View Full Version : Folder into the Fight- pressure test your skills
We have been using the Folder into the Fight Drill to pressure test defensive knife skills now for about four years. In that time, we have had hundreds of people go through the drills several times each. Participants have come in all shapes, sizes, age, training level, fitness level, and background. What we have found to be the short comings led to the creation of Inverted Edge Tactics. First, I will explain the drill. Good guy and bad guy both wear headgear, eye protection, and a mouth piece. The bad guy wears 14 OZ boxing gloves and the good guy is armed with a Spyderco Endura training knife. It is the students choice where he carries and how he deploys the folder, and what grip he uses. The good guy tells the bad guy how intense he wants the drill on a scale of 1-10. The rest of the class gathers around to create a circle, that accomplishes two things. It creates a small realistic area to fight in, and they try to keep the people in the circle from smashing to the ground.
Station I- Panic Pushing another student at combat speed to simulate a preemptive strike in a defensive situation.
Station II- The good guy grabs a hold of the end of two sticks being held by another student. For 45 seconds they go back and forth with the sticks to increase their heart rate. At 35 seconds, the bad guy steps in and begins to attack the good guy. At the end of the 45 seconds, “fight” is called. The good guy must defend himself and gain distance in an attempt to access, deploy, and use the folder. Once they get some cuts in, the knife is dropped, or a stalemate ensues, the drill is stopped. The drill takes around one minute, but much is learned.
* When they grab the sticks, people have a tendency to circle to their reaction side. This often results in them crossing their feet and falling.
* When the bad guy begins to strike them, people often respond by dropping the sticks and turning their back on the guy with the two sticks.
* Even very light shots to the side of the head can cause massive central nervous disruption and in some cases render the person unable to continue.
* Once they drop the sticks, people often turn their back to the bad guy because of fixating on accessing the knife.
* Many knives are dropped during access.
* Many deployments fail.
* Many students attempt a cut only to realize their knife is not fully open resulting in crushed fingers and more dropped knives.
* About 95% of the cuts to the bad guy are across the top of the legs, belly, outside of arms, and the back during clinches, or when they end up on the ground.
The last time we did this drill was at the Southwest Alabama Police Academy. 21 officers did the drill twice. The first time was before being trained in IET. The results of the first go around-
* Several officers turned their back to the bad guy.
* Approximately 7 dropped knives.
* Approximately 5 more were used to attempt a cut without being fully opened.
* A poll of everyone in the room reported that one stab was observed and it was to the back during a clinch.
* The rest of the cuts were to the top of the legs, outer arms, across the back during the clinch, and on the ground.
The class was then trained in IET and the drill was conducted again with the following results-
* Students as a rule have the bad guy increase the intensity.
* The majority of officers used a Panic Push of some sort to gain distance.
* One knife was dropped.
* One failure to open.
* The majority of first cuts were to the femoral artery area of the crotch, and the second cuts were usually to the brachial artery inside the upper arm.
* The cut to the groin is often accompanied by a look of “Oh my God” on the face of the attacker.
Be warned that even though this drill only takes about a minute to complete, but the combination of cardio, disorientation from the spinning, and head shots can take it’s toll even on those in reasonable shape.
Everyone in the room has to act as a safety and along with the participants can call a stop to the drill at anytime for any reason. The most common is headgear knocked off.
Without having a trainer for the knife you carry and pressure testing your reaction under stress with a drill like this, you will never be able to have any confidence in your training.
Interesting topic, but this leads to a question...I EDC an auto, and I've heard good and bad things about auto/spring assist knives. I'm curious if you've done any testing to prove whether or not auto's or spring assist (or regular folders for that matter) have a better chance of a proper deploy.
I've read that an auto is better because there is only a button to press, and when you lose your fine motor skills, it's easier and faster to deploy. I've also heard that because of the small button, sometimes under stress, you might not be able to deploy an auto.
This hasn't really been bugging me, and frankly, I haven't done any research...I'm just curious if you have any comments.
