This article is one piece of an ongoing effort by The MMA UnderGround to understand what really works in martial arts. The focus is not on what happens in the arena, but rather on what happens on the street, or in this case, live in the gym ,with a UFC fighter. If you enjoyed it, check out more stories on:
1. Martial Arts on The Street
3. Style vs. Style
Unarmed self-defense against an edged weapon is a popular focus in many martial arts studios. However, it's a subject with the most dangerous consequences if they don't work.
On the surface it may seem simple, just parry the attacking hand, grab the wrist, disarm, etc. Martial arts and self-defense/combatives instructors create endlessly elaborate defenses, that look amazing when applied on a complying student.
This is a typical example. The grand master, or whatever he is called, disarms an attacker by pushing the knife-holding hand against his stomach, then grabbing the tricep and pulling in, bending the wrist. Hollywood is missing out big time not showcasing this in the next Mission Impossible movie.
When you add in factors like surprise, adrenaline, and the sheer ferocity of a knife attack, the likelihood of making a mistake in an actual attack increases tenfold. And one mistake could change your life forever, or even end it. Further - most unfortunately - attackers do not extend their arm out, leave it there, and then react in optimistic fashion while you wave your hands around like a hyperactive wizard.
The missing piece in the vast majority of martial arts or self-defense training is that it is never done on a live, strong, actively resisting opponent. So what would happen if you got an MMA fighter who has fought at the highest level, and gave him the task of defending against a knife attack?
In the following video BJJ black belt and UFC, WSoF, PFL, and Bellator MMA vet Jon Fitch shares his experience after training in the Modern Army Combatives Program - in this instance focusing on knife defense.
However, instead of using a metal knife and doing controlled drills, or even using a rubber knife in a live sparring session, Fitch opts to use a 75,000-volt shock knife, adding the critical element of pain to the training.
As expected, Fitch has to fight hard to not get stabbed, but you can see his grappling experience pays dividends in isolating the arm, scrambling, and eventually getting the disarm.
Check out the clip below and see what happens when Fitch tries to defend against a kinfe, and what happens when you put a shock knife in the hands of an elite MMA fighter.
In a moment of remarkable irony, many deluded "self-defense" devotees (LARPers would be a more accurate term) criticize this video for being "sloppy." Sadly, they literally cannot tell scripted Hollywood-style action from reality, and prefer and more admire the woo woo.