Friday, November 1, 2013

Beyond speed

A while ago I wrote about the importance of speed and the role of fast work in training. While in some martial arts and sports this approach to training is taken for granted, in some others it is still a new and uncharted territory, or even a big no-no.

In order to avoid rehashing, I’ll skip right to the main point of this post… Going for, or even getting to, full speed and full contact training does not finalize our path. Simply, the speed in and of itself is by no means be all end all purpose in training. That is, of course, if your are not training solely for competition.

Well then, what is the “missing ingredient”? With regards to the technical development, being able to operate at full speed is actually pretty much the final destination. However, we all know (or at least should be aware) that the technical proficiency is not the entire picture. There is another dimension that affects combative performance to a high degree…

What if he feeds you full speed attacks?
Emotional content. Hmmm, yeah, everybody knows about the importance of mental preparation, what’s the big deal? Please note I did not say “mental”, but used the word “emotional” instead! And that was intentional, since those are different things, albeit closely related.

Without going into detail, the emotional component would include the tactical reasoning, strategically thinking, awareness/alertness of one’s surrounding etc. Another important aspect would be the proper intent in training, which gets us closer to the subject of the article, but still not the same thing.

All of the above, mental aspect do not necessarily have a direct cause and effect kind of impact on the relation between the two adversaries. For example, one fighter being smart and tactical, or highly aware, does not necessarily stir a reciprocal response in the rival. That is, not in any evolutionary kind of manner.

How about one of them?
Emotional content, on the other hand, is hardwired into humankind to cause some kind of emotional response in the other. Probably the price of being a social animal. In practice, it means that if the attacker is intent, deceptive, motivated…strong and fast, but all the while being cool and “poker faced”, the defender will have problems in dealing with the external stimuli and input. But, replace the “cool and calculated” portion with a “mad, foaming at the mouth, grimaced face” attacker, and you have an entirely different paradigm of defense operation, as all those stimuli and input will unavoidably beget the response in internal aspects to deal with as well. 

I guess the difference could be illustrated as full contact sparring session vs. one those adrenal scenario types of work.

Take a look at the short video I made at one of sessions with my own group.

The guy who was defending my attack was chosen for being around for a while (read, knows what thinks to strive for or avoid), and being naturally pretty calm and non-prone to panicking.

In the first part, I was working at an elevated speed, but in a relaxed and unattached manner. In the second (sorry for the brevity, the “cameraman” did not press rec button on time), the speed level was pretty much the same, but I added facial expressions and “sound effects”… Do you see the difference in the defender’s performance? He had no idea what was coming up the second time around, so pay attention to his posture, degree of tension at the shoulders and movement pattern. See how he leans back, stiff in the upper body and retreats almost on the straight line?

I guess it points to further work to be done… 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Which ride to take?

Earlier I already have written about the place of acurriculum, mostly in RMA, but in this post I’d like to elaborate on what, in my hobble opinion, should be the contents of work in a martial art group/club.

The longer I train, the more I am convinced that all good schools, regardless of the system they teach, have one important thing in common – training methodology taking precedence over technical curriculum. “Why is that?” you may ask. Well, there a plenty reason, but let’s address a few of them, one at the time.

Who's got better argument?
First of all, in its nature the training methodology is a sort of a process, as is the act of continual training itself, while the curriculum is more of a set of “things”. Probably the main implication of this difference is that the methodology is directed outwards, moving things, i.e. concerned about the result of the process. The curriculum, on the other hand, tends to be more about keeping things in place, or looking to achieve stability.

Secondly, the proper methodology strives to facilitate learning, but the curriculum is focused on facilitating teaching. Now, this may sound as a mere difference in wording, but it is actually very important! Namely, if you are a martial arts instructor (an honest and passionate one), your chief focus should be the benefit of your students, or their command of the knowledge and skills you are trying to impart. In other words, that they are able to learn to their maximum capacity, and also as quickly and thoroughly as possible. In opposition to that would be your own comfort, i.e. not having think too much about how to run each individual class – heck, it’s so much easier to just run things by numbers and tick them off the list!

