The Illusion of Knife "Fights": Does FMA Really Work?

Ok all, now that I've introduced myself as a newcomer to FMA, and mentioned what I would "like" to learn, and that I have mentioned I've been involved in the military in my lifetime, some real "beginner's questions" are now finally coming to mind in which I would like to ask the FMA community.

I was involved in "drug interdiction" when I was stationed in Honduras back in the 1990's, at a support air base about 30 minutes away from Comayagua, Honduras. If you type "Soto Cano Air Base" in a web search, you will find that it still exists but that the mission has changed to more of a "humanitarian" one.

During my time there, we worked with what they term "elite" forces which included Seals, CIA, Special Forces, and other elite forces from the other nations involved as well. What was learned there by us "regular Army" types was that there is no such thing as a "knife fight" because for something to be a fight, both parties have to be willing to duel to the death in a gentleman-like fashion, in pride and honor. It seems to me that the FMA teaches this dueling method of battle, but neglects teaching about the not-so-gentlemanly knife attack methods used in the real world.

Elite forces would sneak in, in such a fashion that the enemy wasn't even confronted man-to-man. The idea is to get in, stab the people from behind or slit their throats, and then make a quiet exit before the alarms and insanity even started.

Likewise, in most knife encounters during the commission of any type of crime, the attacker doesn't honestly want to tangle with someone who is equally armed. Therefore, a true attacker with intent for murder is going to sneak up on the victim, stab the individual in the back or worse, and then grab all of the money and personal possessions possible just before he takes off running, leaving one additional corpse laying around for the local police force to "clean up."

It seems my own military experiences aren't all there is to this, as another writer online seems to write in total agreement with me. He writes an article titled "Lies About Knife Fighting" located at http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/knifelies.html

In the man's article, he loudly proclaims that the FMA methods of teaching knives is only for the purpose of extracting the maximum amount of money from the gullible, and that such tactics will only work when up against someone else who was trained in the tactics via similar FMA teachings. He even goes so far to say that he has challenged accomplished FMA practitioners with straightforward street knife methods, and proclaims that if it were for keeps, the FMA practitioner would have friends and family congregating around his coffin while paying their final respects. Of course, that is only if the body was still intact for an open-coffin viewing. I would venture to say, more often than not, it would have to be a closed-casket funeral.

My question to all you instructors out there is simply this: are you stuck in "gentlemanly" dueling tradition as this guy says in his article? Or are you teaching people the truth about how there really is no such thing as a "duel" in a real knife encounter? Can you and your students see a "prison rush" coming at you, which is a swift, simple, yet DEADLY move? Or does traditional "technique" blind all involved?

Are average citizens being taken for a ride, or is this information being addressed?

As a military veteran, I already know the truth about knives and bladed weapons. ALL PARTIES INVOLVED GET CUT. Just the way it is. And in some cases, the only winner is the one who bleeds to death the slowest before hunching over the carcass of his opponent who died just minutes before. Man on top wins, even if he isn't breathing any longer as well.

Of course, this truth doesn't generate much in the way of training income, but shouldn't it be provided to students up front so they don't expect that you are going to make them "invincible" and "impervious" to the sharp tips and searing edges of bladed instruments?

Just how effective is YOUR training regimen when it comes to any possibility of surviving a true encounter by a madman wielding a blade who may have no regard for human life? Do you at least ask yourself this question and have the student do so as well?

I won't even get into swords. Heaven forbid if we ever find ourselves in times when those are the weapon of the day again. God help any two men who get tangled up in a real sword fight, they will both need it.

Just two cents worth of thoughts that have been bugging me enough that I wanted to write them out for some lively discussion here on myfma.net

No confrontations desired, and no offense meant. It should be something anyone who is wise would seriously consider when fashioning their own training programs.

Highest regards!

Views: 328

Tags: blade, bladed weapons, daggers, knife fighting, knives, sword

Comment by Black Swan Tactical on February 21, 2010 at 2:37am
Great article Kurt!

I also wonder about the odds of wining a fight with a bladed weapon if both fighters are armed. I have my doubts, yet train for the inevitable even if it only yields a 1% chance of being in my favor because I like martial arts and think FMA will give me the best shot at weapons defense. I train in FMA because I consider it to be the single best martial art in the world given the wide array of techniques involving empty hand and weapons training.

