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Knife Training

A Girl and Her Gun: Knife Training

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Knife Training

On Tuesday I met Arete in the park for the first training of any kind that I have had in over a month.  Felt so good to be active.  When I say active I mean not sitting at home on my butt.  There was no impact anything, no hitting(really), no grabbing or wrestling around(my personal favorite).  My ribs let me know they were there, but I was not in pain.

I would say Tuesday was a tiny little set back mentally speaking.  I am very confident in my skills with my gun and also with my ability to get away and gain some distance from a bad guy if he grabs me, but knives are a whole new ball game.

If I am fighting with Arete and he hits me, its a hit, no big deal.  If he throws a punch and I block it, then that is the end of that one hit. Not so with a knife. If he comes at me with a knife, even if I block his wrist and he does not stab my body, he can still drag the blade down my arm as his arm gets pushed away.  If I block a punch down, then he can still slice-up my legs which he did continually.

This is the top of my left thigh.  We used completely dull plastic training knives.  No edge at all, this did not hurt me a single bit.  It's from the repetition of being "sliced" in the same spot.

Sometimes he would just go to my legs because they were there, but several times he sliced my leg as his hand went down from a block or from me moving.  It pretty much felt like whatever I did, I got "cut".  My hand, my arm, my leg, my throat, my stomach...if it had been a real fight, I would have been thoroughly Kung-Fu'd.

Extremely frustrating.  I spiraled into a complete mess in about 30 minutes.  Remember earlier when I said in order to survive one can not concentrate on surviving or on not getting hurt?  Yeah, that would have been useful information to recall. The more he sliced me the more I just kept trying not to get sliced.  I was not thinking at all about being aggressive and I was not relying on any kind of instinct, I was concentrating on how I could avoid that blade.

When I say I was a complete mess, I don't mean I cried or threw some kind of fit. I was just mentally very frustrated. The more frustrated I got the less effective I was which made me more frustrated and soon all that doubt I said I never have, came creeping back in.  For the first time in 15 months, I said, "I can't do this."  "I can't win against someone with a knife."

It is also the first time Arete has ever become annoyed with me and he gave me a bit of a "pep" talk. There was something about being a victim and getting myself killed and while he didn't yell or even cuss, his voice was different than I had ever heard it before. I would have preferred he just hit me:) After that was over, he reminded me to stop thinking and to trust myself and to do everything I have been doing all along with all my other training.  Things got much better after that.  I was able to avoid getting stabbed as often and I let myself look for opportunities where I could could strike and not just sit back and try to defend. Still a very sober exercise.

We spent maybe another 25 minutes working on those drill and he walked me through a few  more scenarios. I am still the question gal and I am always looking for ways this training would apply in a real life situation. What if this? What if that?  I ask, he shows me, we practice it. No matter what we did.  No matter how fast or how slow, more times than not some part of my body ended up on the wrong side of the blade. If ever I doubted(and I never have) that avoiding a knife fight is a darn fine idea, I sure got the message on Tuesday.

All in all it was good.

As we walked back to the car he told me to do something.  I can't remember what, but it wasn't a request.  He said, "Do blah, blah, blah."

Me- Your kind of bossy.

A- Cuz you need it.

Me- Wha..

A- Go ahead tell me I'm wrong? What? Huh? Can't hear you?

I just smile.  He smiles back. 

I get in the car and call my husband.  I tell him pretty much what I just told you.  He is laughing a little to exuberantly if you ask me. He thinks it is funny Arete gets pissy with me.  I think my husband is living vicariously through Arete...     

***Edit To all my sweet friends who are emailing me concerned about how Arete speaks to me. That last conversation was for humor. It was friendly banter between friends. He doesn't tell me what to do or boss me around and neither does my husband. Thanks for caring about me, but it's all good.


At July 5, 2012 at 7:46 AM , Blogger GunDiva said... knife fighting class was similar in that no matter what you do, you're going to get cut. And that sucks.

I didn't come home with any "knife cuts", but my wrists and back of my hand were bruised from my classmates torquing on it trying to get a wristlock on me.

Have I told you how jealous I am of all of your training? You've been doing this a year and you've got almost double the training I have, and I've been shooting almost ten years. Jealous!

At July 5, 2012 at 8:48 AM , Blogger Sport Pilot said...

Blade on blade knife fighting is a long term learned skill and isn’t really very high on my self-defense criterion. However, knowing how to block, deflect, trap or disarm a knife armed assailant is part of my training. The likelihood of not being cut in a knife attack is very slim; instead you try to minimize the potential cuts to life threating or crippling areas of your body. I wouldn’t let the knife training frustrate me , instead I’d pick it apart, use what helped me the most and increase my overall knowledge base.

