Twisting the Knife Twice

So you came back did you? Interested to see where this little thought train is heading and if it will get up a head of steam, well settle down there for an interesting journey. This morning I dropped my youngest daughter and grandson off at the railway station, they are off for a few days R & R in Norfolk, my grandson loves the train, he loves the tunnels, it is really exciting when you are not quite two, the whole world is for exploring, new sights, sounds and sensations are encountered, assessed and assigned to memory. Our learning is rapid at that age and it is exciting to watch as he becomes himself, he uses all his senses to make sense of the world, his world. We may need a little more time as we get older but the process is still the same, we continue to use our senses to make sense of our reality and our increasingly fertile imagination can draw on billions of memories stored in our heads.

Yesterday I taught a group of nine-year olds (not knife defences), they have the most interesting and bizarre questions and nearly all start with a what if, for instance, “what if a man on the bus gets a knife and kills the driver, can you punch him?”. Well, 16 expectant faces staring at you as you explain that you should be getting out-of-the-way not approaching somebody, anybody with a knife. It is a left field question anyway so I try to get back on track, they do that kids, it comes from nowhere, the what if. But it comes from adult students too fed on a diet of movie macho men fighting unarmed and single-handed against terrifying odds armed hordes out to kill them, I grew up with Rambo too, and Conan the Barbarian. The number of warrior quotes put on Facebook by martial artists gives the game away, I notice Tim Larkin posted yesterday on the popularity of war games in a country where many young men and women have experienced the bitter pill of war over ten years. OK I suppose I too see myself as a bit of a warrior, I train hard, I train to fight, I train to win is that what causes it? I train with bare hands, with my Nunchuka, Katana, Sai, Tonfa, Bo, short stick, sticks, knife and gun, I have all these toys, these warriors weapons so am I a warrior? No, that is the honest answer, I am a granddad, dad, husband, brother friend, uncle etc. Martial arts are my hobby, yes a bit of a passion too, but lets keep it in context and I can. Having lived with plenty of violence in my life I can contextualise my art, some cannot because the violent baseline is not there.

When looking at knife defences this is crucial as we enter a whole new level of nasty. Paul Vunak has been around a bit, I hope that does not offend him, I really like his stuff, he tells it like it is, take on somebody with a knife in their hand and you will most likely get cut, remember that if you are on the bus and somebody kills the driver and you decide to punch the sucka, take a butchers at this clip:

Hope you got the pun. Try the simple drill with a marker pen and look at the ink all over you that could be claret. Do not rush to tackle the knife attacker or you will be donating blood surprisingly quickly, throw stuff, kick out, use a barrier use a bigger weapon or better still run like hell. If you are still reading and you are a style warrior who is so convinced that you can disarm a committed deranged knife attacker try the pen test then look and think. My mate Bill commented on yesterday’s blog, he pointed out the value of the 20 knife defences I am learning as part of my 4th dan syllabus and I quote, “I know they are not very realistic compared to our Saturday morning efforts. However I regard them as useful dojo techniques. By that I mean they teach certain principles which can be utilised when creating your own techniques. And, as we all acknowledge, 99% of what we learn in the dojo would never be used in a fight, but it’s great to practice as part of the art of jujitsu.” I could not agree more. When art meets real life something is going to give, in knife training the art gives.

At the back-end of last year I got a bit disillusioned with my Ju Jitsu training, It was the knife defences in particular, I did not like them at all so having to learn them was a drag my thoughts re knife defences was going in the opposite direction towards the simplicity of combatives. The compartments in my brain were beginning to merge, one was contaminating the other, I was failing to recognise the benefits of the art application as I could not see past the brutal simplicity of my preferred way of stopping a knife attack. Time out over Christmas helped as did reading Rory Millers ‘Facing Violence’ whilst on the beach in Mexico, cool holiday read. This is the answer, it is ok to practise the art and enjoy it after all what is the use of kata in a fight? Why practise with the Katana? Will that sword ever taste blood? Of course not, the art is something we study and practise and it enriches us in so many ways, it provides a theoretical underpinning to whatever else we choose to do with it and in fact, learning that something is impracticable is as important as learning something is practical. So be a style warrior where it is appropriate, in the dojo but leave those cute techniques there, do not take them home with you. If you want a take away get an Indian or a Chinese instead. Whilst you contemplate your take away watch the next clip.

Yes, you are probably wondering about that great bongo accompaniment too. However, case made I think, but even then there is a Gracie armlock at the end. Forget the locks, the take downs and the throws, forget anything that requires fine motor skills, they go out of the window as your heartbeat accelerates and adrenaline floods your body. All you will have are your gross motor skills so use them run like hell or hit like a tornado, shock and awe must be unleashed in the shortest possible smashing of your attacker. You must break them, literally, immediately, treat any attack as a weapon attack and destroy, how do you know the guy who just threw a punch will not pull a knife? Maybe a screwdriver or pointed stick, any stabbing or cutting weapon is deadly. Just spend a bored evening watching traffic cops like I did for half an hour last night and you will be reaching for the stab vest next time you go out. Not everybody carries knives, I have in the past but that is a story for another day, but some do, after a murder in a nightclub in Sheffield the subsequent search revealed a number of hidden knives, either dumped or stored who knows, nice club.

Train realistically, do not become obsessed with style over substance and you stand a chance, find your voice and use it as you use your strength and power, condition both body and brain and train for reality. Keep the boxes marker art and reality separate inside your head and you should be ok, then hope for some luck too or the knife will go in and twist, again. The following clip from an experienced self defence instructor will have to keep you going until tomorrow when I will look at the sexual aspect of killing with a knife. Sleep well, especially Peter in Sweden 😉

About garryattheacademy

I run the Academy of Self Defence in Sheffield, England. I train with Abbeydale Ju Jitsu Club and am a 3rd dan senior instructor.
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2 Responses to Twisting the Knife Twice

  1. Felicia says:

    Ha! Guess what we were doing last evening in (karate) class? We all know it’s BS – as in wouldn’t do this stuff in a million years – but still, there we were. But my instructor always prefaces such stuff with “You’ll probably know you are facing someone with a knife when you’ve been cut/stabbed.” Like you, I’m turning tail and running in the opposite direction…

  2. Your sanity shines through the BS Felicia 😉

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