View Full Version : Red Zone knife defence DVD 1 & 2.

Rusty Bucket
10/21/2009 5:50pm,
Ok, so I’ve heard that this knife defense system is supposed to be the shitz.
All the more realistic and “alive” than the rest when it comes to surviving pointy-thing wielding maniacs.

And i happened to stumble over a copy of both tapes. While watching I made this little review for another forum and when I finished I thought to myself "Hey, this stuff deserves a wider audience. The world needs to know! :neutral:

Whatever, here goes:

The basic tape (well DVD, but you know old dogs etc...)

It starts out well enough.

They use a paint coated training knife and attack with realistic pressure, while the defender tries to use some predefined defense (not "try" really, since it’s the "wrong" defense and "don’t work" but what the hey). Incidentally his does not work. And that’s sure a useful way to evaluate and train your stuff.

Then they go on to describe a set of simple tactics and techniques that they have found to work when training with pressure, first demonstrating the steps and showing it trained with pressure as they progress.

Here is where it gets shifty. If you compare the realistic pressure in the initial demo - meant to show that defense X does not work - with the pressure used when drilling the "correct" centerline options you realize that it’s completely different. Look close and you will see that the feeder/attacker is often attacking out of range and then more or less giving the knife arm to be held, also he is not using footwork or his other hand anyway near the way he should to actually test the defender. What we get is often a huffing, puffing, shuffling version of the one-armed statue, if you look honestly. And that’s not so nifty anymore.

Also the preferred first control position they look for - grabbing the wrist of the knife-hand with both hands in a "baseball bat grip" rely heavily on the feeder not using his other hand the "wrong" way once you get it. As long as he has a 16oz glove on and try to smack the defender (lightly) in the head it may be ok, but in a real dynamic scuffle he may (will) just put his hand/fingers in the defenders face and break his posture backwards. Because of this the control position relies totally on the defender being able to CONSTANTLY apply enough forward pressure to keep the attacker off-balanced backwards and his own head beyond the attackers shoulder. This may or may not be tactically viable. I actually find it a tad surprising that someone that is certified with Tony Blauer AND Paul Vunak ignores the possibility of getting - or putting - a hand right in the oppos face...

The attacks recommended while in this and a few other control positions include knees to the thighs (which I don’t like because of compromising balance for low probability of stopping the attacker) and biting (which may be totally negated due to clothing, is psychologically hard to do AND not likely to stop anyone, but rather enrage them and make them create distance - something the Centerline people themselves agree would work to the advantage of the knifer. There’s also head buts.

But when they "pressure test" these guys rarely (almost never) employ these attacks. Rather they, after on average 10 seconds of shuffling about, just somehow manage to pull the attacker down on the ground where he drops the knife and goes fetal while they themselves remaining standing and untangled (and they didn’t even have to shred the guy to achieve this…) So they can now safely run away. Hooray! :rolleyes:

A even more obvious hole in this approach to knife-defense however is revealed - but never addressed - in the last segment of the video: a interview with a ER doctor. This is a good thing to add and she says some very viable things about the expected effects of a knife wound that has implications for both knife defense and the use of a knife as a defensive weapon. But the gem here is this:

"Most people we get with knife wounds never even realized they got cut or stabbed. They thought they were in a fistfight getting hit a few times. Its only after the event they go "hey what’s all this wet stuff on me, Geee - my blood!"

Somewhere - I think it was Darren Laur who quoted it - I saw the statistics that 80% of people wounded in knife attack did not know it until after the fact. And here lies the real problem with having a "knife-defense" glued on to a empty-hand skill set: You will not know when to apply the knife defense. You simply can’t go "I do MT/BJJ/MMA/WT (or whatever you find to be the best empty handed system) and then train in Escrima/Systema (what have you) for dealing with weapons" and think this will work.

What you need is a system that is designed to deal with the totality - including weapons - from scratch. Then train in that and do it every time. Any other approach leaves that 80% gap in it.

A good thing in this video is that they train from different stages of attack - from seeing the knife at a few steps distance to someone coming up from behind and shanking you - but in the total surprise scenarios THEY STILL ACT AS IF THEY KNOW THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED WITH A KNIFE. Quickly turning and sacrificing all else to grab the attackers knife hand with both hands. I think most sane people would agree that when totally surprised the default response should primarily protect your head and balance to avoid being taken out at once. Having a default response for when "surprised with a knife" that differs from the one applies to being "surprised with a 2x4" or "surprised by a grappler" is in my mind the same as not having a default response at all.

Part 2. The advanced tape (AKA it gets worse.)

