Knife wounds - thrust vs. cut?


March 18, 2003, 01:09 AM
Hello, all. I'm a chaplain at a maximum-security prison, and over the past six months, have witnessed (either the event or the aftermath) at least a dozen attacks by inmates on other inmates using "shanks" (prison-made knives). I was thinking about this today (we're on lock-down again, after the latest knife attack), and realized the following:

1. Most thrusts failed to do much damage, even if a vital organ is hit. I've seen several lungs collapsed, and even one heart wound, but the victims were able to live long enough to get to hospital, at which time treatment saved their lives, stabilized their condition, and let them recover.

2. Slashes and cuts seemed to do far more to incapacitate the victim than did thrusts. The blood loss was vastly greater, and the shock of the wound was seemingly much more difficult to withstand - perhaps because more nerves were involved, or more tissue was damaged?

Of course, these were assaults by "amateurs" - I'm sure none of them was a trained knife-fighter. However, I'm interested to learn whether a trained knife fighter would agree that the above assessments hold true for knife fights when the wound is inflicted by someone with greater expertise. Is a thrust generally less efficient than a cut? Does a cut disable faster than a thrust? (I know that when I was stabbed in the back, with a thrust, I was able to shoot my assailant, walk around, etc. - I wasn't disabled at all!)

I know that the point of aim is also important, but given that in a knife fight, one's opponent is moving as well, this may not be as feasible as (for example) putting a fast-moving bullet into a relatively slow-moving target.

Any comments?

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Jim March
March 18, 2003, 01:47 AM
Well the worst is a combination: stab, then "swish it around" :barf:. Or the "comma cut" variation: stab, then cut out in a circular motion. This IS seen in prison sometimes, at least in the US.

The conventional wisdom says that stabs are more lethal. When pop was in the British Army, he was told to fear a screwdriver more than a knife, because give an amateur a knife and he'll slash, give him a screwdriver and he'll stab every time. He mentioned this at length when the Bernie Goetz thing went down.

More recently, some martial artists have been advocating "precision disabling cuts"...nailing tendons in the limbs to "cripple" without killing as a fast way to end a fight. Not something you're likely to see in prison though.

Some of this may be connected to physical strength...the difference between a "slice" and a "power rip" or something. With a strong enough wrist and a short blade such as you'll usually see behind bars, you can "slash" with the point *forward* (think "big claw wound") rather than "dragging the tip" in, say, typical sword fashion.

March 18, 2003, 02:04 AM
Of course, these were assaults by "amateurs" - I'm sure none of them was a trained knife-fighter.

I'd be careful about this type of attitude Preach. Never underestimate the American felon. Street life and prisons provide training that dojos cannot duplicate.

First I'd like to say that since it is a prison, medical services are nearby and immediately available. This is probably the primary reason for survival.

I think that the main reason thrust weapons are not as dangerous in prison attacks is because these weapons are handmade -nails, screwdrivers, toothbrushes, dowels. thrusting weapons tend to be short and narrow which limits their ability to penetrate & damage vital organs -also why many attacks are towards the neck/throat in order to penetrate the carotid/jugular.

larger hunks of steel or plastic get manufactured into slashing weapons. More heft, edge and surface area -which lead to larger immediate wounds. A slash will destroy more surface area, allowing more immediate bleedout. Shock is induced from blood loss.

March 18, 2003, 08:31 AM
I instruct my students to make disabling cuts to the hands, wrists, fingers if someone reaches into their inner circle [ arms length or less ].

If you are knife to knife the last thing I want is to attempt to reach into his inner circle to attempt a stab to his torso. If I am reaching into his immediate space he has the same opportunity to reciprocate on my person. Not the best tactics.

Distance is key in bladework and defense from the opponents blade.

CWL makes a valid point that most homemade "shanks", even when long enough, do not have the penetration power of a knife [ even a cheap knife ] thats manufactured due to lack of an extremely sharp point or edge.

Shanks will penetrate but are not optimum for penetration. Their design and materials are crude requiring much more force to penetrate than an actual piece of cutlery would require. What the shank lacks in edge sharpness and tip strength is made up for by brute strength to overcome the weaknesses of the tool used.

As CWL also mentioned, most shanks [ the killing part ] are not sharp enough or long enough to produce the same results from something like a kitchen/hunting knife or a lockback folder in any guise.

It is generally acknowledged that stabs are more lethal than slashed but then you can see just the opposite at times dependant on where they were slashed or stabbed.

A slash that goes deep enough to an artery [ armpit, neck, etc ] will create more damage than say a stab to the leg or arm. It is all relative to the type of attack, what configuration the shank was made into [ some are stabbing implements only while others have an edge for slashing as well as a point for stabbing ], the strength of materials used in the shank [ plastic, metal, etc ] combined with where the wounds have been inflicted will in part determine the outcome of the attack.

I for one appreciate the information provided by the "Preacherman" relative his observations inside the prison. Just goes to show me how much I really need a good defensive tactical folder if and when I ever find myself defending against another with a blade for some reason.

His observations speak volumes to me about why I carry a stout, sharp tactical folder or two on my person daily. Something with good tip strength and a super sharp edge that creates good wound channels with little effort apparently beats the odds of creating more damage quickly than when compared to crudely made/fabricated implements [ I'm talking some of the junk thats sold which actually performs no better than a shank found in the prisons.

"Draw straight, keep your steel sharp, and watch your back"


El Tejon
March 18, 2003, 08:43 AM
Preach, I've noticed the same thing in my line of work. Have known a few guys who have survived multiple stab wounds while they were down, even wounds to the kidneys. However, guys who were "slashed" were hospitalized because of blood loss, infection.

I have always suspected: 1. poor tools, 2. poor working knowledge of the human body by the attacker.

Don Gwinn
March 18, 2003, 08:54 AM
A thrust probably requires a larger blade to be as effective as a cut. A cut makes a larger, more horrible wound, I suppose, but is more dependent on location (there are fewer lethal places for a cut than there are for a stab.) And a cut probably generally requires less precision at times (easier to cut across a throat than stab into the windpipe or the artery.)

Glad I already had breakfast. Keep in mind that I don't actually know what I'm talking about.

March 18, 2003, 06:03 PM
I am of the thrusting kills faster camp.
Someone with knife training can kill someone faster thrusting, than slashing. Thrusts get to the vitals easier than slashes, and while a slash may to some extent disable someone, its going to be a slower kill.
Several well placed thrusts to the neck, lungs, heart, and kidneys, will kill someone nicely... and the trust will get in deep enough to do the damage easier than a slash.

Now... the best, is to turn your knife to reverse grip, witht he edge in, and stab, then rip your way out. Sounds weird, but it works without any extra effort, and does the best of both worlds. Depth of a stab, with the length of a slash. Nasty. This is how I train.
Can also be done in forward grip with the edge up, stab in, rip/lever the blade up and out.
Its either with the blade edge in or up, than with it out or down, simple body mechanics, how your wrists move.
Peketi Tersia practicioneers may be familiar with doing it this way.

