Citizen Soldier and the American Militia

Fix Bayonets!

Background

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus

The story of Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, as with most of what we know about the ancient world, is wrapped in both fact and myth. Historians believe this because ancient record-keepers were more storytellers than historians. It is also likely that what they didn’t know as an absolute fact, they made up. That’s what storytellers do — and it usually does make for a good story.

In any case, according to the story, Cincinnatus saved Rome on two occasions. In 458 BC and 439 BC, the Senate of Rome summoned Cincinnatus, a modest farmer, and gave him dictatorial powers to raise an army to defend Rome — which he accomplished. Then, when the fighting was over, Cincinnatus promptly relinquished his power and returned to his beets.

If the story is true, then the account of Cincinnatus could provide us with the earliest example of a citizen-soldier (also…

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Combative Corollaries

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The following is taken directly from the Afterword in Kelly Mccann’s Outstanding book Combatives for Street Survival.

In this afterword, Kelly draws corollaries between what is taught in the USMC Field Manual (FM 1) Warfighting and what is experienced in personal combat using Combatives for self-defense. Kelly divides these corollaries into Several distinct sections: War, Friction, Uncertainty, Fluidity, Disorder, The Human Factor & Violence and Danger.

WAR

FM 1: “It is critical to keep in mind that the enemy is not an inanimate object to be acted upon but an independent and animate force with its own objectives and plans.”

Combative Corollary: Always Train with an ACTIVE partner and not someone who is robotic or remains fixed in place while you execute a technique. Never allow the use of staged pillar assaults to support your technique. Encourage your partner to move and act freely, because your attacker will.

FRICTION

FM 1: “Friction is the force that resist all action and saps energy.”

Combative Corollary: Fighting for your life saps your strength MUCH MORE quickly than training or competition. Be Aware of this fact.

FM 1: “Friction may be mental, as in indecision over a course of action.”

Combative Corollary: Don’t learn too many alternative techniques because it will only result in indecisiveness under duress and INCREASE reaction time. See HICKS LAW.

UNCERTAINTY

FM 1: “The very nature of WAR makes certainty impossible; all  actions in WAR are based on incomplete, inaccurate or even contradictory information.”

Combative Corollary: You will never have all the information you would like to have before needing to act except in the most obvious cases.

FM 1: “We can learn to fight effectively despite uncertainty by developing simple, flexible plans; planning for LIKELY contingencies and FOSTERING INITIATIVE.”

Combative Corollary: Avoid complex and intricate techniques. Take the initiative when warranted and pre-emptively attack. Strike unexpectedly. If a technique fails, immediately branch and EXPLODE into another. As quickly as you recognize them, EXPLOIT new targets.

FM 1: “Risk is equally common to ACTION or INACTION.”

Combative Corollary: You must risk being hurt in order to hurt others. As an attacker gestates, you’re at risk EQUALLY if you use violence and if you don’t.

FLUIDITY

FM 1: “Since war is a fluid phenomenon, it’s conduct requires flexibility of thought.”

Combatives Corollary: Rage with reason. Keep your wits about you in order to see and then seize the fleeting opportunities discussed above. Stay flexible in the attack. Rely on your rapid-targeting process and quickly branch from one technique to another, exploiting opportunities as quickly as they present themselves to overwhelm your attacker.

DISORDER

FM 1: “As the situation changes continuously, we are forced to improvise again and again until finally our actions have little, if any, resemblance to the original scheme.”

Combatives Corollary: There is a saying in the military: “No operations order survives the first shot.” Similarly, no Kata survives the first punch. Faced with disorder, ESTABLISH ORDER WITH OVERWHELMING FEROCITY. Once you have the momentum, stay on your toes and keep the attacker backing up on his heels. Ruthlessly and Relentlessly CLOSE WITH and finish the enemy.

THE HUMAN FACTOR

FM 1: “Since War is an act of violence based on irreconcilable disagreement, it will invariably inflame and be shaped by human emotions.”

Combatives Corollary: Channel your Rage, but rely on your Training.

Violence and Danger

FM 1: “Violence is an essential element of war and its immediate result is bloodshed, destruction and suffering. While the magnitude of violence may vary with the object and means of war, the violent essence of war will never change. Any study of war that neglects this basic truth is misleading or incomplete.”

