There is a lot of very bad information about self defense on the internet. A lot of this stems from forums and message boards which are usually collections of people who have such low personal self esteem they can’t wait to rip apart other people’s systems. There are the ever-popular discussions about who should win in a fight – Bruce Lee or some current MMA champion. You’ll find the declarations that one system is better than others, or that someone watching a 3 minute Youtube video has declared  a martial system total BS. You’ll hear proclamations about the usefulness of ground-fighting, stances, kata, etc.

It’s all crap.

Well, almost all. The vast majority of this stuff comes from very vocal people with very large egos (large ego = low self esteem) who need to feel better about themselves by seeming important, tough, or smart. Instead of focusing on learning, they are shut down to learning anything new.

I was recently reading about the Piper knife system on their web site and have seen a couple of videos on Youtube. I do not claim familiarity with the system but, from what I’ve seen they hold their knife in an ice-pick grip. This is not something I normally recommend, but I am willing to accept that I do not know everything there is to know about knife combat.

My understanding is that the system evolved with the use of a specific weapon. A short, extremely-dull, folding knife common among South Africa’s criminal gangs. Since such a blade would be relatively useless as a slashing tool, a system incorporating stabbing and ripping movements makes perfect sense. An ice-pick or reverse-hammer grip is going to be the strongest grip for the stabbing-ripping type movements. In this context it makes perfect sense.

I am sure there is much more to it than I have read about, and I have never personally studied Piper, but I’m willing to accept that this system wouldn’t have evolved or survived the streets of South Africa if what they did didn’t make sense. I’m willing to loosen the shackles on my mind and accept the fact that I could learn something that was true, and was counter to what I already accepted as true. The difference is context.

On the martial arts linked-in group I moderate there have been a lot of questions about whether high kicks or ground-fighting were practical. Again, everything is useful in proper context. This also means that things become less useful out of context. The real key is trying to understand that context.

All martial arts systems evolved in an environment which included opponents, geography, purpose, clothing and weapons etc. Japanese jujutsu was developed to fight multiple armed opponents in armor. Filipino martial arts evolved to fight in close with long blades against relatively unarmored opponents. Brazilian Jui-Jitsu arguably evolved to win wrestling matches. Karate evolved amongst unarmed and unarmored people. Each of these arts, and all others like them, make perfect sense. Remove their context, and of course you can point out “flaws”.

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