Arts that teach knife and gun defense

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by skribs, Dec 29, 2019.

  1. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I have been on the Martial Arts side of Reddit lately, which skews very much towards the MMA and sport side of martial arts. One of the things they look down on with derision is any art or school which teaches knife defense or gun defense.

    It's really funny, because 90% of the time, the conversation goes something like this:

    Redditor: Knife defense is bullshido and a tell-tale sign of a McDojo. Those techniques don't work in real life and if you see a knife then your best defense is to run.
    Me: So if someone were coming at you with a knife and you had no opportunity to run, you would just let them stab you?
    Redditor: No, I would fight back with everything I had.
    Me: And you don't see how knowing the techniques ahead of time would better prepare you for that scenario?

    Their response to that question goes in one of three directions at that point.
    1. Most of the techniques you would use against a weapon are grappling techniques that you would learn in an art like wrestling or MMA. This is, in my opinion, a fairly sane and rational answer. The game does change if a knife is involved, because you want to keep the edge away from you. Usually the agreement that I will come to with someone with this response is that a wrestler could practice against a partner with a fake knife, and then see how to adjust their technique to keep it pointed away from them.
    2. Those techniques are a low % success or of less training priority than more high probability scenarios or techniques. Someone training for an MMA fight doesn't need to worry about a knife in the ring, for example. Depending on the tone, this one is also fairly sane, or can be pretty rude. Typically if you're looking at some knife defense techniques as low-percentage, you're judging the entire concept of knife defense based on those techniques, and instead you should judge the techniques on their own merit. If you're basing it off of what you'd rather be training, that's an opinion that you're obviously entitled to.
    The third direction is insane ramblings about how I know nothing and must train at a McDojo, but it's not worth listing my thoughts about that.

    Both of the TKD schools I've trained at have taught knife defense. My first school taught it as elective techniques, my current school requires knife defense for red belts, and knife and gun defense at black belt as part of the curriculum.

    The thing that really gets me is the people that assume that if your school teaches any knife defense at all, you need to find a new school. Because obviously your school is a mcdojo teaching bullshido, and because of the presence of knife defense at all it invalidates everything else the school may be teaching. That if you teach knife defense, you're lying to your students and are going to get them killed.

    I think from this you've gathered my opinion on knife and gun defense. I think it's useful to train so that if you do need to defend yourself, you're not going in clueless.

    What is your opinion? Are knife and gun defenses realistic to train? Is it worthwhile to include in your curriculum? What do you think of having it available as part of the lesson plan? Does it affect your opinion of an art or a school to see it there?
     
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  2. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    I think this has been done before several times, they depend on speed, if your fast enough you can disarm them if your not you get stabbed, if your training the techniques with out developing the required speed then your wasting your time, or just hoping for an attacker that moves in slow motion
     
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  3. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes MT Moderator Staff Member

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    A few thoughts ...