Combatives Corollary: Your primary goal is to AVOID, your secondary goal is the ESCAPE UNHARMED. Unfortunately, depending on the severity of the situation, sometimes it will be necessary to seriously injure or perhaps kill an assailant in order to prevail. For that reason, you must never confuse Combatives with a “Gentle Art.”

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

CO 101: The Evolution of the “Ambi” Fighter

From the Archives, 2014

 

Contrast of two in C with two swords

Ambi= (Ambidextrous): The ability to use the right and left hands EQUALLY well.

 

 Being a military history buff, I really enjoy studying the progression/evolution of tactics and weaponry in warfare through the years. One of the most applicable of these “progressions” that pertains to the CO specifically has been the development of being ambidextrous in the use of weapons. Now when we think “ambi” we automatically think of somebody being able to write well with both hands. When we translate this skill to weapons however, it goes far beyond that. It is not only the ability to use either hand equally well, it is also the ability to wield two weapons (one in each hand) and be able to use each of them independent of each other or in tandem, depending on what the situation calls for.

It is interesting to me that as far back as the 10th Century, the ideal of the “Combative Continuum” existed; the logical premise that skill sets can span over a variety of different weapons. Starting with stick, then two sticks, then a sword, then a sword and a dagger, then a rapier, then a rapier and a dagger, then a rapier and a pistol, then two pistols. Fast forward to the 19th Century and the old-west gunfighter who could wield two navy colts with deadly accuracy continues the carnage. Folding ambidextrous skill into these combinations eventually produced a man who could fight equally well with two different weapons while utilizing one learned skill set that could function under stress much more efficiently than four or five learned skill sets trying to be integrated into one another.

So let’s talk about integrating ambidextrous training into your current routine. Please hear me when I say: This is a skill set that needs to be approached CAREFULLY and SLOWLY. I highly recommend first using TRAINING KNIVES and BLUE/RED GUNS to get comfortable with the drills.

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hand2

The first thing you need to work on is the basic premise of being able to use your “off-hand” to do simple operations. Notice I did not say “weak” hand; nothing is “weak” unless you allow it to become that way. Start using your off -hand to pick things up around the house. Use it to open doors, turn on the water faucet, flush the commode, operate the TV remote, etc. You might also invest in a few low-cost simple hand strengthening and dexterity devices; these things work great and you can use them anytime. Not only will they increase the strength in your hand, your forearm muscles get a nice workout too. My favorite for working on hand and finger dexterity are the tried and true “Baoding (or Steel) Balls” ; used by martial artist for centuries, you will notice a change in strength and dexterity fairly quick;y. When you feel comfortable with your level of strength, move on to weapons training.

First thing to work on is Weapon Deployment. The possibility that your “fighting” hand could get wounded or incapacitated in some way is very likely, and if you cannot get the weapon into the fight, all else after that is a moot issue. Now when we say “weapon” I am talking about either a knife or sidearm. This could include a multitude of carry variations: With knives it could be a pocket clip folder, horizontal or vertical fixed blade, or even a neck knife. With sidearms, it could be an IWB or OWB holster, pocket pistol or ankle gun. In your drills, don’t focus so much on speed in the beginning. Some trainers emphasize speed WAY too early. All that accomplishes is the student getting frustrated before the real fun starts!  Speed will come. Remember: SLOW IS SMOOTH AND SMOOTH IS FAST. Examine the most efficient way to draw the weapon and then refine that even more. Practice presenting the weapon from different positions: standing, sitting, laying down, etc. Some techniques work great while standing, but sit or lay down and it poops the bed fast, and you never know out on the street what position you may be in! Also, don’t become fixated on conventional methods of presenting the weapon, as long as it is SAFE and EFFICIENT, that is all that matters.

mccann

Next, we need to work on USING the weapon. With Knives, It is a very precarious and dangerous affair to draw a knife with intent to kill to begin with, but adding to this the added “hassle” of having only one serviceable hand, and the odds start getting nefariously bad for you! Just know beforehand that knives require much more intensive training than sidearms, so tread carefully! How you employ the weapon with your non-fighting hand is going to heavily depend on your Fighting Style and the Situation at Hand. For Combative disciples, a gross motor stabbing motion utilizing a reverse grip “jab” is going to the quickest. For you Filipino Style/ Pikiti-Tersia students think of Keating’s “Pala-Soot” technique in Drawpoint Vol. 1 DVD. Remember, we are talking about getting a weapon into the fight as fast as possible and doing as much damage as possible, we are not “dueling” or “knife fighting”; we are simply trying to survive and go home!!

