This 2-part article was passed to me a little while ago by a friend. I want to make clear that I don’t wish to draw unnecessary attention, either to the articles in-question or any kind of unneeded tension between myself and any other industry professional.
Apparently it had been making its rounds in industry-circles and been getting generally solid and positive reviews. I debated putting this out here as I simply have no interest in getting in a he said-he said debate with another generally well-respected industry person. HOWEVER, there were so many things in here that caught my eye, I’ve finally decided to put out a rebuttle. First of all, not all of these commentaries are bad, nor do I disagree with all of it. I do sincerely believe he was trying to share a different perspective to counter the general industry hyperbole and violence-mongering so often peddled. I do, however, want to point out a ton of inaccuracies here that should be pointed-out.
The most dangerous reads are often the ones that honestly seem to be based on gravity and grounding, yet seem to misunderstand the actual problems addressed in a holistic capacity. Those with best intentions shouldn’t be given a free hall-pass just because of those intentions. They’re still held accountable for transferring inaccurate information, information lacking an element of the totality, or information that can get people in serious trouble in spite of those intentions. So, with that said, let’s dissect this here:
- One of the major points that he’s forgetting to mention as to why civilians are resistant to use and carry knives for self-defense is the almost nil past-history of case studies where the “victim” has utilized a blade for SD….and won legally. (never mind the capability/inhibitions of the average person using one, and the post-event psychological/emotional/social elements) I can count on one hand the files I’ve been passed where there’s been a “successful” trial outcome over the years. Public perception is not good…and that’s who you’ll be tried by…jury/defense lawyer/judge, not industry peers; likely none of whom will see that having someone gutted, permanently maimed, bleeding all over the place, holes in their body, organs punctured….is normal or likely acceptable, regardless of situational seriousness. No knife guys mention this.
- One of the other major points is that knives are simply not a guaranteed stopping tool. There is no area to cut, set times of cutting/stabbing, ensured blood-loss amount, biomechanical-cutting assurance….that will guarantee a stop to a motivated, intent-driven, aggressive attacking person. Rarely (r-a-r-e-l-y) does a knife shut down a moving adrenalized body in 1-2 shots the way a heavy, hard impact weapon can. (really, whatever, a hammer, pipe, tire-iron, baseball-bat, autobody-hammer, etc. Talk to Varg Freeborn about that, he’ll talk indefinitely and honestly on this) And 30 generally puts you in jail for some time as it crosses the “self-defense” and “sufficient damage to stop threat” mandates. Note also that the resultant effects of knife-usage on a human body – tendons/muscles/ligaments…flesh…torn, mutilations, holes, appendage-removal/amputations, ugly lifelong scars, lots of blood…are rarely something the average person who’ll be in-charge of your freedom will view without some horror…
- In #2, he’s openly talking about “self-defense” against an unarmed man using a knife. (I’d say that cancels out the “defensive” in the title. I’m sure that’ll go over super-swell with the above-mentioned demographic. (and entirely counter-acting his comments in #1, by the way…)
- 4. EVERY WEEK 3-4 people show up at his door stating they’ve been recently robbed or attacked with a knife?! Where the hell is he living?! I live in Central America and I can’t claim a small percentage of that. Sounds hyperbolic but whatta’ I know, maybe he lives or works in an absolute dive.
- 5. “Some immediately hang-up the phone, some tell me they don’t want to kill anyone, and others think I’m crazy.” That tells me a lot. I’d imagine these would often be “stable people”, avoiding people that exacerbate and sensationalize the actual problems they face daily. (And when they don’t partake, he mocks them because they reject his Kool-Aid…damn unicorns, snowflakes, cotton-candy eaters.
- 6. In the “Legal Issues” paragraph, he openly advocates for breaking the law and explains why everything he said previous was hyperbole. They’re illegal. Prosecution just for carrying one (let alone using it) is strict and enforced in his area. (Why wouldn’t he advocated heavy improvised-weapon, daily-tool, innocuous-item usage, why the one that’ll guaranteed get you in trouble legally regardless of context? Digressing. I guess I’m just not in love with a tool the way some are. Nobody will change the stigma a knife brings, it’s sexual/psychological in-nature and brings awful results, and the public knows it.