The first thing Jerry says here is basically: "You know the default position we showed you to go for in the first tape? The one where you go to grab the knife hand with both hands. Weeeell, we tried it out some more and... found out that at full speed people tend to break their thumbs a lot when using it. And get stabbed."

Hooookay. :5zombie: Remember that this is the same first DVD that is still sold (separately) on the webpage.

Anyways, fear not (if you bought both tapes that is...). Jerry&Co have found in their training ANOTHER basic position to go for. It "came up naturally" while they played around with plastic knifes, see? They go on to demo this "under pressure" and this time its glaringly obvious that the feeder more or less EVERY time make a half hearted attack while still out of range - almost always on the same angle - and then basically GIVE the knife arm to the defender.

(Now, my training buddies and I sometimes put on gear and play with training knifes too. It’s fun, and a useful way to test stuff we learned in a reasonably alive and safe manner. But we sure don’t design a knife defense system, hold seminars and release tapes based on the results of this. (Expecting people to trust them with their lives!) But hey, that’s just us. Being one of us though, I start wondering if tape 1 wasn’t released a bit prematurely. As was this one...)

Anyways, this new default thingy don’t address attacks on the high line. At all. (Neither did the old one, but I guess they discovered this since filming tape 1.) Jerry, however, is kind enough to point this flaw out. But that’s ok, since "Real" attacks don´t happen like that. So it’s not "really" a flaw. But well, since FMA-afflicted individuals tend to bug Jerry about how to handle high line attacks during seminars he’s going to show us anyway. Stay tuned!

Hm, before they demo this high line thingy (close distance version: eat the first shot/s, then generically hug the knifer to work to a control position) they show us the headgear they are using. And that the training knife fits through the holes in the face shield on it. Aaaaaw! That’s too sad!

Sooo... they’re gonna...

"Use other equipment" you ask?

Nope. :icon_cry:

They are going to give the attacker MMA-gloves and have him "hold the knife and punch". WTF? - just give him the gloves then, at least that means he can attack on the same angles as when using a knife (them being the relevant ones to train for.) But after all this is knife defense, right? So I guess that wouldn’t do...

For a high line attack from a distance (the interpretation of this being a scared guy that is standing back and waving a knife at you. Yeah - no attack) they use a very rudimentary Blauer SPEAR. Fair nuff. It’s not a high line attack though. What Jerry recommends is charging a knife wielding guy that is keeping distance "the moment you see that shift in his eyes and know he’s going to attack." Use the SPEAR you must, young Padawan. This would rate pretty high on my “worst advice” list.

After this it’s time for "the shank attack". Here Jerry tells us that multiple people working in prisons have told him that in shankings prisoners COMMONLY keep shifting between high (neck) and low (gut) attacks.


Wasn’t it the case just a minute ago that high line attacks don´t "really" happen? Or.. do they only happen in prison? (Don´t go there kids!)

No, he tells us. "Prisoners get out." So we are going to learn to defend against “shankings” now. :eusa_wall

Yep. You eat some shots (pretty probable, I’ll give them that) and then... hug the guy.. to take control of the arm..etc. Oh yeah - and they now do the demo under "pressure" to silly music. Really silly. Think Benny Hill on speed with banjos. Somehow it seems appropriate enough though...

Then Jerry makes a good point: You are not likely to often be prepared enough to react in a trained/complex way to the attacker’s first move - there will be a reaction gap. If so the thing is to get quickly back in the game. He’s a Blauerian after all.

Next: Reverse grip. This don´t happen much in "reality" (yes, I agree it’s a less common grip. But it’s hardly up there with developing polar bear defenses in Miami like it sounds here...) but again, since FMA/RBSD freaks keep nagging Jerry about it on seminars, he’s going to tell us what to do.

Yep, you guessed it - exactly the same as before. So on to more funny music and guys stabbing the air and then giving up the arm. Also, since they are holding a training knife - but can’t use it cause the gear don´t protect against it yaddi-yadda (they actually ditched the headgear for this one) - they will have to avoid all the most effective angle using this grip (i.e. stabbing from above) and stick with weird slashes from below - that incidentally fits the default response less badly - or just go ahead and stab the invisible guy next to the defender. Lucky him eh?

Did I mention BTW that the defender almost always manages to get the attacker on the ground while staying up and unattached after a similar amount of time and using crappy body mechanics during these "pressure tests"? I guess I did, but it bears repeating IMHO. This of course may all be due to the fact that “a real fight don’t look pretty”, who knows?

The next segment was ok. Jerry talks some about the dangers of stab- vs. slash wounds. Solid enough info by all means. Maybe not super relevant, but since it seems to be in response to semi-moronic questions at seminars that he want to be able to answer with "watch the bleeding tape for farks sake!" in the future, he’s got my sympathy here.