With sidearms, your odds of success increase, but not by much. You have to remember as we have discussed, that most self-defense encounters on the street are at or around 10 feet. So Not having that “fending” hand is going to be a MAJOR handicap. Still, your odds are better having the ability to FIGHT EQUALLY with both hands than with just one. In my research and experience, most encounters do not start out this way, typically it occurs from an injury incurred during the fight.

 Once you have perfected that awkward draw with your off-hand, you now need to fire the weapon safely (preferably at the bad guy). Of course, the situation at hand will dictate how you do that; you may have to fire more “gangster” style than you normally might like too, or you might have time to hold and fire it properly. Either way, you need to be aware of some snags that come from both firing a semi-auto pistol “unconventionally” and with your off-hand. For you Revolver guys out there, disregard this paragraph.

limpwrist

Beware of the Limp Wrist!

A friend of mine made me laugh and said this should be posted on a sign when you go anywhere in San Francisco!! Anyways, Some models of semi-auto pistols (mostly the lighter polymer framed ones) when fired with a weaker than normal grip on the weapon will malfunction, either with a stovepipe or worst with the dreaded double-feed. This can only be addressed by practice. As I said previously, you need to USE and EXERCISE that “off-hand” daily. Combine that with weekly shooting drills and that is the only way you will get Strength, Dexterity and Confidence. In your drills, focus on getting the web of your hand as high up on the grip as possible and maintaining constant pressure. Find that nice medium where you are not  squeezing the crap out of it, but not limp wristing it either.

The One-Handed Continuum

Shooting one-handed as most of you know, is a required skill in the CO’s arsenal. It lends itself  very well to movement Off-the-X and sighted and point shooting. Watch enough CCTV and dash-cam footage of street shootings and you can see very quickly why this is so. Fortunately, once the CO has enough strength and confidence, this same set of skills can be transferred to the off-hand and wha-la, another skill-set has been added to the CO’s toolbox.

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Advanced Drills

Moving on from off-hand/ambidextrous drills that I described above, the next step would be the ability to wield two weapons (sidearms) at once. Although not widely discussed or practiced in the traditional American firearms training culture, this is a skill that our “Shootist” forefathers, more especially the 19th century gunslingers, like Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickock and John Wesley Harding, used with deadly precision.

I can see a lot of you out there with puzzled looks, wondering where in the world a skill-set like this would be useful. Let me be clear, I am not advocating you start carrying two-guns concealed or openly, but I am suggesting learning to be adept with two sidearms at once for the sole reason alone it gives you twice the firepower in the event you might need it, perhaps in a survival type situation where you are outnumbered with multiple armed and aggressive adversaries.

Common sense is going have to guide you in how you approach your live fire drills. Again, I would urge you to use the 70% dry fire to 30% live fire ratio. Once your overall dexterity and strength is to the point you feel comfortable, you can increase your live fire percentage. Obviously, multiple targets at varying ranges would be the best drill to start out with, but don’t forget to add different shooting positions, malfunctions, reloads, etc.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

Why the Average Civilian Should Study Asymmetrical Warfare

From the Archives, 2015.

guerilla

I got asked this question the other day by a close friend and it occurred to me that I had never really plainly answered that question on this blog, even though I talk about the subject frequently. I think the best way to approach this subject is through historical precedent. It is no coincidence that in the study of Asymmetrical warfare, that the historical study and analysis is often the first step in understanding how to apply the principles of GW (Guerilla Warfare) in a practical and concise manner. So it is fitting that this same historical analysis be the very thing that quantifies it and makes it relevant to the “Average Joe”.

Since the beginning of time, man has sought to have power over other men. Before Democracy was birthed, we can read in volume after volume of history books about the terrible political experiments that were carried out through the ages to try to satisfy this thirst for control and power. No matter what people called them: Dictatorships, Totalitarianism or Communism, all of them eventually failed. And though it can be argued by historians and political scientist alike WHY  exactly each of these experiments failed, whether it be Atheism or political corruption or both. The layman can piece together a fairly good explanation without a Phd to back it up. In a simple word:  Tyranny.

Websters defines Tyranny as:

“Cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others;  a government in which all power belongs to one person; the rule or authority of a tyrant.”

The Free Dictionary defines it as:

Unjust or oppressive governmental power: A government in which a single ruleris vested with absolute power.”

