Knife tapping

Discussion in 'Pekiti-Tirsia Kali' started by blue, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. blue

    blue New Member


    I think many of you have seen this video: just wondering what you think of making it a general default to enter with a secondary tap and simultaneous strike with the primary tapping arm, then going to the primary tap to control the arm.

    My impression is that in some cases you will need the primary tap to redirect the energy of a very strong thrust: in this case, you may not have time to strike then tap with the same primary arm.

    Sorry if this question comes too close to the training camp this w/e...

  2. Hi - great video! Thanks for sharing.

    I don't know much about Pekiti but liked a lot of what I saw in the video. Some questions I had like "What about the free hand" etc, etc were answered as it progressed which was great.

    However, I am thinking is this a basic drill for you guys? I say this as the knife is very visible and am reminded by a recent article by Ned Nepangue (Author of "Eskrima:Beyond the Myth") for Rapid journal when he interviews a guy in prison:

    I am sure Pekiti has these kind of attacks covered and was wondering if you could point me in the way of a you-tube video or two?

    Thanks in advance,

  3. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member


    In my school we do practice against these kinds of attacks. I can't point you to a Pekiti specific youtube video though. I also can say that I've incorporated some things and fleshed out other things so that our empty hand vs. knife is not representative of most PTI schools.

    I take into account attackers with strong force coming in, retreating, different tapping energies, aggressive "street-wise" assaults and have also integrated Mr. Karl Tanswell's STAB program into our curriculum. I also do not do third hand the way it is on that video.

    That's one of the things I really liked about the Atienza Knife Video is that at one point Tuhon Carl showed how people who fight have favored punches etc. and if you put a knife / screwdriver in their hands they'll resort to that same line and energy....

    I hope this helps...

    -wes tasker
  4. Thanks Wes.

    I'm hearing a lot of good things about Atienza at the moment so will have to go off a have a gander at their work. Interesting point about the same lines / weapons. I guess that's an "Adopting to your weapon" debate but I don't want to open that can of worms again on this forum :(

    I guess with all things our instructors hand us the framework and the keys and it's up to us to keep trying different applications / locks and see what works.

    Hope you are well,

  5. blue

    blue New Member

    I am also unfamiliar with any particular videos dealing with these attacks.

    If I understand your question, there are two elements to your question:

    1) the ambush aspect in which the person has come in close enough to grab you

    Possible solutions: heightened awareness of people approaching you to avoid them closing the gap without you knowing, pre-emptive striking, counter-grabbing techniques, repositioning yourself so that you are not "opened up" by the arm grab

    2) the alive hand aspect in which the adversary is using their non-weapon hand to set you up for the stab

    Possible solutions: treating an approaching non-weapon hand as a dangerous threat, and using limb destructions, tapping and zoning out accordingly; countergrabbing the non-weapon arm to control his balance and position; changing levels and counterstriking

    Hope this helps...

  6. Hi Edwin,

    Yes, that's the core of it I guess. We do practice the above in Bahad Zu'bu but I'm sure there are plenty of other styles doing their thing. We begin our drills with this kind of "Ambush".

    "Counter-grabbing the non-weapon arm to control his balance and position"

    This is a good one. It also works well when you have the knife and the opponent is fixated on the knife - and not the man. Damn hard to re-program yourself (well in my case!) not to worry about it but worry about the man.

    "repositioning yourself so that you are not "opened up" by the arm grab"

    Footwork, footwork and more footwork...heh heh.

    Thanks for a great post.
  7. blue

    blue New Member

    I think that's what spurred my original question: how to move from the "classic" tapping drill to more realistic scenarios. The video seems to suggest a default entry of secondary tap and hitting with the primary, which does make some sense, and I notice that a lot of the "reality-based" systems tend to emphasize a strong default reaction in order to cut down reaction time (as opposed to having multiple possible responses that will slow down reaction time).

    I get the sense from Guro Wes Tasker's post that he deals differently with different energies (and ranges): I imagine that there is a different default for each scenario. The role of grabbing seems really favored by some teachers (Wagner, Tanswell, and even Marc Denny's "Dog -Catcher"), which wasn't as emphasized in Pekiti (at least in my experience...).

    I would love to hear more from both about your thoughts and experiences on this issue if you have more time...
  8. No problem. I would love to expand my questions / experience and share a vid or two. Just a bit wary of hijacking your thread in the PTK section as this seems a "General" question which could help us all.

    I'm going away for 10 days starting tomorrow so I will contribute as soon as possible.

    Best wishes,

  9. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member


    First off, please call me Wes... I actually don't have different defaults for every scenario - just adjustments to the tapping. If the opponent doesn't land on top of you in a clinch - then I go into third hand striking, blade reversals etc. My problem with the video on youtube is that what they are doing is basically what I would teach as Chekete responses on knife vs. knife. Because we don't live in a perfect world, sometimes one has to tap first with a secondary - but then that should lead into the STAB material or a tertiary which clears the way for the third hand, blade reversals etc.

