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On 2001-05-18 23:31, harley45 wrote:
I'm looking for a place to get some knife defensive training.
Travel is not a real problem but i would like some recomendations on who to spend my money with.
I just pick up info and train with friends, so i don`t know personally about any schools, but Gunsite offers classes, im sure they are top notch.. -Gilmore

I feel very comfortable in reccomending James Keatings comtech @ 1-541-938-2175.
I would also highly consider Bob Kasper and Jim Grovers courses through the Gung Ho Chuan Association @ http://www.ghca.org.
I tend to stay away from courses that recomend a folder or a 4-5" blade for defensive work and before some of our readers jump on me, (I am not speaking of having the most convinient knife at hand, I have been to some of the big name gun schools that teach defensive knife work and I have had some very inexperienced knife instructors at one highly avertised school who actually preached that a folder or 4" knife in an IWB sheath is all you need).
A large bowie knife properly balanced and designed for serious work is an excellent defensive knife, I would reccomend Bill Bagwell's Hells Belles and Ontario kinives are also making a much cheaper model that is still very good. (As an FYI I cannot post any more pictures as Webshots is down or restricting me???)

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200 Posts
I suggest you consider http://www.insightstraining.com for their defensive folding knife class. Although I agree with David that folders are not ideal defensive knives, they are more practical for most people and they have the advantage of being allowed in most areas. Although a knife can be a devasting weapon, I think the best thing to bring to a knife encounter is a good pair of running shoes.

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939 Posts
Harley...you just happen to live in the same state as one of the best empty hand / knife / stick / ground fighters in the country. Jack McVicker. He is one of Paul Vunak's senior instructors, also competes internationally in Brazillian Jui-Jitsu on Megaton Diaz's team, Meg is out of Arizona. A no-bullshit guy, very easy to talk to and deal with. If you want to learn to fight, he is the guy to see...especially since you live within hours of him.

He instructs a group in northern Indiana, Southern Illinois, and Texas, but his home camp is in Terre Haute, Indiana / Champaign, Illinois. I know he will do privates with folks from out of town, or [what is probably best] semi-privates with small groups of 2-4.

Phone is 812-460-0958. He is on the web, but can't recall the url off the top of my head.

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I was going to suggest finding a reputable martial arts instructor...sounds like bruce has done just that...(i have studied several art forms for many years and can suggest the following) for real self defense brazilian jiu jitsu, is the way to go... Hapkido too, is a very vicious and fast art that teaches ending confrontations quickly and painfully to the offender..(stay away from tae kwon do (generally it takes years to become proficient and there is a lot of wasted movements like flashy kicks that just don't work, i highly suggest hapkido and it fits in nicely with knife defense.

often if you specifically ask martial arts instructors if they teach knife tactis, most do have extensive knowledge, though they may want you to gain an understanding of their art form a little before diving into it, and that i highly recommend. (foot work and blocks are probably more important than the knife itself..) for what it's worth, i have found that a Nice heavy steel balisong (butterfly knife) is a nice alternative to a folding or larger bowie type knive.. with practice you can wield it as fast as most people can open a switch blade, and can also be used as a whacking device (like a small numchucka kind of)you might ask about learning those...

I believe we are discussing two different types of fighting, if we are discussing fighting with Bowie size knives and you are planning to counter with blocks and kicks it will be over very, very, quickly and without a doubt you will be permanently maimed at the least and most likely dead before it begins.
I had the opportunity to attend and watch during a heavily oriented Bowie class as highly trained Army Ranger hand to hand instructors were defeated during a simulated attack in less than 2 seconds by a skilled knife man. If you want to train in a realistic manner purchase weighted training Bowie made of plastic and wood, use non-stain marking paint in red or yellow.
This is why I added the folder/4" knife caveat in my first post.
A true fighting knife should measure from 7- 11" and be of sufficient weight with very good balance in the hand to maintain both speed and snap. It should be able to deliver a blow that neutralize your attacker in one strike by either cleaving most of the torso or removing a limb or leg in the first strike, I test my defensive fighting knives with an 18" length of 2"x6" lumber, my defensive knife must be able to cleave it length wise from end to end with a single 6/10 of a second solid blow. Most true killing moves with the Bowie can be performed faster than the eye can see them.

