Bowie Knife Methods

Discussion in 'Knife Arts' started by KPM, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. KPM

    KPM Senior Master

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    Anyone train with the good old American Bowie Knife? I've done a lot of stuff in the past based upon Jim Keating and Dwight McLemore. Planning on reviving those skills and exploring how Kali Ilustrisimo methods work with the Bowie. Might put up a youtube channel with video lessons showing what we come up with. Anyone interested in that?
     
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  2. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Grandmaster

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  3. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    In Pekiti-Tirsia International we have a subset of training with the Bowie knife. Tuhon Bill McGrath has a few informational videos.
     
  4. KPM

    KPM Senior Master

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    Found one of them on youtube. Not bad. I was surprised by the lack of material on the Bowie, given that you can learn ANYTHING on youtube nowadays! ;) That's what made me consider putting up a channel showing some Bowie methods.
     
  5. Holmejr

    Holmejr White Belt

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    Yes, we train with the Bowie type knife. We train the same way we train with all knives. Eventually, you have to isolate the knife, rough up or destroy the assailant and either take the knife away, leave the knife in them or run away. Like my teacher says "Everybody gets cut in a knife fight you either go to the hospital or you go to the morgue". You have to commit fully.

    BTW, there is a Kalis Ilustrisimo class that meets in the park close to my house in Irvine, CA. Dedicated bunch of folk there. The instructor (I forget his name) does not charge for lessons. He has about 10-14 students.
     
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  6. KPM

    KPM Senior Master

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    Yes, we train with the Bowie type knife. We train the same way we train with all knives. Eventually, you have to isolate the knife, rough up or destroy the assailant and either take the knife away, leave the knife in them or run away. Like my teacher says "Everybody gets cut in a knife fight you either go to the hospital or you go to the morgue". You have to commit fully.

    ---There are methods specific to big knife that you can't really do with a tactical folder. So, in my experience, the training is not exactly the same as "regular" knife training. I think it has more in common with training the sword than a small knife. And the Bowie has methods that are specific to it.

    BTW, there is a Kalis Ilustrisimo class that meets in the park close to my house in Irvine, CA. Dedicated bunch of folk there. The instructor (I forget his name) does not charge for lessons. He has about 10-14 students.

    ---Cool! You should jump on that! Finding someone competently teaching Kali Ilustrisimo is a somewhat rare thing! ;-)

    ---The reason I am finding Kali Ilustrisimo to work so well with a Bowie knife, is that it is a blade-based system. Many of the modern FMA systems are more stick-based now. And the blade that GM Ilustrisimo used was essentially like a very long Bowie Knife! GM Ilustrisimo based things on fighting from long range whenever possible. This is the same as in western swordsmanship. Many of things that he did are found in historical western swordsmanship. After all, there are only so many ways for a human body to move, and move well! ;-) The "Lutang" step in KI is touted as something unique to the system and special. But this is documented in historical western fencing manuals dating back to the 1700's. Some people on the HEMA side of the fence frown on combining eastern systems with historical western systems. But there are no historical fencing manuals that cover the Bowie knife. There are historical tidbits and hints found here and there. Its a no-brainer that western sword methods would have been applied to the big knife historically. But in Kali Ilustrisimo we have a system that was used successfully in dueling in fairly recent memory and that shares many technical features with historical western swordsmanship. And the blade typically used actually has more in common with a large Bowie Knife than a western saber does.
     
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  7. Holmejr

    Holmejr White Belt

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    BTW JJ Hervas is the teacher in Irvine CA

    Well, now that i looked up bowie knife, I see there is quite a range of sizes. I can definitely see the benefit of treating the longer versions as a bolo/sword. Pray you never run into a whack job welding one of those while shoping at Costco
     
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  8. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I've trained knife for a while now. And, yes, there are differences with small knives, Bowie knives, machetes, shanks.

    But it's kind of like the differences fighting really tall people, really short people, really fast people, really strong people. Principles are the same, the tactics and angles differ.
     