Next, a methodology is usually assessed in qualitative terms, as good or bad/effective or ineffective; while a curriculum gravitates to being evaluated in quantitative terms – large or small, expansive or streamlined etc. Sure, it could sound as mixing apples and oranges, but it entails one more distinction I’ll touch upon…

Finally, the two different emphases we are debating here often (please note – I said “often”, not “without exception”) end up having different goal. On one hand, developing a methodology is an attempt at developing certain objective (tangible) level of performance in the trainee (think wrestling, boxing, MMA...)

It seems to be working!
On the other, in way too many schools the curriculum is in place for the sake of developing certain desired appearance in the practitioner (think kata/forms in most traditional styles). Stemming from that is the occurrence of good coaches/instructors modeling the methodology after their athletes/trainees (having them understand what they do), and lazy ones modeling their students to suit the curriculum (imitate what they see). 

It seems...aesthetically pleasing(?)
Naturally, it is possible to have both the curriculum and methodology of teaching it, the two are not entirely exclusive, my point here is which side of the continuum one should be stressing in their training.

That is it for now. In the future, I will be addressing some of the feats of a good training methodology and the attributes it develops in the trainees. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Speed - diagnostic and curative!

Among the people who train in martial arts/fighting methods with at least declarative goal of being able to "practically use it", the occasional or regular inclusion some of pressure testing is not a new thing. In most cases, it entails moving fast, i.e. faster than in normal training. When these scenarios and/or kid of drills is done, the main thing to look for is identifying the problems, more specifically, the things (techniques, tactics) that do not work in full speed. This diagnostic aspect of speed training is by now more or less widely accepted, and in good training groups followed by getting back to the "drawing board" and drilling to fix the problems.

However, I've been wondering lately, what happens when the battery of those speed tests is repeated in continuation for a while, without getting back to refinement immediately? And sometimes, it means simply doing more than a single round/scenario...

In search for an answer, I experimented a bit with my group of trainees (although, in all honesty, the amount of training and the size of the sample were by no means exhaustive). And guess what? Some aspects of training could be improved by doing the fast training alone!

This kind of methodology seems to have particularly beneficial effects with certain type of trainees, in this case the guys in their mid-teens whose overall coordination may be suffering as the result of growth spurts or similar challenges. For that kind of population, this sort of "task oriented drills" tends to be much better suiting  that the training that focuses on the mechanics of moves, i.e. motor actions themselves. In other words, my limited experience seems to corroborate the approach professed by Luis Preto (take a look at my posts relating to his work).

OK, let me give you concrete examples. After a period of screening, I introduced knives and related work to the guys in my group. Now, the thing is that while working on one's empty handed skills, and especially AGAINST empty handed attackers, some people have the proclivity of believing it is a good strategy to take a punch or two in exchange for a better/more powerful one (or more). That in turn leads to inadvertent neglect of the footwork and general movement skills. Well, the introduction of knives (even trainers) tends to address that issue rather quickly.

I put each and every one of the boys through 6-8 consecutive rounds of knife sparring/dueling. I know, it had nothing to do with "street savvy" skills, but more with certain technical elements. Not to mention that is fun to do :-) (I am kicking myself repeatedly for not having filmed the session).

Being that they do not need to use much power when striking with a knife, it naturally laid emphasis on the speed and efficiency of the movement. And here goes - one of the guys found out during the first round that his long arms and legs did provide the ability to cover a lot of space relatively quickly at slower tempos, but at full speed it represented major challenge to his balance and mobility, in the sense of changing directions daftly enough. In the second round, we saw him less but more deliberately. In the third, he started moving more again, but with shorter gait and better focus. By the fourth round, he was already pretty solid on his feet and could focus on the actions of his upper body and tactical considerations.