No matter how you define it, or which definition you prefer, one thing is for certain from the historical record: Tyranny will only be tolerated for a season. Good people will only take abuse for so long before they FIGHT back and if history is an indicator, in most cases, PREVAIL. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at a couple of examples from History and see if this notion does not hold water, so to speak.

The first example comes from America’s very own beginnings. That’s right. The nation you live in and love and cherish (I Hope) was birthed out of REBELLION TO TYRANNY. See, way back in the 18th century there was this thing called the 13 Colonies and this really power-hungry country called England…Stop me if you have heard this one before. One thing led to another and there was this thing called The Boston Tea Party and then the “Shot heard round the World” and finally this document called the Declaration of Independence. Yeah, you get the picture. Well,  something you may not know is that besides the Colonial Army, which George Washington was the General of, there was also these things called Colonial Militias.

Now these militias were composed of every day civilian joes like you and me. They would meet up regularly to train with their RIFLES and work on their battlefield tactics. Well, long story short it was these militias that often dealt the British the most grief during the Revolutionary War. And by “grief” I mean these militias not only frustrated the British Army brass by their tactics, but also Killed a great number of their soldiers. Answering the “how” of this is quite simple: The militias very often did not fight like the British Army fought. The European battlefield standard in the 18th century was for two armies to ceremoniously march their armies out into a field, line up across from one another, aim their rifles and upon command, fire. You do not have to be a brilliant military strategist to realize that this method was about as stupid as pissing in the wind and wondering why you are getting wet.

Well, the militias also shared this opinion. So they employed different tactics, what the British back then called “Indian Fighting”; something the English army were painfully familiar with from the French and Indian War. During that period, Indian tribes allied with the French (like the Delaware, Huron and Shawnee) would often decimate entire British companies in the field using a combination of speed, knowledge of the terrain, surprise (ambush) and extreme violence of action (very often vicious hand-to-hand fighting with tomahawks, knives and clubs.) Instead of standing out in the open, the indian would hide behind a tree. Instead of fighting in an open field, the indian would attack in the thick woods, choosing the time and place of the engagement, thereby controlling it and ultimately winning. The militias,  took notice of these skill-sets and tactics and applied them accordingly. Not exactly what you would call “conventional military tactics” for that time period.

French-Indian-War

The Colonial militias utilized every aspect of this so-called “Indian fighting” (later to be termed Guerilla Warfare) to harass and decimate the British up and down the colonies. But nowhere were these tactics more evident and successful than in South Carolina, by a man named General Francis Marion, aka “The Swamp Fox.” To this day, Marion is credited with being one of the “fathers” of modern Guerilla Warfare methodology and is credited in the lineage of the US Army Rangers. Consequently, it was the US Army Rangers namesake, Robert Rogers and The Rogers Rangers who were credited with first adopting many of these “indian style” guerilla tactics and adapting them to light infantry reconnaissance while fighting with the British during the French and Indian War.

Moving across the globe to South Africa and ahead in time to right around the turn of the 20th century, we can find another great example of your average “joe” civilian forming militias and using “unconventional” tactics to fight a tyrannical invader. The Second Boer War  was yet another example of British Colonialism gone awry. You would think by now after getting their asses kicked out of America they would get the hint, but that is the curious thing about the English; their hubris sometimes blinds them to the obvious.

Before we get into the meat of this story, it will help you tremendously if you first understand who the Boer people were. THIS is one of the best descriptions I think.  One of the qualities of the Boers that I think is VERY important to understand for the modern-day armed civilian is that they were a people who were very COMFORTABLE with firearms and their use, most particularly the Rifle. Living in rural Africa during that time period (and even now) you had to be handy with a gun, not only for hunting but for PROTECTION from predators such as lions.

Boer Guerillas

Boer Guerillas

It is this “Familiarity” with Firearms that Boer parents encouraged with their children at a very young age that eventually created a nation of RIFLEMAN. It would be these rifleman, who in small squads, and using guerilla “hit-and-run” tactics would harass and at times, decimate the British Army by making “every round count” and using the terrain to their advantage to make the larger numbers of the British count for nothing.

Another important element of why the civilian should study Asymmetrical warfare, most importantly, the historic aspect, has to do with learning about the successes and mistakes of past counter-insurgency campaigns. Why? You may ask. Because by learning about these past successes or failures, you can better exploit, as a future guerilla (or insurgent) the mistakes of your enemy in future conflicts as it relates mostly to PUBLIC OPINION and SENTIMENT. Let me give you an example.

