Knife Fighting 101: Weak-Hand Deployment Part 3

The third segment of weak-hand deployment hits on how weak-hand skills are developed. We hit on getting folks started with calligraphy and weak-hand writing practices. When discussing training and acquiring skills, there’s no way to develop these skills other than repetition. How do you get good at anything? Reps, Reps, and more Reps!

I continue to lean back on Filipino Martial Arts because we use our hands a lot. This idea of repetition develops these skills I use on a regular basis. Another important training step that is often missed is the act of using your actual knife blade as your training weapon. The idea is to build repetition using your carry blade. Our instinct will always be to deploy and attack with our dominant hand. Once we develop and hone our non-dominant hand knife skills only then will we be able to turn the tables on our attackers.

Before you begin to develop skills be aware that your fine motor skills should be built up before you start. Once I am confident in a student’s ability, I decide to take a knife and go after real training. The actual firing of your blade into an attacker needs to be precise and calculated.

Here’s how I develop the attack. I place a piece of MDF with three small dots on the board. I do it a lot, I recommend that highly and I recommend keeping that target nice and narrow. If you are focusing on the eye of a needle you are not gonna have a problem hitting an apple.

So, picking apart your initial draw. I start my students with a forward grip in the pocket. I make the student continually repWinning a knife fight can be won by utilizing author Rob Cabrera's methodology of training the weak hand. the draw stroke. This starts out with 10, 20, 30, 40 reps. This is only the start. Your reps should get into the 100s and thousands. This is much like firearms training when it comes to repetition. When going to the drawing board, or MDF board with targets, you’ll notice your focus shrinks early in the process. As you grow in your weak-hand development, the blurred lines and targets grow smaller. However, this only comes with repetition and focused training.

As you approach the board, pull, fire and hit the target. This is where a good instructor or a training partner becomes invaluable because this person can help you along with becoming more consistent and becoming more efficient in your movements. Training with a partner is not unlike going to the shooting range with a buddy and doing drills simultaneously.

Try this drill at the knife drawing board with a blue gun or training gun. Envision an attack in your head, you act, hands up, take a step back, guard your weapon or you retain your weapon with a strong hand. Next, immediately fire the knife with the weak hand toward the target on your board. Believe it or not, that's a lot of movement and a lot of action. If you don't rep this and if you don't push, then you are not going to have the weak hand skills needed to catch your attacker by surprise.

If that is far more advanced there’s an easy way to start. Begin with the deployment of a blade and hitting a spot at the target at a distance you are comfortable with. This is the second step after you become proficient with weak-hand calligraphy and your draw stroke. Get your reps in like your hair is on fire. You’ll get the timing down in no time. If you carry a pistol, break training down into the elements that you are given. You must blade your body securing or drawing your gun while deploying your weak hand. Break it down and take it slow in order to grow. 

For instance, if you are attacked, the first thing you do is cover hands up and then you should immediately reach down and go after your primary weapon. Well, you say that's ok what if I can’t if put both hands up because they are going for the weapon at the same time. And you practice that; hand up and cover and put yourself in a position like why I- some sort of rhino at a Mu Thai, or something and then reaches for your weapon and then you retain it.

At some point, you will need to take your drawing board sessions to a live-fire range. I begin with two targets in front of me. I deploy my knife, stab, create distance and fire the pistol. This is a simple drill. Why would you drill drawing your knife before creating distance? Well, I’m under direct attack. I’m not dealing with an aggressor that I’ve had time to draw and fire.

I continue to look at the Kaizen Method, which is probably the most popular way to be able to do this. It’s the idea that one small incremental step leads to a benchmark position that you have now built. Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of repetitious work. ~ Filo

Rob “Filo” Cabrera
Long time martial artist and practitioner, Rob began his journey in the arts at a young age. In his youth, Rob found himself putting a lot of what he learned to the test on the streets. After being given a “fresh start,” Rob began to focus on giving back to society, and gaining more knowledge in different martial art systems. He’s had the honor and opportunity to give back to his community and nation by training military, law enforcement, and citizens. He’s trained in Wing Tsun, Aiki-jūjutsu, MuayThai, Kung Fu, and Western Boxing; however over the past 20 years, Rob has set his focus on the Southeast Asian Martial Arts, Kali and Silat. His primary focus is armed and unarmed combat and self-defense preservation.