Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Grab and Stab

Let’s start this blog by repeating that real world violence happens:
  • Faster
  • Closer
  • Sooner
  • By surprise

So you need to train the way violence happens

In other words not like this

I have worked a “Hand shake shank” drill with Marc and Rory.  You can read in depth how to do it in Rory’s upcoming drill book.  Not giving anything away bad guy uses social skills to close distance (closer) gets you to shake his hand and stabs you with the other one (by surprise) and continues stabbing you like a sewing machine needle (faster) until he is stopped.  It is an eye opening drill.  As in holy shit I’ve spent 20 years of my life perfecting my best  bai sai dai kata and I got murdered 100 times by a street thug with no training and a $5 steak knife type eye opening drill.

I’m not going to give you solutions to the drill.  You can’t be copies of me.  You will learn much more figuring it out for yourselves.  There are things you can do with the hand shake hand / arm.  Things you can do with the knife hand arm.  Just remember the often quoted rules of efficiency.

Rory Miller’s Golden Standard - The technique should:
Improve your position
Worsen the their position
Protect you from damage
Allows you to damage (or control) them.

Marc MacYoung’s standard of effective technique
Every move you do needs to meet three fundamental standards.
These are:
1) It secures your perimeter (keeps you covered)
2) Disrupts his ability to attack you (stuns him, unbalances him, changes his orientation, undermines what he needs in order to attack you)
3) Sets up your next move.
I bring up the hand shake shank drill because it is similar to the drill in this video

I’m not showing this video because I advocate the solution.  I just want you to see the drill.
I call this grab and stab.  I make the distinction because it is much easier to move against someone pulling you in with a hand shake than someone holding you still to deliver stabs.  Being pulled with a hand shake generates momentum and allows for motion (getting off line).  Being held in place sucks.  If I try to enter he can push me back, if I try to open he can pull me in.  All my motion is telegraphed through his controlling arm.  Any motion that doesn’t instantly disable (end in one) leaves me open for multiple stabs.  You simply can’t take that kind of damage.

Again I’m not going to hand you solutions.  However, I will share fundamental concepts that worked for me.  You can use these fundamentals to find your own solutions that suit you best.
So what worked for me?
I couldn’t get off line.  That controlling arm stuck me in zero.  That forced me to block.  I was able to use my arm as a wedge / plow to protect from damage.  The attacker’s movements were also telegraphed through his control arm. But the stabs just kept coming and it was just a matter of time before the attacker would find an angle of attack I couldn’t block.  So I had to stop the stabbing.  I have two free hands to his one.  One arm a wedge / plow to protect from damage the other arm grabbed his wrist ( I didn’t allow him to stab me through the palm like Snake Eyes did in that video a couple of blogs back, but hey there is only one Snake Eyes ) 

Now instead of having to block multiple strikes the confrontation looked more like a Judo match.  He had a grip on my shoulder I had a grip in his wrist and we were both kind of locked in place.
First motion : Improve your position - secure your perimeter – move off line (out of zero).  But like Mick Jagger said you don’t always get what you want.  I was still stuck in zero.  Mick also said if you try sometimes you just find you get what you need.  If Mohammed can’t make it to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammed.  If I can’t move out of zero,  I need to move where zero is.

So now that I have his wrist my wedge hand is free.  I can put that on his elbow to lock the joint (push wrist pull elbow) that gives me some control but it won’t end the fight and he is still holding a knife.  With his elbow locked I pulled his arm through like a wrestling arm drag.  This brought him around, gave me his back and put the knife out of my reactionary gap (bought distance, distance = time).  I finished by grabbing his head and throwing him to the ground (ura nage).  Dude just tried to kill you!, the lethal force variation of this throw is fully justified if that is with in your personal capacity for violence.  If you don't know what your capicity for violence is you better figure it out now.  Wrestling with moral decisions while wrestling a knife weilding assaliant will not end well for you.

It is much easier to remove a knife from someone who just had his head bounced off the planet.  Whatever your capacity for violence is,  do not try fine motor joint locks or weapon removals.  Like the advice from last blog if you can’t avoid, run, or transition to better weapons – pin him to the ground then disable his ability to use the knife.

Summary of the fundamentals that worked for me

  1. Wedge / Plow solid structure between knife and my vital organs

  1. Grab wrist, arm drag.  Stuck in zero?, move where zero is.

  1. Throw that ends the conflict or flows into ground control (that ends the conflict) in one motion

Over in 3

So that’s what worked for me.  Go and try this drill.  Find out  what works for you.

Train hard, train smart, be safe.


  1. It doesn't keep me up at night or anything, but an attack like this is what I worry about the most.

  2. Anyone who has ever taken a "knife defense clinic" needs to read this post and understand it. I have seen so many defenses that are just plain ridiculous and will get you killed. People don't attack with a knife from 2 miles away and they sure don't give you a chance to stop them by attacking in slow motion or just using one strike.
    This drill was very real and very eye opening. I got murdered using things I thought would work. The method Kasey described is the only thing that saved my life, and that's a against a much larger opponent.
    Thanks God the dojo is a safe place to die

  3. The only thing I would add, KK, is that the drill in the video is a live blade drill. Still to far, too much warning. Not a true grab 'n' stab. We only got to play for about two minutes with the anti-shanking techniques, but that's the critical skill. Being able to read the inappropriate touch (grab) from the off hand is the best chance.