –
“Self Defense Weekend! Plus 2 hours of Applying Boxing Methods to Street Fighting.”
The word “applying” is key. There will be changes! Nicely advertised. But maybe with MMA gloves, we hope?
“BOXING! The Best Self Defense!”
No. Not alone. No. Every week the UFC is on TV, this mixed martial arts message is sent out to the world. Even neophytes can see that gloved boxing is not the ultimate solution to hand, stick, knife and gun fighting.
But this is not just a mistake of a traveling seminar person. This mistake appears in regular “self defense” classes in schools. If you do pure, big glove boxing as part and parcel of your self defense class you are off-mission. Not good. Not smart – especially when you could so easily fix that with no gloves or MMA gloves and a few short explanations. Many Krav schools have also added/introduced big glove boxing drills on mitts, bags, etc. to fill class time? Exercise? And appear to be more combative? Is this the best use of self defense class time?
Let’s not forget the mechanics of hitting. Hitting mitts and bags with big round, padded gloves is different than with MMA gloves or bare handed. It…feels…different. It feels different on your hands and in your wrists. Also, using your knuckles as striking point tools are easily lost inside the bulbous, boxing glove. Spending a whole lot of your self defense time hitting gear with big boxing gloves is just “off-mission.”
The MMA glove is better because in fights you need to hit AND grab and grapple. And for so-called “reality fighting,” on the “doctrine chalkboard,” MMA today is superior to “BJJ” and “Boxing,” because it already includes both as a mission. But if you just want to wrestle, or box? Fine! You do what you want and like. It’s your choice, your hobby, your fun, your exercise. Even your addiction. But addictions don’t always allow you to think straight. Just know what you are doing. Who, what, where, when, how and why. Know where it fits in the big picture.
Glove on a stick! An example of a training use of a boxing glove. Stand behind a trainer and poke it into openings.
I mentioned “special purposes use” earlier. I do love to see the boxing gloves on the walls where I teach. I need them sometimes as a progressive, handy tool. When do I slip big boxing gloves in when teaching? I do still use them when I think its appropriate. One example would be some ground fighting. Hero on the ground, trainer on top of him punching down. We are trying to get the bottom guy to do a move or maybe draw a knife or gun under some stress. I will ask the topside guy to wear one or two boxing gloves and give the bottom guy some safer, distracting flak. And, there are indeed times, when I think its appropriate, people need to just flat-out box for a host of skill developing reasons I seeking to work on, and the big gloves are a safer device in a progression to a bare knuckle goal.
So the “stance?” When I warn people about the fist-on-the-face-thing, they ask, “well, where should your hands be?” For a quick response? “Not there!” A vast, and I mean vast, majority of boxers, MMA and otherwise systems have their hands up but forward and off from their faces, in the upper window of combat. I’d say, a vast majority. And most keep them moving a bit anyway. A so-called fighting stance is about balance and power in motion, not a still photo, position. I could probably show 8 different photos here representing tons of boxing and non-boxing fighters with their dukes up in varying heights somewhat away from their faces. For me, for my “business” (and yours?) I am not developing boxing-boxers. I am trying to study and utilize Boxing and Thai. I am trying to help the spread of “self defense” survival in a bare hand, stick, knife, gun world. Are you? What…is…your…mission? If you don’t already, please consider the necessary changes from sport boxing to the “hitting below the belt,” no rules fighting you claim to teach. One such examination involves the use of, or limited use of, or non-use of, the big boxing glove.
Are you killing time in your Krav classes? Making self defense people punch with big boxing gloves?
The main theme in the ballpark here? Let’s hyper jump right to it now. If you are solder-ing, LEO-ing, krav maga-ing, citizen-ing, or combatives-ing your way to real world, self defense? Your core punching research and study must prioritize BARE-KNUCKLE BOXING! Not just sport, big glove boxing of “western” and Thai. (And even in Bare Knuckle fights, they still wrap parts of their hands and their wrists. At any rate when the fight starts in the supermarket, or the factory floor, or the family picnic, you will not be wearing boxing gloves and your hands and wrists won’t be wrapped. And don’t put your bare hands on your face thinking your safe!
(Update: This essay was shared and re-shared from here over 150 times on the internet years ago, with a couple of thousand comments. People are still finding it and commenting. ALL positive but for TWO! Only two separate, Panantukan instructors claim that it is smart to start all fights from their face cheeks. They believe that their hands are faster if fired from the face cheeks. I couldn’t help but look up a video or two that one of them made and sure enough, it seems like one guy’s fashioned his entire system, for years, based on the fist on cheek fighting stance. This is a serious mistake. It would seem when overwhelming comments from veteran experts – oh, like Bas? – and some science and common sense comes along, the one or two, might change/evolve.)