At July 5, 2012 at 9:00 AM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Yeah, it's not my focus either. I think the frustration was from being away so long and not in a groove. I definitely have a personality that tends to over think and make more out of a situation than need be. Pretty sure that is where his frustration was with me. I was getting wrapped around the axel for nothing and letting it interfer with the overall goal which is not to be a knife wielding

Good advice. Thanks.

At July 5, 2012 at 9:02 AM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Lol, I am lucky:)

I always wear long pants anytime I train anywhere, but it was 102 and I thought I might get hot, so I wore shorts. Not the best choice, but like I said, it didn't hurt. I do have a nearly swollen knuckle from getting hit with the knife one time when I blocked. That stung.

We are going to have to shoot together sometime.

At July 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric from Texas here. I am not at home and don't remember my Google account stuff, so have to comment under Anonymous.

A couple years ago I thought that knives scared the crap out of me so I signed up for a knife defense seminar by Tom Sotis with his Amok methodology. Some people who practiced as a group and already using his methods invited me to come practice.

After a Saturday morning session with them, I no longer thought that knives were scary, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that knives were scary. I had many of the same thoughts that you did. Introducing a blade into any close encounter radically changes the nature of the thing.

However, despite, or because of, determining knives were scary, I got hooked on learning more about knife defense in particular and close-quarters combat with empty hand, knife, club, gun, whatever, in general. Since then I have faithfully kept up with that group of people, and it has improved my skills tremendously (Seminars by big name guys are good and important, but regular practice is a must).

One of the things that my new brothers (they are mostly ‘brothers,” not too many women get into combatives) told me early on, is that the skills we learn to defend against and use a knife are easily extrapolated to empty hand combat/touching distance combat. It doesn't work the other way around as well.

The training has really changed my focus from “handgun-centric” self-defense to a much wider spectrum of self-defense (including avoidance and evasion). Especially since many, if not most SD encounters occur, as you have found, at touching distance, bad-breath distance.

When somebody is already in your face, grabbing ahold of you or stabbing at you , immediately trying to access and use your gun is probably not a high percentage solution. It doesn’t matter how many times you shoot the dirt bag if he stabs you 12 times before and while you are shooting. And you stand the very real possibility of having your gun stripped away as well.

I think you will find that realistic training to defend against the knife will help you in close-combat situations where there is no knife (and you can never assume your opponent doesn’t have a knife you haven’t see yet) to create the opportunity to break contact and flee or successfully access your gun and use it.

You should also train to use the knife as well, so you understand the equation from both ends. It will help you understand which defensive methods work or don’t work -- and you might find out that when it is hands on, a knife just might be handier than a handgun…

This is part one, I had a lot to say today, so look for another reply below. :)

At July 5, 2012 at 10:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric here again, now with a product recommendation. :)

It is a tenet of our training groups that any self-defense tactic or methodology or technique must be proven and practiced with as much full opposition as possible. I.e. as close to "real combat" speed and power as we can make it without killing or maiming someone.

To make this possible with knives, we use Nok training knives, that generally allow us go with full tilt without inflicting serious damage on each other, and yet the knife is sturdy and stiff enough to be realistic.

You have found out that hard plastic (or aluminum) trainers can do some damage. You can probably imagine that "nerf" knife or one of those floppy rubber knives don't provide a lot of realism.

Nok trainers have a wooden core covered with the kind of Neoprene used in wetsuits. This combination lets us strike each other, stabbing or slashing, at full speed without serious harm -- yet both of you know it when contact is made.

There are some limits -- we do not stab for the eyes (we wear eye protection just in case) or the throat, and go pretty easy on the groin. (!) Aside from that tho, we can and do pretty much go full out. Some times we get bruised, but not punctured or cut (except by fingernails occasionally).

Nok trainers can be made in the shape of pretty much any knife you like. Several of our guys have had Nok trainers made to match the knives they daily carry.

Here's the part I think you will really be intrigued by: "Nok" is not (just) a company or acronym, "Nok" is a woman, lady in Thailand who makes Nok trainers herself.

She does a great job, they are very sturdy and tough -- we've used them in hundreds, probably thousands of training sessions, and I've never see one come unraveled. It has probably happened, but not often. I read recently that she did a batch (couple hundred, I think) for one of the European military units.

And they are not very expensive. She has some generic knives on her website on sale for $17.50. That's a steal, but even "normal" pricing for standard generic knives runs only 20-40 dollars. A custom one will obviously be more.

