edged weapons Archives | MDTS
Modern Defensive Training Systems

MDTS Training

MDTS is a New York based firearms training and personal protection consulting company. We specialize in pistol, concealed carry, shotgun, carbine, defensive knife, less lethal, physical defense and threat awareness training courses. Mobile training courses are available in N.Y. and abroad. Contact us to host a training course at your range or location. Click logo below to see schedule of classes near you.

Posts Tagged ‘edged weapons’

Small Knives for Self Defense

Posted on: October 1st, 2016 by admin No Comments

*Please note, it is YOUR responsibility to know and understand the laws regarding carrying a knife. This post and video are for information purposes only.


Small Knives for Self Defense video with considerations for utilizing smaller edged weapons for self defense.




Small Knives for Self Defense


The goal of any defensive knife usage is to effect disengagement by the attacker as quickly as possible; to get an attacker(s) off you and keep them away. To STOP the threat.


What can be accomplished with a 6 plus inch field knife is different than what can be accomplished with a 3-4 inch small fixed blade or folder. Larger blades have more mass and weight thus requiring less power to inflict fight stopping wounds. The small knife, while dangerous, requires more power due to its reduced weight and blade length.


Other factors may inhibit its effectiveness in a defensive situation to include heavy clothing, subject drug usage, movement, aggression and determination of attacker. Small knife techniques when applying power to thrusts, slashes and hacks will closely resemble empty hand boxing. The small knife simply acts as a sharpened, pointed, extension of the hand.


Once knife mechanics have been learned techniques are practiced with speed and power to effective target areas and then integrated with tactics.


See also Defensive Knives and Stopping The Threat




MDTS Defensive Small Knife

Posted on: September 5th, 2016 by admin 1 Comment

MDTS Defensive Small Knife Skills

MDTS Defensive Small Knife Skills outlines a method for utilizing a knife or knife-like object for personal defense. In this class information on selection, safe carry, manipulation and application for justifiable self defense is presented. An emphasis is placed upon the attendee’s ability to access, deploy and manipulate the knife while under pressure and stress of a close range confrontation.


MDTS Defensive Small Knife Skills Topics/Modules of Instruction:

Safety Considerations
Knife/Fixed Blade Analysis
Practical Physical Defense
Equipment Set-Up, Access & Presentation: In-Fight Access
Conventional & Unconventional Grips
Anatomical Targeting Priorities
Edge & Point Driven Methodologies
Edge & Point Driven Applications
Countering Close Range Assaults

Equipment List:

MDTS provides all training knives for this class. Please bring eye protection (some eye protection will be available), mouth guard, groin protection, your personal folding knife (optional) and note taking materials

*A knife is NOT required to attend this course. Different folding knife and small fixed blade  makes, models and designs from modern manufacturers of will be on display. This is an opportunity for anyone deciding what knife they would like to purchase to handle and discuss options prior to buying a knife.

CONTACT us today if you would like information on hosting a defensive small knife skills class at your location.

MDTS Debrief: Knife Fight Vid Footage

Posted on: January 28th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Video footage from a knife fight outside of Hillview High School, Newlands East, South Africa.


Study of criminal assaults shows us that here in the U.S. during robberies, rape, kidnapping or assault one individual has a knife (or other weapon) and the good guy has nothing or the weapons they do have are concealed. This is what Craig Douglas (SouthNarc) described back in 2006 or earlier as “Unequal Initiative & Disproportionate Armament”.  They have a weapon out and ready, I have a weapon/s, however they are concealed and I have to catch up to them in order to equal the playing field or dig myself out of this initiative deficit.


One of my friends and knife mentors, Tom Sotis of AMOK! likes to say that if you have a knife and they have a knife it can very easily become a knife fight (paraphrased). Its just a matter of whether you have the skills to get the knife out and utilize it to protect yourself, in time. Thats a big part of training with the knife.


This vid is of a reported gang related incident far and away different from criminal assault most law abiding citizens here in the U.S. may encounter. Regardless, this  video demonstrates an actual knife vs. knife encounter and demonstrates many elements:


1) Dynamic movement, when space is available.


2) Both combatants, whether trained or untrained assume a reverse grip on the knife, attacking and counter-attacking with strong overhand downward thrusts or  in an attempt to plunge the knife into the other.


3) Note the use of the off-hand or support hand for ranging and in an attempt to attach and get ahold. Once attached an aggressive attacker can repeatedly make contact. Movement is a survival skill.


