Archive for Amo Guro Blackgrave

Does the X Block Work?

Posted in Commentary, Princples and Theory, Real Life Combat with tags , , , , on January 9, 2011 by bigstickcombat

The Oft Maligned X Block

Reader James posted the following,

In Dagger Disarms part 1 they show only two blocks that “should never” be done in the real world. Note that they show only one photo for each and do not show or are aware of the follow through of these techniques they say not to do. The X-block in Jujutsu is a soft block, it does not hold the arm there but merely receives the arm and then moves it to the side as the force is coming down.

You see, in the Filipino martial arts, the X block has got a bad rap, probably even worse than that of the maligned judo chop. I think the Dan Inosanto Filipino Martial Arts book helped to bury the X block. The average Filipino martial artist can show you a dozen counters to the X block, especially when used against a knife.

Years ago in the Philippines I met Perry Gamsby, an Australian who had moved to the PI. He was telling me how on his first day on the job as a security guard, he ended up chasing a thief through the market. The thief suddenly whirled, drew a large knife, and thrust it up toward Perry’s stomach.

“I blocked the knife with an X block,” Perry told me with a laugh. “The one they tell you never works.”

Now one possibility is that the story isn’t true, but I believe it. But how do we explain the fact that an X block, which isn’t supposed to work, did in fact stop a knife attack?

I think the reason may be that when we train we are fencing. When I have the training knife, I am light on my feet. I may feint, withdraw, then leap back in to “cut” your extended arm. As trained fighters we are both doing this sort of strategy. We are cagey, tactical, mobile, elusive.

X Block: Fact or Fiction?

But what happens when I see someone brutally attacking my mother and there is a knife in my hand? Tactics, feinting, double thrusts, evasion, etc., all go out the window. I am not thinking of counter moves. I now have what Amo Guro Blackgrave refers to as “intent.” The person in this frame of mind (enraged kill) is stronger, but also, his moves are more committed, and although they are more likely to be fatal, they may also be easier to counter.

How many people say the knife can’t be countered bare-handed? I certainly advise against it, because we’ve all seen how poorly real counter-knife scenarios go down in training. Yet we also know that there are people who have survived knife attacks bare-handed, so it can be done. Maybe the reason for the seeming contradiction is the difference between dueling in training and intent-to-kill on the streets.

Hero of the Week: Victor Perez

Posted in Commentary, Weapons with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2010 by bigstickcombat

In the article Victor Perez is called a “good Samaritan,” but it’s more accurate to describe him as a hero.

Hero Victor Perez

An 8 year old girl was kidnapped from in front of her home in Fresno, and an Amber alert was issued.

When Victor Perez recognized the kidnapper’s truck from a newscast description, he jumped in his own truck and chased the suspect. Victor kept cutting off the suspect’s truck. Then he saw the kidnapped girl’s head pop up into view, and the gang member push her head back down.

Eventually the gang member released the girl and sped off. Victor stayed with the girl and reassured her. He dialed 911.

A massive police dragnet snared the fleeing hoodlum. Who is now under arrest for a number of charges, including kidnapping and –sadly– sexual assault.

Not everyone has the courage to confront a gang banger like Victor did, but being prepared helps to boost your willingness to confront a criminal, in addition to putting the odds in your favor in the event of violence. Luckily, the kidnapper didn’t have a gun, but would you be prepared for that eventuality? Suppose the kidnapper you corner emerges empty handed, or with a knife, are you armed?

The Kuntawman has suggested putting a knife on the seat, that you can grab as you “reach for your wallet.” We’ve previously discussed tire knockers, long armed ice scrapers, and even the concealment of knives and guns in your car (Check out this post based on Amo Guro Blackgrave’s wisdom.)

If you cannot carry a gun legally inside your car, one option is to carry it in your trunk. Even if it is unloaded, it is quick and easy to load a magazine into an automatic pistol and rack the slide. The scenario is:

  • pop the trunk via the driver’s seat latch,

  • move to the back of the car, keeping the car as a screen between you and the perp

  • get behind the axle (the most solid and protective part of the car)

  • load the gun and fire as necessary

Another option, mentioned by Mas Ayoob, is to ram the attacker with your car. Anyone who targets you in your car with a gun is fair game, as the number of cops who have shot and killed criminals who try to run them over will attest.

2 Men, 1 Car

Posted in Princples and Theory, Real Life Combat with tags , , on May 17, 2010 by bigstickcombat

I have been thinking back on yesterday’s real life combat post, wherein two men get out of their car to save a woman who is being abducted. It seems to me that an important concept is that the car is both a weapon and a tool. If you think about it, we have cars precisely because a person can do so much more with a car than without one.

Of course, a car can be used as a weapon. Maybe you remember me writing that the only time in my life I ever came close to real combat, I ran over a purse snatcher who was on a bike. But a car also amplifies a person’s capabilities, providing protection and mobility.

Suppose the two brothers, who should be praised for their courage, had a baseball bat. Would it make sense to lodge the bat in the gate or to seal a door to try to block the attacker’s escape? I think we can see that the best use of the bat would be for one of the brothers to maintain control of it. I argue that the same is true for the car.

As I thought through scenarios, it always seems to make sense for at least one brother to stay in the car.

  • Suppose one brother gets out and the assailant draws a gun and shoots him. The driver can ram the gunman, or worst case, flee for his life.

  • If the woman is seriously injured, one brother is already in the car and can easily pick her up to take her to the hospital.

