My first exposure to the work of Michael D. Echanis was in a copy of Soldier of Fortune that my martial arts instructor gave me back in 1977. Frustrated with the impractical knife-defense tactics of the art I was studying, I had approached him to ask for a new, more realistic direction in my training. The magazine had an in-depth interview with Echanis that turned out to be the catalyst I needed. I was studying a "modern" martial art at the time, but like most traditional arts, it was still very structured and technique focused. When my training partners and I increased the intensity and realism of our training to try to replicate real attacks, its techniques often fell short. In reading the profile on Echanis, it was immediately obvious that he had taken a different approach to his training and the instruction he was providing to the U.S. special-operations community. Based on his own hard-won combat experience in Vietnam, he had developed an uncompromising set of standards as to what constituted practical, realistic, combative tactics. While he readily acknowledged that the classical fighting arts had a lot to offer, he drew a hard line between martial tradition and martial technique that was still viable and relevant in modern warfare. Echanis' irreverent, results-oriented approach to the fighting arts also embraced the full spectrum of weaponry, favoring the most practical and efficient, which included the knife. Other articles in Soldier of Fortune and Black Belt during that time provided additional insights into Echanis' fighting methods and the system of hwa rang do on which they were based. However, it was the release of his Special Forces/Ranger-UDT/SEAL Hand-to-Hand Combat/Special Weapons/Special Tactics book series that really revealed the direction of his training. That three-book series was distinctly different from the other martial arts books that had been published before that time in that they actually addressed close-combat situations that were relevant to a military operational environment. They also pulled no punches, presenting hard-core tactics of knife fighting, stick fighting and unarmed combat that would enable real warriors to kill and win on the battlefield. And in the process, they served as both a turning point and a powerful catharsis for countless martial artists seeking to understand the reality of close combat — just as I was. Using Echanis' books as a template, I and several like-minded students in my martial arts group drastically changed the direction of our training. We abandoned classical martial arts weapons and focused on practical ones — particularly knives. We increased the intensity and realism of our training and put it into context, practicing in the areas and environments where our skills would most likely come into play. Based on the understanding we gained from that process, we also realized that we'd never again go back to traditional martial arts training. Years later, I had the privilege of speaking with a number of special-operations veterans who had trained directly with Echanis or experienced the close-combat programs that he created. Through their comments, it was clear that the effects of Echanis' programs were profound and had indeed set a new standard in realistic, combatives training. Many of these men still used Echanis' methods as a basis for their personal close-combat tactics and shared the belief that his training represented a distinct turning point in the evolution of modern warfare. Although his life was cut tragically short, Michael D. Echanis had a profound impact on the martial arts world and the direction of modern military combative training. He combined his personal quest for a comprehensive warrior art with an uncompromising commitment to combative function. And in the process, he gave us an enduring legacy of close-combat philosophy and technique that will continue to inspire us for generations to come.


About the Author:

Michael Janich is a freelance writer based in Longmont, Colorado. He has more than 35 years of martial arts experience and is one of America's best-known knife-fighting experts


The Complete Michael D. Echanis Collection: The Special Forces/Hand-to-Hand Combat/Special Tactics Series is a comprehensive compilation of the highly popular three-volume Special Tactics series from legendary soldier Michael D. Echanis. Since the series first hit the martial arts scene in 1977, Echanis' unique approach to hand-to-hand combat techniques and knife fighting has revolutionized reality-based fighting. Based on the ancient hwa rang do techniques and the Hwarang warriors, The Complete Michael D. Echanis Collection combines close-quarters combat with lethal knife-fighting strategies, creating a necessary read for the modern-day fighter

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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