Think, Plan, Train, Be Safe.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David DiFabio on 2001-05-20 12:56 ]</font>

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definitely talking aobut two different types of knife fighting here..
in Jersey we get arrested walking around with 10 inch bowie blades on our side...(i think a 5 inch blade is our legal limit) sounds like some of you guys are talking more about special ops training than street defense... sorry about that... i don't often get the chance to cleave people's limbs off on the streets of jersey.. (but it is an enticing idea):)

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669 Posts
I am a huge fan of Bowie knives, but it is improbable to think one can always have one on their person. The folder is likely the more constant companion and one should train with them as well. I would much rather entertain a knife fight with my 10" Blackcloud Fighting Bowie than ANY folder -- but there are not too many ways to carry one in dressier attire. FWIW, James Keating carried a 7" #1 and a 5" #2 Randall at the last Riddle of Steel.

If you are really serious about training knives, then you will have a trainer built of the same materials, dimension, weight, blance, grip shape etc., as your actual fighting knife, but without a sharpened edge on it. Wood or plastic trainers are NOT the best substitute, if fund permit. If requested, most good knife makers will happily produce a trainer drone for you. Expect to pay as much as a the live edge knife costs.

James Keating IS one of the most knowledgeable knife teachers on the planet. You can see his website here. My MA teacher is a certified instructor in Keating's ABC Bowie techniques. IHMO, this is sold info. You can learn some from the Comtech videos, but I would recommend you check out the annual Riddle of Steel event this September in WA for serious hands on instruction. This is where some of the best knife players around come together every year. It offer a chance to learn as well as network with other like minded individuals. Videos are great, but they are no substitute for a real teacher.

Bob Kasper is recognized for his defensive knife teaching, but last I checked he is no longer offering classes to civilians. Do you know otherwise David?


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is that you in that picture,

if so, you look like one mean mother there..

if i saw you coming down the street with that blade i think i'd grab those running shoes david was talking about :smile:

either that or my colt..

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: rolexman on 2001-05-20 17:24 ]</font>

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We are not discussing two different types of knife fighting. Fighting is fighting, done with a Spyderco or a Bowie. For everything you have, you leave something behind. Knife disarms, as improbable as they are, far more difficult with a short blade than with a long. Length, should give you range. Range can save your life, if you know what to do with it.

Given druthers, I would choose an 8" blade over a 4", everything else staying the same. Just as I would choose a rifle over a pistol. I carry a pistol though, so I learn to fight with it. Most days, I carry a folder, as do most other folks. So, I learn to fight with a knife, of any length.

As with every type of fighting, the key to doing it with a knife is understanding range, and the weapons range makes available to you, and movement. Low line kicks can be very effective in knife fighting, it just depends on so many things. Fighting is like carrying a tool box. Sometimes you need a hammer, sometimes you need a screwdriver...and you don't miss them until you need them. Fill your toolbox up, and hope the other guy doesn't, kinda how I look at it.

There is no special voodoo to knife fighting. Come in shape, be motivated, move, and pray to whatever God you believe in that you get real, real lucky that night. Training with someone who understands fighting with a knife is an extension of the open hand helps. Buying a big roast and hanging it by a rope, making one slash across it with that little 4" blade also helps :smile: Fighting is dirty business. Fighting with a knife is dirty deadly business.

I have heard only good things about Keating. I would love to go to one of the Riddle camps, if for no reason other than to fellowship with some most excellent dudes. I know nothing about Jim's training, so I can't compare him to the folks I have trained under / with.

Vunak [California] and McVicker [Indiana/Illinois] teach the complete fight game. Typical sparring with either of them will go through a range from stand-up empty hand, to knife, to stick, to knife against stick, against empty hand, to the ground, etc., etc. Throw either of them a swiss army knife and me a bowie, and I am a dead man. :grin:

Of course, anyone who mentions knife instructors without mentioning Dan Inosanto, would be leaving out one of the great instructors of all time. To my knowledge, Dan no longer does private instruction. Find him on his travels though, and you will be forever thankful.

