What is the Best Knife Fighting School?

Though there are many martial arts that teach effective knife-fighting (European, Asian, and otherwise), the most popular ones nowadays, and therefore the easiest for you to find, are the Filipino. In particular, Sayoc Kali has developed a reputation lately of being a good knife "attacking" art. 

Hawaiian (Lua), Sicilian, Italian, French, Indonesian, Malaysian, and many other martial art systems have effective knife fighting training. You may also want to consider the "modern" systems like Kelly McCann, Gunsite, etc. 

Given that you are living in New York, you probably have access to an excellent variety. So let me give you more information in terms of how to select a school, rather than just names of styles. Like other forms of fighting, knife fighting is very much INTERACTIVE. You have to be responsive to what the opponent is doing, and vice versa. For that reason, YOU MUST SPAR. Making a million anatomically-targeted cuts through a foam rubber and duct-tape dummy may make you feel tough and deadly, but it isn't actually going to develop real fighting skill. 

Now... you can't truly spar with live blades. Anyone who does partner practice with live blades is either doing choreographed stuff or does not care about their own well-being. Sure, they'll give all kinds of reasons (ranging from "realistic appearance and feel" to "learning respect for the blade") for using the live blades. They're idiots. You want to train with something that will actually let you TRY TO CUT YOUR OPPONENT. Typically, training knives are wood, unsharpened aluminum (that was a big trend about ten years ago because it had the glint of metal) or rubber. Knives made of floppy rubber are the worst training tools--knives made of stuff rubber are in my opinion the best. With these, you really only need eye protection. 

Good schools often also edge their knives with lipstick or chalk so that they mark each other's clothing for feedback. 

If you are interested in learning offensive knife for the purpose of self-defence, you will want to train with some of the more modern systems (Kelly McCann is one of the good ones) that teach both draw-from-carry and jurisprudence. If it's more just for sport/hobby, obviously this is unnecessary.

Step by Step Guide Knife Fighting

Buy Knife Fight Techniques "Step by Step guide"

A complete guide from how to choose the knife type until how to perform the right skill on any situation.

Michael Janich knows knife fighting. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Janich recently and I was instantly impressed with his unassuming manner. But don't be fooled by it. He knows the fighting arts and he is a true master of the blade.
I am also a big fan of his Fighting Folder video series. Unlike many martial artists who use the video format to show off their skill, Mr. Janich refrains from such childish behavior and gives the viewer a solid presentation on how to choose a blade, carry it, and draw it as quickly as possible. I saw him draw his knife in person and I can tell you that his skill and his speed are incredible.

While there is useful info within the pages of Michael Janich's book, I personally found it to be a big letdown, based simply on his claims regarding one of the foundations of knife combat--i.e., proper grip. After inaccurately criticizing the "saber grip" (which is, in fact, used in many knife systems around the world, including the Filipino arts which Mr. Janich professes to be "proficient" at), the author introduces us to the ludicrous grip he refers to as the "Filipino grip", where the knife is held only by the 4 fingers, and not the thumb! Considering that the thumb is responsible for at least 45% of one's grip on a knife, one has to wonder what Mr. Janich was thinking, when he decided to advocate such a weak grip. Even more ironic is the fact that Mr. Janich himself can be seen in many of the photographs in his book, reverting back to the more practical "saber grip" and sometimes also to the "natural grip" (aka the "hammer grip").

Janich tries to validate the use of this so-called "Filipino grip" by talking about "established neuromuscular pathways", but his reasoning is easily blown out of the water by anyone employing plain old common sense.

the Author

Michael D. Janich is one of the foremost modern authorities on handgun point shooting and one of the few contemporary instructors to have personally trained with the late close-combat legend Col. Rex Applegate. In addition to making his own martial arts equipment, noted martial arts author and instructor Michael Janich has designed and engineered everything from blowguns to knives, including the highly acclaimed Masters of Defense Tempest folding knife.

