V

Rolled-up paper can be used to simulate a razor, folding knife or screwdriver. While working with smaller knives, boxing wraps were necessary because the subjects' hands often collided. The leather hand straps shown here helped minimize impacts to the sensitive thumb area.

Rolled-up paper can be used to simulate a razor, folding knife or screwdriver. While working with smaller knives, boxing wraps were necessary because the subjects' hands often collided. The leather hand straps shown here helped minimize impacts to the sensitive thumb area.

implemented in August 2001, in which each player begins with five points. A butt strike, foot check, slap or stepping out deducts one point; a slash or finger jab to the goggles deducts two points; and a stab to the torso or any edge or point contact with the neck or goggles counts for three. When a player is reduced to zero, the other player is credited with the number of points retained. In this way,

For the study, a dagger was simulated by using a small plunger, and a wooden practice knife was made from spoons and twine. Combat with such rigid implements necessitated wearing lacrosse or hockey gear for added protection of the hands, elbows and face.

the testing engages the ego to encourage defense over offense in the competitive accumulation of points.

The results were as follows:

• 5-0 shutouts were extremely rare and generally achieved with lead-hand slashes.

• 4-0 victories were the rarest result, as empty-hand or butting tactics seldom succeeded without being combined with edge and point action.

• 3-0 victories were the common result of duels between experienced and inexperienced players, with the veterans generally scoring three slashes or a slash-and-stab on a novice who usually managed to get in a single slash.

• 2-0 victories were rare and generally reflected a bout in which a slasher overwhelmed a stabber.

• 1-0 victories were the common result between two experienced players, with the victor typically taking two slashes

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Weapons from real-life knife-to-knife encounters: A box-cutter identical to the one pulled on the author by an older man during a heated argument in 1989, along with the knife the author drew in defense. The razor-wielder left the scene, threatening to shoot the author.

to deliver three slashes or a slash-and-thrust.

• Except for an excellent heavyweight boxer who used his knife to deliver straight right stabs, all players—both martial artists and non-martial artists— fought with their knife in the lead.

• Attempts at reverse-grip knife fighting succeeded only against first-timers.

• Slashes were attempted five times as often as stabs.

• Attempted stabs were as likely to succeed as slashes but more likely to result in counter-slashes—usually one cut going in and one cut coming out, for a three- to four-point deficit.

• Of the three participating martial artists, all of whom were knife instructors, one dominated the regular players, one held his own and one was dominated.

• The only consistently successful unarmed technique was the low kick. However, it was never decisive, having succeeded only in postponing an empty-hand-vs.-knife failure or augmented a blade-to-blade or finger-jab success.

• The percentages of success for empty-

The balisong that a larger man attempted to draw on the author in 1995 and the razor knife the author was wearing at the time but did not draw. Instead, the author covered the knifer's weapon hand as he attempted to deploy his blade from a belt sheath. The knifer was so focused on his blade—instead of on using his superior strength and mass to grapple—that he submitted when he was unable to take out the weapon. He later apologized to the author and handed over the knife as a peace offering.

The balisong that a larger man attempted to draw on the author in 1995 and the razor knife the author was wearing at the time but did not draw. Instead, the author covered the knifer's weapon hand as he attempted to deploy his blade from a belt sheath. The knifer was so focused on his blade—instead of on using his superior strength and mass to grapple—that he submitted when he was unable to take out the weapon. He later apologized to the author and handed over the knife as a peace offering.

hand-vs.-blade simulations were: block, parry and dodge ..0%

grappling 2%

kick and finger jab 10% *

running past the knifer on approach 15% *

* These results are deceptive. One must remember that most of those who attempted the less-successful options such as grappling or parrying did so because they failed to get in position for something better—like running away. (In other words, most players never get into position to initiate one of the three reasonably successful defenses unless they were being attacked by an inexperienced player—who usually became an effective assassin after one session.) The credit should go to the knifer in these situations. The knifer is the ini-

The skinning knife pulled on the author by a 13-year-old panhandler in 2002 and the pocket knife the author drew as a first response. The boy stalked away, making threats.

tiating player, with the drill beginning with his entry into "the room."

Conclusions

Virtually all real-life blade-to-blade encounters in my study resulted in the person who had less confidence in him-self—or the size and/or quality of his blade—backing down. Of the two fullblown knife fights between adult males, one was a quick one-sided slash-and-stab that resulted in the hospitalization of the less-prepared fighter, and the other was an extended fight in which both parties were killed. It's the opinion of all the players who engaged in the flow-point sparring system that a fight between two knifers—who actually know what they're doing and have the guts to do it—is likely to produce two dead bodies. >•<

About the author: James LaFond is the author of The Fighting Edge: Using Your Martial Arts to Fight Better; and The Logic of Steel: A Fighter's View of Blade and Shank Encounters (Paladin Press). He's also the co-founder and coordinator of Modern Agonistics, a free association of Western-style martial artists who train in Baltimore, Maryland. For more information, visit http://www. blackbeltmag.com and click on Community, then Black Belt Authors.

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