In the latter years of the War, the British in response to the successes of the Boers Guerilla Campaign by their “Kommandoes” (or Mounted Infantry Unit or Regiment)  instituted what would now be coined a “Scorched Earth” Policy. Any civilians who were thought to have aided the guerillas had their farms and houses burned, their livestock slaughtered and were typically sent off to “concentration camps”. As you can imagine these tactics were resented by the civilian populace; the Boer Kommando exploited that resentment and hate against the British to build consensus with the civilian population, whereby gaining a strong ally, both in the field and politically.

It can be said then that the Boers were successful in their Guerilla Campaign because of three Primary things:

  1. They tapped into NATIONALIST Sentiment.When a man or woman has PRIDE in what they are fighting for, they will often fight harder than they would otherwise.

  2. The Boers got the MAJORITY of the Population behind them. Public sentiment (both locally and globally) swings a big stick in Counter-Insurgency; it basically either makes you legit or not. Without public support, the British did not stand a chance. Look at any modern COIN example, like Afghanistan and you see the parallel.

  3. The Boer Kommando continuously sought to agitate the British to STRIKE out at the civilian populace;  because the more the British pissed off the public, Two things happened: the more the Boer’s Guerilla ranks would grow with new recruits and the LESS popular support the British would get. You see the cycle forming? That’s the essence of Guerilla Warfare right there.

So with just these two examples I just presented of everyday civilians having to take up the burden of becoming Guerilla Fighters in order that tyrannical government no longer rides rough-tread over their liberties and lives, I ask you, do you still wonder why an everyday civilian such as yourself should study Asymmetrical Warfare? Yeah, that is what I thought!

cyber-warfare-03

But alas, my story is not finished yet. Because even though these two stories were relevant and inspiring, they both happened quite a long time ago, and like all things that pass with time, warfare has modernized also. And oh yeah, there were these things called the personal computer the internet and social media invented somewhere in between all of this, so where does all that fit in? The simple answer to that is it fits in EVERYWHERE. Technology is King. The US Department of Defense announced that cyber-warfare is now the “fifth dimension” of warfare (To join Sea, Air, Land and Space.)

Here is a quote from their website concerning the new “cyber-mission” force:

“State and non-state actors threaten disruptive and destructive attacks against the United States and conduct cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property to undercut the United States’ technological and military advantage. DoD must develop its cyber forces and strengthen its cyber defense and cyber deterrence posture.”

Used too to be to rob a bank you needed a mask, a gun and a big set of nuts. Now, all you need is a good DSL connection and the cyber black hat skill-set’s that a large portion of teenagers across the globe possess. Used to steal state secrets you needed really talented spies, now, yeah you guessed it, all you need is a good DSL connection and the cyber black hat skill-sets that most teenagers across the globe possess. Point being, technology is a weapon; and like any weapon it is inherently not good or evil, it just is. The good or evil comes from HOW it is used.

So where does this leave the 2015 modern guerilla? Where on the one hand you can look at how terrorist groups like ISIS exploit social media and the web for their own benefit; since guerilla warfare is essentially about “Controlling the Narrative” and gaining popular support to make their cause legitimate, there is no better place to do that than social media. One the other hand, the modern guerilla can look at how DEPENDENT not only modern armies but ENTIRE developed nations are on technology and see that as a definite weakness to be exploited..and they have been exploited BIG TIME. Consider the latest US Government OPM (Office of Personnel Management) Hack; called by one cyber-analyst our  “Cyber Pearl Harbor.” To put it simply: EVERY Federal Employee’s and Retiree’s information and up to a Million former federal employees personal information was compromised.

So, ultimately it can be said, that regardless of modernization and technology, there are definitely”Baseline” skill-sets that should NEVER change for the Guerilla, regardless of the time period. The Guerilla, to maintain his edge,  can never “depend”on technology to the degree a modern military (and the World) does. Example, the infantry officer that skips his compass and map reading training because he things he will always have his Garmin GPS unit…or the Artillery officer that never learned how to compute his firing solutions manually because of being spoiled to a computer, or worse of all, a Government agency that leaves senstive date unsecured. In all these cases, they are one EMP blast or one black hat hack away from being put back in the stone age and then what? What about the American civilian without their cell phone? Yeah, one word: Lost. These sheep have become so spoiled to “modern” conveniences they have become totally useless in the real sense of survival.