    I believe that one of the over-riding problems one can get into in the FMA is that one gets used to defending clean lines and against a person of that same style.... That's why I include different "energies" in the attacker. Where sometimes during empty hand vs. knife scenario or sparring work the guy with the knife's job is to go ape - rather than throw clean 5, 8, 9 etc. I also include more angles in the tapping because what's common is Pekiti Tirsia is not necesarily common on the street.

    So my Empty Hand vs. Knife Level I includes everything that's in that block of material in regards to PTI standards - plus different attacker energies, different ways of tapping, the STAB clinch material, added attack angles, simple and complex drilling, sparring, & scenario progressions and a very, very, low reliance on fine motor jointlocks.

    I don't include different defaults becasue I'm still a fan of Hick's Law - although my definition of it tends to be more exacting because I take into account Boyd's strategy, heuristics, and the such to try to create a "robust" set of skills that may (on the outside) appear to violate a more general idea of Hick's Law......

    I hope this helped.

  10. blue

    blue New Member

    Thanks Wes. Lots of food for thought, and much more to be curious about.

    In terms of terminology, am I understanding correctly that you are converting your secondary tap into a "tertiary" grab (ie using the same hand)?
    Does your pekiti tapping tend to end up in the STAB curriculum of grabbing? (ie if it's close enough to tap, it's close enough to grab?)
    I think I get your point about actions that superficially seem to violate Hick's law: would an example be, say, like upper 8, which when properly trained, can be activated as one flurry and not six separate movements/"choices"?

  11. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member


    You are spot on regarding what the "tertiary" is. And if there is not much forward pressure from the opponent(s) then my preference is to hit them and maybe try for a blade reversal and definitely an escape if the situation allows it. In keeping with the name "third hand" all the hits should lead you into the next logical tap and never take you out of tapping structure. Hence the opponent feels like he's getting hit upside his head by a 'third hand'. One of the three principles of PTI Pekiti Tirsia is "Technique-Counter-Re-counter". I take that and apply it to both what you learn when working with an opponent as well as one's own techniques. Techniqe = tapping, counter = third hand, re-counter = hits that keep one within tapping structure.

    Your example of upper 8 is not exactly what I think of when talking about Hick's Law and Robust (to steal Boyd's term) systems that seem to violate it. If you care to PM me your e-mail address I can send you a 3 page document of some choice quotes from Boyd that apply to Pekiti Tirsia really well and may give you a better understanding of what I'm talking about.......

    Thanks for the dialogue and take care.

  12. TuhonBill

    TuhonBill New Member

    Pekiti-Tirsia hand vs. knife

    Hi Folks,

    I happened to have a seminar this past Sunday that covered some aspects of empty hand vs. knife and shot some video on the subject. You'll find four new videos on my YouTube page that came from this seminar.
    Look for PTI Hand vs. Knife 1, 2, 3 & 4

    Tuhon Bill McGrath
  13. blue

    blue New Member

    Those are very helpful clips. Thanks for posting them.

    With regards to terminology, I take it that the "tertiary tap" that you do goes from outside towards the midline, while the "tertiary grab" that Wes refers to is grabbing from inside towards the outside. Is this generalization correct?

    Trying to integrate what different people are proposing, would it be fair to say that, from a Pekiti point of view:

    1) ideally, we have the time and accuracy to do a tertiary tap with one hand and simultaneous counter-attack with the other

    2) if we are caught with less time and room for error, then we can do a secondary tap with one hand with a counter-attack with the other. This then flows into the primary tap with one hand or a tertiary grab with the other

    3) if we are really caught in a compromised position, we may need to resort immediately to the primary tap which requires less precision but is quite effective in protecting our vitals. However, there seems to be some debate about whether a secondary tap might still be more instinctual and faster than a primary tap (despite training...)

  14. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member


    The way the terminology works in PTI Pekiti Tirsia Empty Hand vs. Knife Level I (vs. sak-sak or "forward grip") is that the "primary" is what you'd like - the cross body tapping we all know and love :). "Secondary" refers to the idea that the opponent has temporarily removed your primary and attacked on the same line. Therefore you do a quick tap with the other hand and then replace it with the "primary". "Tertiary" refers to the fact that the opponent has immobilized through a grab your "primary", attacked on the same line, and you are therefore forced to use the other hand. In order to prevent the problems inherent in tapping with the other hand you have to grab the opponent's knife arm/wrist as you do your footwork.

    On to your numbered points:

    1) Your primary is immobolized in tertiary therefore counter-attack at the same time is not possible - with the arms at least....

