DBMA Knife and Counter Knife

Discussion in 'Dog Brothers Martial Arts' started by Crafty Dog, May 24, 2010.

  1. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Woof All:

    As I discuss in the vid-clip "Knife Ruminations" on our website, I have a certain reluctance to teach offensive knife openly. I'm not sure this makes sense in a world of guns, but it seems to me that training offensive knife calls to the darkness is a special way.

    The Die Less Often material is ANTI-knife and is intended to give the best odds possible against the most like kind of attack in the American environment: Crazed forehanded thrusting (and slashing) either untrained or trained, as in the Prison Sewing Machine variations. My thought here is that the bad guys already know these things, and that I help the cause of the good to help good people acquire a more realistic sense of what they might really face.

    This is an example of the DBMA teaching principle "Teach Primal Probabilities First".

    In that context of course there needs to be a block of material to respond to the Ice Pick Caveman based attacks. I have had a couple of random techniques that I like, but frankly the material was not up to the standard that I think I achieved with the anti PSM material.

    While part of the challenge was to maintain the "Consistency across categories" concept so as to minimize reaction time, the simple fact was that I did not have a matrix and grid the way I do with the anti-PSM material , , , until today.

    Of course the material will need to be pressure tested further, but two seasoned students and I aired things out fairly well today and my doggy nose tells me that today was a moment of satori.

    The Adventure continues!
    Guro Crafty

    PS: This past Friday I had a very intriguing day being trained in the very interesting Piper Knife system of South Africa. One of the moves that I learned on Friday appears in the new anti-Ice Pick Caveman material.
  2. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Guro Crafty,

    I understand your reluctance to teach offensive knife but I have to admit that this is one thing that I get frustrated about in FMA from time to time. First of all, you are correct that in a world of guns, there are easier ways to be a murderer than by teaching someone knife. I would submit that I could just drive through a crowd of people in my Jeep and cause far more damage than I could by knowing how to use knife in an offensive capacity. In addition, if you find yourself in a scenario where you are assaulted by someone with a weapon or perhaps you are in a two or three on one scenario, having a knife and knowing more than just how to defend against it but how to use it in an offensive capacity might just be the thing that saves a good person's life. Along these lines I would think that learning those techniques would go hand in hand the goals of the DLO material.

    You are never going to be able to control for what people do with the information you have given them. Do you have a responsibility to attempt to ensure that you are teaching people who are decent human beings? Yes, I think you do. To a point. But, you are never going to be able to control for the rest, anymore than a drivers education teacher is going to be able to control who goes out and drives drunk or who deliberately commits vehicular homicide.

    I would very much like to see the material you have on this topic as I am sure it would be good. I hope you will reconsider and teach that sort of material. One way to compromise might be to limit the teaching of offensive knife to students who have reached a certain level. In addition, you can avoid teaching it at open seminars which might give you greater control over who is on the receiving end of the information. I know firearms instructors who require background checks before people can enroll in certain courses, that might be an option for you as well.

    Just my ramblings...

    Take care,
  3. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Allow me to clarify:

    Most of my point is addressed the fact that much of my teaching is done through seminars and DVDs. Of course I teach offensive knife to people whom I know and with whom I feel comfortable.

    The problem with offensive knife is that to teach it well calls to the darkness and lead someone to a very poor decision while in the adrenal state. Also, it can be easy to overestimate one's own abilities to spot cracks in someone's personality through which that darkness could inappropriately slip out and do un-doable things.
  4. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    In that case I would probably stick with what you are doing currently. If you are uncomfortable teaching offensive knife to those who you do not know directly in a teacher student capacity than I would't do it. There is no way to control who does or does not show up for a seminar or who buys a dvd. I still think that there are going to be far easier ways to be an idiot than taking the time to learn knife skills but I can understand the reluctance.
  5. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member


    When it comes to folders of the size typically carried here in the US, for many years I preferred a hammer grip for the knife and therefore chose knives with handles that favored this grip. Part of the reason that I preferred hammer grip was that I got (and probably still do get) better results with it in what in DBMA we call "Sport Knife Dueling". Because I suspect the SKD mindset informs the thinking of many people in martial arts for Real World application more than they realize (which was certainly the case for me) I'd like to share a bit of my own evolution here.