March 18, 2003, 06:37 PM

You're right about that last, for sure- I described doing exactly that in the sentry removal thread. Death to Bambette was instantaneous. The problem may be closing to the distance for such an attack.

March 18, 2003, 07:37 PM
Just a thought, but could it be that the "average" prison shank is not as long as say a 4" folder? I'm just thinking that if the shank was not long enough to get to the vitals or not deeply into them that might have something to do with the failure rate of the stab.

March 18, 2003, 07:37 PM
George S. Patton designed the last cavalry saber adopted by the US Army. He designed it as a thrusting weapon because thrusts were supposed to do more damage and be more incapacitating, and be harder to recover from.

Whether this translates to an improvised knife, who can say?

March 18, 2003, 07:41 PM
Contrary to movies, cavalry sabres are all thrusting weapons. The slash is a follow-up move.

From light cavalry/hussar curved sabres to heavy cavalry straight sabres.

G.S. Patton didn't come up with the idea. He just designed the pommel & guard.

March 19, 2003, 12:24 AM
Thanks (shanks? :D ) for all the replies, folks. A few responses:

1. Jim, you've got a point about the "combination stab-and-slash". However, most prison shanks are good for one or the other - not necessarily both. Of the (literally) hundreds of shanks I've seen, most have been designed to stab, not cut: and the relatively few (less than 20%, IIRC) designed to cut as well as or in place of stabbing have been home-ground on concrete, which doesn't produce a great edge, to say the least!

2. CWL, gryphon - the average length of a prison shank is probably at least 4" - 6" in the blade. Some go as long as 10". (These measurements exclude the handle.) So I don't think that length is a factor. However, the stabs are usually delivered against a violently struggling victim, at an awkward angle, and often in the press of bodies, preventing a long approach build-up: and the weapons aren't all that sharp. These factors limit the depth of the stab, I think.

In the latest stabbing (Sunday morning) the victim received 14 stab wounds to the back and side. Two of them punctured his right lung, which collapsed, and he was coughing up black blood. He was rushed to a local hospital for emergency surgery, and will survive, but was lucky it didn't take half-an-hour longer to get him there...

March 19, 2003, 09:20 AM
In reverse grip I prefer to keep the edge facing the perp for two reasons.

1. I can use the edge to defend against incoming in a strictly defensive posture. The perp will only meet the edge of the blade, the spine of which is resting against my forearm for support/stability once contact is made.

2. I do not want the edge facing my body. I have no need to leave an edge up near my forearm where it may get puched into my own body parts. He they want to push, they can push on the edge facing them.

I have seen the opposite technique as described by Gray_Fallen in reverse grip and witnessed how an opponent slapped the blade into the guys forearm. If the edge was out he would have pulled back bloody digits at best.

I feel any technique which leaves the edge facing toward me instead of toward the perp is asking for "Murphy" to step into the fracas. If it can happen it will. Keeping the edge facing out, away, and toward the opponent probably drops the risk of cutting oneself in the heat of battle.


Joe Demko
March 19, 2003, 09:26 AM
When you describe slashes, how deep are we talking? Relatively superficial cuts or slices deep enough to sever muscle and open arteries?

March 19, 2003, 02:10 PM
In reverse grip I prefer to keep the edge facing the perp for two reasons.

1. I can use the edge to defend against incoming in a strictly defensive posture. The perp will only meet the edge of the blade, the spine of which is resting against my forearm for support/stability once contact is made.

2. I do not want the edge facing my body. I have no need to leave an edge up near my forearm where it may get puched into my own body parts. He they want to push, they can push on the edge facing them.

I have seen the opposite technique as described by Gray_Fallen in reverse grip and witnessed how an opponent slapped the blade into the guys forearm. If the edge was out he would have pulled back bloody digits at best.

I feel any technique which leaves the edge facing toward me instead of toward the perp is asking for "Murphy" to step into the fracas. If it can happen it will. Keeping the edge facing out, away, and toward the opponent probably drops the risk of cutting oneself in the heat of battle.


Edge out works to some extent, I wont say it doesnt... but you cannot get the depth with edge out slashes, you will with edge in (which I will call Pikal, which means "rip" or "ripping"). When you slash OUT, you push your attacker away from you, and the depth of the wound you make on him is going to be very minor. You'll never get deep enough to do serious damage, unless you back them up against the wall... and still, they are going to be defending which makes it harder still to get a hit in thats worth anything. In Edge Out your only hope for doing some serious damage is going to be thrusting, or getting really lucky and having him against a wall, where your slash cant push him away, and that force will push into his tissue.
Pikal is hard, and fast, and drives right into them, your blade goes to depth, finds vitals, and rips outwards. You pull your attacker towards you, until your blade rips free of his flesh. Better wounds, worse wounds, and you dont just keep pushing him back.
I've seen lots of pics of guys in hospitals and ambulances who have these cuts/slashes all over their bodies, even on their throats, but are walking, talking, and no-where close to dying. And I've seen lots of pics of guys in the morgue who have one or two good thrust wounds under the arm-pit, into the throat, or beteen their ribs, or who have one or two Pikal looking wounds, like it was stabbed in and ripped out, tearing through everything in the way.
If someones knife can be "slapped" backwards like that, they are doing something wrong. Their grip is weak, they let their wrist be too loose, something. Basically, they let it happen, through bad technique. Your grip has to be hard, firm, tight on the knife handle, and your wrist almost locked, with the knif eblade straight down out the bottom of your hand. I dont know why people want to make their grip and wrist loose, and let the spine of the blade lie along their fore-arm, makes no sense to me, and it opens one up to having the knife "slapped" around to control it.

But hey... maybe I am nuts, I like a hard solid grip that will keep me from losing my knife, and I like doing as much tissue and organ destructing damage to my attacker as possible, in the shortest amount of time. I look at the knife as a lethal force tool, so my intent will be to terminate the SOB once my knife comes out, so I'd really prefer not to waste my time trying to kill him, and just get down to the meat and potatoes of it, and hurt him a whole lot, real fast... the type of hurt he doesnt just crawl away, get some stitches and get over.

I suggest to anyone who is reading this, and has doubts one way or another, that you try Pikal for yourself, against a foam cutting target, without "limp wristing" the technique. You really can do a lot more damage with Pikal, and I've found its a much more natural feeling method, in terms of body mechanics.
Also, when using a folding knife... when you stab in normal reverse grip, the angle at which your arm moves, no matter what angle of attack you are using, is an arcing motion... and the way this hits the target, it puts a TON of pressure on the back of the blade, which can cause even the best lock to fail (chopped into my little finger like this), now flip the knife over, and all that pressue is being put onto the stop pin, and against the edge... safer, and makes a better wound. WIth a fixed blade, the same is true, except the fixed blade cant fold up on you, but you can still get better wounds with a simple in/out stab, because of that arcing movement pressing the edge against the side of the wound, widening it.