I highly recommend you check into them, and get a couple or three. Try them out with Arete. You might leery about sending money off to someone in Thailand, but she has been very reliable.

Here is her website:

Good luck and train hard.


At July 5, 2012 at 1:48 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Thank you so much for the useful information. We don't hit in the face at all or the groin. For some reason he is especially strict on that. The throat or face things are slow and mostly to show me how it could be done.

I know it sounds scary to some people what I do, but we really are at the crawl, baby steps stage. It seems fast to me, but I am sure he is at about 10% of what he could do.

I will check out the knives for sure. Thanks again.

At July 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Good advice. Thank you. I haven't thought about using a pole. He did mention trying to think several steps ahead of what the other person might do. Like chess.

At July 5, 2012 at 1:51 PM , Blogger Old NFO said...

If you get in a knife fight, you ARE going to get cut... The object is to cut/gut the other guy FIRST... As we say in the 'deep' south, you gonna get cut three ways; high, wide and deep! Again, controlling the fear is a critical part of the training!

At July 5, 2012 at 2:23 PM , Anonymous skidmark said...

"As we walked back to the car he told me to do something. I can't remember what, but it wasn't a request. He said, 'Do blah, blah, blah.'"

That's why he is your trainer - he knows stuff that you do not (yet) know. He's telling you what you need to know. One day you will get to the point that even if he did not tell you to do "x" or "y" you will know to do it, and why. Then he stops being your trainer and becomes your sparring partner. And that's when the fun begins - when HE knows you are good enough that he needs to take you on as an equal.

Just be sure not to be wearing a hat the day you get to that point - it's a bummer having to cut it off in order to let the swelling go down. ;)

stay safe.

At July 5, 2012 at 3:37 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Your right as always. Thanks for calling and giving me a "pep" I appreciate it more than you know.

At July 5, 2012 at 3:40 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Lol, that will be a good day!

He is a smart one. He is very good at knowing when to push and when not and how.

At July 5, 2012 at 5:43 PM , Blogger tc in tx said...

I hate knives! I agree with OldNFO that if you are in a knife fight, you are going to get cut. My philosophy is if you get involved in a knife fight, don't waste your time countering with a knife, get your gun. Remember, in any fight, fight to win, cheat if necessary.

At July 6, 2012 at 2:40 AM , Blogger MSgt B said...

Here's me simply repeating what everyone else has said -

The guy who taught me told me right away, "You're going to get cut, the trick is to make sure you get cut where it won't kill you."

Needless to say, I never really liked that trainng very much.

At July 6, 2012 at 3:45 AM , Anonymous Tactical Tom said...

"(we) go pretty easy on the groin" that made me snort!

At July 6, 2012 at 4:44 AM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Yes, that seems to be the theme. He told me as much and in everything else I read and watched on knife fighting/training I learned that, but for some reason the magnitude of how often one gets cut didn't sink in until Tuesday.

Even so, I liked it. The training aspect I mean.

At July 6, 2012 at 9:47 AM , Blogger RabidAlien said...

Nothing constructive or helpful to add (I carry a knife, and if ever attacked by a ziptie or cardboard box, I shall prevail), so I'll leave you with a quote (as best remembered) from "Game of Thrones" (book by George R.R. Martin, series on HBO...and excellently done, I might add):

John Snow: {gives Arya a scaled-down sword} "Now, you do know the first rule to using one of those, right?"

Arya: {looks at small sword, perfectly sized for her} "Of course! 'Stick em with the pointy end.'"

At July 8, 2012 at 4:58 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Lol, yeah knives are bad. Yeah, cheating is a good thing in a fight.

At July 11, 2012 at 9:35 AM , Blogger NotClauswitz said...

In college I used to Fence, Foil and Saber. Our instructor was a US Silver Medal Team winner - one of three guys - and he made sure we understood the nature of the game. It was not just about some mental image, of swashbuckling romantic three-musketeer Ren Faire crap - it was killing using deadly long-handled knives, and back in the day (1600-1700's) when it was a popular form of insult-and-retribution driven "recreation," a lot of hot-blooded (and stupid) young men died. Which is why it was eventually outlawed.
To understand the vital concept of "right-of-way" in Fencing, he stood en-garde with an actual 16th Century Rapier from his collection pointing at your chest and to EACH of us said, "I will give $1,000 to ANYONE who attempts a lunge or strike without first moving or touching my blade." The stack of bills sat on chair beside him. I forget, maybe it was $10,000 - nobody would go/could go for it. Looking down the razor edge was convincing enough, you couldn't lunge (or do any damn thing) without first parrying...


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