Monday, March 26, 2012


Someone sent me a link to a video. I don't want to hurt people's feelings, so I won't share it. It purports to be an examination of fantasy versus reality in knife defense. In the video, fantasy is slow and easy, reality is hard and vicious.

Which I agree with. "Harder, faster, closer and more of a surprise" to quote myself.

But... of all the attacks on the video the only one that has ever happened to me is one of the ones listed as 'fantasy'. It was a pair of scissors, not a knife, but otherwise, the fantasy attack happened just like that and what worked was not the same but related to the fantasy defense.

Humans mistake intensity for truth. Fast, hard and sweaty automatically feels more real than slow and safe. It's for damn good reasons, since most of ours and our ancestors' most important survival lessons happened up close, unexpected and fast. And there is value in it, at least to me, since I find those seconds make me feel more alive than the hours spent on the reports afterwards.

But doing a fantasy harder makes it more intense. It doesn't make it less of a fantasy.

Don't get smug if you practice low key and think that I've validated your methods. Different levels of intensity are entirely different experiences and if you haven't experienced fast, hard and chaotic training there are worlds of things that you are completely unprepared for.

If you are practicing fantasy without intensity you have the double-whammy of training improperly for something that doesn't exist in the first place. At least the guys in the video, though they may not have spent a lot of time studying how bad guys use knives, are training to be ready for intensity. That's half the battle, give or take.

To an extent. I am worried that if the fantasy is too bad, the solutions completely inapplicable to the real world, intense training will ingrain the bad stuff harder than casual training. I know that bad scenario training can ruin otherwise good people, either by teaching them that everything is a shoot scenario or, the other side, conditioning them to believe that everything they do is wrong and so the best thing is to be passive (trained helplessness).

Done in San Diego. Flying home in a few hours. Colorado April 7th, then a private in Portland for Mo Duk Pai. Then Canada (Montreal and the Toronto area). Then Europe and Israel. Gonna be a busy few months.


nry said...

Many styles teach 'their way is correct because in reality....'.

The key, I feel, is to have or gain the ability to work this out for yourself and follow up any thoughts with questions to those teaching you...something not many appear able and/or willing to do!

Nathan said...

I'd be fascinated to know at least what MA (if any) is being referred to here in terms of knife defense. If it's a style that particularly posits itself as being realistic (RBSD, krav maga etc), this can really being doing its students a disservice. Not to mention potentially set up them as a little over-confident but under-skilled in a very dangerous situation.

Anonymous said...

A downward blow ( hammerfist or slap) is very common in the genuinely untrained, by which I mean children. Spend time in pre-school/school & you will see it. Desmond Morris mentions how common it is in human fighting in Manwatching, but on a personal note, my son as a toddler picked up a pair of scissors and downward hammered me in the eye with them, I was lying down at the time & very, very fortunately, the blades were sticking out of the top of his fist, (I count the black eye I got as lucky & a lesson on putting things away) I guess nobody had told him that you don't hit things that way.
I currently practice HEMA and downward stab techniques & defences are numerous across the manuals including the oldest from the 1350's.

I know none of these things are evidence but I used to repeat the party line about how this type of stab never actually happens.....until I started playing with knives & daggers & some how they ended up in reverse grip.

Mick Coup made a comment once "that in a fight you get , what you get." A thought I am very much in agreement with.

Anonymous said...

On a knife course with Dennis Martin, he said that many people said that the reverse grip was only used by women, mentally unstable people and people who had watched too many films and therefore weren't real attacks.

He then said that trying to explain this to one of those groups that attacked you would probably be futile!

As you quote from Mick Coup above, the same as In Rory's book, you don't get to choose the attack.

The Strongest Karate said...

Whenever I am attacked with a knife (twice yesterday, for instance) I go for an in-to-out crescent kick. Works every time!

I know you said you wouldn't post it, but I am very curious to see the video. I would like to see what they call 'fantasy' defenses to knife attacks. From my experience, those who are quick to call one thing or another 'real' or 'fantasy' fall victim to the same trap they think they are warning others of.