We do not advocate autos, or spring assisted knives. The first reason is that they usually do not have trainers so they cannot be pressure tested. The second reason is two fold, first during a combat stress situation the body experiences vasoconstriction which causes the blood to leave the limbs and pour into the thoracic cavity. Without blood filling the finger tips your tactile sensation greatly diminishes. If you cannot feel the button you cannot push it. Again since most autos do not have trainers it is hard to pressure test this. The second part is that whether you are using a button on the side or the flipper on top of the knife you are left with poor grip that must be juggled to establish a good grip. This increases the likelihood of a dropped knife. These things are so evident to me that I would not carry and auto for SD nor would I advocate anyone would. This is without getting into that if the blade is impedded during deployment you will have to manually open it anyway, thus why not just carry a regular folder.- George
I might retire my folders for EDC in favor of my Schrade Sharp Finger. For the very reason of dropping/failing to open the knife. The only reason I still carry a folder is conveinence. How much stuff am I going to attach to my waist?
I usually find your posts very well written but I have to say, this one is clear as mud regarding the drill at Station II.
At 0 - 35 seconds, the good guy and the second student each hold one end of a pair of sticks. What is the drill here? Why is one or both of them circling?
At 35 - 45 seconds, how is the good guy suppose to defend himself from the bad guy while still holding on to his end of the sticks? I'm not quite getting this part.
After 45 seconds, does the second student get to join in the attack? It sounds like he does, otherwise why worry about turning your back to him, right?
Otherwise, it sounds like a really interesting pressure drill. Was it your observation that most of the good guys used the knife to slash rather than stab?
No, only the guy with the gloves and the good guy fight. I was just noting that as soon as the good guy was engaged from the rear they often respond by turning their back on what was in front.
The drill was done 42 times. Each officer got to go twice. I polled the class as to how many times they were stabbed or saw someone being stabbed. The response was once before being trained in IET and none after. The stab that took place was to the back of the neck while in a clinch. Stabbing at belly to belly distance can take place but it is anatomically awkward like trying to shake hands and hug at the same time.- George
The "stick dance" is just a convenient way to pump up the cardio (heart rate, breathing, put some stress on the major muscle groups) immediately before beginning the Folder Into The Fight drill.
The student participant ("good guy") takes hold of two sticks, one in each hand, that are held likewise by another student. The sticks are pumped back and forth rapidly in a sort of cross country ski arm motion. For added exertion/stress the pair may "dance" in a circle to get the legs moving also.
The "stick dance" is a real handy warm-up exercise that can be done in a relatively small area (just a few arms lengths), can be pumped up or down for exertion depending on a specific student's fitness level and is quite effective at inducing a simulated body stress reaction.
Great post and topic, Mercop! i like folders as well as the next guy, but have gone back to fixed blades for most purposes. As injuries and tunnel carpal slowly steal some motor skills, i am more confident of my ability to draw a fixed blade than to draw and open a folder, and go to work.
I like your test method as well.
Thank you tshadow6. The warm-up sounds like a great way to increase heart rate and build up lactic acid in the arms and shoulders. I can see how it would screw with fine motor coordination.
Most of the responses are about using a fixed blade or automatic knife as a hardware solution without addressing concerns about dropping the knife, turning one's back on the attacker, failing to create space between yourself and the attacker before deploying one's knife, and the poor choice of targets when using the knife. I am interested in hearing what was covered in the IET training and how these failures were corrected.
Once again the training sounds excellent and the results speak for themselves.
Agreed, it is a training issue, not an equipment issue. For everyday carry I will take a folder in the pocket. If I knew I had to use a knife in a particular situation it would be a fixed blade and it would not be concealed, in a perfect world.
There are a few major things that lend themselves to the success of the students doing the drill the second time using IET.
The biggest is they realize that they have got to create enough space between there body and the attackers to deploy the knife. The two most popular methods are the Panic Push and a chin jab. They both not only get the attacker off of you but they put them on their heels which stalls forward movement which provides time along with the space.
The second part is the economy of movement when using the IET grip. It cuts the needed movements in half. When you open the into the inverted grip the knife is in front of you and about groin level. Opening into a traditional grip usually puts the knife out to the side, especially when using a wave or kinetic opening.
