Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Knife Survival Series - The teacher becomes the student...

Well, the weekend seminar was a success.  I believe that every new experience is a chance to learn, and this was no exception.

Overall, the concepts and techniques we presented were well received.  It was an interesting mix of students from a variety of clubs and different styles, from white belt to black.

My goal is to develop and ultimately deliver a system that can incorporate both instinctive responses to surprise attacks and effective measures for anticipated ones.

Some interesting observations:

1.  Most of the experienced martial artists were very receptive to the concepts, but some of them struggled a bit with the physical skills.  Not that the physical techniques were hard, actually they are quite the opposite.  The issue was with their programming.  Many of them had been doing knife defense technique for years, and under stress tended to revert to them.  This is one of the benefits of consistent training, but only if the techniques themselves are effective.

Many of the ingrained techniques that I observed were lacking.  Too many are taught without any consideration or what happens next.  Some end with a block.  Some deflect but don't consider the blade coming back towards them. And most end up too far from their attacker to realistically gain control of the blade (if disengaging is not a viable option).  Understanding the dynamics of a knife attack seems to be missing from most people's training.

2.  The newer students actually struggled less with the physical aspects and more with the concepts.  Clearly some of the material was new to them.

3.  Most people have not taken their knife defense training as seriously as they may think.  This was evidenced by the introduction of a live blade when we demonstrated some of the techniques (obviously live blades were not used by any of the attendees).  Even the most confident in the group took a moment or two to think about their previous training.

4.  A seminar works best when the floor is open to questions.  There were some really well thought out questions.  It really showed people were analyzing the material.  This type of training, in my opinion, needs this process.  When people understood and agreed with the concepts, it was far easier for them to do the physical techniques.

5.  Time flies by when you have an engaged crowd.  It was over before I knew it.

I've got a bit of work to do.  I'm very happy that most of the material can be picked up quite quickly by just about anyone.  I'm going to spend a bit more time working on the issue of how to seamlessly integrate the techniques and concepts into the arsenal of experienced artists who have pre-programmed responses to set attacks based on years of repetition in training.

I also need to spend as much time, if not more, on the concepts of knife survival, awareness, avoidance, legal considerations, adrenaline, gross vs. fine motor skills, the effects of stress, time, distance and cover, tactical considerations, environment etc.  If knife techniques exist in isolation, they are of very limited value.  A holistic approach is needed to truly prepare people to survive a knife attack.

To sum up, it was a great success.  It seems the teacher learned just as much as the students.  And that's just what I'd hoped. 

Be safe


  1. Hi,

    Came across your blog through the Kojutsukan blog. Pretty interesting perspective on various aspects of the martial arts. May I know which style of Japanese Jiu Jitsu you are currently studying. Thanks.

  2. Sounds like an excellent course and well analysed and reflected upon. I know very little about knife defences, its a big gaping hole in my armoury!

  3. Kamal,

    Thanks for reading my blog. I'm glad you're finding it interesting. John Coles has a great blog over at Kojutsukan.

    My style of Jiu Jitsu is based on the traditional styles of Danzen, Daito and Kawaishi Ryu Jiu Jitsu, among others.

    It is also heavily influenced by Small Circle Jiu Jitsu and military close quarter combat. There are also elements of the internal arts, including energy work and pressure point techniques.


    Thanks, I was pretty happy with the results. There's still work to be done, but it was very promising. Does either your Karate or your Jiu Jitsu club include any knife defenses?

  4. We don't cover any knife defences in karate but the jujitsu club does some - with the senior jujitsukas, not us kobudokas!