Now on to "how to do scenario training". We learn there’s four things you need for this:

1. A good training partner. That won´t let you "win" to easily. Presumably this guy was not available for the filming of these tapes. (Actually he says some very good things here. I just don´t see it in the material.)

2. A goal. Know what aspect you are examining/training. Don´t just randomly put on a big ugly helmet, woof and sparr some. Fair nuff.

3. Plastic furniture. Naw, jokes aside, Jerry thinks it’s a good idea not to just put a old newspaper and a plastic bottle on the mat and call it "da street(tm)", but to stack a serious amount of stuff in the space sometimes when you train. And you need stuff that will break before you (preferably not leaving sharp edges) and not be heavy enough to crush feet. I guess cardboard boxes will do too. And whatnot. Fair nuff too.

4. Good training equipment. So you don´t have to worry about being injured. True enough. *cough* Itech Concept II and a tad wider training knifes. Or fencing masks. *cough*

After this we get to see the same old play fighting - now with plastic furniture. There are some big boxes there and several times - after the attacker curls up in a ball on the ground for no apparent reason - the defender throws this at him to "finish him off". Of course they are empty and do no damage. If they were heavy enough to cause damage the defender could probably use his time better than hauling them on top of the attacker. There’s also a few instances of picking up a (presumably plastic) broomstick and swinging it ineffectively at clinch range (AKA “attacker-stumbles-inexplicably-over-himself” range). That´s reality for ya. With plastic furniture...

Also - do you remember them preferred attacks to be used from the control position from the first tape? Them lill knees to the thigh, bites and whatnot? You don´t see any of them in any of the scenarios. What you see is a guy pulling on another guys arm until the other guy decides to lie down. Or sometimes a sloppy arm bar. What? I told you this already? Dang! Guess I don´t want this particular point lost on you...

Anyways, in a li’ll interview interlude we now get to hear of the perils of "knife nerdism." This is people taking knife collection and such too far. I feel you man.

And now for something completely different. The grand finale: Red Zone attacks, AKA static knife threats. (And here I was thinking this was the name of the program as a whole. Silly me.)

Here we got the Blauer influence again. The generic formula for handling this, Jerry tells us, is "Gab, Grab and Go":

Gab. Distract him verbally while faking compliance. Get your hands near the weapon.

Grab. No technique. No nonsense like that. Just go for it. (Just die...)
Do i need to tell you that a attacker from behind with knife at throat don´t grab Jerry across the shirtfront/face with his other hand, off balancing him backwards or any such silly "improbable” stuff? No he just stands there with the knife close to the throat and his other hand tamely on Jerrys shoulder. Gottsta lurve that "pressure testing..."

(BTW, realizing that its kinda hard to get your hands discretely close to and grab a knife held to your back Jerry - presumably since the formula don´t work for this one - says that “sometimes you just have to comply and wait for a better opportunity.” WTF? He advocated randomly grabbing a knife held to your throat but says you can do nothing if it’s at your back? As it happens id say the latter is a situation where your chances of avoiding major injury if and when you move (and when you do pivoting should be part of it) is faaaar better. This is just plain dumb.)

Go. Do same as before.

So now we know how to get kille.. sorry, I mean handle a one armed statue that is holding a knife at you. Let’s see it under "pressure" then.

Hm. Wasn’t the scenarios supposed to have goals? In several of these the attacker demands money. The defender responds by whining, flailing about a bit and... going for his knife hand.

That´s sure would be a smart move. In a movie. A silly movie. With guys like :XXjester:in it. Personally, in "reality", id opt for giving the guy some money.

This is also a example of how the whole "verbal" part of virtually all the scenarios in the tapes is rubbish. Since what the players say have little or no substance (what happened to the important GOALS I wonder?) they are not listening to each other. Thus they could pretty much just growl wordlessly to the same effect.

Ok. So this last part should in all sincerity be called "how to be needlessly killed by a mugger who wants nothing but some money". Maybe this is why they call it THE RED ZONE ATTACK. And why the tape ends here...

End review. :adios:

Seriously people, is this really the pinnacle of modern knife defense? Deary oh me.

PS. By putting the difficulty of the material at 9 I don’t mean it’s extremely hard to grasp or learn the moves, but that I believe it would be very hard to make some of them work (better than nothing). That, in all fairness, goes for most knife defense systems I’ve seen… DS.

10/23/2009 8:36am,
Nothing wrong with putting on some equipment and playing with the training knives. People on the forum have also said they've done drills where they wear a white t-shirt, and go at it with red markers.

I'd recommend you clean up the article a bit, then it's good.

Rusty Bucket
10/24/2009 10:07am,
Thanks for taking the time to review this.