Good luck Harley45, many good ones to choose from.

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My god there semm to be as many opinions on this as there are on 9mm vs .45. To clear things up I just want to learn to use a folder a little better. Here in Indiana I get to carry a gun 24/7
so I don't need a bowie, also I very rarely travel, outside my home state.
I don't want to be a ninja I just want to stay alive for my kid that is on the way.

Bob Kasper is recognized for his defensive knife teaching, but last I checked he is no longer offering classes to civilians. Do you know otherwise David?

I'm not a full fledged civilian so I am not sure about Bob's training requirements but "Jim" is still giving instruction in VA near his home.
You are well on point with James Keating; I felt the need to recommend him in my opening comments. IMO, Bill Bagwell does some very serious Bowie training also.
Again guys please remember my caveat to the folder comment and I am fully aware of proper preparation and mindset as folder training goes Ernie Emerson is also an excellent instructor and three years ago I took one of Eric's great Spyderco Civilian model defensive knife courses.
I fully understand the rationale behind a carry folder as I often carry several differnet types.

As Bowies go I am also quite fond of Bruce Evans Dragon Slayer.

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[stuff deleted]
(hey how are you guys posting pics to the site... i tried but could not paste them in...
You cannot just paste the image into your post. The image needs to be on the web somewhere, and you need to link it into your post with a BBCode string. It can be hosted at your personal website or at a service. Click the FAQ link in the upper right hand corner of the screen to see an example.

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ok i'll try this again..

if given your choice of randall knives, which would you guys choose (would you choose randalls over others or not(reasons??))

i think i like the military styled one (letter A) in an 8 inch blade.

A. Model 1 "All-Purpose Fighting Knife" -- 5", 6", 7" and 8" blades of 1/4" stock. Top cutting edge also sharpened approximately 3 inches. 4 3/4"-5" leather handle. Brass double hilt. Duralumin butt cap. This is the knife made famous by Allied combat troops in World War II and since widely used in all theaters of war. Commando shaped, straight handle, as illustrated on Model 2, available at no extra charge. (Wt. 8-10 oz.)
Price: $235

the whole online catalogue is here


A few words about knife training from Mad Dog:

There are many ways to train for any particular defensive discipline, and I want everyone to know and understand that I do not believe my way of training knife fighters to be the ONLY one suitable, nor is it by any means applicable to everyone.
On the other hand, I strongly believe that there are several types of "Edged weapon training" available that are suitable for no one with realistic goals as a knife fighter.

I have been ruminating on this a bit of late, and will now disgorge some of the basic philosophies and keys to mindset that I find valuable. I will also point up some that I find useless or absurd.

First, lets take a look at what a knife fight IS, and also importantly, is NOT.
Any interpersonal conflict wherein one or more of the combatants is armed with a knife, deploys it, and attempts to do harm to the other comabatant(s) is, quite simply, a KNIFE FIGHT. Any time you are in such a fight, whether or not YOU have a knife, you are in a KNIFE FIGHT.
You can not sugar coat this, or in any way demean it if you are to take the responsibility of training, instruction, or the discipline of self defense seriously.

Hence, training to use an edged weapon either defensively, offensively, or both, is training to be a KNIFE FIGHTER.
Again, sugar coating this, calling it something other in order to make it easier to sell to a broader section of the populace, or whatever else belies the true meaning of this is quite simply negligent at best, and at worst, outright fraud.

One of the things I see that really rankles is certain instruction groups referring to knife fighting skills as "supplemental", and thusly requiring fewer training hours to become effective in use or that this is otherwise less important that "primary defensive skills" like pistol, rifle, or shotgun. These same groups are, by their own definition, not training "knife fighters" or teaching "knife fighting", despite the fact that they are supposedly training people to use knives as self defense tools for cutting and stabbing their opponents in the event that their "primary skills" can not be brought to bear.
We are led by them to believe that the knife is less deadly than the gun (tell THAT to a Judge!), and therefore less skill is needed to employ it "supplementally".
What a joke.

