Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Knife Defense Fraud Will Kill You

Knife defense is a topic often talked about in the martial arts world, but never addressed realistically. Oh, we have plenty of theories, philosphies, masters and experts on the subject all of whom have confidence in their skills and are confident they can impart real world knife defense skills in their students, but truth be known is almost all of them have never confronted an armed opponent except while playing a computer game, or else watching television. Fear is a word absent from their vocabularly and death only happens to someone else. I mean after all Steven Segal, Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee never get killed so why should your’s truly? More importantly though is their master showed them this technique and its quite old and has been passed down from generation to generation therefore it should work, plus its part of their style’s teachings and everyone knows that their style of fighting is the best for street fighting. Right? Sorry, Buckwheat, but you’re wrong.  Dead wrong.
Long ago I came to the conclusion that if every student and instructor fully realized just how dangerous a knife is  they would run away like a striped assed ape, if possible that is. Similarly on numerous occasions I've asked instructors "does a knife scare you" only to have them answer "no, I have confidence in my skills." Usually I flinch when hearing these words because if the truth was known the reason they're not scared of a knife is because they've never encountered one outside the dojo.  Hence these are the people to avoid at all costs along with their youtube videos and fact filled books which are marketed by (name your publishing company). Sorry folks, but martial arts publishers are more interested in earning a buck than protecting your welfare, buts thats a topic for another day. My point being is that inexperience and missinformation lead to disasterous results.
Inside the dojo everything works, no matter how absured it might seem. Pressure points, chi,  complicated knife and gun disarms, chi knife disarms, chi gun disarms, they all work,  but then the good guys never get killed in the westerns either. Maybe shot in the arm, but never killed. Right? Right. Therefore since you’re the good guy learning karate in the dojo you’ll never get killed.  Right? Wrong.  A large majority of the knife drills presented are merely extensions of someone's empty-handed, step-punch-kick, training.  There's no fluidity, no real intent, no real threat and an over all tendency to preserve the style's integrity instead of addressing the threat and how you will react to it.  Also, there's a built in delusion that the karate-ka can easily disarm the attacker without sustaining injury because they study karate, kung-fu, Tae-Kwon Do, etc, etc.  Such beliefs and mindsets are a recipe for disaster. For instance not long ago a young man who had just started karate wanted to demonstrate his gun and knife disarms to me. "Okay, I said" and with the gun defense segment I simulated holding a pistol and stood 8 feet away, which is short range for a pistol- but long range for empty hand. "Come closer" he said, "no way" I answered then said "bang, your dead."   With the knife it was about the same thing, he wanted me to line up formal like we were bowing in, but instead I grabbed his shirt and executed a series of underhanded thrusts to his stomach, groin and lower back. Needless to say he was a bit upset because I didn't play by the rules, but that's my point.  Someone armed with a knife isn't going to play by the dojo's rules, they'll invent their own as things progress. That's why live training is so important, along with stressing the fact that if they've got a weapon and you don't, you've suddenly ended up on the bottom of the food chain. Moral of the story is there are no easy answers and beware of someone who presents one because they’ll probably get you killed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Free E-Book

A few years ago Iain Aberenthy published one of my books and I'm very thankfull he did. Comprehensive Karate From Beginner to Black Belt has been very popular and if you'd like a copy here's a link so that you can download one: http://iainabernethy.co.uk/news/free-comprehensive-karate-e-book-back-online



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In Defense of Traditional Systems

In Defense of Traditional Systems

By Michael Rosenbaum

If you were to look up the word “traditional” in Webster’s New World Dictionary you would find the following definition: “handed down by, or conforming to tradition; conventional: also tra-di’tion-ar’y or [rare].”

Studying the traditions of one's chosen style of fighting helps us to not only gain technical insight but it also helps us understand the circumstances that brought forth a fighting art's development. But more importantly by coming to understand the development process inherit to a fighting art you also gain insights into the worldviews and ethics which were present during the system's formation. Views that often contrast the ones held today. For instance many people enjoy the sport of fencing but the contemporary fencer’s mindset is quite different than the one held by their 16th century counterpart. Today the ideal of being killed in a duel of swords is not very probable but for those who practiced the “noble art of defense” some 400 years ago it was a very real threat. To draw your sword against an opponent was to literally take your life in hand, therefore hand-to-hand combat was not something one took lightly.

Lately it has become in vogue to devalue the traditional fighting arts based on assumptions which overlook the time, place and reasons for their development. One contributing factor to this miss-understanding is that contemporary practitioners often misstake the tournament floor as being one in the same with the hostile environments for which many traditional combative systems were developed. And by making this assumption the differences between traditional and modern styles of training are overlooked. Hence we forget the tournament style of fighting is designed for use in a win or loose environment, one with established rules and regulations. In contrast to this traditional combative arts are intended for use in an environment that has no rules and is concerned with the issue of surviving a life or death engagement. For instance although a sport karate-ka may have superior kicking skills than a Filipino martial artist, if the two were to fight outside of a ring and the Filipino practitioner were to use a bolo knife, kris, or balisong then all that would be required is one well placed thrust or cut and the match would be over. Thus you have two different systems concerned with two entirely different outcomes of an engagement. One being competition, the other combat.

There also is a trend today to reinvent the martial arts based on consumer appeal, or the popularity of full contact fighting. A good example of the latter being the ever popular no holds barred fights such as UFC, K-1 etc. Without a doubt the fighters who engage in these matches train in a dedicated manner and are very skilled at their chosen style of fighting. However, full contact fighting is not something new to the martial art's world. Wrestling, boxing and pankration were all practiced by the ancient Greeks hundreds of years before Christ was born. And these traditional contests were no holds barred events in the fullest sense because gouging to the eyes, strikes to the throat, breaking an opponent's fingers, even trampling a downed fighter were all allowed during these contests in which participants fought naked, outdoors, in the hot summer sun and with no time limits. Therefore we haven't reinvented the wheel, we've only rediscovered it where as full contact fighting is concerned.

When discussing the effectiveness of traditional fighting arts we should consider that with the history of hand-to-hand combat dating back to prehistoric times there is little that hasn’t  been discovered by previous generations of fighters.  Moreover the assumption that all traditional combative systems are obsolete usually proves to be far from fact, especially for those intended mortal combat. Tradition does not mean to stop progress nor does it mean to curtail martial prowess. Tradition instead is a way to maintain integrity and keep alive a standard of training that was developed not in the light of the latest martial arts fad, but instead in the arena of life and death. It is only when the equation of combat is removed from the traditional fighting art that it becomes ineffective.