Earlier today, I saw this Krav Maga knife defense technique and had to watch it a few times to check if I saw everything right. I always try to go out of my way to avoid criticizing other arts as I don’t practice them, but this one seems to go beyond Krav Maga knife defense as I know it.
I’ll comment more on that below, but first, watch the video.
Krav Maga Knife Defense
Some thoughts on this video.
- My first thought was “What the flying monkey fuck?” My second thought was “This looks nothing like any Krav Maga knife defense I know.” Which doesn’t mean much because my direct training in it was very limited and a long time ago when an Israeli soldier showed it to me. But what he showed looked nothing like this here. Looking at this video, I guess I must have misunderstood him back then….
- Knife attacks suck. Let’s get that out of the way first. There are no easy solutions. I’ve yet to see a comprehensive system that is easy to learn and applies to all possible ways a knife can be used against you. Which is a key factor as you won’t know how the guy will use it on you until he does. Not all attacks are a prison yard rush or a FMA weed whacker from hell. There’s lots of ground between both these extremes and if you train for one instead of the other, don’t assume your techniques will work out of the box. The differences are just as important as the similarities. Which is why I don’t believe there is a one stop shop for knife defense. On a technical level, there are several things I find disturbing and I’ll cover some of them now.
- She turns into the knife as she grabs it. It may just be me but I’d prefer turning the other way instead of cutting my own throat. My name is Demeere, not Dibbler…
- She spins her back into her attacker. His left arm will not magically disappear as she performs her technique. Look closely at the video and you’ll see there is nothing stopping him from beating the crap out of her with it or using it to stop her from spinning in the opposite direction. When that happens she cannot disarm him (as she needs that spin for the disarm) and she’ll just get her throat cut from behind instead of from the front. Not a big improvement…
- Her control is limited. Her hands are both on the blade and on her own wrist. The only real control of his arm she has is between her arm and her armpit, which is far from a solid control. If he yanks his arm back or forward, she is unlikely to be able to stop him from doing so. When that happens, it will all go downhill from there…
- The lead knee sucks for power. She has to knee him in the groin with lead knee as her back is half turned. This is one of the weakest positions to knee an opponent from, because her hips cannot power the knee strike. To use her hips for the knee, she’d have to face him more, forcing her to loosen or even release her grip on his arm. I doubt she can do any significant damage to him as is right now.
- The spin seems doubtful. As she’s giving him a free hand to stop her from spinning away from him, I doubt very much she’ll manage to do so effectively. Even more, he’s basically in an underhook, which is an extremely strong position for his arm if he can brace and lock it down. Which is something most people do instinctively as soon as you try to grab their arm, knife or no. I don’t see her getting that to work if he actively resists, especially given the weight and strength difference between them.
- “The padded part of the hand can take some strain.” Really? I have heard this over and over but have yet to find somebody willing to put his money where his mouth is and try it against a non-compliant partner. I wonder why… I would also love to see somebody try this on a knife with a serrated edge. Furthermore, I would like to see them try it against a resisting opponent who outweighs him significantly, just like the instructor in the video does this woman. Any takers to prove that Rob Roy actually does Krav Maga knife defense too?
All in all, I would never teach this technique to the woman in this video. There are too many issues with it on too many levels. To each his own and if you can make it work, more power to you. But for me, it reeks too much of the “Expect to get cut” zombie-meme and then turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve seen other Krav Maga knife defense techniques I found a lot more convincing than this one.
One of those recurring arguments in martial arts and self-defense revolves around open hand versus closed fist striking and which is best. There is a lot of dogma there and I’ve seen too many people parrot those theories without giving them some closer consideration. It won’t surprise you that I believe things are more nuanced than these black/white statements. I came across such a statement by accident not that long ago, which triggered this article.
Hard weapon to soft target, soft weapon to hard target.
If you ask anybody with a bit of training about which is better: open hand or closed fist striking, this is the standard response they give you. If you use a fist to strike, hit a soft target like the stomach instead of the face to avoid breaking your knuckles on the hard bones of the skull. If you want to hit a hard surface, they insist you use a softer weapon, like an open hand strike.
This is by no means bad advice, but it isn’t written in stone. As a rule of thumb, for the average person and in particular for the person not interested in spending lots of time training, this works just fine. Hell, it works fine if you’ve been training for decades. So you won’t hear me argue against this rule.
What I will argue against is the implied assumptions that come with it and the dogma that surrounds it. There are several assumptions that people (subconsciously) adhere to when they see this rule as absolute:
- As if every single closed fist punch to a hard target results in a broken hand.
- As if it is impossible to punch a hard target with a closed fist without injury to your fist.
- As if every open hand strike ever thrown has a 100% no-injury track record.
- As if you cannot injure your open hand striking a hard target.
Like I said, this is not necessarily stated openly, but it is all too often implied in their reasoning and they train accordingly. Here’s the thing: I know form personal experience all these statements are complete bullshit. But it’s a lot easier to disregard thus reality and focus on the “hard to soft, soft to hard” rule as if it’s a universal truth without exceptions or limits. In this article, I want to explore a couple of the factors that are typically overlooked in this discussion, but are nonetheless extremely important in determining the outcome.
Five types of impact
I learned about the five types of impact in an old Bushido manual some 25 years ago. It changed the way I trained forever. I wrote about this in detail in my Hardcore Heavy Bag Training book and demonstrate the concepts in my Combat Sanshou: Striking video. If you want more details and information, I suggest you get those as I will only cover them briefly here to avoid inflating the article. Here they are:
- Penetrating: The kind you use to break boards or kick in a door. It travels through the target as if to break it. This is the kind most practitioners think of when they speak about striking power.