- 7. In “Important Considerations”, he’d rather you sent it ahead to your destination or gift-wrap it or mark it as a gift?? The least alarming way to bring it is exactly in that checked luggage. It can be removed without incident upon arrival and you’re not likely to be attacked in a national airport. Equally valid, buy a throw-away piece-of-shit from the local grocery store wherever you’re travelling. There’s no record if paying in cash. It’s not a big expense. It can be discarded prior to exiting the country again and, while in, used for a number of actual daily uses…peeling wonderful Caribbean fruit, for instance. (Or use the above innocuous weapons mentioned)
- 8. His “When Can You Claim Self-Defense”? Wildly context-dependent and not at all a general-scope. Always a case-by-case study. What is “an attack?” Even a push from a martial artist or pro fighter will justify lethal-force by blade?? Can you deploy from the position the attempted-rape is starting from, and with prior knowledge the known trusted entity perpetrating it will give sufficient time, motor skill, acknowledgement that now’s the correct-time for deployment?? And so-on-and-so-forth with likely 17 other questions I left out…
- 9. Again “Leaving the Scene of a Crime”, he’s openly advocating that you do something against the law and worry about it later. (precedence/negligence: negligence as a teacher should one of his students be in a bind legally, and definitely fodder should he actually need to use one-precedence…)
- 10. He owns 100 knives. That’ll look great for the defense attorney should he ever actually need one as well. There are knife-collectors that sincerely partake in that hobby legitimately, let’s keep perspective. However, when you like to announce it on social-media like that in the same breath as an offensive-knife-defense article, more than a little curious to any potential lawyers, jury members, judges, or police officers. Remember, they’re building a profile of you in their mind should you have used a blade in a self-defense environment…
- 11. “There seems to be a preference for some students to purchase expensive knives for their collection and to use a cheap knife for EDC. That’s beyond stupid, don’t be cheap, you need a dependable high quality knife – your life may depend on it.” (There’s a very specific reason for this, serious people who are actually authentically “in-the-shit” know why that is. He also just stated above that he’s now at the point that “but now, any knife that’s pointy and sharp is fine with me, in the end it’s just a tool”…so which one is it…I’m confused…
- 12. “Anytime you post your thumb or forefinger on top or on the side of the blade, you have already diminished your grip strength on the knife by more than 70%.” Well, actually that’s not true. Modern knives are actually made with grooves for this in-mind. The Filipinos (thumb on spine) and Argentineans (thumb on flat, and both with palm-reinforcement (even on long handles) to stabilize grip) use different grips and have traditionally come from knife cultures that utilize these as they reinforce cutting power/trajectory/accuracy of targeting and solidify grip for striking. I’ve test-cutted tons using both of these and have never, ever dropped a live blade while doing so. There are tons of documented prison/historical knife fights that reinforce this method in both countries, remembering that both originated from Spanish swordsmanship/fencing, whose dueling culture goes back centuries. (But, hey, right….)
- 13. His link to grip-research is broken/doesn’t exist so seemingly nothing to back his points there…
- 14. “however some individuals need knife skills NOW and neither have the time nor interest in learning the stick.” Why? Whom? Not the military, they so rarely need knife-fighting that it’s hardly mentionable outside of triviality. The new martial-arts belt program from Matt Larsen doesn’t even have knife in the curriculum, to my knowledge. Cops? Heavy legal liability. Bouncers? I wonder what their employers would say regarding that liability issue. Civilians? Why do they need these skills NOW? You really think government agents/private-security/bodyguards will use a knife as a go-to weapon wshtff? Really? I’d think there are tons of lower-key, publically-innocuous, attention-deficient (and more immediately-effective) tools they’d sooner carry so as not to draw public/legal/professional scrutiny. Maybe just me. (And then there’s your statement about, if you end up in that situation in these professions, you’re probably shit at your job) Also, see my above #2 for shutdown-potential issue.
