knife defense

Knife Defense

That's what I yell out to my students who feel like giving up just after they got stabbed with a rubber training knife or shot with a 6mm Airsoft projectile.

Even after a scenario, when the "injuries" would be catastrophic, I tell my students, "You're not dead until a paramedic or doctor declares you dead, or you feel yourself leaving your body and you are heading to a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, keep fighting! You are only injured, and not dead."

I've seen many martial arts instructors over the years say to their students after a "critical injury" in a training scenario, "You're dead!" Yes, the well-meaning instructor is trying to convey a message to their students that they must improve their skills to avoid being killed in a real fight, but unfortunately injuries are sometimes the result of physical conflict. Who's to say that a wound is fatal or not? I let my students know from the start that in a fight they may get hurt, but they must mentally prepare for that eventuality and overcome it.

The problem with telling a student, "You're dead!" in a training scenario is that the mind is very powerful, and if they do get stabbed or shot in a real conflict one day, even if the injuries may not be life threatening, the mind has been reinforced by the bad instructor's messaging. They've been told that they are dead, and so they just very well may be. They have associated getting shot or stabbed in training with death. It's no wonder they may give up hope in a real situation. After all, everybody falls back on their training in critical situations.

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Utility vs. Combat: Tomahawks and Trade Knive

A thoughtful question from Mitch Mitchell, an affiliate coach of American Frontier Rough and Tumble, prompted me to commit to paper some observations regarding two common tools/weapons of the frontier. First, the exchange that led to all this:

Question: "Am I on the right track or holding my danged knife wrong?"

My reply: "Bowie designs are manifold. My personal preference falls toward a flat-spine knife with a half-guard because a spine-side guard or broken spine jams up my thumb on a sincere stab in a saber grip. For me, anyway, a nice, straight, full-power stab with a hammer grip on the high line is impossible, and anyway it is a wrist killer."

Mitchell's question is a common one that can lead us one step closer to weapons wisdom. First, I will point out that discovering that certain tactics and grips are wrist killers is possible only when we invest time in hard training with hard targets. If we stick with mirror play, shadow play or tit-for-tat flow drills with a partner using mock weapons, we likely will never stumble on the realities that make certain tactics ill-advised. As they say, train real to find real.

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Krav Maga

Many people look to go to some form of martial arts class to improve their self-defense skills. This could be very formal and stylized in a Traditional setting, more casual and physical in a combat sport environment, or something 'street', wearing regular clothing and featuring brutal 'dirty' fighting (more on dirty fighting in another blog!).

To a certain extent this is a valid path and I'm sure the readership of Black Belt Magazine will all veer towards one form or another of the above examples. However, there are some things that can be done which are ultimately far more effective at self-protection than any physical class can give you. The trouble is they don't 'fit' into what most people think of as self-defense and so they are often ignored or overlooked. The good news is that these are fairly simple concepts to learn and can be done at any time. But they aren't necessarily easy. As with most things worthwhile, they take practice.

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Isaac Costley

Although only speculation, I believe it is safe to infer that even back in the days of the Asian Dynasties there was someone pointing at the teacher of the Army saying "That won't work in battle".

Martial Artists are known for being critical of techniques not introduced to them by their instructor, created by them personally, or outside of their particular system or style.

The debate continues in regard to "What will work on the streets". Many techniques are taught, and for each technique, you are sure to find practitioners, instructors, masters, and grandmasters who will say "That won't work on the street"? So that leads to the question "What makes one technique more or less valid than another for street application"?

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