Another member of the group a very tall and lanky fellow. My previous pointers about the need to bend/relax the knees were futile for the most part, but here again, the task at hand worked it out! In the first round he was almost like stuck in the mud or something, and even fell on his ass when trying to move back and keep the distance against a charging opponent, even without any physical contact. The second time through - lo and behold, his knees were bend and the entire movement much more springy! The third round even brought some sideways movement, albeit with lousy balance. However, that issue started self-correcting in the fourth round.

Yet another chap had had the inclination to avoid punches by bending from his waist, or use the same "tool" in order to reach the target that would move away from his own. That in turn did not carry over to well the message for the necessity of weight transfer and related issues. Once put through the multiple rounds of knife sparring - yes, the problems were first blatantly exposed, and then proceeded to "self healing" part. First, he noted that the leaning thing does not work against attacks to the legs or against fast combos, because the second or third blow would easily catch him. So, from almost non-existent he developed some workable footwork in a matter of minutes! Next, he saw the need to be able and go from moving forward to going back, or viceversa. It lead him to lowering his center a little and bringing the feet to act in a more coordinated fashion in transferring the weight for that direction change.

It does not end here, but you get the picture. All that said, though, the fast training is not some kind of panacea by any means. Namely, while certain mechanical/technical aspect did seem to be susceptible to getting fixed this way, not everything worked out so smoothly.

With regards to fighting strategy and tactics, training at high speed does function beautifully as a diagnostic tool, but I did not notice any actual short-term progress in either plugging the tactical holes in one's game or boosting the ability to take advantage of someone else's mistakes. Evidently, it is a different kind of cognitive process that requires a longer and continual work in striving to get better at this aspect of performance.

In conclusion, training at higher or full speed is not be all end all approach, but probably could be used more, not just as a diagnostic tool, but as a cure, too.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Alex Kostic - ever evolving!

First, sorry for the delay! I did not think it would take me this long to get to this installment…

So, as promised – a word or two about the highlights (for me) of the teaching that Alex Kostic presented during his annual “Training Above the Clouds” event, in June this year.

The main thing you need to know, especially if you have trained with Alex before but not recently, is that currently his focus is almost entirely on the mass fighting scenario in combat. The reasons are multi-fold and not my topic today, but this shift in Alex’s work lead to some interesting observations and conclusions/methods of training. Oh, and a cool new “label” for the whole approach – Wolf Pack Fighting.

Probably the technical chief aspect of fighting multiple adversaries (no tactical layers here! The entire thing is based more on the Russian cultural heritage, i.e. being in a circle of attackers and letting loose[1].) is the specific demand on one’s mode of movement and power generation. Specifically, it means that this kind of highly asymmetrical situation does not allow for the laser-focus approach to maximum technical efficiency and polishing. Instead, you have to move with authority and amplitude, nut not in an entirely haphazard manner.

When being attacked from all over the place and in full speed, there is simply no time to process the incoming information according to a typical OODA  protocol, so you have to act decisively and powerfully. And this is where the principle of individual frame full release comes into play! In short, it refers to making every move count and exude enough power to either knock one of the attackers out or hurt them enough to strike fear and hesitation in coming after you again. As you may have guessed, it does not work in slow motion…

The central mechanical element that makes it possible, and differing largely from most widespread RMA schools today, is the vertical component of all the striking and movement techniques. Namely, this is what will add both power to one’s hits and stability to their movement. That in turn requires loose articulation in the joints, even with short and explosive motions.

Now, while this kind of work may look crude and unpolished to an observer used to highly developed symmetrical combat systems, it dies not mean it is not technical. I took a close look at the people attending the camp, and everybody had to experience all those difficulties and confusion of facing the task of developing a new technical skill. Not to mention the phase of putting the individual moves/frames in succession and stringing them together…and then under pressure of being under the attack of a bunch of people around you!

Speaking of possibly having tried Alex’s work before, the notion of the individual frame full release dovetails really nicely with his punctuated flow concept. The difference is, as I understand it, that the latter relates more to the outer perspective, i.e. how things look when seen from the side, while the former is the “inner description”, or how things feel when done properly.