So in closing, the Modern Guerilla must know how to exploit and use technology, but never get too dependent on it to function. and survive. The guerilla must accept that the forthcoming battlefield will have a cyber element to it, without a doubt, but using the modern insurgencies of the time as a harbinger; the real battles will ultimately be one one bullet at a time and one bad PR news story (or Facebook Post) at a time, just like in our previous two examples showed. As I said, the Weapons (including technology) may change over time, but the Fundamentals of Guerilla Warfare never do.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Bibliography and Suggested Reading:

 

Future Crimes by Marc Goodman

Invisible Armies by Max Boot

The Savage Wars of Peace by Max Boot

War on the Run by John F. Ross

The Boer War by Thomas Parkenham

Special Operations in the American Revolution by Robert Tonsetic

Memoirs of a Rifleman Scout(Ebook) by Major F.M. Crum (British sniper whose career spans from the Boer War to WW1.)

 

Blade Drills: Perfecting the Snap Cut & Thrust

From the archives. 👍

 

SOG Snarl

SOG Snarl

Lately I have been working on some drills with my small “hideout” waist-carried fixed blades: Benchmade CBK and SOG Snarl.

Benchmade CBK

Benchmade CBK

Training Notes:

  • Since both of these shivs have an unconventional grip (CBK is a syringe type, the Snarl a single-finger loop, raptor-claw design), striking is a bit more unorthodox than if I were using a standard blade with a conventional type grip.

  • The upside to these blade types is that RETENTION is not as big an issue as a conventional knife. No matter if your hands get wet from water, sweat or blood, the way the blade is gripped ensures a SOLID purchase.

  •  Since I mainly carry these blades horizontal on my waist at around 10:30 to 11:00,(drawing with my right hand) I designed all my drills for that type of draw.

  • As I subscribe to the COMBATIVE school of defensive knife training, almost all of these movements are based on simple GROSS MOTOR functions with very little fine motor technique involved. (No complicated katas, etc.) Therefore, to fully maximize the tactical advantage these types of knives offer (which is Size and Speed) You must work to make the draw AND the first initial cut or thrust ONE FLUID, QUICK MOTION.

  • The key word in these drills is “SNAP”, so remember that as you drill. Your goal is to quickly SNAP the blade OUT and INTO the Attacker before they know what hit them. Visualize a viper striking it’s prey.

A quick word about TARGETING. I know a lot of quality knife instructors out there teach to target the attackers ability to (1) WIELD or HOLD a weapon (tendons and nerves in arms/hands, etc.) and (2) their ability for movement (muscles and nerves in legs).

I believe that if I am having to use a knife to defend myself, things have gone VERY bad, and it has gone WAY past simply disarming or disabling the individual trying to kill me.

Simply put, when I train to defend myself with a knife or firearm, I train to NEUTRALIZE my attacker, not to DISABLE or WOUND.

Since a FIREARM and a KNIFE are  both considered LETHAL WEAPONS, WE NEED TO USE THEM AS SUCH, and have no qualms or remorse about it. I can guarantee you your enemy will not!

That being said, with these types of knives (small fixed blades), I train to target everything VITAL in the human body. With the carotid arteries in the neck being the primary and the eyes being the secondary.

Again, this is not to say these are our ONLY targets, but the ones we need to have in mind.

Remember: We are FIGHTING FOR OUR LIFE, so ANY SOLID STRIKE you can make with the blade and hurt the attacker is a GOOD STRIKE.

Gun-Free-China-Knives

To Slash or Stab? That is the Question….

I get asked this question a lot and I really don’t have a direct answer. I guess the easiest answer is: USE WHATEVER THE ATTACKER “GIVES” YOU!

If he opens himself up to a slash, do that; If you can do more damage with a thrust, then do that. The COMBATIVE MENTALITY is really one of Flexibility and Opportunity. This is what separates it from the more technique laden Filipino and oriental knife styles.

Remember that COMBATIVES stresses GROSS MOTOR MOVEMENTS, and whether you choose to slash or stab,as long as you put POWER behind it, both techniques can benefit. More to the point, despite prolific urban myths, there is also the issue of the AMOUNT OF DAMAGE that can be obtained with BOTH a THRUST and a SLASH. Contrary to popular belief, small blades (like the ones I am using, both well under 3 inches) can penetrate human flesh and do massive amounts of damage just like a big 4″ blade can. How? The short answer is FLESH COMPRESSION (Visit Don Rearic’s Site to Learn More) Human flesh, like the material in most bed mattresses, compresses when pressure is applied. This allows a very small blade to do cut through and do serious damage, if the targeting is correct. Now, does this mean, as some online mall-ninja’s have claimed, that I can stab you in the heart or liver with a small 2″ blade? No, but armed with this knowledge, the CO can definitely make serious cuts and thrust if need be and that is a HUGE benefit to the CO who, because of the legal restrictions of his particular state, cannot carry a large fixed blade or folder!