Given the fact that everyone gets cut in a knife fight do you think any time should be spent on basic field triage so as to repair non terminal wounds that occur on the battlefield using a needle and thread? I know this sounds goofy, but I am going to look in to it when I have some time. and I will try to post some information. Note that I have seen the videos on YouTube and do not really think most are going to live if wounded at all. I have been cut in my own mishaps, but for small wounds there might be something that can be done, if there is such a thing as a small wound in a knife fight. Everything that I have seen looks impossible to recover from even with just one strike.

Sincerely,
Thomas
Comment by Kurt Schanaman on February 21, 2010 at 3:39am
I already know how to stitch up a wound on my own. I've stitched up one of my own wounds on my stomach which was the result of a piece of shrapnel from a fragmentation grenade. I was lucky that the shrapnel only cut through TO the stomach muscles, but not THROUGH the muscle. I literally had to cut perpendicular cuts on the ends of the shrapnel cut to "open" up my skin to see the metal, carefully pulled it out and then poured cayenne pepper into the wound which caused the bleeding to stop. Stitched myself up so the skin was closed using waxed dental floss we had out in the field. All of this made me able to get by until getting back to base for some real medical treatment.

Now, that was just a piece of random shrapnel. Blades are controlled instruments, making the odds of being cut even greater than the shrapnel that lodged itself behind the skin on my stomach. The scar is still there to this day as bitter proof of the incident.

I don't believe most FMA instructors are interested in going into "combat" or "survivalist" skills as part of training. I don't expect them to, as that is something a person should be able to research and practice on his/her own. But I do think it's a mistake to train in a way that causes people a false sense of comfort.

I shouldn't ask so much of FMA really, because it really takes learning multiple systems to get past the 1% knife attack survival possibility. I'm just curious as to how "combat" minded many instructors are. Quite frankly, I'm hoping to also learn a bit of Krav Maga (Israeli hand-to-hand combat) to go along with anything I learn from the kind souls who perpetuate FMA. Not sure what other FMA instructors might think of someone like me considering incorporating Krav Maga in with any of the FMA systems because there is a purist at every turn, but I certainly think it would be a great set of skills to add.

Fighting is generally done as a sport, in tournaments, and in duels. Combat is done anywhere bodily injury is attempted for keeps.

What it boils down to with my post is that I have always been curious how many people know the difference between fighting and combat. I posted it in a light-hearted way, hoping it would spark a little discussion on the topic.

Bon Appetite!
Comment by Joshua Morale on February 21, 2010 at 10:33am
Kurt, If you have read any of my previous posts, you already know that i am a big naysayer on this whole knife defense thing. It doesn't exist. I know many people don't want to hear it and it angers some people who have built reputations as knife fighters. If at this point you have survived a knife encounter you are lucky, plain and simple. Keep playing the odds and eventually you will lose. Many of the people who have survived knife encounters have horrible wounds and scars , knife fighting is just bad.

I just wrote out this whole long post and decided that i can better get my point across with a video or two , any one who says they can defend a knife is either kidding themselves or is a serious real deal super hero.
I'm not saying you can't fight for you life and try to make it out alive,you have no other choice if you want to live , that's possible but it isn't gonna be pretty .

heres the clips http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JezWTnD_h1I

and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHgsv6Sg2Po&feature=related

If you are still not convinced try it,pretty sure it wont go well , there may be a few successes , but it only take one loss to kill you. -Josh
Josh
Comment by John R. Malmo on February 21, 2010 at 10:52am
I would be happy to discuss these matters in private. :)

Thomas and Josh have already brought up the realities that must be addressed.

Anyone that claims they can beat everyone with a knife is an idiot. Anyone that claims they can beat every FMA trained individual is also an idiot. I have personally debunked knife myths on both sides of the spectrum. The truth lies somewhere in between, but my truth may not be the same as your truth. :)

In the first video: I have actually experienced this from someone that wanted to test my "controlling" methods. I knocked him out immediately, and didn't have to control anything. The training methods are meant to establish understanding. If the "defender" is confined to a specific training principle, and the "attacker" can do whatever the 'f' he wants it leaves the training mentality.