Check out Don Rearics site, and read the following articles:
This one talks about a knife made for Pikal, but the last two thirds of the article is a description of technique and advantages, I suggest everyone read it.
Again, about another custom knife, but it shows a lot of Pikal techniques, and advantages, as applied to a double edged blade (but also that work with a single edge)
And about yet another knife in particular, but it talks more about Pikal, the hows and the whys, and some added info about Pikal as it related to folders.
Although Pikal works with any knife, so dont let the fact that these are about 3 specific knives throw ya. Read the articles, and give it a try for yourself. :)

March 19, 2003, 02:46 PM

No argument that you get better wounding effects with blade edge in as you describe. Kinda goes without saying that they would create deeper nastier wounds and would also likely kill quicker. These would all be stabbing techniques.

The idea behind defense is to stop an attacker/aggressor not "kill" them. If your written words are ever revealed in a court action where you are a defendant for such actions you would probably be doing jail time as it goes to intent [ if you explained it this way to a judge/jury/prosecutor which I'm sure your atty: would advise against ].

There are defensive techniques for the reverse grip edge out that keeps the edge between you and the attacker. Like a wall surrounding you [ the edge moved to their attacking limb ].

The edge out reverse will of course produce less lethal cuts to the opponent. Again, I am not defending in an attempt to "kill" my attacker but to only survive and get them to cease their aggression towards me.

There are also trapping techniques with the edge out [ cats claw ] that catch the incoming limb and deflect/redirect their motions.

The F/Sykes daggers and double edged knives are/were never designed or used in reverse grip as an edge is against/facing your own body [ considered dangerous with Murphy around ].

Your description as to how and why it is effective would be effective is outstanding and your effort to make us see [ visualize ] how the technique would be applied equally so.

From your response I may have not made myself clear enough on the edge out. It does not rest on your forearm continuously. It can be laid there when desired. Other times it will be at or close to 90 degrees from the forearm. Just to clarify if you thought thats what the original post stated.


March 19, 2003, 07:25 PM
Man! That makes me hurt just thinking about it. But I feel that thrust would work better. Stab,Twist and turn every which way possible.:barf:

March 19, 2003, 07:59 PM
For making your own makeshift impliment, it seems it would be easier to build a stabing device than an effective cutting device.

My gut instinct (pardon the possible pun) is to hold the knife point down and blade out. I have no training and I can't recall ever even talking with anyone about it but my reasoning is this probably provides the best defensive stance and it should allow for the quickest slashes to hands or arms of the offender. And if a neck opportunity should present itself, a punching motion just to the knife holders weak side should result in a neck hit. (That is to say if the knife holder is right handed, punch just to the left of the bad guy)

I've certainly been more of a fan of slash than stab. An attorney my mother worked for was knifed in his convertible after not being able to give the worthless POS any money. The guy slashed his arm open and he nearly bled to death and he was literally right in front of a hospital. I'm told the underside of a forearm cut length-wise produces lots of blood cuickly. Guess that's always just stuck with me and I think that would be my primary target along with the neck.

March 20, 2003, 10:12 AM
Targets should be chosen based on opportunities presented during the altercation.

A trained individual would be able to create openings in the perps defensive posture rather quickly to get to the body targets he desires based on his/her goals to either disable/mame or kill.

In reverse grip you could "come to point" and "pick" to the perps face/neck area. These are techniques that are easily learned and executed.

"Coming to point" is usually from a sabre grip but can be performed in reverse as well. This puts the end of your blade [tip] between his eyes just above the eyebrows. Creates copious amounts of blood quickly and probably will result in blood in the perps eyes also helping your cause along. The "eye pick/neck pick" works great as well.

These would be targets of opportunity as they presented themselves within the constraints and time frame of the altercation.

I like the stabbing techniques as well as the slashing stuff but will tend to slash defensively initially until I can open them up for a good "stick" to any number of areas about his/her person.

One proficient with edged weapons should be able to become proactive in his response unlike most who will be reactionary in their responses to the threat presented.

My response to threats will be quick, light slashes to the offending limbs as they attempt to reach into my "inner circle" followed by whatever may present itself based on the opponents responses [ targets of opportunity ].

Stabbing requires you to close on the bad guy and you suffer the same liability as he when you are that close. Distance is key and learning how to keep proper distance based on how the flow of the situation is developing lends greatly to avoidance of "hits" to your person by the perp.

The stab, twist, and turn every which way does not appeal to me for several reasons.

1. The longer you linger at this the longer you yourself are vulnerable to reciprocity.----Not acceptable

2. You are violating one of the basic rules of keeping enough distance unless absolutely forced into closing due to environment/surroundings.

"Draw straight, keep your steel sharp and watch your back"


El Tejon
March 20, 2003, 12:54 PM
brownie, good points. Thanks for posting these observations. I'm glad you're around.

March 20, 2003, 02:04 PM
El Tejon:

When I instruct classes, whether LE's or civilians I am constantly reinforcing the theories behind the techniques.

One is better able to grasp the mechaniocs of the technique once they can visualize the pro and cons of that motion and why it may or may not work in any given scenario.

I lean toward actions that should be defensible in the aftermath of an altercation where you have used a knife to defend yourself.
I stray away from the rambo types who want to see nothing but killing techniques.

My job is to make the student [ through training] better at surviving a lethal encounter whose actions are probably defendable instead of strikes/blows that are meant for killing only.

Surviving a lethal encounter is the first step to remaining free.
The second step is to have the actions taken be defendable to a reasonable jury of my peers by presenting an articulate explanation of my actions leading up to and during the altercation in question.

In real life, they put rambos in jail for their actions. I do not want to see my students have that attitude or the knowledge I can impart to them if that is their attitude.

You may lose a student or two due to their personality not being compatable with the stated goals but thats much better than being called into to testify as to why I showed someone "kill" moves.

Make no mistake about it though, there are moves/counter moves designed to quickly de-escalate the aggressors action to a non combative state [ not breathing ].


El Tejon
March 20, 2003, 02:47 PM
"In real life, they put rambos in jail for their actions.":D NOOOOO!

brownie, no, they don't! I don't want to believe you because it runs counter to everything we were instructed in Gun Shoppe Commado Academy.

You mean to tell me that just because I tote around a knife (or big, ol' hawglaig) I have to behave as if the criminal justice system exists? I may have to take a minute . . . .:scrutiny:

March 20, 2003, 05:18 PM
I believe Brownie may have mis-spoke, uh -typed, uh-keyed:scrutiny: , Nevermind!

Anyway, they put RamBozos into jail. Rambo was a fictional character, while RamBozos are those folks that believe that they are like fictional characters.

