Sunday, August 2, 2009

Kali Knife Defense Techniques at the Action Room

This past Friday I went in for one more class at the Action Room. Two hours flew by so quickly as instructor Kirk Jaques led a class of conditioning, kicks, and Kali knife techniques.

I was very much interested in the knife blocking and stripping techniques Kirk taught, particularly for the way they blended into joint locks that are used in Jiu-jitsu. Some of these blocking techniques are more easily learned than others, but I believe that some of the easier blocks and controls could be practically applied to the police-oriented Can-ryu style of knife defense. The ones that take much more practice, like some of the knife stripping techniques, while they aren't as quickly and easily learned, I believe they could be effectively applied in real defensive situations (if the time is taken to become proficient in them).

Here is a video of the techniques Kirk taught that day:

Please note that while some Kali schools may teach the use of a knife for use in a defensive context, in Canada it is illegal to carry a knife for intentional use in self-defense or any other kind of combat. The use of lethal force must be legally justified according to Section 34 of the Canadian Criminal Code. Read more about self-defense and Section 34 of the Canadian Criminal Code.

Special thanks to Kirk for allowing me to film and post these techniques!


Ice said...

Interesting. Thanks for sharing this.

I keep on forgetting about supplementing self-defense against weapons in my martial arts study, as I've been studying mostly sport based martial arts for competition, which imposes a certain rule-set and reflex action.

I do like your philosophy of simplicity and gross motor skills for self defense, as in a fight/flight situation you'll mostly do what you've trained.

For now most of my self-defense relies on awareness and keeping my personal space bubble free of people.

Anonymous said...

The majority of our knife-defenses and disarms comes from kali since we feel it offers the best possible protection against a blade. After all kali is primarily a weapons-system and who’ll know better the inherent dangers of edged and other types of weapons than one who has actually trained with them? In defense against a knife you cannot afford to take any chances so I’d stick to the KISS-strategy: keep it simple and suave (or alternatively stupid). This is exactly what kali teaches (on all levels, with and without weapons) as can be judged from this video. He didn’t really use proper footwork (always stepping away from the blade and into him) nor fingerjabs but I suppose that was just for teaching purposes. If you actually add the angling and the simultaneous counterattacks you’ve got a very potent counter against knife threats, the disarms or strips are fairly optional in most cases: the defenses flow nicely into various locks and if he’s alone it would be advisable to take him to the ground and disarm there but it’s always good to know and practice them. In any case it’s preferable to disarm and retain the weapon: if there are multiple opponents you can use the knife against them if need be (not likely: if they posses half a brain they’ll run rather than facing an obviously trained person with a knife) and at the very least you’ll deny them an extra weapon.

I disagree with you on your opinion that kali is a defensive art: it’s a battlefield-art and as such it contains both offensive and defensive techniques and tactics. Of course a lot depends on the attitude of the instructor and what is taught but in essence the goal of original kali or escrima is to demolish and kill the opponent, wether defending or attacking. Systems like Lameco-escrima or Sayoc-kali contain a lot of very offensive and highly effective entering techniques in a knife vs knife context, which makes a lot of sense since almost any confrontation involving knives (especially in the Phillipines) is basically a life or death affaire. If he’s prepared to go all the way and you’re not (because of a defensive or humanitarian attitude) you’ll die. Kali is designed to stack as many odds in your favour as possible and this includes attacking first or countering and attacking violently, meaning disarming or destroying the weapon-arm before going to the vitals as soon as possible. Kali can be modified to suit modern self-defense needs surely but it cannot be said it is a defensive art although it can certainly be used and taught that way. This remark may be a bit off but I think a lot depends on the character and attitude or the practioner and even in self-defense certain offensive techniques need to be taught otherwise you’ll just end up with a very flawed and hypothetical system. If you do not learn to attack you cannot defend properly and in some cases it makes a lot of sense to attack first (interception on intention) in order to avoid further harm or ending up with the short end of the stick.


Lori O'Connell said...

Thank you for your comments, Zara. I was more thinking of the class that I had attended specifically, rather than the art as a whole, but I wasn't clear in the way I wrote it. Will fix. Thanks for the catch!

Anonymous said...

You’re welcome Lori, I know it’s easy to generalize from one lesson and from one instructor’s approach (it’s human nature to judge things by first appearances) and we all make mistakes. I just hope I didn’t come off as a wise-ass (something I’ve been accused of more than once, lol) but I thought it a good idea to mention this since we’re all better off with correct information. Do feel free to correct me if I make a similar mistake. What I like about the kali knife-defenses is that they always flow and are more about redirecting the energy than about opposing it outright. Since they know from their own experience any knife-fighter worth his salt will vary his attacks (most likely with feints) and take full advantage of the knife’s characteristics (a knife, unlike a stick, need not to be retracted for another attack since it can do damage by just drawing it over the skin) including sliding off the defender’s block or simply tapping it away and continuing the motion (this is why a classic x-block against a knife is a very, very bad idea) your best bet would be to just let it pass once he’s over centerline and intercepting on his second attack. As long as you do this, keep your vitals as far away from the blade as possible and defend and attack simultaneously (fingers to the eye, kicks to the knee or groin) you’ll have a good chance of surviving that encounter. Once you took his attention and got a firm grip on the knifehand you may proceed with a wide variety of takedowns or locks but your interception must be good or else you’ll be dead meat. Naturally it will be very hard if not impossible to defend against an experienced fighter (he’ll know what your options are, he’ll feint and go for your hands and arms first, he’ll use kicks and punches in conjunction with stabs and slashes) but luckily there aren’t a lot of those and unless you happen to live in a very bad neighbourhood (or alternatively in the Phillipines, which is practically the same thing) or are serving a sentence in a maximum-security jail the chances of encountering one in a confrontation are rather slim (most of them are either military or respected martial-artists with a healthy respect for life and the law).

For some reason knifework and knife-defense is a subject that is of special interest to me (maybe because it’s very fast, up close and exciting) and it’s undoubtedly a vital area of training, especially in the increasingly violent world we live in. While it’s true in most countries attacks and streetfights will usually consist of some type of unarmed combat the results are usually fairly harmless (meaning no permanent damage has been sustained or no-one has gotten killed) while with any type of weapon and especially an edged one the odds of getting seriously hurt or killed increase dramatically. Even here in Belgium (pretty low crime-rate in general and one of the lowest murder-rates in Europe) we’ve had a rather mediatized increase in stabbings and knife-incidents (especially related to festivals and other large-scale gatherings of people), just think about the deaths that could have been avoided if the victims had some notion of knife-defense. Naturally some attacks are hard to detect and avoid (a guy stabbing you in the back at a concert for example) and knife-attacks are dangerous in any case but just knowing how to block properly might be enough to keep an attacker of you and even if an attack is inevitable you’ll greatly increase your odds of survival if you have the reflex of protecting your vitals (sacrificing a limb to save your neck or heart). Ah well, people are responsible for their own safety and not everyone is interested in martial-arts or self-defense in general.