Now, lets look at what one needs to be prepared to do in a knife fight.
Put quite simply, one must be prepared to kill one's opponent.
One must be willing to do so by the expedient of cutting or stabbing their opponent, and perhaps getting lots of icky body fluids and other gore spewed upon them in the process.

Granted, one may stop short of actually killing the opponent, but we are dealing with DEADLY FORCE here, so the knife fighter must be prepared both intellectually and spiritually for the potential of KILLING with the knife.
You had better bet that this is how the Courts will see it, so get used to it before you shove that lean, mean Delica in your pants and start re-enacting a scene from West Side Story...

Next, the suitability for various knives to be carried specifically as defensive weapons:
The groups that are "training" people in the strange art of using knives as "supplemental defensive tools" (without being "knifefighters") tend to promote the use of small, easily carried locking folders as defensive weapons.
This is entirely predicated on the idea that folders are easy/convenient to tote around, and has nothing to do with their potential as suitable defensive tools.

Ease of portability or "convenience" should NOT be the sole criteria for defensive knife selection.
Myself and many other experienced knife fighting instructors and veterans believe that a fixed blade, even a small one, is vastly superior in this role, and refuse to think of folders as truly viable defensive weapons, "supplemental" or otherwise.
Can you carve someone up with a folder? Oh yes, to be sure, you can slit someone up a real treat with damned near any folder if it is sharp enough.
This is primarily an OFFENSIVE function though, and predicates that the knife will already be deployed when the fight is joined.

The BIG problem comes in DEFENSIVE deployment of the folder. Deployment under stress. Deployment while you are laying on your back, worse yet your stomach, with a 250 pound maniac on top of you, pounding your head on the floor. Deployment when Mr. Murphy is whuppin yo' butt and causing locks to fail, fingers to slip, and hands to shake.
Deployment when your fine motor skills have vanished due to a heart rate that is off the charts and an adrenaline dump into your system that causes all but gross motor skills to disintegrate.

Try this little experiment to simulate how well you can get a folder out of a pocket, clipped on or otherwise, and then deploy it under extreme stress.
First, dip your hands in salad oil and then salt water to simulate the sweaty palms of adrenaline stress.
Have your wife jab you in the butt, back, biceps, stomach, and neck really hard with a cattle prod once every two seconds while doing 100 jumping jacks as fast as you possibly can. Be sure to bark your shins on the coffe table, step on the cat, and have only one shoe on while perfoming this drill.
Now, try to get your folder out and open in under one second without dropping it on the floor, lacerating your thumb, letting your wife take it away from you or keep you from getting it open. If that was "easy", (snicker) try it outside on an icy sidewalk in freezing cold weather, with and/or without gloves on...

Fun, Huh?? How many bandaids did you earn?
How many times did you drop it?
Did you find that gloves were a bit of an annoyance while trying to find that thumbhole?

Now, try it again with a fixed blade.
Follow these simple instructions:
Grab, yank, and shank!
No fine motor skills involved. No locks to fail, no holes to find, no studs to slip off of, no risky changes in grip position while deploying...
A lot easier, you say?
Great! You done larn't sumthin!

Knife fighting, training to use knives defensively, and selection of proper implements for this skill are not to be taken lightly, any more than defensive handgun skills and equipment selection should be taken lightly.
Treating ANY deadly force skill as "supplemental" is ridiculous in the extreme.
It is either a primary skill, or it is defacto nonexistant.

Knife Fighting is not a drop in cassette of a "supplemental skill set" that can be taught or learned in a weekend, or even a month. The tools and training necessary take years to acquire and hone to a level of competence that approach what many can achieve in a few weeks or months with a rifle or handgun.

If one is going to train for a deadly force encounter with edged weapons, then at least train seriously, seek out instructors that give the skills all of the necessary attention and have the experience to back up their techniques, and then PRACTICE.
Cross train in other disciplines, and use the combination of skills acquired that seem to be best suited to you and your abilities/physique/speed/range of motion, etc.

