One size doesn't fit all when it comes to martial arts techniques. What you hope to learn is enough so you have options when the need arises, and that your practice allows you to choose the right tool in the moment without having to stop and ponder on it.
A system that offers responses for most of what you are apt to run into isn't perfect, because you might run into something for which you have little or no practice; still, it's a numbers game, and you are trying to shade the odds in your favor. There are no guarantees.
We believe that the laws and principles we learn offer a certain consistency of motion; that the general is as important as the specific. The first time I realized this was inherent in the art was when my teacher invited a punch to demonstrate a technique. "Which hand, left or right?" I asked.
"Doesn't matter," he said.
This was contrary to every other martial art I had studied before, and that alone was enough to sell me had I been skeptical that I was dealing with something different.
One of the things we spend a lot of time learning is how to close and move in on an attacker. Having had little in-fighting or grappling before, I found this a lack in my skills, and something I wanted to learn. This smother-the-attack-and-close attitude permeates what we do. We aren't real big on backing up, though we can for pure evasion. And we can also jink to the side or aslant to avoid collisions when need be, it'll depend on the situation and the opponent.
We have spent most of the last sixteen months in our class working primarily on the knife. Since this is a blade-based art, this maybe isn't a surprise, but much of that has been baby steps -- going from static drills against single attacks, dealing with more involved multiple attacks and uncommitted feints and such while moving. Learning how to read an attack and respond effectively is the core of what we have been trying to achieve.
Biggest thing we learned was, of course, if somebody pulls a knife, run away real fast. Failing the ability to not be there, or to leave in a hurry, the what-then? stuff kicks in.
All along, I have been fighting the tendency to smother the attack and move in. We weren't going there because we hadn't learned the safest -- a relative term -- way to do so. But I've always known that was coming, especially with the reverse (icepick) grip against the saber grip. Knives being equal length and combatants near the same size, the saber (common) grip gives you more reach. In a knife fight, generally speaking, longer is better and for obvious reasons: If I can reach you with my blade and you can't reach me with yours? My advantage, other things being equal.
The consistency thing here is, if you what you train for most of the time won't work if you suddenly go from bare to blade or vice-versa, then you need to reëxamine your art. And what we have gotten to is that going in, while scary against a blade, can be the safest place for you to be -- if you do it right.
That's the trick, of course, doing it right ...