Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Getting Behind the Knife

"Hide behind your knife!"

"Let your knife move you", "Get behind your knife", are all phrases you will here often when I am working with my students on the knife combat phase of the martial art I teach.

Now some people will no doubt be put off by the idea of learning to use a knife as a weapon, but there are some valid reasons for this.

1) The best way to learn to defend yourself from a knife attack is to understand how an attack works.

2) nothing I know of encourages good footwork and body dynamics like working with a knife.

3) The knife is one of the most common weapons found world wide in the hands of bad guys.

4) It is fun.

5) It will teach you to use your body in an interesting way.

There are two "rules" for getting behind the knife. The first is


This is the idea that you move the fastest bits first, to use your tools (hand, foot or weapon) to make the way fore the slower bits (torso).

Implied in this is the idea that you move in "sections", as my Serak teacher, Guru Stevan Plinck says "one base at a time" which allows for more stability and power to your movement.

(There is a sub set to this rule that says move one base at a time for power, move both bases for evasion).

The second "rule" is


Now this may seem simple, and it is, it is just not easy.

Most people, most of the time will tend to pivot at the joints. This is the natural "intuitive" form of movement.

When an unskilled person moves, they will tend to move with the pivot point at the joint and the portion of the body above the joint will move in isolation.

It looks sort of like this;


Think of this as an upper arm, elbow, and forearm,


You will notice that the forearm moves in isolation (pretty much) from the rest of the body.

From the point of view of knife combat this is the basis of the classic "psycho in the shower" knife attack.

A person with some training will tend to move with the pivot point at the joints, but they will tend to "chain" the movements (move wrist, then elbow, then shoulder for example) making a much more effective movement.

But there is another kind of movement that is less intuitive, but more "masterful.

This involves placing the pivot point (or pivot points) for a movement wherever it does you the most good.

Imagine for a moment that rather than pivoting your arm at the elbow joint you make the pivot point for the movement between the elbow and wrist.


When you move in this way you recruit more joints into the movement and you find that your whole body follows the movement.


Rather than the joint staying stable, it moves, and the rest of your body follows. (Ideally).

If you keep the idea that you want to stay behind your knife (keep your weapon interposed between you and your opponent) it will produce a naturally efficient and effective movement.


Only in as much as your "flow" is unbound.

"Bound Flow" is an idea that was originally described by the dancer Rudolf Laban, then refined by Coach Scott Sonnon.

There are a lot of different ways to describe bound flow, but it is basically the place in your movement where your energy stops. (yes, I know it is vague, sorry)

So when you are allowing yourself to place your pivot points wherever is best for you in the moment and your entire body responds to the movements through those pivot points then you are "in flow". When your energy gets bound at a certain point, perhaps because of a limitation in your range of motion, the your flow becomes "bound" also and you lose the energy contained in the movement.

Try a little experiment.

Grab a training knife and move with it, but put your primary pivot point between wrist and elbow. Notice how your whole body wants to accommodate the movement of the knife.

Now grab a partner and play with attack and defense using the same idea. Work slow enough that you have time to feel what you are doing and don't slip back into habitual movement.

It could be intresting.


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