Saturday, October 1, 2016

Never Try This at Home, or Anywhere

Has your martial arts trainer ever crossed the line? I recently watched a YouTube video that, in my opinion, went too far to supposedly demonstrate a martial arts technique.

I subscribe to the Funker Tactical YouTube feed because I like seeing Doug Marcaida's Filipino Martial Arts. On September 12, 2016 they published a video titled VIP Knife Defence | INSANE LIVE BLADE DEMO by Fred Mastro!!! The link starts at the 5:15 mark, with the screen capture at left 12 seconds later.

In the video, Fred Mastro instructs his demonstrator to hold a real knife to Doug Marcaida's throat. Fred then strikes the knife holder in the leg to disarm him, without harming Doug.

My read of Doug's body language and facial expressions is that he did not think this was a good idea. However, he trusted Fred and the demonstrator enough to not expect his throat to be cut.

There is absolutely no reason to use a live weapon in a demonstration like this, for three reasons:

1. It's more dangerous than necessary. Iain Abernethy has said the following many times on his podcast, and I agree: it makes no sense to introduce live weapons in training, because that makes the training environment the most dangerous place the student will likely ever visit.

The dojo might already be the most dangerous location a student visits, due to sparring, physical exertion, and the risk of an accident. However, live weapons introduce an entirely new level of risk of bodily harm.

It defeats the purpose of self defense training to expose students to situations that are unnecessarily dangerous, in order to teach them to handle danger.

Of course it makes sense to ramp up the danger when the stakes are higher. For example, military personnel sometimes train for more dangerous conditions (battlefields) with live rounds, but they employ rules of engagement to introduce acceptable levels of risk.

2. Costs greatly exceed benefits. There is almost nothing to be gained with a live weapon, in a civilian setting, that could not be adequately simulated with a safer alternative. For example, Fred could have demonstrated the effectiveness of his disarm technique using a marker or a Shocknife.

One could argue that the person threatened by the knife would not feel the same stress or fear when a marker or Shocknife is held to his throat. That is true, but irrelevant here. The point of this video exercise was not to simulate that situation; it was testing a disarm. The potential costs of this demonstration -- cutting Doug's throat -- do not exceed the benefits.

3. It proves nothing. Using a live blade proves absolutely nothing. The demonstrator would never intentionally try to cut Doug's throat.

If Fred had failed to disarm the demonstrator, he would not have said "you lose!" and made Doug pay with his life!

The only dimension that live blade introduced was the possibility of a catastrophic accident.

Let me finish with a clear statement: I am not questioning anyone's skill. I'm simply saying they don't need to hold a live blade to Doug's throat in order to demonstrate it.

Have you encountered similar risks in training? What did you do?

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1 comment:

  1. Those are all very good points, especially that the "attacker" isn't trying to do any harm, and would try to avoid actually cutting Doug.
    And the poor framing of the video only makes it worse, they barely let you see what the defender is demonstrating.