4) Note the use of other techniques such as the younger mans kick toward the end. Fighting with a knife is not just fighting with a knife, it’s a fight and a knife happens to be present making things a little more serious.


5) Heavy downward slash/stab to younger mans right quadrant was enough to cause him to disengage, he is now in ICU fighting for his life with puncture damage to liver, lungs and spleen.


6) Finally, note the size of these blades that are being used. 5+inches in length or more.


Link to full story here  with video if you cannot access Youtube vid due to age restrictions


Folding Knife Selection, Carry & Access

Posted on: December 30th, 2013 by admin 6 Comments

Folding Knife Selection, Carry & Access


*Please note, it is YOUR responsibility to know and understand the laws regarding carrying a knife. This post is for information purposes only.


I’m often asked by clients and friends what I think is the best knife to carry for personal defense. The vast majority of time I recommend a small fixed blade knife (SFB) of 2-4 inches length. This suggestion is heavily dependent upon the individual’s lifestyle, job or unique circumstances. In timed drills comparing the access  and deployment of folders vs. small fixed blades set up for in-fight access the SFB beats the folder every time. This is simply because the SFB eliminates one whole step in the deployment process; the fine motor skill of having to open and deploy the blade.


SFB Examples, not particularly lengthy blades but more than capable of inflicting severe damage at extreme close quarters in a defensive situation.


Scary Fixed Blades

Sadly, many people believe that carrying a fixed blade knife for personal protection is either too difficult to conceal or looks too “aggressive”. This has always interested me since it is not frowned upon by these same individuals to advocate every day carry of a “defensive” pistol such as a 1911 .45 with two extra magazines yet a 2.5 inch small fixed blade is aggressive and difficult to conceal. Because of these or other reasons a larger percentage of citizens, Law Enforcement Officers, Corrections and off duty military personnel carry some type of  folding knife. Thus, the focus of this article will be on selection, carry and deployment of “tactical” folding knives (TFK) for personal protection purposes.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 6.20.34 PM

SFB’s from L-R: Emerson LaGriffe, ShivWorks Clinch Pick and TDI Law Enforcement




Folding Knife Selection

Selecting a folding knife for personal defense requires as much thought as choosing a handgun for every day carry (EDC). From my observation of clients who attend folding knife or edged weapon classes, most people just go to a local sporting goods store and pick whatever knife looks the best to them. This is unfortunate because a TFK or SFB can be carried more readily in non-permissive environments than most CCW pistols and is an extremely viable personal protection option. Selection of a folder for personal protection or on-duty carry should not be a random process and a few elements should be taken into consideration. A personal protection folder needs to meet some basic criteria:


Strong Lock/Hold Open Mechanism

It is imperative that whatever folder you choose, that it stay open during interpersonal defensive use. You may be thrusting the blade into hard surfaces such as bone which could cause a weak lock to collapse. Various locking mechanisms are available to include traditional lock backs, liner locks, rolling locks, lock-pins, mono-lock and the axis lock. Most commercial grade “Tactical Folding Knives” feature one of these type locks and they are all suitable.

If you choose a $15 Chinese made knife as your EDC folder, don’t be surprised if it closes on your fingers one day. Carefully test out a lock-back knife if considering it for EDC for personal protection purposes. Depending upon where the lock mechanism is placed along the spine of the folder, one of your fingers could depress the lock causing it to close when gripping the knife tightly such as during a critical life or death situation.


Lock Mechanisms: Top – Spyderco Chinook Lock Back, Middle – Benchmade Griptilian Axis Lock, Bottom – Benchmade CQC7 Liner Lock.



Fit In Hand when Closed

The closed folder should fit in the hand with some impact surface available at the top and bottom. You may have to access this knife while under attack and duress. The exposed hinge-point and pommel of the folding knife provide an effective impact surface if necessary.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 6.20.14 PM

Note the size of the CRKT folder in hand in pic on left compared to the size of the Benchmade Griptilian on right. The Griptilian offers more impact surface at top and bottom of hand similar to a kubotan or palm stick.



Tip Up or Tip Down Carry

This is mostly personal preference however I personally advocate looking for a folder that allows tip UP carry when in the pocket. This carry method eliminates having to rotate the folder into the hand when drawing from your carry position. This rotation is an additional step to this fine motor process stealing time during a possible life or death situation.