    1. A large percentage of the unarmed defenses vs knife or gun taught in many schools are absolute crap that will get you killed even against an attacker who is unskilled with the weapon. Training these may actually increase the students likelihood of being killed in an assault if they attempt the techniques they've been taught rather than running or negotiating or picking up an improvised weapon.
    2. Even the most technically sound unarmed defenses are very low percentage against an attacker who knows how to use their weapon. They have a higher probability of success against an unskilled attacker, but even then the odds are not nearly as good as you would want.
    3. Even the best unarmed defenses against weapons are relatively untested compared to other techniques. When I teach a right cross, I can draw on my own experience of throwing that exact punch successfully and unsuccessfully many times in sparring sessions, in the ring, and in the street as well as the collective experience of thousands of other individuals throwing literally millions of punches in all sorts of contexts. We have tons of evidence for what works, what doesn't and the nuances which make a difference. We don't have that kind of evidence for unarmed defense against knives and guns. The overwhelming majority of martial arts instructors have never disarmed a knife wielding attacker in real life even once. Of those who have done so, only a few have done it more than once. Nobody has done it hundreds of times. We have very little video evidence of people successfully performing such techniques. From the examples I have seen and the people I've talked to who have done it, it often comes down to using an improvised weapon or managing a sneak attack on an individual who was brandishing the weapon but not currently attacking with it. None of this means that the techniques we practice can't work, but it does mean that we don't have the body of evidence we would want to properly evaluate and polish those techniques.
    4. I do practice weapon defenses and have had some success using them in sparring. I'm also aware that said sparring is a limited tool for evaluating my weapon defenses. It's just the best tool I have.
    5. Someone who really wants to kill you with a knife and knows how to use it will typically apply the knife as an ambush tool. The intent is that you will never see the knife. Your best defense is awareness to spot the knife ahead of time. More often than not, a displayed knife is intended as a threat to get you to cooperate. This is why I'm skeptical of knife defenses that start with you waiting to react to an attacker lunging in with a long range knife stab that you see coming.
    6. Someone who wants to kill you with a gun and knows how to use it will typically just shoot you from a range where any unarmed defense is moot. A gun displayed from close range is more likely intended as a threat to make you cooperate.
    7. Based on my experience sparring against weapons, I don't believe even the best unarmed defenses have much chance unless you have a solid foundation in grappling and striking skills to make them work.
    8. Knowing how to use the weapon you are fighting against also makes a difference in your likelihood of success.
     
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  4. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I have much to say on this as I was once part of the problem. Hopefully, over the last couple decades I have been part of the remedy.

    But, alas, I am at work and it’s very busy. So....laddahs. (Hawaiian pidgin for later)
     
  5. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say.
     
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  6. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I agree with (or at least understand your opinion on) most of what you say.

    The one counter I would provide to a couple of your points is that a lot of time it's better to catch your opponent in the middle of an action, than for him to respond to you. For example, if my opponent is thrusting the knife he is committed to that move. If he is standing still and I lunge for the knife, he has an opening to take advantage of.

    In response to #6, I've seen plenty of security cam videos where someone robs a convenience store and has the gun close enough for a gun defense. Yes, it's for intimidation, but it still puts them in range of the disarm. You are right about it mostly being for intimidation. My Master says that most people don't want to shoot another person, and that hesitation is where you have an opportunity. Based on his background, I think he was speaking from experience of taking advantage of a hesitant enemy.
     
  7. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Technique first, speed later.
     
  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Gun and knife disarms were taught in a system that I used to train. I have pretty much...zero confidence in those techniques, as I understood them in that system.

    It is tempting to say that having something is better than having nothing. That is sometimes a rationalization for continuing to practice techniques that are based on bad ideas. I do not believe that is always true. Sometimes having something that is a fundamentally bad idea just leaves you more vulnerable than you would be if you just relied on gut instinct. Some of these things give you a dangerous false sense of security that can get you killed.
     
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  9. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Is this your opinion of all gun and knife disarms, or just the ones that were taught in your system (and others like them)?

    How would you train to make sure that you're training disarms based on good ideas?
     
  10. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    There is more nuance to that discussion but yeah he is pretty much on point.
     
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  11. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    The problem is awareness training has all the same issues as knife defense.

    And for the most part trained like crap.

    Having taken up a new job riding postie bikes and having a completely new range of threats.

    Awareness isn't seeing a threat and reacting to it. Awareness is putting the seemingly unrelated set of circumstances that together contain that threat.
     
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  12. Gweilo

    Gweilo 2nd Black Belt

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    I agree, but knife defense is one of those areas that has changed over the past few decades, situational awarness is vital, now days victims of a knife attack dont even see the knife, so every advantage you give yourself, is worth training, including using the knife yourself to recognise postures, and potential carriers, I think speed or speed in movement is key. Just recently in south east London a flat that was raided (one that was empty), that was being used by a gang, police found a large picture of the human anatomy, with marks on places to stab on the body for maximum damage, places normal people would not know, like under the arm pit etc. Yes its a lottery, but the better prepared, the better the chances. @skribs I wouldnt worry too much about the reddit types, because these are the type of people who also ask questions like, who would win a fight between rocky balboa and kung fu panda in a real fight.
     