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Buy 100 Deadly Knife Fighting Skills Book (SEAL Operative's Guide)

I saw the author, ret. SEAL Clint Emerson, discussing this book on television and after seeing him elaborate on a sample of “skills”, I immediately ordered it. 100 DEADLY SKILLS offers a wealth of common-sense techniques used by elite military operators that can be applied for civilian use (for the most part). I found the book’s value centered more on making the reader smarter, more aware and more prepared; not as a tool to instigate trouble.

I like (“American Sniper”) Chris Kyle’s simplified view of people: there are the sheep, the wolves that prey on the sheep and those who take on the wolf to protect the sheep … the sheepdogs. 100 DEADLY SKILLS’ purpose is to provide readers with enough necessary information to become sheepdogs. The method is simple, provide the sheep (easy victim) with the same tools and know-how wolves (criminals, terrorists, etc.) use on their prey … fighting fire with fire.

Learn how to defend yourself fast and win any situation, inside is "seal knife fighting techniques step by step"

The simple presentation of the material is particularly effective. There are no long, laborious chapters of text to sift through. Emerson generally uses a two-page technique for each of the 100 skills he presents. The left page provides a brief, easily understood explanation of a particular skill and the right page offers a simple step-by-step graphic presentation of the skill. This one-two punch makes a solid impression that is easy to remember. The range of skills covered in the book is diverse and some of the skills are a little extreme (hopefully, most readers will wonder why they need to know how to dispose of a body). 

But, again, I sense that the purpose of this information is less about actually USING each and every skill as it is making people understand that most of the skills presented are already commonly used by those with ill-intent … the power is knowing what they know and finding ways to avoid or effectively counter their methods. Emerson calls the understanding/use of these skills characteristic of the “Violent Nomad” (or, in Chris Kyle’s world, the tools of the sheepdog).

So, for those of us who don’t really have a need for knowing how to: Dispose of a Body (skill #86), Steal a Plane (#26) or Cross Enemy Boarders by Sea, Air and Land (#11, #12 and #13) … what does reading such a book offer? Quite a lot, actually. First of all, I read this book while on a vacation and it provided several practical tips pertaining to everyday travel: how to hide things in a room and how to discover whether or not your suitcases have been opened. 

Additionally, it revealed how unsecure you really are in your hotel room with instructions on how to bypass hotel room doors and unlatch door locks. The section on surveillance techniques probably won’t come in handy for most, but understanding how to detect and lose those who may be sizing you as a potential victim certainly may be useful. 

Educating people on personal, cultural, situational and third-party awareness (#17 Blend into Any Environment) is probably one of the most important skills presented in the book because it’s the one skill that can be employed to avoid using most of the other skills (by having the presence of mind to avoid a potentially deadly encounter). 

100 DEADLY SKILLS is filled with useful instructions on weapon improvisation, defense and safety techniques that certainly could be useful in dire situations; as well as common inconveniences, like being locked out of your home (#50 Defeat a Padlock or #53 Discretely Open a Garage Door).

100 DEADLY SKILLS is a tremendous source of USEFUL information that gets readers out of their comfort zone. Most everything presented is based on common-sense and uses common household items with a little ingenuity. Some may see such a book as equivalent to “giving the fox the keys to the henhouse”, but the author asserts most all of the items discussed in the book are commonly used by criminals/terrorists; we just don’t realize it. By giving us a better understanding of the criminal-mind’s ingenuity, we are better prepared to avoid/survive a negative encounter (especially for those who travel to less-than-friendly parts of the world).

the Author

Clint Emerson, retired Navy SEAL, spent twenty years conducting special ops all over the world while attached to SEAL Teams (including the elite SEAL Team SIX) and the National Security Agency (NSA). Utilizing an array of practical skills he developed to protect himself while at home and abroad, he created Violent Nomad—a personal, non-kinetic capture/kill program cataloguing the skills necessary to defend against any predator or crisis.

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