A side note about these two blades I am using. The CBK, being a “Push Dagger” is much more suited by design for thrust (stabs) than cuts (slashing), while the Snarl can do both, but is really more well suited for slashing. Despite this, I still train for both types of attacks: THRUST and SLASH. I highly recommend you do the same and never “pigeonhole” a blade for only one type of attack. This mentality will keep you flexible and ready to adapt on your feet.

Equipment for Drills

I highly recommend you DO NOT use a partner in these drills, as the risk for injury is way too high. Instead, try the following:

  • Reduced Meat. Go to the “bargain” or “reduced price” section in your local supermarket meat department. Look for any cuts of meat that are thick, say at least an inch or two. Roast are great, but flank steak will work just as well. Take the meat and wrap it in seran plastic wrap and then cover it with some denim or an old shirt.

  • Gloves. Anytime I train or work with knives, I wear a pair of kevlar-cut proof gloves. These are the same gloves I use when skinning fish or game. We never intend to cut ourselves, but it happens. Smart training is about controlling the risk as much as possible, but still staying as realistic as possible at the same time. Now, will we be wearing kevlar gloves during a fight on the street? probably not, but then again, we won’t be wearing hearing protection when we have to use a gun on the street either; never excuse safety for realism guys, that is stupidity!

  • More Safety. I mentioned about not having any partners for this, but also before you start, make sure no unfortunate soul wanders into your “ZONE OF ATTACK” during your drills! This includes any curious children, wives, even pets. If you are like me, you get into your own “mental zone” during training and the rest of the world kind of fades away, make sure you prepare for this.

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Drills

1. Back-Hand SNAP-CUT

This drill requires fluidity of motion in harmonizing your DRAW (Presentation) and the first CUT together. The goal is to go straight from the sheath into the attackers flesh. For this particular drill, I visualize the attackers neck, and slashing the throat ear to ear. The draw stroke and strike come together as your elbow is coming from a 90 degree bend into a straight line to the target. Really strive to “snap” the strike through, not just into the target.

2. Back-Hand SNAP-THRUST

Same ideal as above but with a thrust or stab. You will want to visualize your target area (carotid in neck) before you draw and then in one motion go from sheath to flesh. Also practice doing multiple strikes.

3. Over-Hand SNAP-CUT

Now this is where your draw and strike are going to have a moment of pause in between when you “LOAD” for the strike as you slash forward. Again, visualize your target and cut through them, not just into them.

4. Over-Hand SNAP-THRUST

This is where targets of opportunity we talked about come into play. Don’t be afraid to mix up your target areas..if the neck is open to you, go for it, if the chest is open, go for it. Remember, with over-hand, you have more time to “RELOAD” your strike, so don’t hold back.

5. Combinations

Just like with boxing, once we have developed a certain punch, we need to join it with another punch to give it more lethality and flexibility. With the back-hand strikes, a cut then thrust, with the over-hand, a thrust with a follow-up cut. Use your imagination and find what works best for you. Keep in mind, you ALWAYS want to utilize SPEED and SURPRISE.

Final Thoughts:

  • Be prepared in ALL of these drills to find the best way to “reload” your strike in the event of a miss. Misses will happen, so plan for it.

  • Pay attention to your footwork, just like with empty-hand combative striking, using our body weight to give our strikes more force is just as relevant with knife work. Never fail to make  your SNAP Cut or Thrust an EXPLOSIVE movement.

  • MOVE YOUR FEET! No fight happens in a vacuum, and despite what Hollywood shows us, nobody stands still in a lethal encounter. As I have discussed before the Combative Continuum allows us to use the same type of footwork, regardless of the weapon in our hand.

  • Remember the fluidity of the Combative Continuum. If you are carrying a handgun and a knife, there may be situations where the knife is used simply to gain distance on your attacker so you can draw your gun OR you may have to use combative striking to gain distance to draw either one. There are no set rules, so drill for them all.

Train Hard, Stay Aware, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!