Knife Defence Highlight #6
Note: I wrote an entire book on knife defence called “Watch Out For The Pointy End” so these are snippets and highlights only.
#6 Right tool for the task
There are a lot of training knives available today which, while presenting options, it also means you need to know what you are training to select one for a drill.
I say select one for a drill because drills serve different purposes, each drill has a task and you need the right tool for the task.
What is the purpose of the drill? I will be frank and blunt here, you not only should know the purpose of every drill you do but you need to know it. If you’re teaching, it is vital.
I’ve broken down in another blog my thought of training being broken down into three zones:
In the Learning Zone you are doing just that – learning something new to you and as such you will make mistakes. In knife defence that means you will be stabbed and slashed.
What type of tool do you need for this?
Clearly a safe one because we expect mistakes to be made and we don’t want our students carted off to the hospital or morgue every training session.
You also want them to be aware they made a mistake.
From my view that means you need a safe but annoying training knife for a drill in the Learning Zone.
I use the old rubber tanto training knives because unless they hit an eye they are aren’t rigid enough that anyone will get hurt yet they are rigid enough to be annoying when poked with one.
Also, when new they leave black marks on white clothing.
Therefore, while in the Learning Zone the student can be safe enough to make the mistake they need to as they learn.
Note: The reason they are safe is that they bend and, of course, real knives don’t so that is why they are not close to being real knives in training.
What you need in the Conditioning Zone will depend on how you drill in it.
I use slow motion drills so that the actions of say stabbing or elbowing can be done completely without being pulled but without doing damage.
Because you are going slowly a much more rigid training knife can be used safely as it can be “pressed” into the body allowing the person conditioning to move and compensate.
A hard plastic or wood training knife will not bend and suites this purpose.
If you want to take a step up you can use metal training to add that flash of silver and touch of cold steel.
There are also shock knives which let you “know” when you’ve touched the blade, or it has touched you.
All of these can be used safely if you do your conditioning with slow movement (except the eyes of course).
Once you move on to the Testing Zone we want to get as close to a real assault as we can and still not send students off to the hospital or morgue.
I know this will contradict what some think as I have had the arguments but read through to the end before you jump.
What is a real attack?
I feel it is one where the Aggressor really wants to kill you and attacks with that intent.
I don’t care how fast, how intense, how vocal, how aggressive, how hard you come if there is no actual intent to actually stab me (simulate killing me). Without that everything else the aggressiveness etc. is just fluff and bother.
I have put a Spyderco Delica trainer an inch into an old phone book.
Think about that.
If I can put a little trainer an inch into a phone book how far do you think I can drive it into you?
I’ve mentioned a few times not sending students to the hospital or morgue every training session, well, if you are “really” attacking with a hard plastic, wood or metal trainer and you are not sending them there, then I can say without a doubt the attacks were not real attacks despite the aggression they may have started with. If you stab someone for real with a metal trainer, they will be injured and both of you will know it so if everyone is safe and happy after you’ve stabbed them then the attack in the end was not real.
What difference would that make?
It actually makes a lot of difference.
We can see this in a very simple test.
Pick two volunteers and have one leave the room.
Give the remaining volunteer a rigid training knife – a nice metal one will do.
Pick out a new hand pad and tell them you want them to kill the pad. You want them to sewing machine stab it 20 times.
BUT, tell them that they can’t wreck the pad so while they are to stab fast and hard they really can’t hurt it. You want no damage done to the pad – this is just like having no damage done to a person.
You hold the pad and somewhere between the 5th and 10th stab rotate and move the pad out of the way.
Take note of what happened to the person stabbing balance and structure wise and take note of how far they stabbed when you moved the pad. You might want a person designated to watch and note how far they stabbed as you are rotating away from the stab.
Now, bring the other volunteer back into the room. Give them a very safe training knife and my choice is a cheap one of a folded gi belt wrapped in tape. Stab your self to show them it doesn’t hurt.
Once again take up the hand pad and tell them to kill it to use fast sewing machine stabs up to 20 time and remind them they cannot hurt the pad in anyway so – kill it.
Again, between the 5th and 10th stab rotate and move the pad out of the way.
Now note their balance and structure and if there was any effect on it. Also note (or have your designated person) note how far they stabbed when you moved.
I’ve run this test a lot and the person not really stabbing stays balanced and only stabs as far as the pad was. While the person actually stabbing loses balance and stabs much farther.
That is what happens in a real assault.
I compare the two to the difference between point Karate sparring and full contact kick boxing.
If the point stylist misses with a strike – no affect on him. If the full contact person does there is an effect.
And let’s face it the point karate person is (based on the rules) only striking to the body and not into it making their distance very different from the person really trying to drive a strike in. dealing with the incoming strikes is different. If you tried to handle the point Karate strike like a full contact strike it wouldn’t work well and that is the same as trying to deal with a stab in training that isn’t actually trying to bury that knife in you like it would in real life.
Therefore, and this is just my opinion, if you want to deal with the intent of a real strike in your testing then a knife so safe your partner will not hesitate to bury it in your chest is the way to go.
If your purpose is different then you might need a different tool for your task.
Look at the intent in this clip of a real knife assault:
In the end it is all about the right tool for the task.