We attended a knife seminar this past weekend. A lot of the techniques and ideas were a review for us, although we did some cool drills on the ground that involved drawing the knife from the pocket and fending off an attacker who is also on the ground, kneeling, standing, etc. I was having significant difficulty drawing my folding knife from my pocket. Then, I would scramble and try to draw it quickly, fumbling around like crazy and having very little success. My partner kept reminding me that a smooth draw is a fast draw. I realized he is right, and some variables had also changed from my usual training. First of all, I was wearing pants with unusually deep pockets. These are pants I don’t normally wear and the pockets presented a new challenge—swimming through the sea of material to even grasp my knife. Secondly, I have trained so often with a fixed blade, but even so, we often do drills with the knife already in the hand.
If I am going to consider carrying a folding knife, I have got to draw that thing from my pocket, click it open and present it a bazillion times until it is like second nature to me, and this action needs to be smooth and controlled before it is fast. As I write this, I am thinking about Kelly McCann’s new combative knife video that I recently reviewed. He talks a lot about drawing smoothly—it stands to reason that if I cannot even get the weapon out, it is probably not super useful to me. In my mind, if you are going to carry any kind of weapon, including a gun, you also need to train some open hand skills. You may need to fight someone off before getting to your weapon. Now, I don’t know why you are switched off at that point, but we all have momentary lapses in attention. Just accept that it can happen and train for it.
Now that we are on the subject of Kelly’s DVD, I must recommend it. The instruction is very practical, as you would expect it to be, and stripped down. Nothing fancy—hey, it’s combatives! He gives you ideas for training equipment (so you can train really hard, and probably be hurting and bruised anyway) in addition to great training concepts. After watching it, I am really considering going to a very small fixed blade like the one he prefers. It fits nicely into his pants, and let’s face it, fixed blades are totally un-complicated to draw. It is strictly preferential, though, so stick with whatever you like, and of course, whatever your local law allows. He also talks some about fighting strategy as it relates to the aftermath: legal ramifications. Kelly uses the knife offensively and violently as he would with any other combative technique, but his aim is more to dissolve the attacker’s intention and commitment towards the attack, and I know why. This is really a liability issue, because we have to be able to articulate why we opted to use deadly force. It is always better to avoid the fight, if we can, but things don’t always transpire that way. I am prepared to use deadly force if someone is bent on my destruction, and I made that decision a long time ago because I have a right to be alive. I think this is where training and imagination really come into play. Practice mentally and physically for the what-if encounters and make decisions while you have the luxury of time. Make a vivid imprint of how you want to behave. I remember Brian Willis telling amazing stories of police officers winning violent encounters, even when they were seriously injured, because of imagination and effective training. Situations are always in a state of flux—never static. There will probably be new variables you did not imagine. Yet, in these real-life stories, the officers stuck to their purpose and won anyway.
You are probably thinking that if there is a point, I can feel free to come to it at any moment. There is truly a lot to consider when carrying a weapon, whatever weapon we choose. There is a lot of responsibility that goes along with it, even if our weapons are just our bodies. Not everyone is going to go at personal protection with the same fervor as me and my cohorts, but certainly some basic considerations should be made since self-defense is a personal responsibility. I could probably rattle on all day about my thoughts, but if you are truly interested in basic knife training, you should check out Kelly’s DVD. Great stuff, and very succinct (as he likes to put it).