March 20, 2003, 05:57 PM
thia or trap?

i go blade in. i feel that blade out tends to force a cut and open your lower vitals to attack. i prefer a pick and drag along w/ extrimity rakes to "open the can" so to speak and end w/ neck or upper chest thrust.
point is, two well trained fighters will kill each other before the fight ends. they just wont stop before they die.

March 21, 2003, 02:34 PM
Rambozos? I like that term alot. Know too many of them unfortunately. They don't get to see the good stuff and are absent in my training classes.

Last thing I need is one of them to actual go use the techniques on the street unnecesarily and then tell them I gave the idiot the knowledge.

The knowledge I pass to others can be dangerous in the wrong hands.


March 21, 2003, 02:43 PM

The hardest principle to learn is to wait for the opponent to reach for you and not extend into their range.

The theory is that the more they reach in [ and you wait ]the less strength they have when they get near you.

Most want to reach out to keep the offending arm from getting to them [ natural reaction by most ]. They open themslves up when they do. We want the opponent to open up while he attacks and we wait protecting the "body core".

They learn quickly in class as when they extend to defend I get them where they opened up. We drill until the wait for me to get there. The techniques work better and are more reliable. You have all your strength when meeting their actions at the same time.

The principle is seen this way. If you need to pick up a gallon of paint, you do not extend your arm to full length to lift it as you have less strength when extended. The more you extend your arms away from the body the less strength you have.

We keep our strength by waiting and covering the core which makes them extend further into my inner circle. When they actually get there, they have little power left to avoid deflection.

BTW--Training gets you to not react normally to a threat by throwing up an arm to block the attack.
If you block in a knife fight thats where I cut you. Your block extends to me and that becomes the target. Makes my job easier to get the perp if he does that. I don't want to see defensive wounds on my students by their reacting to the threat of being cut in a normal manner.

It takes about 5-7000 repetitions to break the human reaction to block the attack in an attempt to keep the threat away from us as much as possible.

You block, you get cut on the arms. You have given me a target thats closer by extending in such a manner.


March 23, 2003, 12:07 AM
In my experience, it's almost impossible to reach the body of an aware opponent with a knife without being cut badly yourself.

If you can't reach their body, then thrusting doesn't make much sense.

Cut what's closest to you. Don't go for the big one--even a small cut counts. People don't like to bleed, and even a small cut from a sharp knife will bleed a lot.

BTW, what's closest is often their head. People tend to lean in more than they realize. Foreheads are great slashing targets and you get a big secondary benefit from having a person bleed down into his eyes.

The other easy target is hands and arms. When a person attacks, they must extend their hands toward you. That makes them good targets.

I agree with brownie--your goal shouldn't be to kill the person, it should be to convince them their time is better spent doing something other than jacking you up.

Of course, all this assumes a street encounter. I suppose in the military it's a different story.

BTW, has anyone here heard of a guy named Murray who spent some time in Southeast Asia entertaining himself and others with a knife?

March 23, 2003, 02:45 PM
I must say, even being a gun forum, I've found this thread to be very informative.

A sincere thanks to those that have contributed.

Charles S
March 23, 2003, 06:07 PM

Thanks for the information. I have learned a lot from this thread. My own training in the art of the knife is quite limited, but I am working on that. If you gentleman have any further recommendations for reading, videos and training please feel free to make suggestions.


March 24, 2003, 03:34 AM
Everyone has a personal theory, or form, or style, or has read something written by someone, far from me to suggest otherwise... ;)

Agreeing in principle here; the idea is to 'defend' yourself by helping the BG change his mind, or at least his intent...and as such, we're not talking about 'killing', we're talking about a cessation of hostilities.

From what I've read by those that 'teach' knife fighting, folks such as Kevin McClung and Jim Keating, keeping your adversary at distance (pointy end out), and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves...(hands, forearms, foreheads, leading legs, etc), makes pretty good sense from a defensive standpoint. I believe these guys, and feel that they know of what they speak.

From what I've seen, felt, and trained with (on a most cursory level), what they speak of rings true...'thank you' takes on a whole new meaning when an adversary presents a ready target such as fingers...'Mad Dog' refers to a reverse grip using opponant as 'vienna sausages' on the hoof...:scrutiny:

Nonetheless, the original question was, paraphrased "Which method is more effective, thrust or slash?"...which begs the question, 'More effective at what?'

Killing, wounding, defending, offending, or just saving your own bacon? With a wild animal or dog, I'd suggest holding on tight and use multiple deep thrusts until something vital gets hit....with a human, I'd think that deep long cuts with fast follow ups would change that persons 'wicked ways', without putting yourself at undue risk...(If you get wrapped up, or go to ground, all bets are off...bite, stab, squeeze, do whatever it takes to survive)

If you can manage to keep the BG at bay with your defensive posture, then just keep 'nicking' the heck out of him until he stops being a BG...then go file a police report ASAP, you may need that report when he bleeds out later that night ;)



Jim March
March 24, 2003, 04:10 AM
There's always going to be this ongoing debate between what I call "the outsiders" and "the insiders", the guys that hang back on the outside and nail incoming opportunities, and the guys that like to get aggressively inside. Bob Taylor and his "Hobbit/Warrior" series pieces are classic "insider" reverse-grgip blades, whereas the big light-handling Bowie-oids of Bill Bagwell (Keating influences) and McClung's Panther are classic "outside blades" used tip-forward. The heavy-smash Khukuris are a different type of "outside piece".

I fall into the "outside camp", myself. But I've seen too many fast crazy little "insiders" do demos to take them lightly!

March 24, 2003, 04:39 AM
We should ping on SH a bit and do another 'Vito's' pizza run....bring the swords again (the ultimate 'outside' weapon)... ;)

The thing of it is, when you're grappling, and a blade is involved; one of just a few things are going to'll get cut (or stabbed, repeat verse), he'll get cut, you'll both get cut, or you'll lose the blade in the tussle...

And you're right, there is no 'right vs. wrong', but there is distance...and distance is your friend in a knife fight, particularly a defensive least, that's what I think.

So sure, I agree, learn both methods, but the final key is to keep the BG 'out there'...

Back to the original question as to what works better, thrust or slash?...Big, deep slashes have a psychological effect for sure, but more importantly is the physiological end result of the disruption of laminar blood flow...that being, blood flowing out of a severed artery can't reach the brain or heart...slowing the adversary over time...this is where conditioning on our part comes in...being able to 'nick and wait'

A puncture on the other hand, albeit painful and life threatening, will immediately start to close up on itself...regardless of how ultimately unsuccessful it may be, the process of clotting will begin almost immediately...

Anyhoo, what works for one may not for another, but I like the way you think...pointy end out ;)


p.s. Pizza! :D

Byron Quick
March 24, 2003, 05:24 AM
I see a fair amount of this in the emergency room. We also have a state prison a couple of miles down the road. Overall, I am not impressed with thrusting or slashing. But it's more from a lack of anatomical ignorance as well as an inability to target precisely.

