Think before you post a knife video

Dear FMA, Silat and Edged Weapon Instructors,

There have been three terrorist attacks in the last two days in Europe. Two were in Spain and the other in Finland. All involved knives. In the attacks in Spain, the first weapons used were cars, then the terrorists came out of the cars and went after the wounded, seeking to finish them off with knives and axes, (as was the case in the last terrorist attacks in England). In the attack in Finland, the terrorist was on foot attacking with a knife. Several people were killed in these attacks.

I am writing to all my fellow edged weapon instructors who have videos on the internet to ask them to remove any videos that teach or demonstrate knife attack techniques as a form or drill against an unarmed opponent.

These techniques are one of the few things that bad guys can easily learn from watching a video and use effectively against their victims. An armed defense against an edged weapon is probably ok to show (terrorists armed with knives or axes are unlikely to meet a victim similarly armed). But do you really need to show how to attack an unarmed opponent with an edged weapon? (I’m not talking about the videos that demonstrate why some old fashioned hand vs knife defenses won’t work on today’s bad guys. That’s a good wake up call to our fellow instructors to help convince them they should update their material.)

What I am talking about are those videos that show an armed instructor attacking an unarmed student with either specific target points on the human body or multiple finishing moves better suited for soldiers on the battlefield than civilian students who will face their local legal system after the fight.

Do you really need to show this kind of material to impress potential students? Wouldn’t they be more impressed if you show unarmed vs weapon techniques? Why then show material that the bad guys can use on innocents?

So please consider the safety of your students, the general public and the reputation of the arts you love and remove any video that includes weapon techniques vs an unarmed opponent from your YouTube channel, Facebook page or any other public place where terrorists and other bad guys can see it.

Thank You,
Tuhon Bill McGrath
President, Pekiti-Tirsia International

P.S. I am well aware that the cat is long out of the bag on this. My views on the subject are based on 42 years in Filipino martial arts and the last 30 of those years trying to find the right balance on this issue (plus 30 years in law enforcement to put that perspective on things).

My request (and it was just that, a request) was NOT for my fellow instructors to stop teaching knife work, just that they stop showing certain techniques on public video and social media sites (namely the knife-specific targets on the human body and the best ways to attack them, as well as Finishing/“Capture and Kill” type moves against an unarmed opponent). Again, I didn’t say “Don’t teach them” I simply asked my fellow instructors not to show these specific techniques on public platforms.

Rather than being analogous to calls for total gun control (as some have commented); which is ironic if you knew my history on that subject (Life member NRA, written pro-2nd Amendment articles for national Law Enforcement mags, spoke before the NY City Council in opposition to their proposed gun control law, gave a pro-2nd Amendment lecture at Columbia University), a far better analogy would be my views on open carry laws. While I understand the need for open carry laws and supported their passage (they do a lot to protect those carrying concealed from having their permits revoked if they let a bit of holster accidentally peak out from under a jacket-which has happened in the past), I don’t recommend that my students “open carry.”

You can have a right to do something, but it may not be tactically wise to do so. Why give up your element of surprise to a potential attacker?

That is how I view posting certain knife videos on public forums. You may have an absolute right to do so, but is it wise to do so?

There is a big difference between a demand for total government control on something and a request, one free citizen to another, to show some self-control on an issue.

There is a big difference between “here’s what the bad guys are doing and you should be aware of it” and showing a better version of the same technique with improvements that came from your knowledge of South East Asian martial arts. I saw a video like this just this weekend posted on Facebook. That’s the kind of video that I would like instructors to keep off of public sites and reserve for their own students.