Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blade Work

We have been working on long and short knives in combination recently. These are relative terms, "long," and "short," of course, but in this case, the short knives bear six-inch blades (15 cm) and the long ones are about 15 inches (38 cm.) Plus or minus a bit.

The longer blades are shorter than a machete, but more than twice the length of the sheath-style knives, and we work them as primary and secondary tools, respectively.

Guru's comments are that these camp-length knives are apt to be more useful in urban situations than machetes or swords. Don't see a lot of folks carrying swords these days ...

Length matters: the ways one uses a sword are different than the ways one uses machetes, camp-knives, belt-knives, or folders. Similar, but timing and distance have to be factored in when the reach changes. 

There are practice blades one can buy that are the right length, but our own Todd Ellner has gotten some of that heavy-duty plastic, and sawed out some practice blades of his own, or other students' designs, one of which he did for me, pictured above. He does them in black or white. I did a little filework and some sanding to finish it, and it is as good as any of the commercial models I have seen. Heavy, thick, and able to withstand a class of banging it against similar instruments, no problem.

Other news:

I would be remiss in not pointing out that Santiago Dobles has put up a blog/web page for Maha Guru Plinck. There is a lot of good information there, and it's worth checking out if you are a Silat Sera Plinck player. History, background, photos, contact information. 

(I would also be remiss if I didn't point out that Santiago and I have had some heated disagreements, and I am not his biggest fan; however, he and Guru have their relationship, and it's not about me, it's about what serves our teacher ...)


  1. I have a sort of philosophical question, though, idea...not sure what to call it, that I'd like to throw out for discussion. I've read most of your books. Not really into the Tom Clancy stuff, but I've read the Matador series at least 10 times in chrono order. I'm in the middle of doing that again, and was reading one of the sections about the hind brain, I think in Musashi Flex. I began to think, that the problem isn't the hind brain, it's the fear. How could you eliminate the fear instead of trying to manage the hind brain. What would happen if you started training a martial art by teaching the students how to break bones and kill. Not the dime store martial arts manual crap about hitting someone in the back of the skull, but the real techniques that focus on the bodies weak spots. The cups around the eyes, the collar bone, the short ribs and the potential organ damage. All the stuff that's usually held for higher level students. Do you think you could give someone enough confidence in their ability to stop a situation that they could learn to control it with appropriate force because the hind brain wouldn't engage?

  2. Black Steel

  3. With enough training and real combat, it might be possible to manage the fight-or-flight syndrome. If it isn't triggered, you don't see a threat as dangerous, then you don't get the cascade of hormones, so, in theory, you can better do what you've trained to do.

    There are guys who deal with real violence all day. Rory Miller tells a story about drinking coffee and having to take down a prisoner, and he did it without putting down the drink, nor spilling it.

    That said, I don't think being able to kill at will is necessarily the way to go, because confidence doesn't speak to surprise. We are hardwired to jump when something lurches out of the shadows, somebody sneaks up behind us and goes "Boo!" or if we find ourselves in the middle of a car wreck or a fall off the roof. Our faces tend to look a certain way, and we tend to do some instinctive moments with our bodies.

    The classic trio in fight-or-flight: Freeze, run, fight. The idea of training is to manage these, but I am told by people with a lot more experience than I have that freezing still happens with guys who can kill you with either hand, and that how to break the freeze and get moving is what keeps you alive.

    I sometimes liken this to altitude sickness. Doesn't matter how well-training or tough you are, on a given day, if you are high up the mountain, it can happen to anybody.

    There are techniques for slicing time faster; screaming; expelling a breath, etc. And if you practice enough, you might get good at doing it in a hurry.

    The way I postulated the thing-in-the-cave was that it conferred abilities -- greater speed, strength, pain-resistance -- and that being able to loose it and manage it was a good thing. Look at the Berserkers, or the Amoks. If you can channel that surge usefully (and that's the hard part), you have a tool that can help you survive.

    If you have been training for years and you have seen ten thousand fists or feet or sticks or blades coming at you, you might not feel the fear when it really happens. But on some level, you know the difference between practice and reality on a deep level.

    If you have been in real hand-to-hand combat against those who will kill you if you screw up a thousand times? Maybe the adrenaline doesn't kick in because you really aren't afraid.

    So you have the cool fighter.

    If you are blinded by rage and you lose your skill, that's no good. If you are powered by rage but you can see and still do the things you have been trained to do, that will take you places most people can't go. The hot fighter.

  4. Thank you Mr Perry. Hatchet buried. Peace