Many of the slash wounds I've seen would have been quickly fatal in the right place. Very few of the stab wounds would have been quickly fatal. It is difficult to obtain a truly devastating thrust wound with the size of knife it is practical to carry in today's society.

Severing tendons is usually a fight stopper.

I carry a knife. I have no intention of attempting to fight someone knife to knife. I'd rather fight someone who jumped me barehanded with it. Fits my strategic thought better...opponent has a pistol...give me a rifle. He has a AR15...I want my PSS and eight hundred yards, etc.

If attacked by a knife wielding assailant and I'm embarassed by the lack of a pistol, hopefully there's things like garden rakes, pipes, brooms, bricks, and such lying around. Maybe a container of battery acid.

Jim March
March 24, 2003, 06:07 AM
You know, there's a LOT of truth to the idea that your odds of needing to go up against another knifer is remote.

In my personal experience, I've been threatened by "short club-oids" (hammers, wrench) twice now. When the club is approximately a foot long, if you're VERY careful you can stay with an "outside" gameplan but it's damned tricky. Once you get an opponent with a friggin' baseball bat (or worse, golf clubs, those are NASTY) you better either get into very cramped quarters where he can't load up or or get inside on him, in a hurry.

The good news is, there ARE "close-range tricks" for the forward grip. They're not as intuitive as those in reverse, you need more training there and the need for "constant motion and footwork" cannot possibly be overemphasized.

(Re: using tight quarters to negate a range advantage: this is exactly what ferrets do to cats :). Lure it into a crawl space and then just jump all over it. And the dumb cats never did figure out NOT to chase a ferret under the bed or whatever :rolleyes:.)

PS: Melvin: PIZZA!!! :D

March 24, 2003, 09:12 PM
I am no expert, but cut seems more effective than thrust, in writings and in my experience.

I have a lot of knives. I play with them, until they wound me, then I put them in a drawer - bad boy!

I find the slashing cut makes me bleed a whole lot more than a poke.

Harold Mayo
March 24, 2003, 11:20 PM
Edge out works to some extent, I wont say it doesnt... but you cannot get the depth with edge out slashes

I beg to differ. Edge out slashes can reach to incredible depths. It just depends on the angle of attack, sharpness of the blade, and the force behind the blow.

This sounds a little disgusting ( is) but it will show you a lot about what works with a knife and what doesn't, at least in regard to methods of attack. take a dead deer or hog and string it up from a tree or overhead beam (this is after you've already dissected it to determine what kind of wound channel the bullet you killed it with left behind). You then proceed to push it and let it swing while you slash and stab and thrust with various blades. Observe the wounds and what works on the moving carcass.

You will find that a thrust (straight in with the blade in a sabre grip) will not penetrate as well as you might think unless you have a lot of "uumph" and catch the carcass well. There are some areas that are NOT covered with muscle in which a thrust will penetrate fairly easily, however.

You will find that a slash (sabre grip w/edge outward) will make nice, long cuts that are, if you catch the carcass right, quite deep. They will literally lay the skin and muscle open and you will slash all the way to the bone. Even if you don't catch it good, a slash will still open up more area, affect more nerves, and cause more bleeding than will a thrust or stab that isn't well-executed.

You will find that a stab (whether a "Mexican feed" from a sabre or hammer grip or an overhand stab) will generally penetrate quite well if you connect BUT you have to be in very close for it to do so. The Mexican feed is an excellent and swift stab that works best for the soft areas of the face and neck on a human target and quite well on the soft abdomen of a swinging deer carcass. An overhand stab with the blade out will penetrate but is not the best of attacks since you are in close AND have your own body more open. In addition, if you have a single edge facing outward from you, you lose the option of using the extreme leverage and strength afforded by an overhand rip and might not be able to damage your opponent if things turn badly. On the other hand, using a double-edged blade or a single edge turned inward, you CAN do what another poster was talking about in terms of a ripping attack which, if properly executed, can be a deep stab followed by slashing damage as you withdraw the blade while making a new (slashing) wound channel rather than withdrawing it from the wound that it just made. The big disadvantage of closing for these attacks is that you are in close enough that you CANNOT defend effectively against his attacks.

Action is faster than reaction and a knife fight is over quickly.

For my money, I will slash outward with a sabre grip for distance and for warding away my opponent. Slashing in this manner is also the easiest way to damage your opponent's hands and arms. If it gets closer, slashing in this manner and performing the "Mexican feed" is the fastest manner of attacking. Speed is everything.

Knives are as fast as hands. In a fist fight, you don't normally win without taking punches, be they hard or not. The difference is that knife cuts are bad whether they are well-executed or not. You WILL get cut.

Although a lot of people advocate a reverse grip, I just haven't yet found anyone who can use it as effectively as they say it can be used. The only use that I can see for it is as a surprise attack against an unwitting opponent.

As for prisoners not being trained knife fighters...

I've seen a lot of video from prisons that caught prisoners practicing various surprise knife attacks. Most were with a hidden knife against a cop who might be trying to cuff them or who was in some "traditional" LE pose but some were for surprise in other situations, too. Like another poster said, prisons can turn out fighters as good as any dojo...I say even better.

I know a lot of guys who have been stabbed and have no loss of function. I can't think of a single person that I know who has been slashed across the hand or forearm who hasn't lost some use of that appendage.

With all that said, I have to say that I have a problem with learning knife stuff from guys who want to ritualize it too much in a martial arts setting. You can learn everything that you need to know about knife-fighting in a couple of hours. Practice it a few thousand times and then hope you never have to use it. I've seen too many martial artists who don't understand how quickly a real knife fight (or any fight, for that matter) can be over. Practicing against someone who is using the same "style" as you is NOT the way to learn this particular skill.

March 26, 2003, 12:15 AM
Knives are as fast as hands. In a fist fight, you don't normally win without taking punches, be they hard or not. The difference is that knife cuts are bad whether they are well-executed or not. You WILL get cut.
Don't agree.

You get hit in a fistfight because you must hit body or head to win. When you close with your opponent to accomplish this goal, you open yourself to attack by coming inside his reach.

The difference is that you can't win a fistfight by hitting the other guy in the hands and arms.

You can definitely win a knife fight by cutting the other guy's hands and arms.

I suppose that it's necessary to start with the idea that you WILL get cut, in order to rationalize the use of reach limiting techniques such as reverse holds and edge out slashing.

March 26, 2003, 12:58 AM
Well stated and thought provoking too. Thanks for taking the time...though I must confess; I don't fully understand the technique referred to as 'Mexican'...could you give a brief synopsis?

(It could be called 'Cool green Martian', and I wouldn't care any more/less, it's the technique I'm interested in here, not the name)

Also, I don't fully understand the difference between 'Saber, point out' and 'Saber, edge out'...if you have a few minutes, could you please clarify? Thanks.

