Posts Tagged ‘knife fighting’

 

Recently there were several videos of South Korean Special Forces training with knives. Those are some impressive videos, but after all those “Ya! Woo! Ahh!”, we should discuss the reality of knife fighting and it’s military usage. For those who do not know me, I am a Krav Maga instructor certified under numerous organizations, a non-lethal weapon instructor with TASER International, a member of the Canadian Forces for 12 years and a student under the great Sword Master Braun McAsh (famed choreographer of the Highlander TV series).

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Borhan Training with Braun McAsh

receiving my ass whipping in knife combat with Mr. McAsh

Military Use of Knife:

 

  1. It is unlikely in any situation that a soldier, special ops or not, would draw his knife and do face to face dueling with enemy combatants who also have knives. Here I do not mean bayonet charge, sentry removal, or stabb an enemy when tangled up in close quarters combat.
  2. If you have to draw your knife on your enemy it means you have screwed up big time. All soldiers follow rules of engagement as all law enforcement follow the use of force circle. Generally speaking: a soldier can use non-deadly force (hand to hand) then deadly force (rifle). Like it or not, utilising a knife is deadly force. You cannot subdue an enemy combatant with a knife. It is meant to kill, so why are you using a knife face to face when you could just use your firearm. There are still occasions like sentry removal or a bayonet charge where cold steel weapons serve the modern military effectively, but going forward to have a face to face duel? That barely existed in ancient battles when most deaths are caused by arrows, spears and being trampled to death rather than “manly” individual blade vs blade battle.
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most likely usage of knives in modern military setting

Techniques :

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The techniques in this footage are reasonable and proficient in dueling situation :

Overall, the techniques used in the video are pretty decent and universal in most dagger and knife fighting systems. All the cuts and stabs are within the “box“ and all the attacks are conducted within range effortlessly. That’s the key to using cold steel weapons: let the blade to do its work. The blade with a bit pressure will simply sink into the enemy’s flesh. I think it is a hard concept for non-blade martial artists to grasp, because we generally rely on impact. Even with a one inch punch the power needs to be generated from the hip, but with knife fighting a simple wrist movement will do the trick.

The disarm at 1:40 is not sufficient– simply push the attacker away then deal with the 2nd guy coming from the right. It is too much for show. The wise way would be strike, control the first attacker and use him as a shield against the 2nd attacker.

The counter attack ( 1:48 ) is done right. In a dueling situation, the enemy is not simply going to let you attack their vital parts at center of mass (main torso). It is wise to attack the limbs to cause loss of blood or cut the tender muscles so the enemy won’t be able to hold his or her weapon due to pain or loss of muscle control. The finish is not sufficient. The attack should continue after the first stab. You never know if you have stabbed or cut the right place and the human body can be really tough sometimes.

In conclusion: I wonder what’s the reason the Korean UDT/ SEAL conducts this type of training maybe it is an element of overall hand to hand combat training like hitting the sandbag in Boxing. This type of training might enhance the awareness of knife usage and attack then indirectly help defense against knives in close quarter ?  I would argue this type of training by itself ” alone ” has no practical value in modern military.

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UTKM edged weapon training

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An edged weapon training for our advance students is a project that we have been planning to develop for a long time, but due to lack resources and knowledge on the subject, We were never able to start. Lately, with guidance from one of the most influential sword master’s, Braun McAsh, we were able to get some basic ideas on developing our potential edged weapon system. The UTKM edged weapon system has to be relevant to today’s world and practical for current threats requiring self defense. Some might argue that defending yourself with knives, axes or swords is just asking for legal troubles, but in some situations an edged weapon should be used. For example, a single defender versus many attackers; a defender against an attacker with weapons; or simply SHTF situation. In addition, how can one claims to know defense against a knife when one does not know how to use a knife.

Six years ago, I spent about a year with Academie Duello, a well known Vancouver sword school and received rapier and Italian long sword training. At the time, I was already a qualified Krav Maga instructor under International Krav Maga Federation, but aside from dealing with attacks of passion (big, obvious, aggressive attacks) with an edged weapon, I had very little knowledge about the subject. I did not know how to use edged weapons proficiently or more complex attacks. I do not fancy myself a Krav Maga instructor if I do not know how to use an edged weapon properly. At AD I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Braun McAsh and attended most of his seminars. With his guidance and that of other instructors from AD, I came up with three conclusions:

First of all, normal MMA fighters or Krav Maga instructors do not know anything about edged weapons, including knowing how to use them effectively. Edged weapon fighting is a world of its own. Although it is an extension of hand to hand combat, edged weapon fighting is significantly different from hand to hand combat.

  1. If you screw up in edged weapon encounters you are dead.
  2. Both sides most likely will be dead or injured: there is simply no guarantee of survival for even the winner unless the winner outclasses the loser by many levels.
  3. Against people without weapons, people with weapons will most likely win.
  4. Other than a shotgun, an edged weapon is probably the most deadly thing within 21 feet.

Secondly, most edged weapons can be separated into dueling weapons and battle weapons. These edged weapons are made differently and for completely different purposes. Western dueling weapon are more thin and agile and rely heavily on thrust. Whereas, battle weapons are made more robustly and rely on slash and hack rather than thrust.

During my stay with Academie Duello, I find that most of weapons the academy teaches such as rapier, small sword, and long sword belong to an era when people actually carry these weapons on a daily basis and the law of the time permits open carry. This is surely not the case in today’s world. It seems pretty far-fetched for a person today to be walking around with a long sword in a city. Police would show up within minutes.

With these three points in mind, I concluded one of the primary edged weapons we are going to indoctrinate to the UTKM school system should be the Tomahawk. Here are the few reasons I think Tomahawk would benefit students of UTKM.

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  1. You can carry a tomahawk alone with a backpack and some campaign gear. It is most likely the police will not be alarmed nor will you cause panic. It is also much easier to pack away a tomahawk in a bag than a German long sword.
  2. Other than combat situations, you can use tomahawks for many purposes such as chopping wood, clearing debris and the like. During my survival course with the Canadian Army, my survival partner and I used a small hatchet and knife to build our survival shelter.
  3. It is a devastating weapon. Mankind has been using axes for war long before the sword. Stone axe is one of the weapons made by our caveman ancestors. Throughout the centuries, due to the limitation of metallurgy and financial reasons, most people cannot afford swords, but an axe is a lot cheaper to forge and therefore more accessible to the majority.
  4. A Tomahawk is easy to carry. Imagine running in the woods or through city streets with a giant long sword for an extensive period of time. It’s just not going to happen.
  5. The fighting style of Tomahawk is close and dirty. It is very similar to Krav Maga and there should be no problem combining the two.

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System choice:

There are many systems such as Silat and Escrima that incorporate axes or tomahawk in their fighting. For the mean-time we will plan to follow Mr. Braun McAsh’s guidance as the base line for our Tomahawk fighting program. We will seek other channels in the future and add the things we like and find practical. Next article we will talk about knife fighting.

Written by: Borki Yony

Edited by: Josh Hensman