Monday, February 19, 2007

Martial Blade Concepts: A Crash Course in Defensive Knife Tactics
with Michael D. Janich
produced by Paladin Press, 1-303-443-7250,
$29.95 in DVD or VHS, $34.95 in PAL, aprox. 60 minute running time

reviewed by C. Allen Reed

I am a martial arts instructor who teaches use of the folding knife for self defense to both law enforcement officers and civilians. I have heard some good things about Michael Janich’s system of Martial Blade Concepts (MBC). I took a look at this video both to check out his system and to see if there was anything I could add to what I teach.

Janich opens the video with a very clear statement that the use of a knife in a self defense situation is the use of deadly force. Thus, you must consider yourself to be under danger of death or great bodily harm to employ such force legally. Too often I see this important point left out of training on the use of the knife, so I applaud Janich for including it in this video.

Janich then goes on to outline the five points in the philosophy behind the MBC system. The first of these is you are not in a duel or knife fight when using a knife for self defense. By this Janich means that although you may face an attacker with a knife, you may also be facing someone with a hammer, tire iron or other weapon that can cause you serious injury. Secondly, you must understand the potential of the knife when you use it for delf defense. Third, your primary goal is to stop the attack, not necessarily to kill your attacker. Fourth, the best knife defense system must be based on human anatomy. Last, the system must be based on natural actions.

The only point I would add to this is that when you are involved in any physical confrontation, particularly one involving the use of deadly force, you must contact the police. Failure to report the incident to the police may lead to you being charged with a crime, when in reality you were the victim of the attack.

The next thing Janich does is help you to see what a knife can do with a demonstration of the cutting power of a knife against real meat. Again, I feel this is a very important part of any knife training. There are several reasons for showing this to students who are training with a knife. First, it gives them a sense of what they will be doing to an attacker. Secondly, it makes them aware of how deadly a knife deployed against them can be. Another advantage to having this kind of demonstration on video is that it can be used in court for evidence if you face charges or a law suit.

In the next section of the video Janich introduces his targeting system. Janich argues that the best way to stop an attack is to destroy the attacker’s ability to hurt you. To do this Janich shows how a knife should be used against the arm and leg of an attacker. Janich explains that cutting the muscles and tendons in the arm holding a weapon will cause an attacker to be unable to use the weapon. He also shows that cutting the major muscles in the thigh will cause the attacker to drop to his knees, thus rendering him incapable of advancing on you.

Next, Janich introduces his concepts of the four zones and five angles of attack. Janich divides the body into four zones and shows how most cutting attacks will come at you through one of these zones. These then comprise his first four angles of attack. The fifth angle is a center line attack, which he divides into a low angle five and a high angle five, depending on what part of your body is being targeted.

Now that Janich has shown you the five angles and four zones of attack, he goes on to demonstrate the primary defenses in the MBC system to these attacks. These defenses are clearly laid out and shown multiple times, from both a side and downwards point of view.

Once Janich has walked you through each of the defenses, he introduces two sets of drills to help you learn to work at speed against these different angles of attack. The first drill is his outside-outside drill to work on the four primary angles of attack. The second drill is called a hubud-lubud drill for working against the high and low center line attacks.

Finally, Janich introduces the concept of combining the two drills into one.

Janich closes off the video by reminding the viewer that this short video only introduces the basic ideas in his MBC system and encourages anyone who wants more information to buy other tapes on his system from Paladin Press or to look at his website, Martial to learn about taking his training courses.

The production values in this video were very good. All of the movements can be clearly seen
and are repeated multiple times from different view points.

I agree with many of the points that Janich makes during the video. However, I have some philosophical differences in how he wants the knife to be used for self defense.

Janich argues that the proper stance for use of the knife is with the knife forward . The problem I see with this is it allows your attacker to see that you are armed, and he may escalate his use of force beyond what you are expecting, such as the use of a firearm. I prefer to teach to keep the knife in a reverse grip and only deploy it when you have closed with the attacker.

I also don’t like the way Janich wants you to avoid the initial attack by simply pulling your body back far enough for the attack to miss you. This is all very fine if you are facing someone with a short knife. It will only get you hurt if your attacker has a long pipe, baseball bat, or other longer weapon.

All that being said. I can recommend this video to any student of self defense who wants a video to introduce the basic concepts behind use of the knife for self defense.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

American Combat Judo by B. J. Cosneck
Reprinted by Paladin Press, $16.00 or 800-392-2400

reviewed by C. Allen Reed

This small volume of martial arts techniques was first published in 1959. Cosneck was a combatives instructor for the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II where he worked with the boxer Jack Dempsey. Now Paladin Press has reprinted the book.

However, this book is not for the judo player. Rather the operative term in the title is Combat. In his Preface, Cosneck makes it clear he is aiming to present a series of fighting moves that will likely cause serious injury to an attacker.

The book is broken up into several sections. The first section, titled “Disabling Blows,” shows a number of strikes and blows that can be used to disable, stun or set up an attacker for further actions against his attack. In the second section, “Holds and Locks,” the author shows a number of holds, starting with a rear choke. Then moves on to other techniques such as wrist throws and defeating grabs from behind.

Cosneck then moves on to “Breaks and Releases,” which shows breaking out of various kinds of grabs, chokes and pinning moves. The next section is “Throws and Trips.” This section does include some classic judo throws such as the shoulder throw and hip throw, but also includes how to defeat a push at the chest and how to pull a man down from the rear by grabbing his ankles.

Next comes the section on “Police Tactics.” Moves in this section include disarming an attacker with a handgun pointed at you, and defending against an attacker with a club. Other police-type techniques such as come-alongs and moving a recalcitrant subject from a chair are also included here.

There are two techniques I would not recommend learning from this section. The first is how to resuscitate an unconscious subject. Certainly our ideas of proper resuscitation have moved beyond putting a knee into the back of the unconscious subject. The second is the use of a single kick to the knee to disable a man with a knife.

The final short section is “Situations.” This is really just a list of techniques that summarize how to use what has been shown in the book.

The photographs in the book are all black and white, but clearly show how to do each move. The photos are dated in that most of them show two men in 1950's style boxing trunks and boots. There are no photo credits in the book, but I believe one of the men demonstrating the techniques is Dempsey, while the other may be Cosneck. The only problem with this is that Dempsey is a much bigger man than Cosneck. Thus, the inexperienced martial artist might presume that these moves will only work with a bigger man going against the smaller man. I can tell you from my experience of doing many of these moves myself that this is not true.

Finally, I must agree with the author that none of the moves in this book should be practiced without a proper instructor, as they are quite dangerous if done improperly or without some basic practice learning to fall and roll first.