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Monday, July 11, 2011

"The Experiment," Part III: Trials One and Two Complete

Did two sets of trials this weekend, on Friday and Sunday.

It's going to take a bit of time to process and analyze all of this. Part of the problem is that what I'm looking at is a huge problem. Rory said it best "if there was something that worked reliably against a knife, people would quit carrying knives."

I need and want more trials. I want to put other people in the good guy role. I want to spend six months drilling new/different tactics, and then try again.

This experiment isn't likely to end for a while.

Part of me is reluctant to stick the videos up. Not because they're bad, or because they destroy my carefully crafted image of being an invincible fighter, but because I don't want to influence further trials. One of the interesting things about Sunday was that the bad guy had to come up with their own strategy for using the knife. This lead to a little weirdness, but it also meant I was genuinely surprised most of the time. Even by (or especially by) the weird stuff.

But I said I'd share them, so I will. It will just add to the data.

Had a really good group of volunteers so far. Kind of people I'd love to gather in one place on a regular basis and bang out other stuff.

A few random thoughts to whet the appetitie.

1. Yes, controlling the armed limb is tough, generally speaking.

2. Adrenaline is a powerful drug.

3. What you think you'll do, and what you actually end up doing, do not necessarily at all correlate. In some of the trials, the plan I had in my head before the drill went off completely disappeared during the assault.

4. I wonder if reaching for the knife is instinctive/rooted in psychology and physiology. Or if I'm just predisposed to do it. More trials needed.

5. This kind of training is incredibly taxing. Granted, I had a long weekend anyway, but I was shocked as to how wiped out my body was.

I'll try to start posting vids soon. Stay tuned.


Rory said...

Absolutely hear you on the not wanting to post videos to avoid tainting things. That's why I haven't been specific about my 'a' techniques.

Joshkie said...

Jake -

"5. This kind of training is incredibly taxing. Granted, I had a long weekend anyway, but I was shocked as to how wiped out my body was."

Adrenaline is a bitch.

I for one can wait till the end or further along in the procces to see the vids, as long as we get up dates and your thoughts on how it's going.

I really want to see the vids bug it's the end results that matter.


Christian Lemburg said...

"This kind of training is incredibly taxing." - This is not training. This is testing. "Trials", you said ...

"I wonder if reaching for the knife is instinctive/rooted in psychology and physiology." - Yes, I think it is.

Keywords are weapon focus, flinch/startle reflex, looming. Basically, when something comes in fast from the front in your visual channel, you will raise the hands to meet it. Combine with weapon focus and you got the grab.

Nearly all people I have seen in first time knife scenarios in training will try to grab the hand/arm/knife when it comes in from the front instead of hitting it away or parrying it. This even happens without a knife if stress is high enough, e.g., in multiple attacker drills with punches, people will tend to grab the arms instead of just parrying them, you need to train them to side-step and parry.

This is one good point of Rory's focus about shutting the person down, it will keep you oriented towards continued attack instead of staying in the weapon focus problem, wrestling with the attacker for control of the weapoon. "No man, no problem" as they say.

But I would still maintain you need to solve both problems (attack and control), after an initial defense (ideally reflex-based). Defend (hand + body), counter, control, more counter-attacks, finish according to context. You really need to defend first to minimize damage (you will, anyway, due to reflex action). The trick is then switching to attack as fast as possible, best simultaneously with the defense, but of course, that is hard.

Ah, and all of this control stuff is obviously assuming we need to control, either by context (LE, security, military), or since we can't run or get equipped, either from the start, or after the initial defense and counter. It seems that timeline often gets lost in the discussion.

Just my 2 cents ...

Jake said...

Rory: I figured, but I do want to hear/see your "a" technique at some point.

Josh: Oh, I'll definitely put the vids up at some point. Just not sure exactly when. Gotta schedule some more trials first. I think I might get a couple in with some of the PDR guys at the beginning of August.


True. Not training. Still taxing.

I'm reasonably familiar with the startle/flinch and how it works (we talk about it a lot in the PDR). The instinctive grab is something I personally haven't looked into or talked about much. Good to know others are seeing it (though more trials are still warranted).