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  9. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think you need to look for Bowie specific training but instead on systems that utilize larger knives. As Buka mentioned it is more specific to larger knives vs. shorter knives and similar to larger people, longer reach vs. shorter person shorter reach. Now, there are specific people out there that train Bowie and most of the ones I have met are very competent. Most of the Bowie specific training I have experienced is recreated training. Meaning it probably is not exactly what they were doing with it back in the day but recreated pictures, ideas, etc.
     
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  10. Diaitadoc

    Diaitadoc White Belt

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    You might want to look at Wing Chun’s knife methods - Their knives always reminded me of the Bowie knife.
     
  11. KPM

    KPM Senior Master

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    Guys, please read the OP. I'm not looking for suggestions. I know what I'm doing. I'm asking if anyone is interested in seeing it.
     
  12. Holmejr

    Holmejr White Belt

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    Would love to see it! Sorry for not reading thoroughly.
     
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  13. Rat

    Rat Blue Belt

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    I dont recall who those two people are, but you might as well.
     
  14. KPM

    KPM Senior Master

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    Ah! That's a shame. But I guess it has been a number of years! James A. Keating is in many people's opinion the "father of the modern Bowie Knife Fighting." Back in the late 80's and early 90's he developed a system for the Bowie that was based on western swordsmanship....mainly cutting and defending from military saber and thrusting methods from Rapier. The Bowie was very likely used in many different ways historically, but no doubt some of those ways would have been based on training in saber that men had learned serving in the military and fighting in various wars. And there are hints and tid bits here and there in the historical literature about how the Bowie was sometimes used. So Keating "reconstructed" a Bowie knife method based upon this. Dwight McLemore was also very into historical research and use of weapons from American history and also worked on Bowie knife methods. He did two popular books on the Bowie for Paladin Press, and as well as a DVD series for them on using a Tomahawk. Keating put out several videos on his Bowie method as well. Keating also had an extensive background in FMA, and so taught the use of smaller knives as well...like the tactical folder. His reverse grip method was called "Drawpoint" and was very similar to what Michael Janich teaches today.

    And I'll reiterate that methods for using the Bowie are not the same as methods for using a tactical folder. It really is more like using a short sword than a big knife. Methods specific to the Bowie include snap cuts and back cuts. You can do these with other blades, but they just aren't as significant when done with a small knife, and a sword just tends to be a little slow to slip them in as effectively. But they really shine with the Bowie! A "fighting Bowie" will have at least an 8 inch blade, which is about the shortest blade that you can still use for blocking when necessary. Less than 8 inches and it really isn't feasible to use the blade itself to try and block strikes. So in this way, the Bowie is much like a sword. However, the check hand or alive hand comes into heavy use with the Bowie, just it does with a smaller blade and more so than you would typically see with a western style sword method. So a good Bowie Knife system tends to combine some of the best elements from the small blade and the really big blade (sword) and becomes a thing that is unique unto itself.
     
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  15. KPM

    KPM Senior Master

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    I got started on the Bowie Knife project this past weekend!

    Check out the youtube channel here and subscribe:

    Bowie Knife Connection

    Go to Facebook and search for "Bowie Knife Connection."

    The youtube channel is really just a way to host videos to post on the FB page. Comments and discussions will be easier on the FB page, and I can link other people's youtube videos that I think are interesting or helpful.

    Just getting started, so will continue to increase content and go through my Bowie Knife System as time goes on. Hope you guys like it!
     
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  16. KPM

    KPM Senior Master

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    I've got a dozen videos up now on the youtube channel and FB page. Has anyone checked it out yet?
     
  17. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Grandmaster

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    I’ve watched a few. Seems like good stuff. About halfway through I remembered that I had an old wooden trainer Bowie sitting in my closet, so I pulled it down and ran through some of the exercises you were showing.
     
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  18. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I hadn't checked in on this thread in a bit. Just took a peek as I'm about to leave for work.....but I'm off for three days after.

    I'm psyched to watch all the vids! Thanks for posting them.
     
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  19. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Ooops. Sorry to be so late on this. Been really busy.

    Yeah, I've trained under Dwight "The Colonel" "Mac" McLemore and his direct students. I am one. Got my Bowie Knife certification through him and his School of Two Swords. :)

    His stuff is good and flexible. Largely based around well documented western traditions.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  20. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    You don't know who Keating or "The Colonel" are? Have you been living in a cave? :)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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