Benchmade Griptilian on left sits tip up when clipped in pocket. Benchmade CQC on right sits with tip down. Tip down orientation adds an extra step to the blade deployment process once the folder is accessed.



Robust Opening Mechanism

Research the different opening mechanisms such as the stud, wave, spyderco-hole, disc, auto-open, assisted-opening… Some, who can own and carry them, love  auto opening knives. One word of caution, under stress you may hit that button and open that knife when you may not want it open. Waved knives, like everything, have pro’s and cons and do require proper training in indexing and blade deployment (opening).

Opening Mech

Left to Right: Spyderco P’Kal Hybrid Hole/Wave, Benchmade Griptilian Stud, CRKT M1612Z Assited & Stud, Spyderco Chinook Self-Waved, Benchmade CQC7 DIsc.

Recommended Opening Mechanisms

I recommend the stud mechanism or spyderco-hole like on Spyderco or Benchmade folding knives. These mechanisms are simple to deploy and will not open without me. Assisted opening knives like many CRKT now manufacture or the Kershaw collaborations often require a less than robust grip on the knife in order to activate the assist mechanism which could lead to major problems, such as dropping the knife, during standing grapple and in-fight weapon access. Don’t believe it? Run a hill sprint, do 50 push ups then try accessing and opening an assisted opening folder while a friend taps you on the head from distance with a broom. These training “modifiers” create distraction, disorientation and stress which may be experienced during an altercation. If you can access the folder repeatedly (9 out of 10 times at least) and deploy the blade without dropping it then maybe its good to go for you.




One Hand Opening
The folder you choose must allow you to open it one handed, with either hand. During an assault your primary or support hand may be tied up fending off, pushing a loved one out of the way or striking an incoming attacker. You need to be able to access and deploy your folder with one hand and under the pressure and stress of an assault. Get a training drone (dulled safety training blade) and repeat the drill outlined above but this time have your training partner put on boxing gloves and throw mild-moderate strikes at your head.



Non-Slip Surface

The folders handle should have a non-slip texture such as a checked or stippled surface made of G10, zytel or ABS plastic. Hands may become covered in sweat or blood making anything you grasp slippery and difficult to retain. No stainless steel or polished wood scales for a personal protection knife if you intend to possibly defend your life or the life of a loved one with it.


Surface design & material is important. Note the textured surface on the Stider/Buck Tarani on left vs. the smooth surface of the Spyderco Stainless Police model or the smooth synthetic wood of the Al Mar on right. Which one will stay in the hand under stress and less than ideal conditions?



Blade Design

Different blade designs offer different advantages. This choice is often an aesthetic choice for the untrained or driven by a specific “methodology” or martial training system. If you have trained or follow a school of thought that teaches slashing as a primary defense then a curved or drop point blade may be for you. If you follow a more point driven methodology then a triangular, needle-point or tanto blade design known for penetration is more applicable.

Knife Anatomy2

There are a variety of blade designs available, research which one will best meet your required performance goals.



Blade length

Laws can vary greatly depending upon what city, county or state you reside in and depending upon who you are speaking with. For example, NYS law says nothing about blade length. However, I have spoken to numerous Law Enforcement Officers and district attorneys from different counties that say four inches is the legal limit. It has also been stated to me that blade length is measured from where the sharpened blade starts or what is referred to as the choil or on a fixed blade where the ricasso ends; essentially the edge or “sharpened” surface of the blade. Another individual told me blade length is measured from where the “metal starts coming out of the handle” to include the choil and ricasso.

What this means is that you could have a 4 in length “sharpened” edge according to knife manufacturer specifications (which is what the manufacturers go by) but when you add the unsharpened choil and ricasso you have 4.25-4.50 inches of “blade”. This may or may not make that knife illegal in any given jurisdiction. Because of this obvious lack of clarity or uniformity I recommend folders that are spec’d out at 2.5-3.5 inches for every day carry. (Be aware, NONE of this is legal advice.)


Understand the knife laws in your jurisdiction and those you travel within.


A few weeks back I posted some info and links to various states and their respective knife laws: NY/NJ/PA State Knife Laws. 


Pocket Clip

Finally, when selecting a folding knife careful attention should be paid to the method in which you intend to carry. The most common method found on folding knives today is the pocket clip. This allows the folder to be clipped inside a pant pocket, waistband, shirt lapel or a myriad of other locations. Look for a strong metal clip which can be attached to either side of the knife for left or right hand carry. Some folding knives such as older Cold Steel models first came with plastic clips which were prone to breakage.