Last, but not the least, aside from bringing confusion and puzzled experience when learning the moves, the result of doing them in the real time and with full release is a special feeling of exuberance and…well, release. Hard to argue with things you have developed and experienced on your own, even if through the process of guided discovery, as this camp may be described.

[1] Heavily influenced by the traditional Russian martial school of Skobar, headed by Andrei Gruntovski of St. Petersburg

Monday, June 24, 2013

Back and swinging hard!

It’s been a long hiatus since my last post here. But hey, man’s gotta focus on certain things at time. I had a terribly busy and hectic period during the second half of May and first half of June, which peaked in a jam-packed training week that included the first ever Astig Lameco Seminar of Roger Agbulos in Belgrade (hosted by yours truly) and the annual Training Above the Clouds camp with Alex Kostic (administered by yours truly) and private training in Jogo do Pao with Luis Preto. Tough but fulfilling experience!

This time, I’ll focus on the weapon based methodologies of Agbulos and Preto, while the insights from training with Alex will be a subject of my next post.

My faithful readers (yes, I love you all) know that my search for ways to enhance my training revolves around the attempts to functionalize the training methodology in such a way to maximize the effects of time and effort spent in training. In practice, it means that I am not in the business of training professionally , which in turn sets certain demands in view of available time for training. Being that my approach is directed at attaining certain standard of functional combative performance, and not just playing with martial arts for recreational purposes, it should put my “quest” into some perspective. And both guro Roger Agbulos and Luis Preto fit the bill perfectly.

First, Roger Agbulos devotes his teaching and training to working only on the aspects of Filipina martial arts he deems most directly applicable to the modern day needs – single impact and edged weapons, as well as empty handed defense against them. While his own command of some more traditional expressions (eg. double sticks, stick and knife) is awe inspiring, he believes it is most time-efficient to drop those from the curriculum. By the same token, guro Roger’s approach to impact weapons is actually hybrid, i.e. applicable to both true blunt weapons (clubs, sticks, batons) and longer edged implements, such as machetes. 

In order to further enhance the instruction and accelerate the results, he strongly emphasizes certain pedagogical and technical principles. Namely, when it comes to the selection of technical material to be taught, he looks to meet the following requirements:
Universally simple
Can be done in real time

On the other hand, the instruction of the techniques that meet the standard is done with close attention to structural detail and physics principles. The drills are put together in such a way to bring these to life and up to speed, while also helping to expose all the mistakes and weaknesses that need to be worked on and eliminated. To that end, guro Agbulos always has keen eye on the practitioners and is relentless in his insisting on doing things right.

Before training

All that said, it my utmost pleasure and with feeling of pride that I have been appointed a representative for teaching Asting Lameco approach to Filipino combative in this part of Europe J

Even though coming from a different cultural background of martial arts, Luis Preto shares a lot of the same principles in his teaching (btw, he kindly and open mindedly took part in the first day of the Astig seminar. Interestingly enough, guro Roger recognized him from the book on Jogo do Pau he owns, and written by Preto).

Preto seems to share the same urge about martial training that I do, and for the same reasons. Being frustrated with the failure of some his past instructors to effectively and efficiently impart knowledge and skill can completely break your will to stay with martial arts, or motivate you to work hard and look for the ways to change that. Fortunately, Preto is in the latter group.

Now, I was already acquainted with his thoughts on the subject, being an avid reader of his books, but it was extremely gratifying to see it embodied in his physical expression of the teachings. And speaking of the teaching, Luis’ progression is so logical and makes so much sense that it makes one wonder how come everybody’s not doing it? Not only is it beautiful for the reason of facilitating the retention of the material, but also provides tremendous help in identifying the problems and fixing them on your own.
Get it! Read it! Do it!

It was great seeing Preto even letting my wife (black belt in aikido, thus some past experience with wielding sticks and bokkens) come and play with the ides, and being able to immediately make her realize the problems with certain techniques and eliminate them almost immediately. And all that in les than 5 minutes!

