Back in the 60’s, CBS aired a popular TV comedy set in a World War II German prison camp for allied airmen. (No I did not make that up.) Sgt. Schultz was one of Hogan’s Heroes‘ most popular characters. The portly prison guard had a fascinating catchphrase: I know noth-think! It was a riff on the fact that the majority of the Germany’s wartime population claimed ignorance of the horrors of the Holocaust. The expression was also a reflection of Sgt. Schultz’s character; the German soldier was willfully ignorant. Which made him a figure of fun and endeared him to the TV audience. In real life, Sgt. Schultz wouldn’t have lasted five minutes on the Eastern front. Which brings me to a simple point: when it comes to self-defense ignorance is not bliss . . .
To win a knife fight you have to know how to win a knife fight. Just as most gun owners have no idea what to do when the excrement hits the recirculating air device, most people who carry a knife for self-defense are completely ignorant of even the most basic techniques for defending themselves with an edged weapon. Truth be told, myself included.
I know noth-think!
Seriously. Before yesterday, I had no idea how much I didn’t know about knife fighting. After yesterday, I have a clue. You know; an inkling. A rough idea. A vague understanding. And that’s because I talked to Michael Janich at the Spyderco booth at the 2013 Blade Show.
To say my over-the-counter pow-wow was eye opening would be like saying Noa Tishby has a look about her. The follicly-challenged man behind Martial Blade Concepts gave me a personal peek into my own little world of ignorance.
“Just as there’s no such thing as stopping power with a gun,” he said, “There’s no single move with a knife that guarantees that you’re going to stop the threat. Stabbing someone will not get it done.” So what do you do, I asked. “Cut,” he replied. “You use the knife to incapacitate the threat.”
Janich was quick to point out that he wasn’t talking about “ballistic” cutting (a.k.a., slashing). He was referring to precision cutting on a specific bit of your attacker’s anatomy. Knowing your knife, your own capabilities and anatomy. Like this:
Hey. Guess what? I now have a plan. I find it astounding that I didn’t have one before now. Me, Mr. Gun guy, didn’t have a strategy for using my everyday carry knife for self-defense. Janich was mildly reassuring on that point. “Hardly anyone does,” he said with what passes for a smile on his drop-dead serious features.
Of course, I was lacking something else. Something mission critical for getting a clue about what to do with my knife when someone poses an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm to myself and/or my loved ones. A training knife.
If I learned one thing from my firearms odyssey it’s train as you mean to fight. That means training with the tools with which you mean to fight. So how many training versions do I have of my carry knives? Exactly none.
And by God I’m practicing with it. The trainer, that is. And not the moves illustrated above. I’m learning how to get the thing out of my pocket, flick it open and hold it in the proper position (thumb on top of the blade). Ready for battle.
Yes, well, I’m about as ready for a real knife fight as my gardener’s T-ball-playing son is for Major League Baseball. But I’ve made a start. If worst came to worse, I have something remotely resembling a plan. I have an idea of what needs doing—other than trying to stab my attacker’s vital organs (wrong answer). That’s way better than no plan.
Regular readers know that I know enough to know that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So I’ve warmed-up the YouTube generator and resolved to learn more about edged blade self-defense. If the longest journey starts with a single step, well, I’m stepping out.
I’ll share my training and travails with you, our Edged Intelligenstia, as I go. This I do in the hopes that A) I’ll inspire knife defense newbies to get with a program B) our knife-fighting-trained readers can set me thus my ignorant ilk straight and C) I can generate some page views for TTAK.
Speaking of which, this website is dedicated to the truth about knives. The truth about knife fighting is that there are millions of pig-ignorant knife carriers out there who need to learn the art of edged self-defense. I know noth-think is a comedy line not a viable philosophy for personal protection.