Choose a knife with a clip that is dark in color, the idea is to remain low profile when carrying any personal protection tool. Some folders come with a bright silver clip which draws attention and/or reflects light. A dark clip will blend in with clothing and not stand out. While I have carried a folding knife clipped in my pockets for many years without incident I will point out that in places like New York City the visible sign of a pocket clip is enough to be stopped and possibly frisked by NYPD. In todays society running personal protection gear in a covert manner, unseen to good guys and bad is not a bad operating procedure to consider.



Folding Knife Carry

Practical Concealed Carry of any personal protection tool is an essential consideration and skill set. Where and how you carry the folding knife is just as important if not more so than the actual knife you choose for EDC. If the knife is carried in a location that is difficult to access under duress then you are putting yourself even further behind the curve during a reactionary encounter. For the purposes of this article I am going to focus on folders which utilize a carry clip. Some considerations for choosing appropriate carry of a folder for personal protection include location, clothing types, concealment and accessibility with both hands.



Probably the most commonly carried location for a folding knife is the strong side front pant pocket. One can observe numerous strangers in public and spot a folder clipped in a pocket in this location. I doubt it is because any of them have taken an edged weapon training course. Strong side front pant pocket offers many advantages such as access with either hand, convenience and most importantly comfort.  Depending upon what type of shirt you wear it can also be easily concealed. Most importantly this location places the folder in front of the hip in a location where access and deployment of the blade can be achieved even under the pressure of extreme close range attack or during standing grapple with an assailant.


Clothing Type

If pant pocket carry is your chosen method then it is important to look at the various pant pocket designs. Look at the picture below (Image 1A) and note the slant on the pocket of my cargo pants compared to my jeans. This slant causes the folder to ride low and places the it along the seam of my pants.

To deploy the knife from this location my strong side hand is on my hip and strong side elbow is rearward of my hip thus putting my arm in an anatomically weakened position. The further my arm moves rearward of my hip, away from the muscles of my core/torso, the weaker it becomes. What this means is that during access of the folder from this position if an aggressor attempts to grab my hand to prevent me from accessing and deploying the blade, I will be at a disadvantage and have to fight harder to overcome them.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 8.15.04 AM

Some considerations for folding knife carry. Click image to enlarge.



As stated previously whenever carrying any personal defense tool our goal should be to do so without anyone knowing we are armed. Being low profile provides us many more advantages than disadvantages. Selecting a carry location that meets the above stated criteria and provides maximum concealment may depend upon physical characteristics or the clothing style we choose to wear. This is a highly individual choice and subject. My recommendation is to always check before going out that none of your EDC personal protection tools are visible which includes the clip of the folding knife.



It is essential that you have the ability to access the folder with both your strong side and support side hand, standing or on the ground. Every day carry in a boot or sock may provide excellent concealment but may prove difficult to access with your support side hand while under stress or being assaulted. This is another reason strong side front pant pocket carry is recommended. This location offers easy access with either hand standing or on the ground. It does require a little practice but not as much as you may think.  Note in the picture above (Image 1B) the two folders in the pocket. One runs along the seam of the pants. Carrying the folder this far outboard can limit the ability to access the tool with the support hand efficiently. I recommend carrying the folder as far forward of the hip as possible.


Folding Knife Access & Deployment

For the purposes of this article I will focus on access of the folding knife from the most commonly carried position based upon my experience and observations, the strong side front pant pocket. The accessing methods outlined herein will apply to other locations but modifications may be necessary. This includes accessing the folder from its carry location and then the conscious use of force decision whether to deploy the blade or not. This process may require great effort such as fending off an attacker with your support hand while simultaneously clearing your cover garment with your strong side hand, gaining purchase on the folder, removing it from the carry location and then thumbing it open. Or, it may simply mean removing it from your pocket prior to walking out into the parking garage. The context of the situation you are faced with will determine the methodology you utilize.


MDTS Access & Deployment Methods


Covert access of the folding knife is a pre-determined action. You make the decision prior to any visible or known trouble has ensued. You may palm it in the closed position in preparation for potential trouble or in anticipation of attack your situational awareness has identified. The closed folder in hand can be utilized as an effective impact tool when delivered as a hammer fist or other modified empty hand tactic. Carrying the folder in this manner is low profile and does not draw attention that you are “armed”. Covert access is recommended whenever entering unknown areas where intuition or body alarm warns there may be trouble.


