Yesterday we held our annual free Christmas seminar, which is open to any interested martial artists. The seminar had a great turn out, with martial arts students from all over Scotland pitching up in Arbroath.
The concepts behind the seminar was to take a few of the Bladecraft drills we use, & to put them under the microscope; seeing how the drills functionalise into real fighting skills, & also how they can teach us a great deal more than knife skills.
We started with a quick warm up using 'tapping'. Tapping is a good line familiarisation drill, & familiarises the beginner with the thrusting triangle. I always emphasise that in my view it ISN'T a practical 'fighting exercise', but is great fun & a good attribute building drill. Once everyone had warmed up we went into Banda Banda. We started with the basic drill which is purely counter-offensive, then we added in some counter attacks to the drill, finally adding in low line levers. We then looked at using Banda Banda unarmed as a matrix teaching disarms, & looked at applying it with impact tools like a flashlight or Stinger.
After Banda Banda we looked at my personal favorite drill, Punyo Sumbrada. We broke it down into sections, & then analysed these movements. We then took the wonderful opening movement & applied it in a variety of ways. We looked at knife methods utilising methods found in Punyo Sumbrada, & then looked at some unarmed applications that can be conceptualised from it.
After this we turned to the Bowie, & looked at how the 7 count Back-cut matrix can be applied using a folding knife held in 'front grip edge up'. I explained why the back-cut is such a powerful method compared to a normal draw-cut using the edge, & got the students to use the No6 back-cut as an opening defence coming from low line concealment.
Finally we looked at how folders can be used initially as an impact weapon, & then opened by using the attackers own body. Much knife work is done in almost a 'duelling' manner, with the defender standing in guard with their weapon drawn. The truth is that we will most often need to get a weapon out & into the fight whilst being attacked. We spoke about the use of things like the 'wave' feature to open a folder, & also looked at ballistic opening methods. We spoke about the pro's & con's of the various methods; & then drilled a failure drill where we haven't managed to open the weapon, so we engage using it as an impact weapon using the Banda Banda matrix we'd drilled at the beginning, then crashing in to point blank we used the opponents body to open the blade into an instant cut or thrust. After a couple of applications I demonstrated how it was actually more difficult to achieve with the trainer than with the live blade. Doing it with a trainer sees a few failures, as you simply can't pierce the flesh with a trainer. I showed that doing it with a live blade on a piece of rubber mat I got a successful result every single time, & showed how effective the resulting cut or thrust could be also.
Yes.......I know that in the UK we're not allowed to carry anything with which to defend ourselves from the criminals & thugs who don't give a toss that it's illegal to carry a weapon because they're criminals & thats what criminals do- commit crimes! I don't think it's a fair or realistic attitude to have, & I'm pretty confident that I could destroy anyone in a logical debate over it. Lets face facts, since handguns were banned in the UK gun crime has increased an insane 400%. We live in an increasingly violent society where only the bad guys are armed, making the good decent folks easy pickings. In the UK we're lawfully allowed to carry a sub 3" non locking folder as a tool, but not with a view to using it for self defence. I would hedge my bets that if you happened to use one to defend your life from an armed attacker (& you can lawfully use up to & including lethal force if you are convinced there is an immediate threat to your life) you would get a very rough time in court & from the press. This is why it is vital to step outside the box & use conceptual thinking when you're doing bladecraft! The methods we train in with the blade give you powerful methods you can use with improvised defensive tools. They supercharge your unarmed attributes to you can more effectively defend against weapons as you have superior line familiarity & hand to eye co-ordination; & they teach you the correct way to engage an armed opponent. In this day & age we travel a great deal, & it's important to realise that some of the places we travel to do allow you to carry a defensive tool, so it makes sense to be proficient with them.
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the seminar, & we'll be kicking off in 2010 with some good ones.