    2) When it comes to empty hand vs. knife I personally don't advocate tapping secondary first unless one has to.... Knife vs. knife is a different story all together...

    3) Primary is primary for a reason... The way I teach - that is always the first thing to do. I think some of your thinking maybe still stuck on that video which I don't particularly care for.... Nor is it the way I teach and learned the material.

    Another reason why primary is primary....

    This is why amongst the parts of that curriculum one spends an immense amount of time tapping... Prain Plasiticity + Heuristics + Consistent Training = replacing what we used to do as instinctual.......

    I hope this helps.

  15. blue

    blue New Member

    Yes, that was my understanding of the tertiary grab. I brought up the "tertiary tap" upon hearing the term used in the second "Hand versus knife" clip put up by Tuhon McGrath recently

    At around the 3:50 mark, he talks about the "tertiary tap"...

    ...and he seems to be counter-attacking at the same time with the other
    hand. My impression from the clip is that this response would be the best if we could achieve it...

    Point well taken. I was trying integrate the video into my understanding of Pekiti tapping, which was how this whole thread started in the first place. His main argument seems to be that the primary tap allows the opponent to "attack continuously", whereas the secondary tap allows for a simultaneous counter attack that will break his forward momentum immediately. As well, he seems to say that the primary tap isn't as safe/effective against uncommitted attacks and slashes against the arms. Is it that you feel the advantages of the primary tap far outweigh these concerns, or are you skeptical about these concerns? Also, you've hinted at your concerns in a previous post:

    Could you elaborate?

    Please accept that I am asking the above not to cause dissension (as if I even could...), but because I am trying to work things out in my own head. If we are to spend immense time to reprogram our instinctual responses, I need to thoroughly understand what I'm replacing it with. Cross body tapping is indeed something we know and love. The video, as well as the opinions of other martial artists who are de-emphasize tapping, makes me want to be more certain where I slot the tapping in, hence my attempt at the three numbered points.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this...

  16. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member


    I see what you mean and Tuhon Bill is only doing part of what constitutes a "tertiary" against a 5. Sometimes we call the palm slap out of the way vs. a 5 a tertiary - but the full movement involves the Right hand getting grabbed after you primarily tap and then a five is done again.....

    I don't think primary tapping allows someone to attack continuously and you can easily break an opponent's forward momentum with it. One thing I've found is that when you do tapping integrated with third-hand, blade-reversals, and clinch and then have the knife guy "gear up" alot of this becomese apparent. I would say that I'm not skeptical in the sense that primary tapping outweighs those concerns - I would say that I don't think those are valid concerns when one does primary tapping within its proper and full context.....

    As for elaborating on the Chekete version of knife vs. knife... With all due respect I'm not willing to write about our actual knife techniques etc. Not because they are super-secret etc., just not something that needs to be out there on a forum....

    No worries... I think your questions and the very act of you questioning is fantastic. Tapping gets a bad rep - but mostly from people who do not do it within its integral context. So besides tapping, third-hand hits, escapes, other weapon draws, blade reversals, and clinching. I also do drills using footwork to close so that a person can't sit there and snipe at the arms etc. As well as many other drills.

    I always equate it to the first formula is, "Tapping = don't get killed...." After that you can start doing things :).

    As far as where tapping slots in - I would say that the mechanics and concepts of tapping occure throughout the Pekiti Tirsia system and across the spectrum of weapon usage so that it doesn't only exist in one small context. But then leads into my theories about how Pekiti Tirsia is constructed and why it's effective... And this is, as you pointed out (no pun intended..... OK maybe :)), about tapping, the video you saw, and how it fits in. Of course these are just my opinions and the way I do things - so please take what I say with a grain of salt.... Some would say more than one grain...... Take care and thank you.

  17. lhommedieu

    lhommedieu Senior Member

    If you could get Wes to sit down with you someday and elaborate on this you'd learn a lot - but it's probably something that, past an introduction on the forum, should be experienced first-hand. When Wes offers you grains of salt either pick them up and put them in your pocket or throw them over your left shoulder...

    Not even at a beginner-level at tapping but if I could offer the following analogy:

    I was at a Pekiti class in NYC in '94 and we were doing a "Segung-Lebo" drill. I thought that I was doing pretty well as my partner and I raced through the drill (hit-check-pass-slap, hit-check-pass-slap) at a speed that obviously showed a certain mastery of the drill... - until someone stepped in to partner with me and very s-l-o-w-l-y showed me how what Wes calls tapping's "integral context" makes the drill actually work. What I mean is, at my current level there was no way I was actually going to "hit" the guy, nor actually "check" his strike, let alone "pass" it. I didn't have the body mechanics or skeletal structure that he had, so it was a little like working out with a Grecian temple column - but one that could steam roll over me at speed if it had to. What I learned from that little experience (and I went on to become his student) is that what you can't do slowly with integrity you'll never learn to do quickly.