JohnKSa, I'm not sure if in your last sentence you 'meant' to say something like 'If using reverse grip in a knife fight against an armed and motivated adversary, one should plan on getting cut'...or something similar. If so, I would (almost) agree...

But, if on the other hand, you were saying that a person going into a (any) knife fight should just 'recognize' that they're going to get cut...I would again (almost) agree....but, as realistic as such a scenario would be, it (almost) seems defeatist to go into an armed struggle with such a mindset... Please clarify, I'm a bit confused.

Written words, on forums...I hate them. It's just so damn easy to misunderstand what's being said...

Anyhoo, to all, the original question pertained to 'effectivity', and I'll assume that was referenced to termination of hostilities...if indeed that's the case, I'd offer that a deep slash to the extremities would be the most effective method...YMMV


-edited for clarity-

March 26, 2003, 08:17 AM
Harold Mayo stated:
"You can learn everything that you need to know about knife-fighting in a couple of hours."

Even basic defensive knife requires a minimum of 8-10 hours. Perhaps thats what you meant by "a couple". Just don't want anyone here to think 2-3 hours is going to make them proficient at defensive knife. Just won't happen.

A novice shown the basics in 8-10 hours will only remember 10-15% of the material covered from the students I have had before me.

Sure they see everything they really need in a day but it takes many more days and hours of practicing the techniques to get the timing and subtleness of the moves commited to muscle memory.

In reality the defensive knife tactics require persistent practice as they are diminishing skills [ very same thing with a firearm ]. Your statement that they can learn all they need to know in a few hours may give others with less background in this venue the idea that a few hours makes them some great knife fighter.

I can assure you that the guys who really know the defensive knife arts [ not the fancy/mostly ineffective dojo stuff ], are not becoming so in a few hours. To suggest otherwise does a disservice to others here who think they can now be proficient.

You may be able to "see" everything you really need to know in a few hours [ I doubt that though ] but that is a far cry from actually being able to pull the techniques off in a street setting.

Any gun guy can tell you in a few hours the "principles" of sight alignment, hand hold , trigger control and breathing but that doesn't make you a pistolero capable of incredible feats instantly.

Knife techniques are harder to perform correctly than shooting and timing is not learned in a few hours which defensive knife really relys on as well as the techniques utilized.

If you practice it a couple thousand times and then hope you never have to use you will certainly not have the timing or muscle memory to produce superior results.

In essence your post seems to be saying a couple of hours, a few thousand repetitions and you are a knife fighter. I must be a "duh" if thats true as I've been at this for 11 years and still get "taken" in practice drills regularly.

Harold Mayo:
Execellent narration, comments and observations. Could not agree more with the majority of your post.


Harold Mayo
March 26, 2003, 09:37 AM
JohnKSa: Your last paragraph is correct. There is always the possibility of NOT getting cut but to think that an encounter against a knife-wielding adversary will be won without a wound is to think incorrectly. Knives ARE as fast as hands and don't have to be as accurate to cause damage. I know guys who, unarmed, can pretty much expect to take someone down one-on-one without any problem whatsoever time after time after time. Even they will get hit but, because of their experience and skill, they take no serious hit. Even the best "knife guys" out there will, in play combat, lose their sparring matches to people with practically no skill or training whatsoever simply because of the nature of the beast. Overall, though, of course it is possible to win without being cut...just don't expect it. I know a handful of guys who have been shot AND cut in their lives and, to a man (except for the guy shot with a rifle in the chest), they all state that the pain and disorientation from the cuts was worse than the gunshot wound(s).

Melvin: A Mexican feed is simply holding the knife in your hand with the blade pointing "up" and "feeding" the blade point first with an outward rolling motion of the elbow (mostly) and shoulder. It is a short-range tactic aimed at the face/throat region. It is very fast and can be combined with slashes pretty easily. Best use is if you are body to body with your opponent's right arm (normally the weapon-arm) trapped and he is at your mercy. "Hammer" is holding the blade basically at right angles (or nearly so) to your forearm in a strong grip. "Sabre" is more like 45 degrees from your forearm. This is truly a case where a picture is worth a thousand words, though.

brownie: I stand by my statement. Every technique that you "need" to know can be learned (one-on-one) in a couple of hours. There are permutations that can go on and on to infinity but the basic cuts and defenses can be shown (and "learned", though that is a misleading word) in that time. Retention is much higher one-on-one, too. Knife courses that I've seen for groups that run as long as what you are saying probably only cover in 8-10 hours what you can cover one-on-one in an hour or two and that's if all the students are given good attention. The statement is NOT meant to say that they are skilled in that time or even proficient, but they know what they "need" to know. To be a skilled "knife fighter" takes as many years as you can give it, just like any skill. If someone is wanting to actually be a "knife fighter", then of course they should spend years working on the skill...just like firearms skills (in which the "necessities" can also be taught in a few hours while true skill takes years) and unarmed skills. I can show someone all of the techniques of boxing within a couple of hours but that doesn't make them a boxer. There is the timing issue, too, which you brought up, which is something that is more of an "experience" issue than a "learned" issue. My apologies if my post seems to say what you are saying it says. I WILL say, however, that a guy with no training who is taught the basics and then practices them thousands of times is going to be better off than someone who studies all of the esoterica of "knife fighting" (I actually dislike that term) and practices a wide variety of techniques in the same period of time. I think, however, that you misread my post and we probably agree on things, especially in light that you admit in your post to regularly being "taken" in drills after years of practice. I would be awfully suspicious if you said that no one had "beaten" you with a knife for 11 years or some such nonsense. Most physical (or mental) skills can be learned quickly and practiced to within 10% or so of perfection relatively quickly. It is the last 9.99% that takes years of practice and experience that truly separates the "men from the boys", so to speak.

March 26, 2003, 10:26 AM
Harold Mayo:

Agree with your edification and thought processes here sir.


March 26, 2003, 02:05 PM
I've become an advocate of the "80/20 rule", i.e. the last 20% of "perfecting" anything takes 80% of the total time involved.

If I can arrange it I would like to host a training weekend in Knoxville where Brownie could come down and conduct some focused training on the techniques he uses. I'm considering late April to early June for the time. There should be space for a total of 9 or 10 people and I've already got 2 people that have said they would come.

March 27, 2003, 09:40 PM
My point wasn't that it's always possible to keep from getting cut (or not), but that it should be your GOAL to keep from getting cut.

That's my goal, and so I'm not going to do anything that puts me any closer to my opponent than I have to be. Knives are reach weapons and if he can't reach me, he can't hurt me. I'm not going to try to close with him--I'm not after him, he's after me.

That means I use the saber hold, edge down which gives me maximum reach for the length of knife I'm using.

If my opponent is using a reverse hold or some similar technique that limits his reach, I will be able to stay out of his reach while keeping him within my reach. He will be leading with his hand, I will be leading with my knife. Even if his knife is longer than mine, his hand will be in my cutting range before his knife can reach my hand.