Bear in mind that guns are great equalizers because they are EASIER to use than edged weapons. They require less proximity to one's opponent, and are generally less messy to employ.
IF you are interested in training to use a knife as a defensive weapon, God Bless you, you may even become a customer of mine, just know this:
Knife fighting is NOT for everyone. It requires strength, speed, agility, and stamina.

Taking a seminar, whether it is mine or anyone else's, can not and does not fully prepare you for a knife fight, or make you a knifefighter. (see definitions of "Knife Fight" and "Knife Fighter" above)
Knife fighting with any competence and/or reasonable expectation of surviving requires a LOT of training. Faulty or unrealistic training is a worse liability for the novice Knifefighter than any other defense form I can think of.
Knife fighting is NOT easy. It is NOT ideal for the elderly or the timid, those afraid of blood and gore; or those who have less than normal power, speed and agility for their size.

Whatever skills or equipment you choose to employ as defenses for yourself, train hard, TRAIN REALISTICALLY, and train often.

Mad Dog on selecting a suitable instructor/school:

First off, selecting a school wiithout any prior training can be problematic at best.
You lack a frame of reference to work from.

FMA type arts like Kali, Escrima, and Silat tend to be good basic styles IF the instructor is good. Otherwise they, like other badly instructed or structured martial arts, are a waste of time.

A very important thing to remember is that the most effective training in the long term will be training that builds a very strong foundation in defensive craft, and then moves forward into offensive work.
Getting these basics is VERY important. They are the skills that will be built on for the rest of your career in training.

Gross motor function can be fine tuned, and some fine motor skills can be practiced to the degree that they become automatic and tendentially "gross" skills/functions due to repetition. The Pikiti and other forms utilize tremendous repetetive drills to burn in the basic skills and moves, making them more automatic, easier to access under stress, and hence, more effective despite complexity levels that are well above the "Mongo, SMASH" skill set usually associated with gross motor skills.
Unlike other gross motor skills, these "quasi gross" skills are perishable and need to be practiced continually.

I see a lot of schools training in some wildly esoteric forms and functions that really amaze me.
They have such complex movements that I do not believe that it would be possible to pull them off in a full speed, full tilt knife fight. Where do these techniques without the tradeoff of utility come from?
Good question, I can only guess at their origin though.
As "masters" get old, and or instructors get bored because they are not actually out fighting but rather just teaching the same stuff for years on end, they start experimenting with adding a "half roll and a double pinky twist with a reverse double dweezle on an outside wrist flip" move to techniques that used to be considerably more straightforward. As these techniques never get effectively challenged, the instructors end up teaching them to their top students, who become instructors, who teach their students etc.
Granted, some these esoteric techniques *could* work in real life at some point in time when all of the planets, moons and stars lined up perfectly to allow it, but I want stuff that works when the SHHTF, you can't see any planets except for the earth rushing up to meet your face, and the stars have tweety birds circling with them.

Next thing you know, there are hundreds of people learning and teaching techniques without any practical value.

This is fine for Martial Arts when practiced purely for the development of the esoteric weirdness factor; but for Practical Combat Science one must have one's finagle filters firmly in place to prevent the intake of excess superfluity. I have been exposed to a lot of "advanced" techniques and training over the years, but I find that when the rubber meets the road, I am using the basic, effective skills learned initially in the first couple of years, and then honed and polished over time.

I think that the most important thing to look for in selecting a school is realism.
Do they spar?
Do they allow full contact fighting with protective gear?
Do they use weapons?
Do you get to hit, and get hit????

No amount of class time, kata, or drills will prepare you for fighting as well as sparring and full contact engagements.
If you feel that the techniques and principles taught will work for you on the street, then you are probably in the right place. If the techniques and tool bag seem too complex (or artsy fartsy) to be of use in the real world, then it probably is.