On top of that, he has a personality trait that people either love or hate (of course, I am in the former camp), which is being absolutely straightforward in calling things what they are, when it comes to things he has passion for, in this case training. That makes him completely at ease with slaying and barbecuing a sacred cow or two and debunking all kinds of myths that happen to have become almost universally accepted “truisms” in sport training. To see what I mean, just check his blog.

So, what was the common threat that stands out with both of these fine gentlemen? I’d say that the most succinct fashion of putting it is – COACHING! In my mind, being a good coach means having all the tools and the knowledge to use them, but oven more so actually caring (or better yet, being passionate) about the performance and results of your students/athletes.

If you can, seek training with either (or both) of these brilliant teachers. Not only will you get to acquire some of the nice tools and learn how to use them, but also be inspired in your training and teaching. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Objective issues

Not exactly newsflash when noting that many people in martial arts tend to stress the importance of the tools while disregarding the objective. In some instances, it is understandable, since many of the inherent and once glaringly clear goals of training in a martial art have grown more or less obscure by now… You know, the changing social and technological circumstances and all.

However, as an instructor I find it surprising to this day that even when doing a drill in which the objective was rather precisely specified, some of the students will stop and try to restart the drill just because their own approach failed, i.e. the procedure they “figured out” should lead to the completion. The same goes for their own imagined unsuccessful endings. Eg. a couple weeks back I gave the set of instructions that revolved about crashing the distance against the knife wielding attacker control him, and one of the students would just stop the drill upon receiving a slash or a stab with the trainer.

Of course, it lead me immediately to questioning my instructions. Namely, I often deliberately give just the basic outline, for the purpose of students coming up with their own solutions to the problem, while hopefully adhering to the outlined principles. Be as it may, everybody else in that particular class got it right, so it comes down to the personal paradigm of perception.

Speaking of perception, one thing that is also quite spread, and not only in the martial arts, is that the practitioners will often try to imitate the designated exercise, rather than actually do it. In other words, from their standpoint it is important that they immediately look like they’re doing something, more so than looking awkward for a while before actually doing the damn thing properly. Ah, image over substance…my favorite pet peeve.

And everybody want to be original...

In conclusion: while I am acutely aware of the fact that different people train for different motives and desires, it seems that regardless of those differences, too many of them have something in common – they would like someone else (presumably the instructor) to somehow do all the hard work for them, and then they should just somehow end up being the “desired product”. Sorry folks, it does not work that way! Yes, the instructors have a strong obligation to do their best in making the training process as smooth for you as possible. That is, of course, if you’re paying for your training. However, YOU have the responsibility of actually honoring their effort and your own time and money by doing the work!

Not when it comes to training, pal.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Luis Preto redux

I'm pretty sure some of my readers will readily remember the name of Luis Preto, as his book on Jogo do Pau was my first review on this blog. The book at issue, however, was unavailable in the meantime, but Luis has come up with the new edition of the "Jogo do Pau: The ancient art & modern science of Portuguese stick fighting", or version 2.0 if you like it more, that way. To see my review, go here:

OK, so, what's the big deal?

Well, the big deal is how he did it. In stead of just re-printing what had already proven to be a good thing, Preto actually added some new material, rearranged some of the previously existing, added some new photos etc, and all in the honest effort to improve the book and offer his readers the best possible service on his part. In other words, he did not simply set on cashing in on his old work, but actually strove to keep on improving. From that standpoint, I really think Luis raised the bar to an admirable level in setting the standard for other authors to reach in this regard. 

All that said, another thing that makes me love Preto's work so much is his never-ending drive to help the qualitative evolution of martial arts. It means liberally sharing some hard-won knowledge and wisdom related to the actual training methodology and pedagogical process in this field, instead of training a handful of great fighters and then selling seminars with just a grain or two of those things. In the process, Luis does not refrain form slaying a sacred cow or two and/or questioning some commonly taken for granted "knowledge"...or calling things their real names, even if that will mean "defensive action" from the people with their own established "realms" of reign. 

