Article - Knives: Advanced way to get stabbed

This article was originally published on FIGHTLAND

Since prehistoric man smashed two flints together and accidentally formed a sharp edge, blades have been a necessary part of the human experience. We don't have claws or sharp teeth and four hundred pounds of muscle to drag down gazelle, and you aren't going to tear the meat off a carcass with your bare hands, unless you've got bear hands. Fortunately we are among the few creatures smart enough to use tools. So throughout human existence we have hunted by hitting living things with denser, sometimes sharpened, inanimate things. Bullets, arrows, pianos winched into position above the target; it's all based on the same principle.

Blades are so important to our working and home lives though, and so easy to find or even make, that anyone from the desperate criminal to your angry 5-year-old niece can find something to stab or slash another person with if they are so inclined. There are no background checks on a chef's knife, after all. If your zanshin is up to snuff and you are functioning like a true martial artist – distrusting even your nearest and dearest and mentally running through how you would set up the throat punch on the person you're talking to at any one time – you might never find yourself at knife point. But what if you do, huh, dummy? All those hours of rolling around under sweaty men are only going to get you ventilated like Swiss cheese on the street, Holes Gracie. Fortunately, while you are superficially putting in the rounds and the miles to get a six pack, real martial artists are studying the blade.

Run or Fight?

The traditional response to the blade question has always been that there is no better defence against a knife than roadwork: just be able to run decently well and do it at the first opportunity. But just as with every other aspect of martial arts, there are dissenting opinions and different principles from style to style. The Russian art of Systema follows the same principles of "confront a gun, flee a blade" that so many other combative systems do. The difference is that Systema never turns the back to the knifeman.



Ben Abbes