The closed folding knife can be easily concealed by the body or behind another object in hand. 



In-Fight Access (IFA)

In-Fight Access takes place when a flash confrontation or spontaneous attack has occurred. You are taken upon by surprise. Proximity was not effectively maintained due to a lack of situational awareness or intentional distraction by the attacker(s). You are forced under pressure of attack to access the folding knife “in-fight”.  IFA may be attempted during some type of standing grapple with your assailant or on the ground.


SouthNarc and ECQC

Practical, unarmed physical defense skills are necessary in order to effectively deal with this type of situation. Knowledge of positional advantage and timing; the “where and when” of how to get the folding knife out and into action is also important. It’s beyond this post to detail the dynamics of in-fight access. A few core concepts derived from SouthNarc can and should be outlined:

1) Momentarily secure a dominant position

2) The aggressors hand closest to the folder must be secured

3) A proper understanding of timing decisions. When is it safe to access and deploy folder without jeopardizing retention and overall safety. If these are adhered to then the S.T.A.B. deployment procedure outlined below can be used. Seek out SouthNarc for his ECQC (Extreme Close Quarter Concepts) course or EWO (Edged Weapon Overview) to gain an in-depth understanding of this material.



Ranged accessing of the folder is when a threat has been identified. Proximity to threat or positioning provides time and distance to aggressively access and deploy the knife in preparation for attack. Your situational awareness indicates that a threat to your life is imminent. You make the use of force decision to deploy the folding knife as an aide to personal defense of life. Robust & timely access conveys to your attacker you are skilled and have the required intent to use the knife to defend yourself or others. This aggressive action also serves to anchor your fighting mindset in preparation for combat.


Access the folder via the the MDTS  “S.T.A.B.” method = Slap, Tuck, Access, Brace


SLAP: Slap the pocket holding the knife. This immediately identifies where in the pocket the knife is and eliminates any “fishing” around the pocket. Fishing wastes valuable time, try to locate it.



TUCK: Tuck the strong side thumb down between the knife and leg.



ACCESS1: hook tip of the clip with the index finger and aggressively pulling up and out of pocket.


ACCESS2: thumb goes between knife and leg while tip of finger hooks end of folder clip to aid access.


Folder Access3

BRACE: Brace the closed folder against the hip. If fumbling, simply clasp the folder against the body to aid in retention and secure a better grip. This braced position limits the chance of folder being knocked out of hand and can absorb impact. Deploy blade when reasonable and necessary.


Blade Deployment

BLADE DEPLOYMENT: From the BRACED position, the strong hand thumb can now dynamically snap the blade open. Thrusting the tip of the thumb forward similar to shooting marbles. Or, simply push the blade forward and open via the stud, hole or disc mechanism. Inertia opening, assisted opening, waved blade deployment are also options.
BLADE UTILIZATION: Once the blade is locked into the open position a specific grip can be established.



Folding Knife Recommendations

I am not a big fan of recommending knives to people. It is like selecting a handgun, a highly individualized decision. However, there are a few folding knives that have been my personal go-to’s again and again over the years. A few other factors to consider before purchasing.

1) Price. There are some very nice $100 folding knives on the market and custom folders well over $500. If you are a collector this category may interest you. If you carry a folder every day, in and out of a car, it will sustain wear and tear. It may be damaged or it may fall out of your pocket and be lost.

2) Utility. Ultimately, most will utilize a folding knife for utilitarian purposes. So, make sure whatever folder you choose is capable of a little work, when needed. A Karambit folder is a beautiful, purpose driven knife. It’s not always conducive to use in and around others in public work spaces.


A few recommendations:

Benchmade Griptilian 

Spyderco Delica 

Spyderco Endura



This article in no way totally comprehensive regarding selection, carry and deployment of a folding knife for personal defense. It is not a substitute for attending hands on training where the elements outlined here can be demonstrated more thoroughly. I hope this article provides the reader with points to consider when selecting a personal defense folding knife.


See MDTS Schedule for a Small Knife Skills class near you



Practical Small Knife 2

Posted on: December 12th, 2013 by admin No Comments

The Practical Small Knife Skills 2 course will outline an effective defensive structure utilizing a small knife or knife-like object. Core skills sets presented in PSKS1 are reviewed and drilled then new material is presented including knife vs. knife drilling to develop speed, reaction, timing, power and tactics.