As if not enough, Preto came up with a whole line of books, meant to improve your training in martial arts, each very well done and to the point - good stuff in it, irrelevant discarded. The one I'd like to especially point to is his "Understanding physical conditioning: a movement based approach". If you are a person with a daily job/duty, but still passionate about taking your training to the highest possible level on your limited time, this one is a must! You can read the review at my friend Spyro's blog, but let me just tell you that it brings to end the dictum of training programs made by and for elite level professional athletes, especially those in cyclic  sports that may not transfer to your needs all that well. with this one, you will learn to identify you own training needs and then how to work on "satisfying" them.

In the end, I would like to extend my gratitude to Luis Preto for doing the good work and wish him the best of luck in future endeavors...particularly if he will continue allowing us to enjoy the labors of it as he has done so far :-)

To learn more about the man and his work, go to

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Modern blades and Irish sticks seminar

Last weekend I had the chance to host the seminar covering the topics of Trinity Combat methodology of self defense and knife defense (day 1), and the Irish stick fighting system (day 2). The training was conducted by head instructor Hendrik Röber and able assistance of Bernd Boss. In this blog post I would like to share my impressions with those who have interest in it.

Day 1 – Trinity Combat Concepts

As mentioned, this portion of the seminar was dedicated to fundamental self defense principles and especially their application in defending against knife attacks. The outlook of this approach is, naturally, heavily influenced by Mr. Röber’s professional background, which includes his extended army stint as a member of para-commando units of the German armed forces, as well as years of bouncing and security operations.

What I really appreciated about his method is the logical and coherent nature of both the contents of the system and the instruction. There are hordes of self defense instructors out there, but not all are created equal. Röber certainly belongs among those who are doing their trainees/clients/student a big favor by presenting a good and reliable set of skills they can count in the case of dire need. 
Essentially, the course teaches a finite number of techniques and concepts that cover a lot of ground in application, either armed or unarmed. In that sense, what we have at hand is a true self defense program, and not an incompetent attempt of streamlining whatever extensive martial art and then selling it as “ultimate, supreme, foolproof, super-human-ability-inducing” lesson plan. Yeah, we all know plenty of cases of the latter.

So, the Trinity Combat approach makes a basic distinction between the situations when you can tell that conflict is brewing and when the attack comes totally unexpected and by surprise. For each, they teach a fundamental stance/position from which to launch the response, while minimizing the number of possible openings for the attack. The nature of the response is to take over the initiative immediately, and trying to stop the attacker in his tracks. Another important aspect is to go for the position of spatial advantage over the attacker and work on breaking his structure, hence finishing the altercation as quickly as possible.

The nice thing is that the transfer of the skills from working against empty handed attacks or those with the knife, but also in situations where you yourself are armed or not, requires little to none adaptations, which maximizes the efficiency of training time. In that context, being an extraordinary physical specimen himself (standing at two meters, i.e. 6’8” tall), Mr. Röber shows his competence as the instructor, by being aware of and stressing the important mechanical points that will “make it or break it” for the smaller people.

Day 2 – Irish stick fighting

When it comes to the issue of Irish stick fighting styles, there is some debate going over that one, but without going into it, Hendrik Röber is the main representative of Glen Doyle’s family system for the “rest of the world” as I call it. And the kind of representative that any head of any system could wish for!

Röber pay dues where it is called for, his execution of the technical material is sharp and precise, while his teaching is passionate and with the good balance of strictness and humor. Believe me, with the highly physically demanding nature of the system, some humorous relief is very much welcome.

Interestingly enough, the session started with a characteristic warm-up fragment that seems to be devised specifically for this kind of activity. I found it very interesting and well suiting what followed afterwards. Assistant instructor for this seminar, Bernd Boss did a wonderful job of demonstrating the exercises and bringing across the attitude required to do them properly.
 The Doyle family system, Rince an Bhata Uisce Beatha (RBUB for short), does seem a bit strange at first, but once you develop some understanding for the circumstances it originates from and what it strives to achieve, it makes sense. What this seminar covered were the fundamental striking techniques, referred to as stick punches, and the defensive measures against typical attacks coming from seven angles. These are certainly not all that are contained within the system, but they form the foundation for the later work.