When it comes to playing with training knifes, i agree it can probably be uesfull. But it also seems probable that there is more relevant experience as to how to defend against a knife (e.g from thoose who have).

Somehow a lot of people seem to think its credible that a bunch of guys trained in non-weapon arts - and who lack experience of fighting with weapons - who play about a bit with plastic knifes/smacksticks etc will come up with "what works". On the other hand i have never heard someone not trained in a grappling art make claims to have played about with some pals on a mat and found out "what works in grappling". This is probably because its so much easier to put ones grappling "discoveries" to the test by going to the nearest gym and rolling with some trained people...

Anyways, my point is that it may be usefull (enough for me to do it myself) but not a good enough basis for finding out how to effectively design and market a serious knife defence system.

On the same note i think using markers (or, more practically, chalked training blades and dark clothing) can be uesfull to help notice holes in ones defences that passess unoticed during intense training, but done as a separate thing thay may be less usefull. In demos for example people usually show this drill done without headgear etc, hence hindering the defender from countering effectively. Thus he is limited to a series of defensive moves wich is bound to fail eventually. Thus whatever method employed is demonstrated not to work. Wich may not have been true if the opportunity to counter with some contact had been present.


10/26/2009 8:57am,
I forget, do they show the "underhook" defense to the high-line attack in this one? I wasn't too fond of that...

10/26/2009 9:49am,
Thanks for taking the time to elaborate on your statements.

I agree with your point regarding the methods of discovering and documenting techniques. Having published materials is not proof of legitimacy.

I agree that it can be a fun exercise to 'go at it' with some markers/training knives. To expand on my post previously, I wanted to communicate the importance of the exercise, and to not take knives as a joke. It should be a very sobering experience seeing all the red marks from the markers on your tshirt, and should be a good reminder that this isn't the movies where some flashy technique would be considered a high-percentage technique.

Rusty Bucket
10/27/2009 12:18pm,
To expand on my post previously, I wanted to communicate the importance of the exercise, and to not take knives as a joke. It should be a very sobering experience seeing all the red marks from the markers on your tshirt, and should be a good reminder that this isn't the movies where some flashy technique would be considered a high-percentage technique.

Word. I think most first experiences of going empty hand against a (training) blade in a alive way tend to be pretty depressing. It seems whatever you do against even your non-trained buddy gets you sliced in a hurry.

If and when one goes looking for skillsets designed to handle this kind of situation many seem to be firmy rooted in fantasy land. Formalized attacks from compliant attackers, goofy body mechanics, uneconomic movements, complex techniques etc abound. And there are often claims that to evaluate the usefullness of whats offered one need to invest quite some time and effort first. Not to mention money...

This, i belive, make many give up on any suggested methodology that require a relatively high level of training in a relatively sophisticated skillset. Since many such are obviously balooney, and others may well require quite a bit of effort before one can judge if they has any validity for oneself many practically minded people simply decide to either figure it out by themselves or look for someone who offer "simple, practical, no-nonsense" approaches.

The system reviewed here seem to claim to be of just this latter kind. And one intention in reviewing it to begin with was to point to the fact that its not enough to deride fancy unrealistic stuff and talk about simplicity and aliveness to prove that one has a practical, pressure tested system to offer. The demonstrations as well as some contradictions in the material seem to speak against turning to this particular system if one has a serious need to learn to syrvive edged weapons encounters.

Rusty Bucket
10/27/2009 12:36pm,
I forget, do they show the "underhook" defense to the high-line attack in this one? I wasn't too fond of that...

Not specifically no.

If the attack comes from close in he basically says "you gonna eat a couple of shots, then cover up and close the distance where your (empty handed) clinch game will provide the tools."

If from a distance (waving the knife) its a rudimentary SPEAR.

10/27/2009 4:14pm,
Ok, so this sounds not nearly as good as Die Less Often.

Rusty Bucket
10/28/2009 2:27pm,
Well, i havent reviewed DLO as thoroughly as this one, but neither did watching it provoke me into doing so. So im guessing its not as good.

Maybe i should look into DLO next, though i was thinking of having a look at Lee Morrissons knife defense stuff.

10/28/2009 3:35pm,
I thought the pressure testing in DLO was a lot more.....pressure-y. You saw the techniques failing, and then Crafty coaching the guys until they stopped failing that way.

Chili Pepper
10/29/2009 8:51am,
I thought the pressure testing in DLO was a lot more.....pressure-y. You saw the techniques failing, and then Crafty coaching the guys until they stopped failing that way.

And that's a critical point - if you're not failing at least part of the time, for sure you're not doing whatever drill at a high enough intensity to learn anything.