How we train
Our training methodology comprises of drills, sparring, tactical analysis and cross training.
All our drills were created based on our combat experience and relate directly to what we have found to work in combat. This means that the drills are designed with the uncooperative adversary in mind and are geared towards teaching combative skills in their proper context. All the acquired skills are tested through gradually increasing the level of hostility and aggression until it takes the fighter as close to the reality as possible.
We devote a considerable amount of time to full contact sparring within classes. Sparring is a tool not a goal and serves as a means to hone skills as well as develop them under the pressure of violent unpredictable combat.
We spar with accurate weapon simulators with minimum protection: goggles for bladed weapons and fencing masks for medium staff.
The advantages of this approach are:
- The ability to correctly judge distance.
- Definite improvement in negating the reflex of closing one’s eyes while being attacked to the face and, of course, while one attacks to the face (quite a common condition).
- The oh so necessary understanding of consequences to an ill timed strike or a “kamikaze” rush when all you get yourself is a “glorious” double kill.
- The clear ability to differentiate between a glancing blow, which would only graze you and a knock out strike which you disregard on the account of being protected by a mask, vest or hockey gloves.
- The clear improvement in mental ability to look in the eyes of the assailant which swings a club at you and to not be intimidated but rather to responde the way you have been trained.
And, of course Cross Training is also big part of our training, providing us with priceless combat experience that comes from crossing blades in sparring with every possible weapon system such as Kendo and Arnis, sport fencing and Silat, Kenjutsu and Aikido, Systema and Naginata-jutsu, Jo-do and Ninjutsu, Kobudo and Wing Chun, Bagua and Dos Manos, Russian knife systems and 19-th century Saber fighting styles to mention a few. The cross training path has taken us to test the skill against boxers, Muai Thai practitioners and other, seemingly non related to weapons arts and sports, which provide an absolutely formidable competition when one factors in their honed skills, sound tactics and ruthless approach for combat. Never disrespect a boxer with a knife!
This melting pot is what forges a well rounded weapon fighter not deterred by any system, any degree of aggression and makes him ready for an armed confrontation be it against a skilled opponent in the ring or a violent assault in the street.
A.C.T. guidelines for realistic sparring.
The idea is to keep the training of weapon combat as realistic as possible.
So the rules (if one can call them that) fall under the B.A.S.E. principle:
B.A. – Basic Anatomy. Certain strikes are good to finish the fight and some aren’t. Know your weapon and know the types of damage that weapon deals. Certain strikes are better than the others given the context. Like a strike on the thigh with a staff hurts a lot but surely is not equivalent to a simultaneous full swing to the head. You get the idea. The strike that removes couple of fingers from the left hand of the right handed knife fighter can stop a fight. It really can. But the question is whether he was not rushing at the same time to run his knife through your throat or gut. Then that cut to the fingers doesn’t look so hot anymore does it? Sometimes it just so happens that the ONLY option to counter an attack with the knife is to put your arm in front. Not because you want to. You were outfought. But you CAN and SHOULD try to make the best of it and while you know that you are going to the hospital you can try to send your opponent to the morgue by simultaneously ramming the knife in his throat. So every strike or exchange is looked at from the timing/damage point of view.
S – Striking. It must be done properly. Edge alignment. No strikes with the flat of the edge (the proper simulators really help here, won’t you agree?), no light tapping. A cut or a thrust must be delivered with proper force.
E – Everything goes. That means all is fair in combat. You want to strike at any target. NO limitations. Face, eyes, fingers, legs, torso, head, back etc. No sportive limitations. Grappling is encouraged, but, please, before you start your clinch work , remember that the other guy has a knife and can stab you while you are lining up for the hip throw. And to be stabbed from the guard is just as dangerous as if you were standing up. All is allowed when you are fighting with a short range weapon as well as the long one. BUT! We do strive to keep the fighters safe. So we know how to “show” kicks to the groin and empty hand strikes to the face and throat. Everything goes doesn’t mean that “anything” goes. Control while fighting is important. That said when someone wants to have a go, we have a go. One learns from it. The contact with a weapon is full. Period. But if I can show an opponent that he is “dead” I don’t have to always take his head off. Fight with a weapon and you’ll know what I’m talking about.