And some hard work at that. Yes, we all know that in order to excel at anything one must put in some serious effort, but training in RBUB means hard work on more than one layer. Fortunately, the instructors of the seminar were able to encourage and stimulate the participants, by leading by example, to endure through the rigors of some of the drills and exercises.

In the end, the experience from taking part in this two-day event was tiring and painful but very rewarding. The material provided plenty of food for thought and stuff to work on, while the instructors provided good atmosphere and example of how to do your job, should you be an instructor yourself.

Left to right: Hendrik Röber, myself, Bernd Boss
 Finally, if you would like to seek training with Hendrik Röber (which I recommend), you would do well starting by visiting the following website:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The "inner" edge

Over the past year or so I have been working and experimenting much more with the “opposite direction” of the edge when using the knife in the reverse grip mode. The idea itself is certainly not new, probably first presented in the public by James A. Keating, while some other prominent proponents who have had influence on my approach to it are Southnarc, Ray Floro and some others (I am working on a monster review of their materials in a post to be done soon). OK, for those who are not sure what am I talking about…
Note the orientation of the cutting edge

This way to hold the knife is known under several terms, such as inverted edge, back edge, scythe grip etc, but the term I will use here is reverse grip edge in,  or RGEI for short, simply because it seems to be the most widespread one.

Of course, one of the first questions to arise is: “why would I wanna use this one”? well, obviously, for the advantages it has over the regular reverse grip, with the edge turned out. Attention! It does have its shortcomings too, but for the sake of brevity, this time I will only address the advantages.

So, first and foremost, this grip works very well with regards to both human biomechanics and mechanical construction of your average folding knife (naturally, mechanically speaking, fixed blade knives are superior to folders). When I say human biomechanics, it means that it is much easier to generate force by pulling an implement towards yourself then pushing it away. Therefore, if in a combative situation you have to cut through your opponents obstacles, it is much easier to do with RGEI then with the “normal” grip. In view of the mechanical construction of a typical folder, if you hold it with the edge out and should happen to miss your target on the stab and only hit it (or something else) during the retraction, the knife’s locking mechanism is much more likely to fail than with RGEI.

Second, this grip really forces you to focus on the manner of application that is actually most suitable with smaller knives, i.e. stabbing over cutting/slashing. It is not my intention to engage in what seems the never ending debate among the combative circles, relating to which action is better tactically. Again, I am simply talking about the circumstances dictated by the logistics, i.e. physical features of the tool at hand. Having that in mind, it makes training an average person, with little previous experience in this field, somewhat easier and quicker. See, coupled with the previous aspect of natural mechanics of motion, plus prevalence of gross motor movement under stress, this makes for the wining combination.

Stemming from the previous two points (I really like how things are so compact here), the techniques that lend themselves naturally with the knife, used in RGEI mode, tend to translate rather well and almost directly with so many improvised weapons, or weapons of opportunity, such as ball pens, flashlights, smaller water bottles, even rocks and a host of other things.

OK, I lied… I will address what is probably the biggest disadvantage of this grip. Actually not the grip itself, but the procedure of its acquisition. If you are able to carry a fixed blade knife on a daily basis, then this is not even of concern. If, on the other hand, you are sporting a folder, then the deployment of an average knife in this grip is a bitch. One way to circumvent it is to obtain the specific tailored knife, such as Southnarc’s Spyderco P’kal.

Having not had the opportunity to come by one myself, I have been working on the ways to pull those other, average folders and open them in the RGEI fashion. In short, you need to carry the knife on the opposite side of your pocket than you normally would, depending on whether it is tip up or tip down model. Once pulled, what you need is the technique that uses the flick of the wrist to open the knife by inertia (note, not all knives are suitable for this technique), and then put it to use. By the way, I like to insert a strike or two, using the still closed knife as a fistload, because it gets you to the offensive role sooner, and in my experience tends to be beneficial for the ease of opening itself.