  13. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    That's the type of question you get on r/askreddit, but r/martialarts is a bit more down to Earth. The problem is they've managed to form a groupthink clique that massively downvotes and bashes anything from a TMA or RBSD.
     
  14. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Speed is very much timing and position though. And I think knife defense does position and timing generally pretty badly.
     
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  15. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    This is a tricky statement.

    Ok so say I only practice defending when the knife is out. And you practice being ambushed. I think I would walk away with the better skills.

    And this is because if we both got ambushed we would both be screwed where if we did not get ambushed I would have drilled that more comprehensively.

     
  16. Rat

    Rat 3rd Black Belt

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    If you train disarms correctly they are fine, but many places dont do it correctly and lack context etc. ie the knife defence i have seen at TKD is complete crap, what shiv works does is good.

    Plus a disarm is only one component of figthing over a weapon, you need to learn when to strike, how to create diversions when to use them and also how to control the limb etc and do real life drills and stress tests. You cant just do the whole if they do X, you retialte with Y. Even the techniques that work in some systems have lost their context for how to actually do them in reality and not just demos or drills or against non resiting persons, or forgetting they exist as a means to turn certain death into less than certain death but not fully not death.


    Somone might have put a similar perspective down, but i dont stray that far in view from some other people.

    Also its not just TKD, i have seen terrible knife defence elsewhere, but they generally do similar training methods that are just bad. i also dont belive in the "just run away" school of thought as you dont always have that luxary, but i also dont follow the delisions of your not going to get cut or shot or run the risk of both if you fight over a knife or pistol.

    edit: plus a lot of people who teach this dont know how to fight with a firearm nor a knife. so that also breeds bad habits and misconceptions about the two. at least the bad teachers. there are plenty of firearm schools that teach fighting over a pistol as part of a close combat class or curriculem.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
  17. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Define fine
     
  18. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    That is my opinion of what I have experience with. What others are doing and that I have no experience with, I cannot claim a valid opinion.

    As to your second question, I’m not really sure. What I do feel confident about however, is being able to recognize some bad ideas when I see them. And there are different grades of bad, to be sure. But when you are working on these things and a little voice in the back of your head is saying “hmmmm...not sure I am buying this...” listen to the voice. There may be something there that is salvageable. Perhaps it needs more practice or more study or more explanation. But listen to the voice and don’t just take someone’s word for it when you’ve got misgivings.
     
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  19. Rat

    Rat 3rd Black Belt

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    they actually work in context. ie if you employt it right in context it will lead to a disarm more times than not. But as i stated more to fighting over a weapon than just disarms, but some just dont work at all.
     
  20. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    My instructor is retired army. The knife & gun self defense he teaches is what he learned in the army. Still, I don’t feel like there is any realistic gun defense unless you happen to be behind the guy with the gun. Of course I know nothing about guns except a healthy fear so I could be wrong.

    As for knife, I’m a bit more optimistic. That may be partially due to the old style I trained with. It certainly wasn’t a McDojo as the members didn’t have a set fee. The suggested donation was $2/week (mid 1990’s) but you weren’t turned away if you couldn’t pay. It was non-competitive and the whole focus was in self-defense. We had a drill called “walk the street” which involved everyone lined up in two rows facing each other. One person would be at the end of the row with their back to the rows. My Sensei would pick 1-3 attackers and give some or all of them knives and then when everything was hidden the student would turn around and “walk down the street.” The student would have to defend against whatever came at them. We used wooden knives so we didn’t actually get hurt, but it was a very intimidating drill. We often did it outside after dark with only the headlights on one car pointed at us to see by (which often. Could be blinding too). I felt like this was a fairly decent way of testing knife self defense. It was always stressed that if it was a robbery of some sort, generally the best way to get out alive is to just give the guy your wallet.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk123
     
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