Showing posts from September, 2013

Kicking a knife-holding hand

Following my article " Dealing with knife attacks ", I want to make an admission: I once thought that it was a good idea to kick knives out of people's hands.  Now I didn't actually teach this: I don't think I have ever held a class where we practised this as a "technique". But I did use this scenario in a couple of demonstrations many years ago.  Why?  I suppose that at the time I thought it created a bit of atmosphere.  Bring out a knife and the audience perks up. I also suppose I had in the back of my mind that it might  work tolerably well:  I'd seen it demonstrated so many times over decades of training that it was just "part of the furniture": kicking a knife-holding hand seemed quite plausible.  Of course, you'd never do it with a bare foot - but then again, when are we bare foot?  On the beach?  Generally we wear shoes in daily life.  And I suppose a part of me thought: "Yeah -  thick rubber and leather are going

The danger of a single punch

[Warning: this article contains footage of violence: viewer discretion advised.] It seems that in just my State, every single year nets a couple of one punch deaths .  There are many more where people are severely injured or disabled.  And many, many more where people suffer less serious, but still significant, injuries.  Somehow the message doesn't seem to be getting through to people: One punch can kill. Young men around the world continue to think that they can settle their differences via a "fight"; that "male hierarchy" can be determined relatively harmlessly via a "test of physical strength". It's as if young men persist in believing the movie fight myth: that a whole lot of punching will, at worst,cause a bit of bruising and a trickle of blood coming out of one corner of your lips (in a "glamorous" kind of way). This myth is partly perpetuated by the rising popularity of modern MMA.  People see professional fighters lasti

Dealing with knife attacks

[Warning: this article contains a graphic image which might distress some readers.] Introduction In modern times it has become fashionable to regard the traditional martial arts as ineffective against knife attacks. And yet if you look at the techniques in traditional forms, I believe you will find plenty of realistic knife defences . This should not be surprising: traditional fighting arts are, after all, principally  civilian defence systems . And throughout history, in every culture, knife and dagger attacks have remained relatively common in civilian society - precisely because knives (or similar bladed tools) are so ubiquitous: We have used them in our daily lives for thousands of years, be it in hunting, skinning/scaling and gutting, cooking as well as general utility.  (There is a reason that the Swiss Army Knife is first and foremost a knife - not a screwdriver, saw or file etc.) At the same time, the knife has enormous advantages as an instrument of civilian (not m

A textbook example of the most effective defence

Many of my recent articles have concerned the topic of defence : why it is important, and how it is to be used - together with a connected, appropriate counter . Well I recently came across an example of "textbook" defence: a response that typifies everything I've been writing about. To some readers it might seem odd that it concerns firearms and not "hand to hand combat".  I don't find it odd at all: the principles of effective defence are universally applicable.  They are part of the Daoist concept of wu-wei . Consider this video: In it, you'll see a store clerk being held-up by a man armed with a handgun: only the robber doesn't realise he's up against a highly trained, combat-experienced Iraq war veteran . It doesn't go well for the robber.  You can read a detailed textual account here . What's the first thing you notice from the video?  Fantastic situational reflex by the veteran: As the robber starts to bring