    I begin by making clear that, despite the playfulness of the name, I do not make fun of SKD. SKD was a staple of my training some 25 years ago with Paul Vunak who used it for the development for certain important attributes such as footwork, timing, reflexes, etc. Furthermore, in the Dog Brothers we have always used SKD as a way to open our "DB Gatherings of the Pack" for additional purpose of kicking the day off, getting fighters warmed up for the stickfights, letting fighters assess each other a bit before stickfighting, etc. (The Euros do not do SKD at their DB Gatherings.)

    In short SKD dueling can be lots of fun for young males into ritual hierarchical ritual combat AND it can serve quite well in many situations which force one to pull a knife. And these knife skills can be very directly applicable to the real world should one need to use a knife to keep threat at bay-- though do note that brandishing a knife at an unarmed person can present interesting legal questions. I'm not saying these questions can't be answered with the right fact pattern e.g. a middle aged desk jockey being menaced by a guy whose face is covered with MS-13 tattoos intuitively seems to me like a relatively easy sell [​IMG] but often the line between legal and illegal brandishing can be quite blurred.

    But I digress , , , Returning to the discussion,

    That said it does present interesting challenges for those interested in using this training method for real world application because IMHO what we do in the adrenal state of ritual combat will tend to appear in real world combat as well. (This is precisely the reason I develop our "Kali Tudo" tm-- so we can adrenalize our empty handed fighting with Kali Silat with the result that our unarmed and armed fighting are the same idiom of movement.)

    But what if the worst case scenarios of the real world feature behaviors other than those assumed by "proper" SKD?

    In the real world two people facing off with real knives drawn is really rare. As the actors here in Los Angeles would say "What is the motive here in this scene?" What would motivate someone to stay and have a knife fight? And how likely is it that the other person would be equally motivated? In prison I suppose leaving might not really be an option, but most of us are not in prison-- and in prison it is usually an ambush, often by superior numbers, anyway.

    If we answer the question by assuming two men both in a killing rage e.g. in prison or on the battlefied, then we are likely to see, in the immortal words of someone with whom I once had an interesting conversation, the behavior pattern of "Pump him until he is dead, then bind your wounds" (Hereinafter "Pump and bind" or PAB). The problem though for SKD is if we bring PAB to it then we are not developing the attributes intended by the training nor or we acting rationally like the semi-normal people that we are for KD is not something rational people do in our time and place in our culture.

    Thus in SKD we are left with the inherently blurry lines concerning the definition of realistic behavior for it. Most people will leave in the presence of a knife, but if we assume staying e.g. a desperate robber, then we can say most people would leave after getting slashed or stabbed. On the other hand, of the kind of people who in this world are genuinely willing and motivated to engage against a knife, then most of them will not leave after getting wounded, for their mindset is Pump and Bind-- they expect to be cut and stabbed and to survive the process of killing you , , , or they don't care if they die as long as they kill you.

    Good luck and my rules of engagement (avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things and what your think of me is none of my business) have combined to my having absolutely no personal experience in this whatsover. Success! That said my readings, conversations with those not so lucky, and various youtube clips have persuaded me that many people do not realize that they have been slashed or stabbed until after the fight is over. This can include even mortal wounds.

    Thus we can have someone of evil intent unstopped and undeterred by what SKD might consider "good scores". In SKD I might be busily defanging the snake by slashing at the arm of my opponent but if some cranked out gangbanger in colder weather wearing heavier clothing is coming to get me, well then those slashes that I thought would stop him and keep him outside my bubble might not work.

    Thus it is that I have come to the thinking that when using a small knife (e.g. one that is not going to lop off hands) that the power and impact of the strike matter and for me ice pick does a better job than hammer grip.

    Thus for Kali Tudo, I look principally to double stick and double ice pick knife.
  6. gagimilo

    gagimilo Member

    Excellent post guro, thanks for clarifying your approach.