The natural reflex to stress is bringing your hands up to protect yourself. With the inverted grip and the knife being positioned in front the body the blade is naturally funneled into the groin and under the arms, the hook is set. The attackers natural reaction to pain is to pull away but he is caught. Your natural reaction when you get stuck is to pull. This creates a dramatic scissor effect increasing trauma. Because of the inverted grip you can only cycle in at one angle ripping towards you. Every time the blade catches on the attacker the same scissor cut takes place. If they fail to extend their arms or legs while attacking you again they stop getting cut.- George
from what i gather you are gaining space with the panic push by shoving your attacker for all your worth, as is taught with some weapons retention methods?
when you mentioned that people turned thier backs, was that to adress another concern, or were they trying to acsess a knife on the front of thier bodies? Or just giving flank under pressure.
Did all students tend to go for the knife first, or did some use H2H skills to gain space?
I did not mean to imply i was ignoring your method, as i do like it as its realistic, practical and can be done with a very limited budget.
At bit of both I think- right handed people usually prefer to carry their folder in their right hip pocket. Because of being right handed their right foot is back and they are crouching down a bit as part of the natural stress response with the legs a little farther apart than usual. A result of this is that when pressed they are in a position that encourages them to move backwards. As they move backwards they twist to concentrate on their weapon giving their opponent their left flank. I have seen the same thing with pistol work, especially concealed with an open garment like a jacket. When you crouch down the jacket is lower on your body and is harder to clear. If they fail the first time they attempt to clear the garment panic ensues and leads to even worse task fixation. The same thing holds true with retention type duty holsters. They are engineered for your gun to be drawn when you are standing upright. When you crouch and twist the dynamics change and for some it can be like the gun is glued in their holster.
Again the Panic Push is more of a panic pop. It is a short violent two handed strike up and under the pecs of your attacker. When delivered correctly it can be painful and severely disrupt your balance to the point where most people don't wish to do it more than once or twice at combat speed. My wife is 5'4 and 140 lbs. I am 6'2 and 290 and I find it very unpleasant for her to do it to me.- George
I found a video on the Modern Combative Systems website showing the full drill. It pretty much answers all questions about how the drill is done. You also get to see Mercop who appears to be a huge bear of man, likely someone who can just pick you up and spike you into the ground!
The IET appears prominently in another video. It is very fast into play and looks well suited to close range, more so than an edge down grip. Good stuff.
The video is old so I did not post it. We have tightened things up as explained for safety reasons. Over the year the drill has morphed to avoid unnecessary injuries and increase realism. In the beginning we used to have you hold someone who was passively resisting on their stomach for a minute. It just got stupid and people were getting out of control hurting each other. Something else that is fun to add is having them dial 911 on a dead cell phone. About 9 out of 10 people forget to push send:)
Interesting post. However, I wave the red flag here:
Without having a trainer for the knife you carry and pressure testing your reaction under stress with a drill like this, you will never be able to have any confidence in your training.
Identify confidence? Quite a few of the suspects you and I have met have had ZERO personal trainers or training for whatever blade they decide to carry. And yet, they are wholly proficient in being able to stab (fixed or folder with a greater predominace to fixed) and they remain supremely confident. To assume that one only had confidence if they receive training from someone like you or me if foolhardy and detrimental. Mindset, more than training, will win the fight in the end (as evidenced by the memorial in DC).
I don't discount the need for training but I do take issue that somehow, those without formal training cannot have confidence.
Now, to the issue of fixed versus folder, the challenge for any line cop is finding real estate on their bat belt to carry a fixed blade. Further, find a quality blade that is below the authorized (by policy and/or law) length to keep the officer from getting a beef but is still of a quality design, of a minimal weight and in a sheath that can prevent grabbing or at least attempt to thwart it for a few precious seconds and of a package that is comfortable on an already weighed down 15#+ belt. Add to this how many times has an officer, in the course of their career, has drawn a knife for defensive purposes (to defend their own life on duty)? I don't discount that the training should be part of a whole package. But I have to ask if the program you describe suitable for line officers when conjoined with the myriad of things they need to be better versed on, such as use of force, changes to the laws and effective firing of their duty handgun (which is used far more often in LE work than defensive knife use)? Would you add it to a basic academy level training curriculum or later in the career?
