Combatives

The Knifehand Strike Is Part of Almost Every Martial Art Because It Works!

It's been called the edge-of-the-hand strike, the knifehand, the ax hand, the shuto, the thousand-hand strike and the judo chop. It can be found in virtually every martial art from karate to kung fu and in every kata from those practiced at the Kodokan to those done at Kukkiwon.

So how did this time-honored technique go from martial arts mainstream to martial arts punch line? How did the only strike found in almost every established martial art go from secret technique to something your grandfather did?

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Fighting two or more attackers, even if they are unarmed, is a "worst case scenario." However, as with any conflict, there are rules that can help you survive it. Here are six of them that you must commit to memory.

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In life, drawing corollaries between related subjects is interesting and often enlightening. In particular, corollaries between warfighting and personal combat can teach us much.

Just as any true martial artist should read Musashi's Book of Five Rings, any combatives practitioner should read the U.S. Marine Corps Field Manual 1 Warfighting. FM1 was written in the late 1980s at the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Warfighting Center in Quantico, Virginia, while I was assigned there to the Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict office as the counterterrorism/counternarcotics officer. A young captain named John Sullivan was a contemporary of mine and a project officer on the development of the manual. The book was written with direct input from the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. A.M. Gray. Through John, I had the opportunity to review it as a work in progress, and it left a lasting impression. Below are some of the most interesting corollaries.

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There are only 10 directions in the entire universe: front, back, horizontal left and right, vertical up and down, and four diagonals, which is essentially the letter "X." So, how many directions can you be attacked from? The answer is 10. It's simple Euclidean geometry (the relationship between a body, the human body in this case, and surrounding space). This means that there are only 10 possible directions a stab or cut with a knife can come from. There are only 10 directions a punch can come at your face or body. There are only 10 directions a foot or knee can slam into you, and only 10 directions you can move about the ground when standing upright: eight directions on the two-dimensional plane, and then jumping up (vertical up) or falling (vertical down) in certain situations and environments.

If you end up on the ground, either deliberately, accidentally, or forced there, the 10 directions are down there also. This means the enemy could be on top of you, on your back, on one side or the other, north of your head, at your feet, or along any point of the "X." To be prepared for any of these possibilities your ground combat training must include all 10 directions.

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