    There is another issue here that might have impact on the choice of grip in the real world. Namely, the psychological attitude seems to play rather important role. From what I have found researching so far, the reverse grip tends to be the choice of the people who are so driven by anger that they need to relieve it in a physical way, i.e. what usually is referred to as "he snapped". However, if the person has not succumbed to primal emotions so much, or acts out of fear, they have the tendency to use the hammer grip.

    The former include most of the "systematized" schools of knife fighting as well. For example, I have been studying Russian martial arts for the past 10 years, and even those originating in the colder parts of the country (Siberia) mostly favor the hammer grip (although somewhat modified), but concentrate on stabbing in their technical applications.

    Historically, at least in Europe, the reverse grip seems to have been well spread among the medieval schools of fighting, but with the Renaissance it was almost gone. I find a parallel here that should not be overlooked, that in the fencing methods in those same periods, such trends in knife use were simultaneous with abandoning of the slashes in favor of stabbing in sword use.
  7. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    This is a great post from Crafty Dog and it brings up some really important points. Knife dueling is an artificial scenario, for the most part, but it does develop some useful attributes, as I learned with one of Paul Vunak's instructors. (I'd add "healthy respect for the knife and for how easy it is for even an untrained person to score" to the list.) I like the defang-the-snake approach but I know that there are people out there who have the attitude of "I'll trade a slash for stab--I expected to get cut anyway" and so the "pump and bind" strategy will be hard to beat by defanging unless you're unrealistically light on your feet or very lucky. Defanging works better with a lower level of commitment by the attacker.

    For me the thing that drives me to the icepick grip when thinking of such scenarios is that I'm switching from slash-mindset to stab-mindset and don't want my hand to run up the blade when I hit--I feel more secure with my thumb capping the blade.
  8. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    This matter of the risk of the hand running up the blade is one I think many people underestimate. Not only is there the risk of hitting something hard, but I am told that blood is REALLY slippery.

    Experiment: Take a trainer version of your knife. Put butter on your hand/the knife. Grab the knife. Stab a piece of wood hard.

    There are many knives out there with handles which I would be reluctant to trust in such a test. Capping the butt of the handle (I suspect this is what Arnisador meant instead of "capping the blade") with the thumb is very helpful against this risk-- but some knive handles are purposefully designed to have a rather pointy butt which can be painful for the thumb; I suspect these knives are usually intended for hammer grip.
  9. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Good posts Guro Crafty. I agree with your assessment of hammer versus ice pick grip 100%. I think Tuhon McGrath talks about the fact that many of the techniques related to defanging and the like were based on much larger blades and therefore their utilization may need to be reevaluated when using your average pocket folder. I definitely remember Guro Dan talking about that exact thing at a recent conference I attended. One other thing to consider is that most people are faster in icepick versus hammer grip. You definitely lose range and there is no getting around that. However, I am willing to give up a few inches of reach for a fairly significant increase in the speed of my thrusts. (being the director of your own human performance lab is nice!)...

    I have been looking for a blade with a larger finger choil to deal with some of what you are discussing in terms of slipping forward but to date, cannot find one that I like. I carry Spyderco enduras and delicas and while I love the blade design, the handle design leaves much to be desired in my view. i would love to see Spyderco offer a better grip design but that is another thread all together.

    Bottom line, I think you are on the right track in your thinking and the conclusions you seem to be coming to are similar to what I, (after talking with many much more experienced people), have come to as well. The fact that you seem to have similar thoughts on this goes a long way towards increasing my level of comfort with where I am at personally. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  10. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    I think Tuhon Bill is exactly right in distinguishing big and little knives.
  11. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Heh, that was an unfortunate slip of the tongue!
  12. This thread reminds me when my instructor (GM Yuli Romo) brought round some training blades without cord.

    He said, "Ahhh, it doesn't matter. You only need cord for when there's blood"....

    Changed my perception a bit.

  13. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Good story. I like the way it underlines that part of surviving a knife fight/attack includes skill at dealing with one's wounds. This is a profoundly important point!!!

    Forgive me the moment of advertising, but this is part of the reason that in DBMA we are increasingly including training in emergency first aid for trauma see e.g. combat medic Kaju Dog's section in our "Die Less Often 3"DVD (promo clip currently at www.dogbrothers.com )
  14. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    There is also the matter of In Fight Weapon Access: IFWA.