- 15. “Many criminals have openly admitted that they prefer not to target someone who seems to be aware of their surroundings.” (Yup. Many have also admitted they don’t give a fuck if the person’s aware of their surroundings. They pick a target and commit to it. Small sheepish women can be aware of their surroundings. Disabled and aged folk as well. Slumping, seemingly-weak, undeveloped men as well. So what.) My recent event also could be added here.
- 16. “The only way to recognize an attack is to maintain constant vigilance and awareness…” Really. So he recommends being hyper-vigilant. Jacked and tuned-in 24/7. First of all, that’s simply not at all achievable physiologically. And here’s betting he dies of heart-problems and stress-related body shutdown long before that fucking knifer ever decides to come around. Be tranquilo, normal, unnoticeable…until it’s time not to be. I believe that being hyper-vigilant also draws far more unneeded attention than being attentive to pertinent information when it arises. I’m not tuned-in all day, until I notice something important and contextually-odd that I need to be tuned-in about.
- 17. In his “Stances” commentary, he mocks the WW2 knife-hand back methodology. They were at war. The knife-hand back was to protect the blade and make sure it entered into an unarmed or attacking opponent and control distance while doing so. They weren’t fucking dueling. And a kill in that environment was somewhat more justified than civilian training that he’s discussing.
- 18. His #1 point in stances, sounds like potential murder to me. Jus’ sayin’. Legal thing again and all.
- 19. Regarding “stab vs. slash”, he should read Darren Laur’s articles on this from ER doctors actually authenticated and legitimized. (not anecdotal or mentioned in passing) They say something quite different, including regarding the throat. The book from Michael Janich on contemporary knife-targeting as well has some documented information in this regard. Medically-viable information and backed, might I add…
- 20. I think he means “biomechanical” (cutting muscles/tendons/ligaments) cutting. “Biometric” is the use of statistical data to identify a person based on specific personal traits.
- 21. “The fighter ran away as fast as he could – as he should have” (This was in #6 down page 2, but above that a few paragraphs he said you shouldn’t run away at top-speed, you should jog because top-speed pools blood to the torso and causing fumbling and tripping. Weird. Wonder regardless of jogging/running flat-out, if you’re disabled, infirm, injured, slow, out-of-shape, aged, less-fast-than-Johnny-Knifeattacker, with family….what then…)
Anyways, listen, as mentioned, he does actually have some good advice to be found in here, some of which I agree with, to be sure. It’s certainly not all bad and he’s at least thought some of it through instead of the usual die-in-Valhalla-kill-‘em-all garbage we so often see. But, to be honest, I hate “how-to” articles like this. Bloody-well hate them. Context is predominantly invisible here, as it is in so many others. Vacant. Experience(s) is(are) different. Circumstances change rapidly. What works for one doesn’t do so for others. And how-to editorials get people killed, I find. Often quite efficiently.
I also refuse (at least anymore, if I ever actually did) to write articles on knife-fighting or knife-culture or knife-training. I don’t want any of it down on paper, should that event ever occur for real, and it’s not entirely out-of-the-realm of possibility for me, if we’re being honest. Maybe I’m subtle that way but I don’t talk shit online for very specific purpose. These articles are actually a prototype for what I’ve long was tried to explain on content from RBSD folk recently. I refuse to call what I do RBSD anymore. I simply do not want to be affiliated with stuff like this.
Taking all this into consideration, I’d like you, the reader, to see these articles as a point/counter-point investment. Think hard and analyze deeply on all elements of carrying a knife for self-defense purposes. Note that I am not against doing so by any stretch (as many know about me) but I DO think that some deep assessment – far more than most give it and definitely more than is present here – is a prerequisite for doing so. Compare perspectives and make an advised decision on what’s best for you and your family. These will be long reads but you may get an education on knife-carry and your decision(s) to do so.