– “I’ll never have a gun, so why should I…” and, – “I can’t/don’t own a gun, so why should I…” and, – “I don’t like guns (or knives), so I’ll NEVER have one.” – You get the picture. The blind, never-never land excuse.
…speeches from all the world. People doing self-defense yet don’t want to hear anything about guns (or knives too). It is ironic because many of the naysay, narrators also do various forms of Krav Maga – systems often chock, so chock full of pistol disarms, and some from the most bizarre positions.
Whether you are a person doing martial arts that are supposed to be realistic too, or a Krav person, cop, or military, whatever, you are probably messing around with pistols and pistol disarms. Or you should be, even in the magical, lucky charms lands of NO-Gun. You’ll maybe do disarms, but it ends there. Does it?
No. With a pistol disarm, 2 things will happen to the gun after you disarm.
One – The gun will hit the “floor,” or…
Two – …the gun will now be in your hand. Are they virgin hands?
This is the point I am trying to get to. AFTER the disarm. Do you have gun-virgin-hands? SUDDENLY, no matter who you are, and where you live? What you say and think – you are now suddenly, like it or not, a “gun guy!” Do you know which end of the gun the bullet comes out of? How this gun works? Do you know where the “on and off” switch is (as USA Gun-God Clint Smith has nicknamed the safety. Is there one?) Does the gun need a real, quick, common, simple “fix.” You know what they are?
And if the recently disarmed guy comes back for his lost gun? Now you have to worry about your “pistol retention” vs his “pistol recovery.” (two old, decades, decades old terms in the gun-fighting world. Ever heard of them? Heard of one? Not the other? ) These terms not in your language?
The history of war and crime is replete with people getting the guns of other people and knowing, or not knowing, how to use them. Remember Tunisia? The Jihadist with a sub machine gun that killed all those people on the beach? The security guard with his own sub-gun, dropped the gun and ran away. A tourist to the rescue? A tourist picked up the sub-gun to kill the bad guy and…and…well…jeez. Couldn’t work it. The tourist was from a NO-gun country and probably never thought he would see, hold or use a gun. Surprise!
Aron Takac, an instructor in Serbia says ” I remember the seminar in 2011. The instructor was currently one of the most wanted in the shooting industry, and he was talking about rifle disarms. Two guys from Norway said, “There are no guns in our country, we don’t need this”. Not two months later Utaya Island attack happened. Breivik killed 77 people.” There is a long, international list of such events.
It is a hand, stick, knife, gun world. No matter where you live. No matter what the local laws are. As a result of this reality, I have been teaching “gun-arm grappling” with any kind of simulated ammo guns I can get my hands on for over 20 years now, as far away as Australia. And yet, for some people this stuff is new…or fairly new? Invented in the last few years or so. It is not new. As another famous gun instructor Dave Spaulding likes to say, “It’s not new. It’s just new to you.”
Gun crimes occur EVERYWHERE in the world. And, ever hear of terrorism? In the “who, what, where, when, how and why” of life, it is important to predict and prioritize your high stat encounters. Even in the NO-gun world around you. Sure. Prioritize, but not ignore realities. It has and will, behoove all so-called, “self defense” practitioners to do some work on, to deal with, hand, stick, knife, gun while standing, kneeling/seated and on the ground. Or just realize what you are doing a sport for a hobby with some very good or perhaps bad abstract benefits.
Prioritize. A good instructor organizing a class, thinks of these things as training time minutes and, or percentages. No matter the subject. How many minutes in night class? How many hours in a day class? How many days in a week class, should be spent on any particular subject? It’s the totally ignoring something by way of thoughtless excuses that is a doctrine problem.
Sometimes I think about deathbed interviews of people. How many 75 or 80 year-old regular folks/citizens on their deathbed can say, “I’ve never been punched in the face. Why do so many people do these martial arts? Odds are they will never be punched in the face.” Most people. many people. Most people have never been a victim of crime, attacked or punched or shot at. Some cops got through their entire careers and are never punched in the mouth. Is this a “throw-down” excuse not to train…anything then? “Odds are it won’t happen? Why bother with unarmed vs unarmed material, then? Why bother with pistols? Why bother with anything then?
So, please do re-think things about these excuse, throw-down lines – “I live in a country without guns, so I’ll never…”