Tuesday, September 21, 2010


At the Raven Arts Institute, we have an annual tradition of commemorating 911 by training in Military Combatives for the entire month of September. While not directly related to the navaja or Spanish culture, Combatives is a western martial art that blends easily and effectively with other western fighting systems. Our particular focus this year was on the Combatives system of John Styers, author of the classic manual, COLD STEEL. For those not familiar with it, Cold Steel is a unique repository of fundamental -- and lethal -- methods of unarmed and armed combat: knife, baton, bayonet, and empty hands.
The knife Styers uses in the book is the iconic Marine Corps Ka-Bar, but the techniques he demonstrates are equally applicable with the navaja, the bowie, or any other blade-heavy knife.
Styers begins his knife chapter by reviewtng the proper stance and its tactical advantages, then quickly proceeds to the basics of using the Ka-Bar:
- the Thrust
- the Vertical Cut
- the Horizontal Cut
- the Hand Cut
From there, Styers moves on to demonstrate defensive actions with the knife, including the classic In Quartata, Passata Sotto, and the tactical use of distance. He then ends his knife instruction with a hierarchy of targets to be attacked with the knife, listing:
- the Hand
- the Heart
- the Throat
- the Chest, and
- the Back, between the scapulae.
While the Ka-Bar was the official knife issued to the Marines, the Fairbairn-Sykes dagger was the designated knife for our OSS, England's SOE, and the British Commandos. We train with both weapons, as they each have different designs which in turn offer different defensive/offensive attributes. Nonetheless, despite their different configurations, the two types of edged weapons handle quite intuitively.
In fact, the secret to efficiently using Combatives -- whether unarmed or armed -- is relying on your gross motor skills. This is what makes Combatives so teachable and so easily learned. So, if you don't yet train, 911 should be a great motivation for you to start. And if you already train, consider adding Military Combatives to whatever methods you already practice. Fortune favors the prepared!