  • If the attacker tries to drive off, the brother in the car can either ram him or follow.

  • If the attacker takes off on foot, the driver can follow.

  • Even better is a scenario in which the brothers have a weapon or weapons in the car. One gets out with the weapon, while the second one is “armed” with a car. If they followed Amo Guro Blackgrave’s advice, the brother in the car would also be armed, both with a readily accessible knife a tire thumper club, and possibly a pistol.

The War Club

Posted in Weapons with tags , , , on April 17, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Seamok

If we look at war clubs, the type of striking weapons people take into combat when it’s do-or-die, we see a tendency to mass weight at one end. Of course, this is why they’re called “clubs.” I’d be interested to have somebody find me an example of a “war stick.”

If we look at Amo Guro Blackgrave’s video again, we see that he has a knob end on his walking stick, just as there is a knob on the end of a shillelagh, and just as weight is concentrated toward the end of a baseball bat. At long range, the knob end concentrates added weight at the tip of the weapon, so that rather than do larga mano with a stick, the club adds extra impact.

Shillelagh

But maybe you’re thinking, “Ah, but in close the club is useless.” Actually, the knob end can be used to great effect in close. Imagine someone has you in a bear hug. You have only twelve inches in which to move your weapon from a dead standstill into the opponent’s head. Which will do more damage, a 28 inch stick or a brick? We know instinctively that the heavier brick will cause greater damage with less wind up. By the same token, the heavy end of a club can wreak more havoc in close.

Samoan Girl with War Club

Let’s try a thought experiment. What if we had Amo Guro Blackgrave’s “brain duster,” or a shillelagh, and we added a pommel at the end. A pommel makes for stronger butt end strikes, and aids in weapon retention. What if the weapon is now wielded as much as possible with two hands in a bat grip, and the point of impact is the weighted end?

Tongan War Club

Left Handedness

Posted in American Arts, Other Stick Methods, Princples and Theory, Technique with tags , , , on April 11, 2010 by bigstickcombat

A "Left-Handed" Follow Up to a High Thrust

A martial artist asked if I was left-handed, because in some ways my style appears left-handed. But in reality I am right-handed, and my style is right hand dominant.

Let’s start empty-handed. My inspiration is Bruce Lee, who fought with his dominant right side forward. This meant that his strong right hand jab and right side kick were forward. Since in boxing you will throw and land more often with the jab, why not jab with your strong arm?

The left hand, which is normally weaker, gains power because it builds up speed and momentum due to greater distance traveled and greater torque. So my knockout blows are the left straight, the left roundhouse kick, the left overhand elbow, and the left knee.

I was showing this empty-hand system to a friend this summer, but he just couldn’t do the left elbow. The initial tendency is to say right-forward stance and left elbow don’t work. But it makes sense, and it can be learned.

People will get lazy and throw the lead right jab, then move the left foot forward and hit with the right rear hand or elbow. This is because they haven’t developed their left side weapons, and they will be weak in combat.

With a weapon it also makes sense to have a right-forward lead. If you are right-handed you want your weapon hand in the lead. It’s easier to block and attack with a bolo in your right hand, which is forward, than your empty left hand if your left side is forward.

Now here is where I differ with a lot of people. Many (most?) guys who use the two-handed grip will hold the bat like a right-handed baseball player, with the left hand at the pommel and the right hand above it. Only instead of having the left foot forward like a baseball batting stance, they have the right foot forward (See Amo Guro Blackgrave here.). The Tapado stylists use a similar stance.Yet I argue that the more powerful stance would be that of the baseball stance with the left foot forward, because it allows you to step into the strike and get the full torque of the hips.

So for me, I have the dominant right hand at the pommel. This is how I swing the stick one-handed, which I may do on occasion. Now by adding the left hand above it, I can instantly go into bat strikes without any grip changes.  By standing with my right foot forward and placing the bat over my left shoulder, I can now get the full power of hip rotation.

If you think about it, there are other advantages of this “left” stance (right foot forward, right hand at pommel, left hand above it, and bat resting over the left shoulder.). For one, an opponent may throw up his left hand to entangle my bat while striking with his right. Because I am hitting from my left side, it is easier for me to avoid his left hand and hit his weapon hand.

SEAMOK Walking Stick Kombate

Posted in American Arts, Other Stick Methods, Videos, Weapons with tags , , , , on April 6, 2010 by bigstickcombat

Amo Guro Michael Blackgrave of SEAMOK

I found an interesting walking stick combat video from Amo Guro Michael Blackgrave of SEAMOK (You can visit him on the blogroll.).

Note that he is using a solid hickory stick, and the knob puts this weapon in the category of clubs, not sticks. Also note that a blunt weapon does not have to be perfectly cylindrical, as many FMA are used to practicing with.

Amo Guro Blackgrave demonstrates defenses at all ranges, from long distance to contact/grappling range, to devastating effect. So do not kid yourself into thinking the long stick is only a long-range weapon. Nor would I advise trying to get inside on Amo Guro Blackgrave.

You should also observe how one-handed techniques are the exception, not the rule. Amo Guro Blackgrave understands that the long stick is in essence a two-handed weapon.

Simplicity, coupled with powerful directness, is a hallmark of the video. A novice who started with the hickory “brain duster” and who learned the lessons on this short video would be far better off than studying many of the overly-complicated and fanciful short stick styles. By the way, I have to love it when an American can use “bagsak” conversationally.