Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ron Saturno on Knifefighting

I just evaluated a video sent to me showing several people just going at each other with knives. The people attacked in ways that someone would most likely get attacked by the average person under duress. Most of the attacks began with deep lunges with the knife ending up, at, or around shoulder height. The people were usually and initially at or about a step and a half from each other. Mostly, one lunged and the other responded. If both responded to each other and stepped into one another: They both usually seemed confused about what to do next. Their being a step and a half from each other meant that their both coming into one another soon after, put them at corto and near corto range and seemed to put them in a confused state, because of how fast and how close that they both came into danger upon just one step.

Successful movements usually depend upon three things. Structure, movement and distance and they all have to be satisfied. If one of the three is not present and applied the movement (attack) usually fails. Kind of like our needing to have a match, fuel and air to make something burn. We can borrow from the other man in order to complete structure. We can borrow movement from the opponent and we can borrow distance from an opponent. These fighters discombuberation was a result of their messing up on one of the primary requirements of successful movements. Remembering that if even just one needed part of the three is missing, the movement usually fails. When their opponent stepped into them as quickly as they did: They both soon after lost control of target distance, this inhibited their movement, because they lost structure in order to regain control of their seemingly dire situation. They were scared of being hit with the blade. They were planning on engaging their opponent at another range and just couldn't mentally regroup quickly enough to be able to make a telling blow upon their opponent safely. They had joined the confusing, challenging and exciting world of knife fighting. Never a dull moment. When two people play with razor sharp implements with deadly intent: How could knife fighting be anything other than exciting. "Living on the Edge!" These are the new catch words for my style of knife fighting. These people were living on the edge. Teaching students the fluid dynamics of knife fighting is very hard to do. But it can be done. This is where drills can help students learn to automatically and hopefully learn to also properly respond to an attack by their opponent.

One of the rules that I have adopted that was taught to me by Angel Cabales is to go high before low and not low before high. So I initially teach students drills that let one of the students attack high and than low and the other student defends against a high and than low attack with the blade. If we go low before high, the rising arms are are slow, because of the time it took to feint or attempt an attack at the lower range, before rising into the upper attack. We dropped before rising and this is not as effective, because one of our movements was not worrying our opponent. This leaves the arms slightly more subject to cuts and allows the opponent to occupy the high ground throughout the attack. They will have to rise up and we can go down faster than they can come up. Those Big-Macs have fattened a lot of asses (including mine) and getting that ass moving gets harder and slower with each new birthday. So Angel Cabales would feint with a high blow and make the middle blow the meaningful one. The same move works quite well with a knife, just as well. It worked for Angel Cabales and so I believe in the movement. It is a bread and butter Serrada movement. If we bait the opponent with the (high) initial attack, many men and women naturally respond by raising their arms. As they raise their arms: Our next inward traveling movement slices the arm on the way in. This is the high low. Get them to respond to the high offered hit and hit them with the low. Fake the fucker to raise his arm up and expose himself and than slice inward and hopefully catch something good while sliding across his exposed arm. This move has all of the makings of brilliance. We get drama, a rising crescendo and than fulfillment. The defense is to make a strong initial attack upon the incoming blow so that they can't redirect.

Another response is to make a go at the feint and when and if it is not there, drop the forearm into a cross block (like Wing Tsun), while coming in towards them and than controlling them further, depending upon your sensitivity at that moment. A high/low can be directed outside in from a back hand or forehand attack. Both attacks should be prcticed until they are fluid. Getting someone to take the bait takes longer. Well, we are an art. What kind of artist are you? I would not expect a true artist of any given choice to not know the basics of his craft. We might not buy a bad painted picture, but screwing up the basics in the art of knife fighting has much more serious consequences. I loved the video. I love knife fighting. I would love for knife fighting to become an accepted form of exercise, like Jazzercise. Escrima should also have many more tournaments which involve knife fighting. Knife fighting is our forte, because a knife will most likely be the weapon that we as Escrimadors will most likely have to use and defend against in a real life deadly encounter. Much of my personal training focuses upon defending myself unarmed against a knife. I like the worst case scenario type of focused training. Defending unarmed against a knife is nothing, but a serious chess game with sharp chess pieces. So I will further evaluate the video and than send back a response. I am enjoying myself watching the video. Hope the rest of you are enjoying Escrima as much as I am.

Other articles by Master Saturno:


My deepest gratitude to Master Ron Saturno for his kind permission in allowing me to repost his articles to my site. 

You can contact Master Ron Saturno via:

Email: (take out the "NOSPAM")
Phone:  209-513-8027



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