Course Topics/Modules of Instruction:
Counter Knife Skills & Ranged Accessing
Forward & Reverse Grip Skills & Drilling:
Counter-Offensive Movement
Support Hand Integration



Equipment List:
Inert training knives will be provided for all training evolutions, eye protection (some eye protection will be available), mouth guard, groin protection, your personal folding knife (optional), note taking materials


*A knife is NOT required to attend this course. Various makes, models and designs from modern manufacturers of will be on display for those who may be deciding what knife they would like to purchase.


*Attendees will be subject to moderate to greater than moderate contact. Be prepared.

Practical Small Knife Seminar

Posted on: December 11th, 2013 by admin No Comments

This Small Knife Skills seminar is designed for the lawful folding knife or small fixed blade owner who carries a knife as an everyday tool or last resort defensive weapon. This seminar follows a non-attribute based learning model presenting attendees with a methodology applicable to conventional edged tools and improvised knife- like objects common in our every day environments. A solid grounding in safety and fundamentals of defensive knife application are presented. A heavy emphasis is placed upon the student’s ability to access and deploy the knife while under the stress of close range confrontation.


(2-4) hr. Course Topics/Modules of Instruction:
Safety Considerations
Justifiable Use of Force Overview
The Knife for Personal Protection
Knife Selection- Folder vs. Fixed Blade Analysis
Carry, Presentation & In-Fight Access
Conventional & Unconventional Grips
Anatomical Targeting Priorities
Edge & Point Driven Methodologies
Countering Close Range Assaults
Close Range Applications


Equipment List:
Inert training knives will be provided for all training evolutions, eye protection (some eye protection will be available), mouth guard, groin protection, your personal folding knife (optional), note taking materials


*A knife is NOT required to attend this course. Various makes, models and designs from modern manufacturers of will be on display for those who may be deciding what knife they would like to purchase.

*Attendees may be subject to moderate to greater than moderate contact. Be prepared.

Multidisciplinary Proficiency

Posted on: November 8th, 2013 by admin No Comments


MDTS advocates a multi-disciplinary approach to training; we do not have to be an expert at one single skill, but strive to be proficient at certain core personal protection skill sets. The defensive arts for a well rounded practitioner, CCW holder, officer or infantryman comprise numerous disciplines and sub disciplines. How does one maintain proficiency in each discipline while living a normal life filled with family, job, obligations and limited resources? Is proficiency in each discipline important or is just “having a gun” good enough?


Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 9.47.00 PM


The Problem
We will rarely have the luxury of knowing what type of combative encounter we may face. If I knew I was going to be in a gunfight I could plan accordingly or avoid the situation altogether. Herein lies the crux of the matter; having the skill sets necessary to deal with a wide variety of situations. Simply having a black belt or possessing a CCW does not prepare you for what you may encounter. One must have variable force options and skill sets to deal with dynamic, changing combative environments. “Specializing” in today’s world could spell disaster.


Essential Solutions
Proficiency in 5 core disciplines and their sub-disciplines should be acquired and maintained. Consider these disciplines and how they may apply to you:


1) Threat Recognition & Management Skills – TRMS encompasses verbal and physical challenge, diffusion and avoidance skills. This is probably one of the least taught but most utilized and important of all the disciplines. More time is spent talking to known and unknown contacts in our environment than we spend fighting them. This is the most relevant skill in our personal defense profile; on a daily basis this skill set is/will be used more frequently than any other.


2) General Physical Preparedness (GPP) – Second on this list simply because possessing the ability to run away from a potential encounter (or endure a prolonged encounter) should be a major tactical consideration. Without a base level of GPP your ability to utilize the skill sets outlined below with the exception of firearms (and that can be argued depending upon range of the encounter) will be severely limited. Some could argue that GPP should be #1 simply because it leads to better health.


3) Physical Defense Skills – Possessing the ability to defend oneself unarmed should take precedence over weapon/tool skills. Without unarmed physical defensive skills and the ability to counter sudden spontaneous attacks, the tools we do possess could be quickly nullified. Physical defense skills are often the easiest to find and yet this disciple is overlooked or ignored. This type of training also tends to be much more affordable than other disciplines.


