Knife Work
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Knife work, because that’s how ninjas do it

Paul Sharp is a veteran LEO, SWAT cop, MMA fighter, MMA coach and a friend. I am re-posting his most recent blog post on knives, knife carry and practical defensive application because we share many of the same ideas. The info below wasn’t gleaned from a book, DVD or even a martial arts or Combatives class. It was developed through hard work, experience and training against resistant opponents. -Chris

 

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By Paul Sharp-  Sharp Defense

I’ve been asked a few times about my approach to using an edged weapon. Before we dive into this let me throw out this disclaimer; I have a series of drills I teach during MDOC that will help the student optimize the skills they learned during EWO. For the student that has not taken EWO the drills will still help to develop their edged weapon skills however the contextual framing that is foundational in EWO and ECQC won’t be there. This is something that is incumbent upon the student to rectify as soon as possible.  I know, disclaimers go at the end but I’m a rebel like that.


I teach a simple approach to using the knife or small edged weapon. Let’s start by talking about gear. I define small as less than 12″OAL. This covers most fixed blades that can be carried in a concealed manner and just about every folder on the market. If you are trying to carry something bigger than that on an EDC basis, just carry a Claymore and be done with it. Folks are overly concerned about the size of the blade and much like firearms, guys will fall for the bigger is better sales pitch. In some situations a bigger blade is better and gives the one wielding the blade more options with regards to slashes, thrusts, parries and such however, if the blade is so large you have difficulty concealing it and as a result never carry it, it’s pointless…, no pun intended. As with anything in the realm of self-protection, this is something the individual user will have to work out. Regardless of what blade you purchase, I recommend a kydex sheath for carry as the sheath doesn’t collapse when the blade is removed making it easier to re-sheath the blade. This is a big bonus when we consider the realities of a criminal assault we find that most often the display of a weapon is a deterrent. If we think about it that way the ability to re-sheath the blade quickly and efficiently is fairly important when we need to move quickly out of an area….


Placement of the blade on our body is the next thing we have to think about. I prefer a position that puts the blade on the left side of my body, accessible with either hand. There are a number of reasons for this not the least of which is pistol retention. Nothing says let go of my pistol quite like a blade punching a hole in the bad guys chest. This positioning also works really well when we are entangled with one or more opponents and the force disparity is such that lethal force is necessary. Those that have attended ECQC, EWO or MDOC can attest that the pistol is not always the best option in that situation, sometimes a blade is actually a more viable option. The ability to access your blade with either hand as dictated by the entanglement is a key to your successful resolution of this unpleasant situation. One thing to bear in mind when it comes to entangled work, a blade can not malfunction due to your opponents grabbing it, and there is no muzzle to avert. Even if your opponent manages to avert the blade a simple wrist movement gets the blade back on line, much easier than a pistol at this range. For these reasons and more I greatly prefer a blade for entangled work which is why I prefer to have my blade accessible with either hand. If we consider our center line/navel as 12 o’clock, I like to have my blade positioned somewhere between 10-11. Wherever you end up carrying your knife make sure you can access it with one hand because if you’re entangled with one or more opponents you won’t be able to clear your cover garment with one hand while accessing your knife with the other. One handed access is an absolute.


What knives do I carry or recommend? My favorite knife is the Hobbes by Ian Wendt, I also carry a Clinch Pick from Shivworks and the large Ka-Bar TDI as well as the small Ka-Bar TDI. I’ve done a lot of work with push daggers in the past but over the last 2-3 years I have moved to a more conventional knife simply because the majority of students I’ve trained do not carry or use push daggers. The TDI knives are pretty close to the push dagger concept so I’ve adapted and teach a few things specific to push daggers for use with the TDI knives.


Once we decide on what knife, sheath and position of carry we are going to use, our next objective is to train up a simple and robust presentation method. I’ve been asked about forward grip versus reverse grip. I don’t have a preference. Typically if I’m presenting the knife with my left hand it will be in reverse grip and if I’m using my right hand it will be in forward grip. My knife work is point driven, I’m not a fan of slashes so regardless of the edge orientation my goal is to punch deep holes in my opponents.


My structure for using the blade is identical to my boxing and wrestling structure…., which is also fairly similar to my shooting structure. Think about the structure and posture you would adopt to withstand impact. You would probably have your feet shoulder width or maybe a little wider, if you’re right handed you will probably have your right foot back a bit with your weight distributed fairly evenly with maybe a little more weight forward putting your nose over your toes, shoulders up to assist your hand and arm structure in protecting your jaw. From this position you can move quickly forward, back and sideways as well as circle. You can also throw some heavy hands from this athletic posture, add a blade to one of those hands and the shot you throw will be extremely heavy. We use the same posture and structure while entangled and utilize our dirty boxing skills to bang in the clinch except the hand that is throwing shots has a blade in it. This streamlines our training, making efficient use of limited training time. Rather than have a completely separate approach to using an edged weapon which would mean a separate training session, we simply plug an edged weapon into our boxing and clinch game. Every time we box we are also working our edged weapon game. Every time I’m entangled and I work my way into a position where I can control my opponent with one arm while hitting him with the other I am training my entangled knife game.


As with almost every aspect of the self-protection skills we are seeking to develop, the fundamentals of the skill are simple, it’s the execution at a high level against great resistance that makes the skill advanced. We are always looking for depth not breadth.

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One Response

  1. Great approach. Glad I was browsing the MDTS blog today.

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