2 thoughts on “A REBUTTAL TO AN INDUSTRY FAVORITE”
Thanks for taking the time, my friend. Yeah, I sat on the fence with this one for quite a while, debating on whether it was worth commenting or not…but here we are. The will to clear-up inaccuracies (at least from my perspective) for onlookers as this spread around the Interweb took precedence. To be clear, I’m not an advocate against carrying for either self-defense or utility, I just think a ton more assessment needs to go into the process for most. Most seem to carry like we’re still living in some Wild West novel. They don’t acknowledge legal, psychological, social, mental, emotional caveats. And, even if those are met, little attention is paid to the 5 W’s of deployment and other elements like retention, adrenaline, physiology, anatomy. I’d recommend really doing some thinking on your personal environment, culture, and daily routines/patterns to see if your life is at-risk enough to carry blades so flippantly. Just my .02. Thanks for taking the time to jump-in. 🙂
Interesting comments. We have been saying these things for years now. It is not getting any better either. Judging by the research I do and people I talk with, what you have analyzed in this article still goes on and on. All kinds of experts misleading people about self defense due to a variety of reasons. I do not know if they just repeat the methods they were taught without question or just made up their own methods and got some good marketing skills to sell whatever they teach or advocate. This is why I went my own way many decades ago. I never thought much of the training I received anywhere after my stint as a maximum security penitentiary officer. That was my wake up call about self-defense. It broke all of my Bruce Lee want to be fantasies. I had to take a good look at what I (and the public) was dealing with – hardened deadly criminals and psychos. I found there was no easy answer or one style or weapon to use against determined attackers depending on many things. All of my previous training was to accept being a victim or using control/restraint non lethal methods or kill them all and let God sort them out. No balanced blend of concepts and techniques. I also found the same confusion and chaos in the armed self defense community. Actually, they also perpetuate bad training and misinformation. This is because, many instructors do not do their research either. Once again, because of this chaos, I created my own methods for myself and not others unless they wish to taught. The methods and tools I use are those I think will give me a better chance of survival. They may work for me but not for others. Perhaps, everything should be based on the individual’s needs and situation. Yes, I agree about the knife having a very poor reputation as a self defense weapon. You are better off shooting five slugs in an attacker than stabbing him five times. Both are justifiable in a self defense situation but the knife has been historically thought of as a low class weapon used by the nasty peasants according to the old aristocratic nobles of Europe. Nobles were rich enough to buy expensive swords and get excellent training while the peasants or serfs could only afford cheap blades and questionable ungentlemanly fighting tactics. This prejudice against the knife is still with us today as you described in your article. The knife is still considered an evil weapon that requires an up close and personal/intimate attack which is considered revolting in a civilized society. Using a pistol at a distance is not considered an up close and personal weapon. I believe that it will be easier on you in court if you shot a pistol in self defense than slice and dice someone to death with a knife. The projectile weapon (gun) is a non personal weapon and socially acceptable to use versus the personal, intimate, nasty use of a blade. I know of a local knife defense case where a guy defended himself with a knife against three attackers outside a local bar. He was justified in its use during his first trail but the prosecutor managed to get him into court again for some other knife related reason. They would not leave the knifer alone. He won the second case also. He should have used a gun. I have attended plenty of SD/MA courses where they do not teach adrenal effects, legal, social, financial and psychological after effects of violence. These things are left out due to ignorance and criminal negligence in my opinion. They all have to be inclusive in any program. To me, a knife is only a very last ditch weapon to draw and use only when you are absolutely sure you are going to be killed, raped or kidnapped and you have no pistol to use. Even if you have a pistol, you can shoot somebody 14 times and they can still fight back. So nothing is guaranteed to work 100% of the time. It all depends on caliber and targeting. Also, luck has a lot to do with survival. I always advocated “universal standards” for self defense training but never made any headway. It seems that the industry just wants to continue in chaos or what Bruce Lee defined as the “Classical Mess”. Needless to say, I am not very welcomed to teach at most establishments because of my different approach to teaching. I do not follow the conventional or traditional methods of using sighted aimed fire etc….. My methods are too challenging for people’s sensitivities. Too much conservatism around to prevent forward thinking. Ray