Essential Physical Defense Sub-disciplines include:

a. In-Fight-Weapon-Access
b. DefenseAgainstArmedAssailants
c. Grappling/Ground Defense


4) Edged/Improvised Weapons Skills – Edged/Improvised Weapons are prevalent, easy to acquire and can be carried in more places than a firearm. They can provide a potential force multiplying option for carry in non-permissive environments (NPE). This is a core discipline due to the affordability of quality edged weapons, ease of concealment/every day carry and the relatively short amount of time it takes to acquire basic defensive proficiency

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 9.27.07 PM


5) Firearms (CCW) – Firearms come last in the hierarchy simply because there are non-permissive environments that firearms cannot be carried in or through. A large number of employers  are  NPE’s with more becoming so every day.



Please note: This is just an example of my personal training hierarchy. The disciplines I feel are essential and the order in which I determine how much of my limited training time is dedicated to each. This hierarchy may be different for you.



Proficiency or Empowerment
How do we acquire and then maintain proficiency in each of the outlined disciplines? What do you consider proficient? What standards do you hold yourself to? Is training done in an effort to succeed and overcome the strictest of tests and standards or to just slide by because you don’t enjoy training that particular skill as much as another. Do you focus on making training empowering by feeling good about what you have done during a class or training session or is your focus on challenging yourself and attempting to overcome previously set goals; sometimes failing? Step back from your current training regimen and consider where you’re at and how you determine which discipline gets the most attention, training time and duration? Developing a training hierarchy is a highly individual process; setting goals and following performance standards should go hand in hand with the development of a personal training hierarchy.



To quote veteran Law Enforcement Officer, MMA Fighter & Trainer Paul Sharp:

“Skills degrade under pressure. Train to the highest possible standard; put yourself under pressure constantly and consistently. The rest will work itself out as part of the evolutionary process.”



Performance Standards and Self Evaluation
Establishing performance standards for a specific discipline should not be a random process or left to the “instructor” to determine if we are good enough. Your instructor won’t be there to help you during a combative encounter. Each of the various disciplines in a personal hierarchy should follow some type of self evaluation process. A base level of proficiency needs to be demonstrated before shelving that skill set to place greater focus on another or seek training in a new discipline outside our core. Each core skill set must be trained under fixed conditions and then move into more complex multi-task, multi-variant combative simulations or conditions. For this article the standards I provide below are “generic”. Adhere to some type of self evaluation on a consistent basis or risk stagnation and/or skill loss. What these generic standards won’t evaluate is your ability to make applicable use of force decisions.


There is no such thing as “good enough”, there is always room for improvement.



Threat Recognition Standards – TRMS skills, like all others, need to be trained into a conditioned response; yelling verbal commands at a paper 2D target is not enough. Training must be conducted vs. a live, moving, speaking opponent. Key challenge phrases need to be ingrained and easily issued without conscious thought. Once this can be done, on command, while multi-tasking (moving and/or accessing a tool at the same time) you have met the first standard and can proceed to scenario work.




GPP Standards– This is a highly individualized area but there are some specific standards we can strive to achieve which will help us determine how much emphasis we need to place on this discipline. One very useful standard I have found is Ross Enamaits burpee test. A burpee is a combination of bodyweight exercises which tax your strength, endurance and anaerobic capacity when done in high repetitions. Ross’s standard is 100 burpee’s in 10 minutes for an average person or athlete and 5-7 min. for elite athletes. Because the burpee is a multi-body part exercise, working the upper body and lower body, the cardiovascular system and requires no special equipment the burpee excels as a personal training modality and evaluation tool. Other GPP standards include any of the LEO/MIL Personal Fitness Tests which are numerous since each unit/agency usually has their own. A good resource to follow is Ace Any PFT – Stew Smith . Stew Smith is a former NSW Operator who now specializes in physical training and preparedness. Once a basic PFT score is achieved then GPP training can be conducted 2-5 times/week to maintain this level and focus can be shifted to other core disciplines/sub-discipline or a new discipline.



Physical Defense Standards – While some have and do achieve a black belt in one style or martial system in 1.5 years others have been studying a martial system for 12 and still have not achieved this rank. Rank and meeting standards is not the same thing. Formal ranking in martial arts is highly subjective and simply achieving a black belt or instructor credentials does not mean fighting is known, mastered or that one is proficient at personal protection. Physical defense standards should follow a more objective path. Specific categories of unarmed physical defense should be outlined, trained and then pressure tested. If the pressure test is successfully navigated on a consistent basis from variable opponents within the context of criminal assault then proficiency has been demonstrated. Simply rehearsing a pre-arranged set of movements against a pre-arranged set of attacks (stimulus-response) is not demonstrable of skill under pressure or presented in a realistic manner.