Knife Fighting classes are taught by Kevin "Mad Dog" McClung. The following is a synopsis of the basic course he teaches:

The problem with conventional edged weapon training is the lack of realism. Rubber "training" knives and sticks lack the element of negative reinforcement so critical to real life situational training. As a result, "trained" individuals often find themselves in real situations with a false sense of confidence and/or poor responses.

The A.T.A.K. Training course is a radical new approach to effective training. Kevin has a second degree black belt in Kenpo and a teachers belt in Chou En Fa Kung Fu. He has also studied Kali, Escrima, and Hwa Rang Do. Kevin has integrated the best of each fighting form to develop a comprehensive three part course that prepares students for tactical situations against armed assailants. This is largely accomplished through the use of a new kind of electrical training knife that he has designed.

The "E" knife delivers a shock to the area of the victim that is "cut" or "stabbed" during the training exercise. This shock provides the same sort of pain response and subsequent adrenal reactions as a real knife wound, but without the tissue damage, exsanguination, and possible loss of life. This form of real time negative reinforcement (Pain) allows accelerated training and "burned in" responses for the A.T.A.K. students.

The two day basic course begins with familiarization with hand to hand techniques, footwork, anatomical risks, and defensive and offensive mind set.
From there, we progress to active blocking and other defense techniques.
As the student assimulates these techniques, the transition is made to the "E" knife.

The student's capability increases dramatically as the course progresses through to the second day where they learn offensive techniques, and apply them in realistic encounters.

Each student with a competence/survivability rating of one to five receives a certificate of completion. Students with ratings of four or higher are eligible for subsequent intermediate or advanced courses.

Kevin believes that this is the best available two day course, and despite it's intensity, it is a lot of fun and a real eye opener. Anyone who might find themselves in a hazardous situation with edged weapon threats should definitely take this course.

Tuition is $250.00 per student which includes three meals a day and a place to stay if you need it. You are welcome to come a day early to make sure of a good nights sleep before the class on Saturday.

"Basic Knife Fighting" is a class that is required for all first time Mad Dog students regardless of their past training and experience.
All of these knife classes are for FIXED BLADE training. Kevin believes that folders are such a detriment to adequate self defense that he would rather not encourage their use, most especially for neophytes.
Applications for new students must be approved by Kevin.

You can send your completed application to me for initial processing:
[email protected]

The Intermediate classes build upon skills learned in the Basic class. It is faster paced than the Basic class, and requires greater stamina (and Advil ingestion) from the students.
Due to the intensity of this class, we will limit the number of spaces available to six per session.

* You must have had at least one Basic Knife Fighting class to qualify.
* You must be recommended for this class by Kevin.

The current class schedule, which is subject to change due to force majeur type circumstances is as follows:

June 16-17: Intermediate Knife Fighting

July 7-8: Panther Owners ONLY Knife Fighting

August 4-5: Basic Knife Fighting

August 18-19: Intermediate Knife Fighting

September 8-9: Basic Knife Fighting

October 4: Basic Knife Fighting Demo and some class time at Knifegnugen!

October 20-21: Basic Knife Fighting

November 3-4: Intermediate Knife Fighting

November 17-18: Basic Knife Fighting and Holiday Party

December 1-2: Panther Owners ONLY Knife Fighting and Holiday Party

If you have any questions, or would like an application e-mailed to you, please feel free to e-mail me or call me at the shop:

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240 Posts
It seems most of the knife makers and trainers recommend a large fixed blade knife if you are fighting with one. That makes sense as most firearms trainers recommend a long gun if you are going to be in a gun fight. The rational for concealed carry works as well with a Bowie as it does for an 870. If I could carry an 870 all the time, I would. However we carry "weak" handguns for the same reason we carry folding knives, they are handy and easily concealed. If I thought I was going to be in a knife fight, I would have a cut down shotgun in my hands!
I haven't been trained in knife fighting and my posting probably shows my ignorance. I carry a pistol on my strong side and a folder on the opposite side. I consider my pistol to be my primary weapon and my folder to be the weapon I use if my pistol or my arm is for some reason out of action. I should have some training about using the folder.
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