    Now, there are other qualities to tapping at a beginner level that are designed to develop your ability to recognize angles of attack (and their seconday angles, etc.) and to react to them appropriately, and so certainly tapping does not have to be practiced very slowly all the time if you are training to develop your reaction time. But I believe there is a YouTube video where Tuhon talks about practicing "softly" so that you can make effective "hard" contact later on in your training trajectory that makes the same point in a different way. What you want to train at the beginner level is not only the ability to see what's coming but to feel your way through what works and what doesn't work in the course of the event. That's why (I think) Wes states that "the mechanics and concepts of tapping occure [sic] throughout the Pekiti Tirsia system and across the spectrum of weapon usage so that it doesn't only exist in one small context." Feeling is believing. Certainly there can be no effective tapping without the ability to side-step and out-flank an opponent, for example.

    To get back to example of my teacher, above: tapping for him was certainly a "technique" but "just a technique" done appropriately as contrasted against the background of a system (his system) understood properly. It could just as well be "just another technique" done appropriately as contrasted against the same properly understood background. What's important, in other words, is the background - not the foreground (as important as it is in the moment). But I wax poetic...

    One caveat: those who, in the beginner stage, race through tapping in the belief that speed = technique = skill are going to get their *sses handed to them by those who have made a study of tapping and have worked out the blind spots and fault lines - whether they actually practice tapping in their system or not. Ideally, you train tapping (or other techniques) so that it just "comes out" at the appropriate time and measure. That appropriate "time and measure" is probably just going be the space of a heart-beat.

    As an example of "appropriateness" I offer the following description of something that happened to me during an Estacada-Kajukenbo "multi-man" set: I had trained for a couple of years against the mid-level knife slash that occurs at some time during this set, and had gotten pretty good at deflecting this slash down and away (similar to PTK's empty hand cross-body check and pass against a knife). During my Black Belt test the guy who was supposed to slash at me with this specific technique went high instead of to mid-level, and as I "checked and deflected" his slash I felt it run across my face. Funny how that's one of the single most important images that I take away from that test. I guess the analogy that I'm probably clumsily trying to make is that it's quite o.k. to practice "tapping" qua "tapping" (in fact it's necessary) - but it's your understanding of the Pekiti system that would have allowed you to pick up that high slash that I missed.


    Last edited: Sep 3, 2009
  18. blue

    blue New Member

    So there's tapping, and then there's TAPPING...

    "Point" well taken that it is crucial for tapping to be done in an integrated fashion for it to work in real life situations. Tapping is a cog in the bigger machinery of Pekiti, and isolating it will not give a true sense of its usefulness (the whole being more than the sum of the parts etc)

    Wes, without getting into specifics, would it be fair to say that a chekete response works in knife to knife because of the greater stopping power of a knife counter-attack compared to a third hand counter-attack?

    Steve, I know what you mean by the "speedy" tapping that seems like a sports car with the engine taken out, usually when done with "soft" energy from both feeder and receiver. Then you get paired with a guy who feeds with power and intent, and you quickly see what you have to do to actually make it work. I also remember working for the first time doing segong labo with a huge guy, all muscle, who seemed to be always a hair's breadth away from collapsing my defensive structure: that was an eye opener. I developed a healthy respect for Grecian Temple columns: it takes much technique to compensate for size and strength disparity...

    Your story about the "wrong feed" made me chuckle as it reminded me of an embarrassing teaching session I had once with beginners. I was trying to isolate the hand motion to get them to understand the tap. I asked the newbie to stab low: of course, she went high with a beautiful kill shot, and for the next minute I could barely see because of all the egg on my face. Again, by over-isolating, I had left all the "background" out that should have allowed me to handle the unexpected line of attack.

    On that note, remember the Jim Carrey video of the martial arts teacher who keeps getting attacked "wrong"?

    Thanks for all your input.

  19. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member


    To a degree - pluse the Chekete responses of knife vs. knife don't leave one as open to direct counters in tapping. And along with "stopping power" I'd also add the physiological reactions of a person that play into knife vs. knife that are a bit different then in empty hand vs. knife.

    I loved that skit when I first saw it by the way... I still use that joke in class sometimes, "Like many beginners, you've made the mistake of not attacking me correctly..." :)

  20. lhommedieu

    lhommedieu Senior Member

    Between that quote and the following you have the perfect teacher/student dialectic:

    "You'll have to excuse Win Blow. We taught him wrong on purpose. As a joke."

    Great discussion. I'm off to the house for the couple of days so I'll be 'net-free. Blue - I was in Vancouver last month and loved the city. Ate at the Blue Water Cafe which had great food and wine if you're willing to auction your first child for the price of a meal. Fortunately they took plastic instead.



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