    Much Filipino Martial Arts training in the US ignores this point.

    Story: I was at a training camp a'nd watching a noted FMA teacher teach some offensive knife. Another teacher sat down next to me and asked me what I thought. "Seems very deadly to me!" I answered.

    "This guy is no good" came the response.

    I was very surprised-- both at the opinion and the complete candor with which it was given; knife people tend to be very circumspect in their comments about other knife people.

    "What do you mean?"

    "All his attacks are from in front."

    A moment of satori for me , , ,

    The martial arts mind, including many of us not from the homeland of the Art, tend to think in terms of SKD and not in terms of a killing attack launched from something other than the front and done with as much ambush as possible.

    As was seen in our "Die Less Often 2" DVD, which was mostly about IFWA of a gun during a knife attack, getting a weapon out during an attack can be quite a trick and many natural monkey brain responses can be unsound-- the foremost of which is trying to get one's own weapon out while trying to solve the attack with the other hand.

    Though the particulars of accessing a gun or one's knife and opening it may be different, the underlying principle is the same.

    Similarly many of us carry folders that are scary quick in opening , , , when no one is actually attacking us. Indeed, the inner imaginings may be something along the line of brandishing with the goal of preventing an attack, but we may lack clear forethought about brandishing-- in many jurisdications this is a rather serious felony. (Advertisement: We now sell "The Self-Defense Laws of all 50 States" which nicely covers this and many other important questions about the LEGAL environments in which we operate-- see our catalog/public store for details)

    Bottom line for the purposes of this conversation, getting the knife into play must be seen in context of an attack already underway or extremely imminent.

    If you carry a folder, for the purposes of the exercise assume 1-3 criminal jackal/street thug types and that you cannot leave e.g. you think they would run you down or that you have people you are not willing to abandon to the jackals mercy. Get into your fence. Now, begin your draw but stop as soon as your hand touches your knife. Are you vulnerable to getting punched with your dominant hand down? How vulnerable are you to getting your draw fouled? Now continue your draw and stop as soon as the knife clears your pocket? Are you vulnerable to dropping the knife if you are punched or aggressively jostled in this moment? Remember, if you are a good person pulling his knife it means you are in grave immediate danger to Life and Limb. I am told that unless you have been in life and death fights before, you will be experiencing an adrenal dump beyond your imaginings-- which means your fine motor skills will be very badly degraded.
  15. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    A corrections officer who requests anonymity writes:

    When I bought Die Less Often 1&2 I saw that the Dog Catcher was similar to what I had been taught in the academy but instead of counting on my thumbs to make the stop (!) I had a more formidable barrier in my forearms. I spent a fair amount of time just visualizing that and then another C.O. and I would practice it with a Folger Adams key. It took!

    Twice I have been the #2 man on an extraction team when an inmate tried to step on his bunk and come over the top of the shield with a shank in his right hand in ice pick grip. If he could have stuck the shield man with it, he would have. I stepped up on the bunk and caught his right arm with the V of my forearms (both times were pretty close to my wrists), that set me up to bend his elbow and push his wrist towards his ear and trap his arm so he couldn't extend it again. I was able to put a rough version of a figure 4 on his arm both times. I dropped off the bunk and slammed him into the bunk, both times I did it I dislocated the inmate's shoulder. The video on it is pretty poor (I don't have access). You can see me pop up and then drop back down and on the first one you can hear my Captain exclaim "Jesus Christ! Uh, STOP RESISTING!"

    I caught some grief both times because I'm so big (6' 5" 265+) and nobody expected me to move so well.

    As I think about this more I realize I probably started the transfer from DC to the hammer lock as fast as my forearms made contact with his. My momentum carried it right through.
  16. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Awesome story. Good to know that things work and you are doing some good in the world.

  17. jspeedy

    jspeedy Member

    Not sure if I'm picturing this right. Are you describing something like a modified version of the somewhat controversial "x block"? Only in this scenario it's used against an overhead attack? It seems some hate the "x block" and others claim it has merit, if I'm reading this right the scenario may add merit to the effectiveness of this defense strategy, but maybe this scenario is too specific to apply elsewhere.

Share This Page