This knife-fighting style is based on medieval and Renaissance European martial arts but differs little from Asian, African, and ancient Roman arts. It would fit into almost any setting "as is." Likewise, while "dagger" historically described a fairly specific weapon (see Chapter 6), Dagger Fighting works with any of the fighting knives used worldwide for streetfighting and personal defense, and as auxiliary weapons in dueling and warfare - singly or in pairs. Practitioners typically favor larger blades, however.
Most schools taught both the "sword" grip (the normal grip) and the "ice pick" grip (see Reversed Grip, pp. 111-112). Dagger fighters learned to switch rapidly between grips to take full advantage of the fluid mix of knife work and grappling that characterizes a knife fight. Tactics emphasized feints, disarms (barehanded and by slashing hands and arms), and direct attacks. "Spinning" techniques - for instance, turning one's back on an advancing enemy in order to drive one's knife backward and into him - weren't unknown.
"Kung fu" is a Chinese term for "hard work" or "good effort." Originally applied to any endeavor, it has become synonymous with the martial arts. Kung fu isn't a specific style. It's a blanket term for all Chinese martial arts. The uninformed often misapply it to other fighting arts, though - much as they do "karate."
Many of the styles in this chapter are forms of kung fu: Chin Na (p. 154), Hsing I Chuan (pp. 162-163), Hung Gar (p. 163), Pa Kua Chuan (pp. 187-188), Pak Hok (p. 188), Praying Mantis (pp. 191-192), Shaolin Kung Fu (p. 194), T'ai Chi Chuan (pp. 200-201), Wing Chun (pp. 203-204), and Wushu (pp. 206-207). Kuntao (pp. 178-179) is a variety of kung fu taught in Indonesia. Other styles drew heavily on kung fu during their development, including Jeet Kune Do (pp. 164165), Kajukenbo (p. 168), and Kempo (pp. 172-173). There are hundreds if not thousands of kung fu styles and sub-styles!
The dagger fighter prefers to circle his foe, feinting, jabbing, and watching for any weakness or opportunity. This is a series of Wait, Evaluate, Feint, and Defensive Attack maneuvers. He'll move in for the kill only when his adversary is vulnerable - injured, feinted, etc. Multiple, darting attacks are more likely than a single powerful blow, and the fighter might deliver several potentially lethal blows to ensure that his enemy dies quickly enough to be unable to return the favor.
Most attacks target the arm or hand to disarm, or the neck or vitals to kill. Stylists do stab but often prefer the cut, simply because a slash at arm's length offers superior reach. Single-knife schools also grapple using the empty hand (often known as the "live hand"). Moves include grabbing the opponent's weapon and grappling his weapon arm in order to break it or render his weapon harmless, usually after a parry.
As martial arts go, Dagger Fighting comes with few improbable claims. A couple of cinematic skills fit the style, though. Hypnotic Hands suits the complex rhythms of knife work, while Power Blow would let low-damage knives deal powerful blows that could instantly cripple limbs or kill.
Modern knife-fighting schools are remarkably similar to historical ones but tend to replace the emphasis on parrying larger weapons (such as swords) with gun-disarming techniques. It's difficult to find training in serious knife-fighting in realistic conditions outside of military and covert-ops circles. Moreover, it's often illegal to carry a weapon-length knife, and using even a legal one can mean trouble with the law! This last matter isn't a modern phenomenon. Even in historical settings where everyone carried and used knives as tools, ordinary citizens often regarded skilled knife-fighters as desperados or criminals.
In any era, many knife-fighters learn another style as well - either armed or unarmed.
Skills: Knife; Wrestling.
Techniques: Arm Lock (Knife or Wrestling); Armed Grapple (Knife); Back Strike (Knife); Choke Hold (Knife); Feint (Knife); Retain Weapon (Knife); Reverse Grip (Knife); Spinning Strike (Knife).
Cinematic Skills: Hypnotic Hands; Power Blow.
Cinematic Techniques: Dual-Weapon Attack (Knife or Wrestling); Fighting While Seated (Knife).
Perks: Off-Hand Weapon Training (Knife); Quick-Swap (Knife).
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