I deliberately took time line out in this experiment. Don't be there, run away, negotiate, all of those are fantastic options, but all of them eliminate the need for the stuff this experiment is supposed to test. I wouldn't want to ignore it in the larger teaching context (and don't), but in this particular context, I had to set it up in way where I couldn't say "I didn't go to the gym today because there were four guys waiting to stab me with knives"...even though, in reality, that's the smart thing to do.

The transition from offense to defense is a really tough one.

Thank you for the input. It's much appreciated!

More to come.

Neil Bednar said...

Neil Bednar here, up in Montreal as I write this. I was thining about your knife experiment today for sure. Today we had a day-long seminar with a guy who has definitely "been there" as part of a Combat Systema training camp and I can now say that defintiely that there is a different answer to the knife that can be (and has been pressure tested). Different from everythign I have previously read about, trained, or even heard of. In many ways it makes sense based on Rory's work and I'm surprised I had never even considered it. I'm obviously not saying that it's perfect, and we were told in no uncertain terms that if you allow the attack to go one longer than a few "attacks" then chances for survival go to about single digit percentage. There are certain limitations to it, like everything but I am surprised how much better it works than the standards we've heard forveer "control the knife or knife arm", etc. Anyway, I'm semi-communicado now with email, etc. Let's chat about this sometime.


Jake said...


I'd be curious to see/hear what it is.

My immediate reaction is

1. "Not letting it get further than a couple of shots" seems to be the universal issue. It's actually making that happen that's the challenge.

2. Define "pressure tested".

I'm definitely curious. I confess to having a bias against much of what I've seen from it just looks off to me, but I'm willing to take a leap that they might have something worth offering.

Let's chat once you're back in communications range.

underajunipertree said...

I don't have access to armour so can't safely have a good crack at this. But I've played around a little bit and been thinking about it.

Like an unarmed assault, there are at least a couple of variables that directly influence what your options really are. These are:
1. whether or not you see the attack coming,
2. whether or not you can evade/move your body off-line (e.g. you may be unable to effectively move if you are grabbed as part of the attack, or there's a wall/obstacle in your evasive path).

If you see it coming and you can move, then something like stepping off-line with pre-emptive strikes might be a good strategy.

Conversely, waiting for the knife to be deployed so you can try and grab it seems a much riskier strategy.

But if you don't see it coming and/or you can't move, then some kind of deflection and/or grab and/or control strategy seems like it's going to be necessary to prevent/reduce damage (and because doing so may well be inevitable due to flinch response anyway).

One thing that I haven't seen much discussion of is going off-line towards the side of the body where there's less to be afraid of (like boxers circling away from a heavy right hand). If someone is coming in with a knife in their right hand, perhaps there's merit in heading away from it to their left as you strike (e.g. drop step to 1 o'clock with right foot forward and take their head / drop them as you go).

This has the benefit of taking me out of the knife's immediate flight path, unlike a "control the knife hand" or "parry and pass the knife hand" option.

Downsides include
(a) the possibility of the attacker circling and coming in on your side as you do this,
(b) putting your heart side nearer the assailant,
(c) possibly requires too much range and warning to be realistic,
(d) generating a flinch response in someone who's holding a knife whilst your hands are by his face...

Christian Lemburg said...

During a training session on Wednesday I got again some opportunity to work on this, not really the same level of intensity and speed as possible with a full suit, but still non-cooperative and quite fast work.

I was again impressed how hard it is to control the weapon arm if the attacker does multiple fast attacks, and how comparatively easy it is to go for a hard head shot while simultaneously defending the first few attacks without trying to control. Switching to control was in fact the most dangerous moment in the sequence.

We tried the stopping effect of the counters by hitting hard to solar plexus and head in helmet, and we all agreed that we did not want to try this on too many trials :-), as it had a very powerful stopping effect on the attacker. And that without taking into account primary targets like throat/neck/eyes. The counter really makes the difference.

Seems like I am moving over to Rory's camp ...