- Shockwave: The weapon lands and sticks. It is fired much like in penetrating impact, but it doesn’t try to go as deep. When it lands, it imparts the kinetic energy in a relatively large area.
- Bouncing: The weapon hits and uses the impact to recoil quickly along the path it came. Think of it as throwing a ball at a wall to make it bounce back to you.
- Ricochet: Similar to bouncing impact but instead of reversing the direction 180°, the weapon shoots off at a different angle, for instance 90°
- Ripping: Picture it like slashing through a target with a sword. The weapon lands at an oblique angle, strikes the target and is then dragged across to come out the other end.
These categories are also not set in stone as there will be overlap between all of them depending on how you strike, the kind of weapon used, etc. But they’re practical to use for training purposes and determining how and why you use certain techniques.
The reason why this matters is that the type of impact used will determine the potential for damage to your hand when you use an open hand or closed fist. It also determines the kinds of results you get when the strike lands. Two examples: Read More→
Did a lot of that kind of training when I was younger. Still paying the price for it…
Another friend replied to that as follows:
Wim, can I ask you to elaborate? I hear a lot of people talk about old wounds, etc., but are you talking muscle damage from a medicine ball to the gut? Carpal tunnel from whacking a log with your forearms like this dude? I don’t hear many people mention the specifics types/methods of training that have consequences like this.
Check out the video first and then read on after the break:
Here’s what I said in response, with some additions left and right:
Tomas asked my thoughts on the Ferguson case and I replied that I hadn’t followed it all that closely. Mainly because I’ve been too busy to watch much of the news these last few weeks. However, I’m on a mailing list where it was discussed in great detail and read some of those posts.
Right now, my opinion is that it is one big mess, just like the Zimmerman case was a mess. For some of my thoughts in general on these kinds of incidents, try these posts:
There are a couple things I’d like to add to that:
- If you weren’t there, can you accept that everything you say is based on incomplete or even erroneous information? If so, can you then accept the mere fact that you might be wrong when you say “Hang that cop!” or “That cop did nothing wrong!” When it turns out you were wrong, can you then admit it and accept that reality is not always what you think it is?
- It will take a while before all the details are given: http://online.wsj.com/articles/ferguson-investigation-expected-to-take-weeks-1408395054 If you think an investigation isn’t necessary and you already know all the facts, then please understand that you are making a case for a banana republic justice system. If you think an investigation doesn’t need to take that long, go ask a homicide police officer how long a typical investigation takes, regardless if the victim is black, white, green or blue.
- If you think all cops are vicious killers, then I’d like to point you to two resources. First, read “Force Decisions: A Citizen’s Guide” by Rory Miller: http://amzn.to/1rADi23 Unless you have law enforcement training, you *have no clue* how an officer thinks, what he is required to do and when he is out of line. Not. A. Clue. Read this book and get a clue. Then, go talk to officers about how their job works and ask for a ride along. It’ll open your eyes. But until you do that, can you accept that you only have an opinion about how cops do their jobs. You’re entitled to it, by all means, but that doesn’t mean it’s an informed or even a remotely accurate opinion.
- Second, last week, I asked here on my page if anybody had an answer to these questions: “How many arrests do the combined law enforcement agencies of the US do per year. What percentage of them end up with the arrested person dead? “ Jose (Thanks!) came through with a source http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ard0309st.pdf and this is his reply:
This video of gas station clerk/MMA fighter Mayura Dissanyake using his MMA techniques to stop a couple robbers has been going the rounds and several people asked me to comment on it. I’ve also seen MMA enthusiasts go nuts over this video and claim it as ultimate proof of the superiority of MMA over anything else. I’ll cover that a little bit as well.
But first, take a look at the video:
As far as I can tell, his co-worker went to the bank and came back to the station when the robbers jumped him. That’s when Dissanyake came rushing to his aid and the fight to stop the robbers started. One of the robbers ends up on the ground and his buddy first drives away, then tries to come back but eventually takes off.
Some thoughts: Read More→
I posted something that happened to me earlier this week on my Facebook page and it seemed to resonate with everybody so I figured it might be worth exploring it here on my blog. I’ve titled it “The Idiot’s Guide to Martial Arts for Those Who Don’t Practice Them” because for the most part, that’s what all the stories I’ll tell here have in common: non-practitioners acting stupid. So for a change, this article isn’t aimed at you folks who regularly read my blog, but at those who don’t and know zip about martial arts.
First things first, here’s what happened a few days ago:
I was teaching sword techniques during a private session in the aerobics room of a gym in Brussels. We were using cheap beater swords: non-sharpened metal blades that can take some damage. Suddenly, a big, burly guy walks in on me and my student. As he walks straight at us, he starts talking and it went something like this:
Him: You want me to rush you with that sword?
Him: You want me to rush you with that sword?
He walks closer and gestures to my sword, extending a hand. I turn it away slightly to make sure he’s still out of range and can’t get to me without lunging.
Him: What are you doing?
Me: Just training a bit.
My student: Tai Chi Chuan.
Him: Oh, I don’t know that stuff. I’m a boxer.
Me: That’s very nice.
Me: Well, have a great day.
He gets the hint and leaves.
This isn’t the first such incident I’ve encountered and when I talk to fellow martial artists, they all nod their heads before sharing their own stories. Sometimes those stories end with a body lying on the floor, unconscious and injured, whereas other times everybody walks away in one piece. Even though the goal should always be the latter, things can always escalate into the former if a non-practitioner insists on being stupid. Given as people who practice punching and kicking each other for fun tend to be at least a little more competent at fighting than those who don’t, here are some guidelines for them on how to act around a martial artists Read More→