Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Guest Article on Knife Fighting

I try to keep guest articles to a minimum, but this is one of those weeks when I really feel the time pressure. BTW, I have Keith Pascal's knife fighting material. I have not had a partner to practice it with, but the exercises look like good, sound basic stuff. The first drill reminds me a little of chi sao. That shows that, to some degree, he's adapting hand techniques to weapons use.

Here's the article:

Knife Fighting - Where's Your Check Hand?
By Keith Pascal

Looking at the photo shoot for an ebook provides a practical lesson for knife fighting defense:

My buddy, Lee Asher (famous magician), took a ton of knife fighting photos for one of my ebooks. I think Lee has a good camera eye -- he took some great teaching pictures.

Even though he took the shots, I had to set the scene, according to the knife lesson.

I told Lee the teaching sequences I wanted to capture visually.

Then, I told my students what I wanted out of the photo sequence, and I held my breath and sometimes ... had to tell everyone to shoot the sequence again....

It was so cold out, that the students, moved their hands, shivered during the picture, smiled (or was that teeth chattering?) and changed their hand positions inadvertently.

Through all of this, I made some interesting observations about their check hands:

The beginners always seemed to forget positioning -- they let their hands drop to their sides.

They sometimes do this during practice, as well.

What's wrong with this?

* They only have one hand for protection

* They leave an entire side open to attack

*They don't coordinate the use of both hands

* It makes a lousy photo for an ebook (smile)

Check Hand on More Advanced Students

My more advanced students had a different tendency. They stuck their check hand up in the air. It's almost as if they were fencing -- one hand on the sword, and one hand raised in the air.

Think about this positioning....

Is their check hand helping them in the fight? Or are we encountering the same set of problems that we have when we drop the secondary hand to the side?

Check Hand Errors

At least one of my students noticed these check-hand errors. I saw the correction that he made. He put both hands forward, less than a foot apart.

It was very reminiscent of chi sao (sticky hands), except one hand held a knife.

What's wrong with this?

A New Target

His "Live Hand" (to borrow a term from the Filipino arts) has become another target for his opponent. It's too close to the action, to just "hang" there.

In the knife fighting ebook, "10 Days to Better Knife Fighting," I have an exercise, where you practice slicing for the hand WITHOUT the knife. You learn a specific and efficient way to 'corkscrew' from your main target to further up the arm, or to an empty hand.

Do this without opening a new line of response for your opponent.

Check-Hand Advice

Whether you defend yourself with two knives, one in each hand, or a single blade in one hand, you should think about the placement of your check hand.

Don't drop it too low.

Don't plant it right in front of your face.

Don't stretch it forward so far, that it becomes a target.

Don't have it move and wiggle without a purpose.

Do use it to help your attack hand.

Do use it, to defend while your other hand attacks.

Do learn to use it as a controlling hand.

Do use your check hand to attack simultaneously.


Do know that the roles of your hands can change. Your 'Live Hand' can suddenly become the attacking hand and vice versa.

End note:

And if you happens to be so lucky that your opponent focuses on one particular hand of yours ... great.

You know what to do with the other hand, right?

Keith Pascal is the author of 10 Days to Better Knife Fighting. This is the only book that absolutely guarantees that your knife fighting defense will improve in only ten days. No matter what your skill level.

"These drills will make you respond automatically, efficiently, without thought."

Article Source:


Stephen Boyd said...

Great Post, wonderful resources! I have been researching knife techniques for a little while and this really helps.

BTW, what does the phrase AUS 8A mean in terms of steel?

Gravelbelly said...

Here's what the "Cold Steel" site has to say about AUS 8A:

"The words "stainless steel" are misleading, because, in fact, all steel will stain or show discoloration if left in adverse conditions for a sufficient time. Steel is made "stainless" by adding Chromium and reducing its Carbon content during the smelting process. There is a serious performance trade-off with stainless steel. As the Chromium increases and the Carbon decreases, the steel becomes more "stainless". But, it also becomes more and more difficult to sharpen, and the edge-holding potential is seriously impaired. This is usually why most stainless knives are rarely razor-sharp and quickly lose what little edge they have. In contrast, at Cold Steel® we use AUS 8A Stainless, a high carbon, low chromium steel that has proven itself to be the ultimate compromise between toughness and strength, edge holding, and resistance to corrosion." (

Bottom line -- avoid cheap knives made of 420 grade stainless (same grade as butter knives & tableware).

440 Stainless is has better rust resistance, but the AUS 8A will take a better edge & retain it better.

Stephen Boyd said...


Stephen Boyd said...

What is your opinion of knives made by Glock?

Gravelbelly said...

There are two important items of information missing from the description of the knives:
steel &

I can guess that with the Glock name, the price will be pretty hefty. But the name doesn't always guarantee quality steel.

When I sold knives, I had a couple of knives with the Colt name & logo. They were beautiful & the "revolver" concept for opening was different & worked well. But the blades were made of 420 stainless.

That's not to say the Glock knives use cheap steel, but I'd want to know for sure before I buy.

The suitability of any knife also depends on what you want it for. The Glocks look like good designs for camp knives. I think you already know that for a fighting knife I recommend a double-edged blade.

Sorry I couldn't be more help, but they don't give much info.