The farther he reaches in to get me, the farther up his arm I will be able to cut him.

I may not be able to reach to his body to deliver a "mortal" wound, I may not be able to deliver extra-deep cuts, but I'm not trying to kill him anyway. Besides, after I cut on his arms & hands (or whatever gets close) awhile, it won't matter whether he's cut on the torso or not. His knife hand is likely going to be my main target unless he gets careless. It doesn't take too long to ruin a hand's effectiveness with even relatively light cuts.

What I was saying with the last paragraph of my previous post was that unless a person goes into a knife fight intending to get cut, there's no way that he could rationalize holding his knife in a way that lets his opponent reach him more easily than he can reach his opponent.

March 27, 2003, 10:31 PM

I believe your stated defensive posture and theories of why it will work are sound.


October 27, 2006, 02:46 AM
As far as that "rambo" topic that got brought up... Why give an attacker a break? Whats that saying.... "rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6" ? I could care less about what a judge and jury thinks about me if another person is trying to kill me... and the only way to stop someone espescially if they are determined is to be "rambo" and stab and cut vital organs/areas..... Cops and military dont train and shoot center mass for no reason....If you dont hit something vital (and even if you do) the person can still fight back.... Sure maybe you can be nice and cut his hand and prolly just maybe he will be like dang that hurts im bleeding..... But why try to just hurt them when they are trying to kill you?

October 27, 2006, 02:57 AM
If you dont hit something vital (and even if you do) the person can still fight back.

I've seen people stabbed in vitals [ the chest ] and still fight back, and walk away to go to an emergency room some hours later as well. You comment even if you do hit vitals, they can fight. If you can't be guaranteed a stop by closing and targeting vitals, why would you when your chances are increased by distancing and taking targets of opportunity when they reach out to you?

While you are in "tight" with the BG, your chances of taking damage at the same time are increased exponentially.

Distance equates to safety, not all people who would harm you are Rambos either. They look for easy marks and have no taste for taking damage of any kind themselvs for the most part.


October 27, 2006, 04:21 AM
when and how to change tactics and grips when we realize our assailant is a rambozo type? By that I mean one who has disregard for getting cut and is trying to close in for grappling and stabbing.

Does it make sense to try to change grip, also close in, and try to realize mutually assured destruction (slashed/stabbed to death)? May not have the chance or time.

October 27, 2006, 04:32 PM

Welcome to THR!

How'd you find us?

I think you missed the point of the Rambo question. Sometimes lethal isn't safest when you're dealing with a knife. If all someone is willing to learn is sentry removal techniques because they "kill instantly" then they're probably a Rambozo. They've seen too many movies/TV/games. Limb destruction of an attacker can often be a quicker way to reduce the risk to drive in to terminate the fight. If all they want to learn to do is "Kill, kill, killllllll!" then they're throwing away essential tools.

October 27, 2006, 05:12 PM
Hey CWL...

I'm totally uneducated when it comes to knife-fighting so there is no "challenge" here - just a straight question.
I've always heard the cavalry sabre was intended to be used (first) more as a "sharp club" against limbs or any "target of opportunity", and only as a "stabber" once the path is clear, so to speak. And fersure using a sabre to "stab" someone on the ground when one is mounted doesn't sound like a commonly possible event.
Maybe I need to find an old-time cavalry manual and look it up. Where have you found the tactics of cavalry sabre use?:confused:

Many thanks !

October 27, 2006, 05:53 PM
In a simplistic way of looking at the problem I would observe that a slash to to the chest is not as lethal as a stab to the heart nor is a stab to the throat that misses anything important more lethal than a wide slash to the throat.

Anyway who is going to rely on just one thrust or slash anyway?

Knives are like any other weapon, targetting is key.

October 27, 2006, 06:17 PM
Man, talk about reviving an old thread.

Here are my observations on the matter:

I’ve been taking Modern Arnis for almost a year now, and in that time, my notions of fighting with edged weapons has changed. Prior to this, I had done some WMA style fencing, and was thus dedicated to the primacy of the stab.

I still think that as a killing stroke with a long blade, the stab is superior to the cut 75% of the time. However, I’ve come to find that the short blades that we carry today as backup defensive weapons are not as well suited for this application.

For example, when I first started Arnis, I would feint and stab with the padded training knife, going directly for the kill. I’m pretty quick, and I almost always landed the stab, but just about every time, I was either counter stabbed or cut in a vital area before I could disengage. I’ve since adopted the aforementioned strategy of cutting up the opponent’s hands or otherwise immobilizing the threat as opposed to going directly “in for the kill.”

It’s amazing what you can learn when you actually go full speed with training weapons. You tend to lose many of your preconceived notions.

It may sound cliché, but truly, the more I learn about fighting with blades, the more I realize that I want no part of a knife fight.

October 27, 2006, 07:50 PM
Hi Gray...

Meant to mention earlier - the Pikal approach reminds me of a fellow I met, a home remodeler, who was inclined to reach for any of the claw-like linoleum knives he used in the course of his occupation.
That sure looked like something/someone I would not want to tangle with at all. I'm with Skofnung on this knife fight gig! :(

October 27, 2006, 10:26 PM
If the question is stab or cut then the answer WWJBD. What would Jim Bowie do. He would do both thrust in edge up stabbing deep then make a ripping cut as he pull out.If the question is to kill or maim a sentry first ask do I want to take prisoners,then ask if he yells will I be caught by his friends. If you say yes to the first question and no to the second then disable him. If you need the stealth and not prisoners then kill him.If you cut through his diaphragm he cant scream.If you cut through all the connecting tissue in his arms he cant fight with them.

one shot one kill

October 28, 2006, 12:26 AM
I think I remember reading that an ancient Korean general once said of swords, "the thrust wounds faster, but the slash is faster to deliver."

2. Slashes and cuts seemed to do far more to incapacitate the victim than did thrusts. The blood loss was vastly greater, and the shock of the wound was seemingly much more difficult to withstand - perhaps because more nerves were involved, or more tissue was damaged?

Are you sure the actual blood loss was greater? Or just the overall "bloodiness" of the victim and the surrounding area? Big ol' slashes will bleed externally a lot more than stab wounds, which will bleed almost entirely internally. Anyone who's had severe pneumonia will be able to tell you (er, unless they're dead of course), the lungs can hold a lot of fluid in them.

Also, the fact that prison shanks are the weapons in these cases may be the deciding factor. Just from the very few prison shanks I've seen in my sheltered existance, it seems like they are typically designed to either stab or slash, but most will not do both very well.

An ice-pick type stabbing implement with no sharp edge won't do much damage to major blood vessels unless it hits them directly. Hits to internal organs may be narrow enough that they'll seal themselves when the blade is withdrawn, because of the elasticity of tissue.