The second video brings up a point many do fail to address. We must train for different groups of people: the average citizen, the criminal mindset, the martial artist, and the fighter. All of these must be addressed. As someone that worked in a Jail and also for the government. MOST inmates are pathetic fighters. They have no skill and little training. What some of them do have is: Nothing to lose, but their life. :)

If I have a choice, I approach blade deployment as Kurt mentioned. Use it without letting anyone know you had it. Dueling is a bad decision on any day...lol
Comment by Black Swan Tactical on February 21, 2010 at 12:00pm
Joshua,

Great videos. I would like to see all the information that Carl Cestari has ever produced and train with him if he is still around, because he sounds like a very knowledgeable hand to hand combat instructor.

Sincerely,
Thomas
Comment by Black Swan Tactical on February 21, 2010 at 12:10pm
Mr. Malmo,

I've watched your videos on YouTube, am aware of your knife handling skills, and the life like methods that you have created to train with and would like to meet and train with you some day too.

I am very lucky to be part of this community and be able to meet all of you.

Sincerely,
Thomas
Comment by Joshua Morale on February 21, 2010 at 12:28pm
Thomas, unfortunately Mr Cestari passed away a little over 2 years ago. i never met him personally but am friends with some of his students. Carl was a one of a kind guy look through you tube there are quite a few good videos out there by Mr. Cestari. there is a video called the iron man of jujitsu, i think, that shows a small portion of his conditioning regimen, turn up the volume, its interesting. -Josh
Comment by Joshua Morale on February 21, 2010 at 12:49pm
John, Agreed, ultimately its the individual with their intent that defines what can be done.

I think there are some things that can be done if in the event that you should be in a "knife situation" . A common sense approach IMO would be Obviously run, if its a robbery give em what ever they want. if you feel it is more than robbery you must defend , try to get something between you: ,a chair , a car bicycle , purse , back pack , something. expedient missile: ashtray,rock , change , cigarettes and lighter , cell phone.
If you cant do any of the above listed then you must attack your attacker , make them go on the defensive and put it to them before they do it to you.

I know it seems that I may present a negative look on the FMA, please know that it couldn't be farther from the truth. I love Eskrima, It's my passion.There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not training or researching something Eskrima related (ask my girlfriend, watch her roll her eyes as I go blah, blah, blah....lol) I think there are a billion things that are excellent about FMA.It's simplicity,practicality. its excellent methods of teaching concepts, also it's cultural heritage. Unfortunately many of the topics I have responded to are about this one aspect of the FMA that I disagree with, which may present a one sided view point. I believe- no I know that the FMAs do indeed work however, one particular aspect I disagree with. -Josh
Comment by Kurt Schanaman on February 21, 2010 at 2:17pm
In addressing posts that sound "worried" they may be turning me or others away from FMA, it's not the case. I see the value in the art and the good it can help me to do for others in return. The realities of knife defense in "real life" won't keep me from enjoying FMA in the least. I was unable to make it to training again this past Saturday due to snow. GM Shelley said they got more than 4 inches of snow down where he does his training in Ft. Collins. Pretty much shut everyone down over in this part of the country.

It actually comforts me that many understand the realities about dealing with knives. The "comfort" part is only on account that this understanding keeps newcomers in a realistic mindset that, even when "just defending" against a bladed weapon, it is no game, no joke, and really very serious.

I will be employing this understanding of reality to my mindset when I'm personally in training, and just wish more people would do so for their own good.

Really, it's the lack of seriousness I've seen in some YouTube videos, as I see people smiling and laughing as they are getting cut while trying to defend, or getting their behinds handed to them after trying to attack. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for having fun, but something doesn't seem right when too much "fun" is being had during knife training. Seeing that mentality in people forces me to fear for their welfare if they are ever confronted by a true blade wielded by an insane maniac from hell. I can only hope that in the futures of those few, someone who lives in the real world will be there to help them in surviving such encounter.

Better yet, I'll hope and pray NONE of us ever gets trapped in this situation to begin with. Maybe that's the better "hope" -- the "daddy" of all positive desire.
Comment by Kurt Schanaman on February 21, 2010 at 2:29pm
Also, Josh and Thomas, I'll look for your previous posts on the matter. Though I've read some of the posts here, I was unaware of the ones you have mentioned. I consider it a privilege to have an opportunity in airing my own slant and perceptions on the matter however. Have a little more time here today than I do throughout the week to sit here and sift through more posts, so I'll do so.

Regards!

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