Your program has merit along with your thoughts on the subject. Is the statistics of defensive knife use on duty included in your program? If so, what are these statistics based upon?
As a former trainer, I'm intrigued. Hell, I may even take a course should you wander out here. But I would be remiss if I didn't point out what I saw based upon your post.
The same could be said of the bad guys who use guns. It is easy to be good when you are on offense against someone who does not even know the game has begun. Training takes over when you are behind the power curve and need to catch up. That is what I was getting at.
Our Law Enforcement Edged Survival Class is broken down into two parts- Day I is Spontaneous Attack Survival which teaches you to deal with edged weapon attacked open handed at contact distance so you can stop the attack or transition to your pistol. Day II is Inverted Edge Tactics.
If I had it my way SAS would be two days. It is basically an open hand combatives class. The reason we focus on edged weapons is that if you do well against something deadly you can't see you will do that much better against threats you can see.
From the admin standpoint I can see why they would look at IET and start hand wringing. But then you have to look at the reality that just about all police carry a knife on duty and most would use it as a weapon if it meant the difference between going home or going to the morgue. With those two things in mind I believe that training should be provided for their specific application and IET fills that roll.
I think SAS would be better than all other DT systems out there and could be taught at the academy level. IET however would be more suitable for in-service officers who have the experience and common sense to know that just because we are teaching you to use a knife as a last ditch option you better be able to articulate why it was used instead of your sidearm.- George
I see your points and agree on many aspects.
Perhaps one of the greatest frustrations I had as a trainer was the lack of willingness from a command staff aspect to train in areas such as yours due to the oft repeated thought, "It hasn't happened so it's likely not to happen." Regrettably, our academies often soft peddle DT and in particular, knife or edged weapon defense in lieu of more "hug a thug" type training. Often the same with firearms unless we have a spate of LOD deaths by gunfire. I see the vacuum it leaves for new recruits when they come out and hit FTO. By the time guys get into advanced DT training, we see the usual reluctance to attend or give effort. Those who do attend advanced training like yours would be what I would qualify as the 5% who are interested in advanced aspects in the job. This is clearly evident in DT as well as firearms (my specialty).
I'm hoping you are keeping detailed records and logs of this training so a position paper can be written later. If nothing else, Force Science should be interested in this topic.
A class full of people who want to be there makes it better for everyone. - George
What knives do your officers carry mercop?
I am retired from my agency. Before retiring I was tasked with the selection of a knife to be carried by all sworn personnel. From the choices I gave him the Chief settled on the Buck Striker SBT. Mainly because they had the best price for putting our patch on the blade over it being the best knife.
I endorse the Spyderco Endura and it's drone for anyone looking to train.- George
Sounds like a cool test. I would like to see how they would do with a better folder though. As the Endura is a crappy knife as far as opening. Maybe a Millie or somthing that opens easier
LE has the same motivation to train in general: Low.
specific individuals are very motivated, most are not, IME.
Its really sad that they will not invest time and effort in order to better protect themselves.
Morris is right on about the "hug a thug" type training. Its OK to NOT go hands on with everyone..but you still ahve to know when to go to work.
There was a female officer who had her weapon drawn and aimed at a suspect, who was likewise drawing down on her. (not sure where)
She holsters her gun, gets down on her knees and puts her arms out to her sides, in an attempt to appear more non threatening to him..
He shot her in the head.
IMO, this is what the touchy feely stuff leads to. On the other hand, our nation and freedom is not well served by ignorant knuckle dragging cops...there might be a few laft, but i have not seen many.
You have to go hands on with anyone you lock up. That will never change. Criminals become more violent and we do our best to domesticate our officers. Here are some simple rules to be a good patrol officer.
Come to work.
Answer your radio.
Fight when you have to.
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