A knife-shaped hunk of metal, sharpened on concrete, may be capable of taking a sharp enough edge to cut, maybe even cut very well, but won't sever blood vessels on a stab nearly as easily as an actual knife (provided the knife is extremely sharp). Even broadhead arrows can push arteries aside rather than slice through them, if they aren't razor sharp.

October 28, 2006, 02:23 AM
I’m pretty quick, and I almost always landed the stab, but just about every time, I was either counter stabbed or cut in a vital area before I could disengage. I’ve since adopted the aforementioned strategy of cutting up the opponent’s hands or otherwise immobilizing the threat as opposed to going directly “in for the kill.”Exactly my experience and my conclusion.

October 28, 2006, 03:47 AM
Yeah...with wooden knives with padded sleeves, my hands have taken a beating. Some of us tend be, uh, committed...:uhoh:


October 28, 2006, 03:55 AM
were able to live long enough to get to hospital

That's the key right there. Before the last century, stabs were far worse than slashes because death was almost 100% certain if the central body cavity was pierced and an infection started. Very few surgeons dared try to operate there.

Loyalist Dave
October 28, 2006, 08:41 AM
In HTH (aka:CQB) with a knife, whether or not the guy succumbs to his wounds after you are dead or left the area is irrelevant. You have to immobilize the opponent, or part of the opponent's body, to stop the attacks upon yourself. Ignoring the lucky blow, the slash tends to disable, thus giving you a much greater advantage. The thrust tends to cause mortal wounds, some instantaneous, some after a few seconds, if directed to the upper torso or neck/head. The British Commando knife, sometimes called the Sykes-Fairbain (hope I spelled it right) was designed to allow the fighter to slash, BUT more important, to deliver a fatal stab. The Bowie knife mentioned above, was big, scary, and very heavy. Accounts of that knife detail how the users carved each other up - meaning it took a while for the blood loss to take its toll. Users of the Arkansaw toothpick, similar in many ways to the British knife 100 years later, killed opponents with thrusts, quite fast.

The problem with Kali (Arnis, Escrima) practice is that you dont experience the disabling from the slash, before you deliver the poke (0r get poked) from the practice knife. You can't properly judge how disabled you or your partner really would be from slashing, before you delivered your thrust. So you might have really crippled the guy, and a thrust would've finished him off without his being able to stick you too, but he's still fighting at 100% 'cause the practice blades don't cause wounds.

ITF have your teacher watch and stop you when either gets a good slash, and have the teacher then require one of you to fight without using the damaged limb, OR start off assuming one of you has a disabled limb, and see what happens.

The longer you take in such a fight, the less likely you are to survive.


October 28, 2006, 02:01 PM
Yeah...with wooden knives with padded sleeves, my hands have taken a beating. Some of us tend be, uh, committed...


Yup. I usually have at least a few abrasions on my hands/wrists after class, and a few weeks ago I even got a nice little hematoma on the back of my right hand… and I don’t bruise easily. I’m certainly not complaining though, I enjoy every minute of it.

The problem with Kali (Arnis, Escrima) practice is that you dont experience the disabling from the slash, before you deliver the poke (0r get poked) from the practice knife. You can't properly judge how disabled you or your partner really would be from slashing, before you delivered your thrust. So you might have really crippled the guy, and a thrust would've finished him off without his being able to stick you too, but he's still fighting at 100% 'cause the practice blades don't cause wounds.

To a certain extent, I agree with you. However, certain things need to be taken into account. First off, we’ve all received wounds from various things in our lives that we were not immediately aware of, some of which were serious. Couple that with adrenaline and you may have an opponent with arterial bleeding that continues to fight for several seconds after… A lot can happen in two or three seconds in a fight.

Even if one were to hit something that would cause the opponent to fold right out (tendons, CNS, broken bones) the opponent could still be a serious threat just by falling forward upon you.

My contention is that practice is better than none. Yes, our practice opponent won’t react as if cut or stabbed, but how do you know how a given real life opponent will react? Just like a shooting, there are thousands of variables that could come into play… adrenaline, drugs, natural pain tolerance, size/weight, fatty padding, the list goes on.

ITF have your teacher watch and stop you when either gets a good slash,

There is no way in a full speed sparring match that an instructor could stop either opponent in time. The action versus reaction time involved for a third party is too long. Our instructor observes, and comments afterwards on what he observed. That, and my sparring partners and I try to check our egos at the door, thus operating on the honor system. Hands just fly too fast for verbal intervention.

October 28, 2006, 02:07 PM
Oh yhea, on the subject of cut versus thrust, I suggest reading Paradoxes of Defense by George Silver.

He was not without bias, but he makes some very good points.

October 28, 2006, 02:15 PM
There were some very good- and fast- players when I trained at BAD. It was usually pretty obvious when I was getting carved up- unlike rubber knives, the foam sleeves just put a barrier between a hard surface and you. Still stung like hell...I usually ended pretty pissed, and eager to hold a weapon with some standoff ability!

Harold Mayo
October 28, 2006, 04:03 PM
It's always interesting when old posts surface again.

My views on some things have changed in the last three years. After studying some of what "SouthNarc" teaches (see and, I've become a convert to the use of a defensive knife in the reverse grip with the edge in. Other stuff is interesting and could be useful but, for many reasons, I'm now a proponent of this stuff.

It's not really the damage that can be done that is my concern but I've been won over by the viewing of the use of a knife in context. I've never heard in real life of any two guys getting in a protracted "knife duel" a la "West Side Story" or something like that. I HAVE had experience with multiple opponents mobbing a single guy who is on the defensive and has to deploy a weapon quickly and use it effectively in a confined space and under stress, perhaps even without the ability to see much. In a situation like that, which is reality, a fixed-bladed knife used in a reverse grip, edge in, makes the most sense to me.

Harold Mayo
October 28, 2006, 07:39 PM
As for knowing everything...? I think that my posts just showed a growth in knowledge from three years ago. Part of why I posted. Everything? I've rarely made that claim...

Difference between practice and theory? Not if you're working off of the right theory. There is, after all, a REASON to train and it's NOT so that you can NOT do something correctly.

As for defending myself with a weapon...? Yes, I have.

As for my statements in this particular thread...? Well...if you had read them, I don't think you'd be running that mouth.

As for me deciding whose views get to be heard here...? No, you're right. I don't. But, with your attitude and language, you're making that decision easy for those who DO decide.

October 28, 2006, 08:12 PM
you are totally correct.
I apologise unreservedly for my rudeness.
I still think think that real experience outranks "practice" (but I do practise of course).

Harold Mayo
October 28, 2006, 08:31 PM
Real-world experience is worth more than practice but you're a lot more likely to do well when that real-world experience presents itself if you've practiced realistically first. The real world is a hard teacher. I much prefer to be a little prepared for it before going out into it.

October 28, 2006, 08:48 PM
I agree.

You (I think) know about these things my brother



October 29, 2006, 02:46 AM
I reckon we've said enough about the subject for now. Y'all start a new thread if you feel a need for a sequel. :)


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