For Physical Defense a core set of skill sets and sub-sets must be demonstrated:

1) Effective Default defense against spontaneous/ambush attacks. Trained solo and with partners and then pressure tested via moderate to full force spontaneous attack scenarios vs. single and multiple aggressors



2) Demonstration of Speed and Power for a limited number of “Hard Skills” – These skills may include chin-jab, elbow strikes, axe hand, knee strikes, kicks, jab/cross etc. (Specific skills are left to the trainee and or trainee’s coach/instructor to determine). This demonstration can first be performed on focus pads/shields then pressure tested via force-on-force drilling against padded assailants and finally through moderate to full contact sparring wherein only specific techniques are utilized thus demonstrating the ability to apply a skill on demand and during varying circumstances

3) Standing Grapple/Clinch – the same hard skills trained at range from your opponent are often difficult or impossible to apply while clinched or engaged in standing grapple. (This is why boxers often close and clinch to rest or weather a barrage of strikes from an opponent). Again, clinch skills are trained and proficiency is demonstrated via the ability to move in and out of and maintain control while in this range at will during moderate to full force sparring. This range may also include defense against and application of grabs and holds



4) Counter Take Down – the ability to negate an opponent’s ability to tackle, throw, or pull to the ground. Standards are met when one can consistently negate these attempts during alive, dynamic drilling and moderate to full force sparring against opponents knowledgeable and trained in these types of assaults


*In-Fight-Weapons-Access, Defense against Armed Assailants and Ground Grappling are sub-disciplines; separate entities requiring specific time and focus. They fall under Physical Defense because they are a natural extension of practical unarmed combat and beyond the scope of this single article.



Edged/Improvised Weapons Standards (EIW) – EIW standards begin with demonstrating a basic ability to access a specific tool (In-Fight-Weapon-Access). This skill must be repeatable under dynamic aggression and or moderate to full force drilling, scenarios, sparring. Demonstration of edged weapon hard skills such as movement off lines of attack, basic angles of attack, thrusts, slashes, strikes and combinations of above both solo and under pressure of attack



Firearm Standards (CCW) – Similar to EIW the ability to access the concealed (or stored) carry firearm solo and then under pressure of attack is fundamental may supersede even marksmanship. Fundamental, precision marksmanship standards such as 2 rounds into a 2 inch circle from 3, 5 and 7 yards with and without time pressure (timed drill). Combative marksmanship standards include 2 rounds in a 3×5 index card from variable distances under time pressure from in and out of the concealed holster, varied ready positions and varied body positions. Dynamic movement standards from in and out of the holster engaging an 8-10 inch center of visible mass target under time pressure while moving off line of attack in varied directions. Proficiency for all of the above demonstrated via square range drills PRIOR to engagement in live force-on-force scenarios and drills. A couple excellent resources which I have found useful in developing my personal standards include J. Michael Plaxco’s book “Shooting from Within” and Pat Rogers MEU-SOC Pistol Qualification course (page 2).

Hold yourself to some performance standard and train the skills you need work on based upon self evaluation of those standards. Fill the holes in your personal defense profile before someone discovers and exploits them.




True Multidisciplinary Proficiency
Rarely do we see multiple core disciplines trained in the same class or during the same workout. If we may have to traverse a force continuum ranging from verbal challenge to unarmed contact and perhaps even lethal force via the use of a firearm, why do we train them all separately? Secondly, can’t we cover a broader range of skill sets in one workout thus managing time and resources and accomplishing more if we batched several disciplines together? Is having the ability to transition from one discipline to another under pressure more important than any single discipline individually? True multidisciplinary proficiency is demonstrating that you possess a standard knowledge of each core discipline and you can seamlessly transition between each during a dynamic combative encounter. There are some good multidisciplinary or commonly referenced “integrated” training programs available such as those offered by SouthNarc, Progressive F.O.R.C.E. Concepts or Sharp Defense. Take a hard, honest look at what you are currently doing and why. Haphazardly jumping around from class to class or from skill set to skill set without reason or method is a sign of poor planning and preparation. A combative encounter may be completely random, preparation and training should not be.

Knife work, because that’s how ninjas do it

Posted on: October 16th, 2013 by admin 1 Comment

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



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.