Blades of Thunder 

Chas Clements comments:

I'm not even a little unbiased, so salting this is up to you.

This is the best knifefighting video I've ever seen- including our own basic  introductions.

Ok, the lighting could be better; the sound is sometimes fuzzy and the  background music is distracting.

Then, you get the best basic understanding of silat knifefighting that's  been done so far, and I've seen them all.

Pak Vic is up to his usual standard of excellence- that little sai thing in  the front is just startling, and worth the price of admission all by itself.

Gartin still looks like 'ZZTop meets Cuisinart'- it's good stuff as always.

The star of the video is Guru Serak Jerry McCleary- he's out of Tennessee,  so he's 'East coast available' for personal instruction.

The guy is not only just *slick*, he shows the work in a clear and precise  manner useful to those of us without his physical gifts or hard practice.

This is *close* knifefighting- fast draw, short blade, instant action to the  ground and finish. The knife is used as an adjunct compulsion to throws, take-downs, ground-fighting, strangles, joint locks and focused attacks to  the organs and so on.

This is a video that emphasizes the attack as well as a defense. Lots of  systems have reactive defenses to knife attacks, but the most difficult thing in fighting is initiating an attack, not responding to one.  McCleary is not only *fast*- he shows you how to get fast. He's not only  refined, he shows you how to get finessed. His choice of demo applications  for the various technical principles are simple, direct and easily learned  even without the supporting martial system.

If you're interested in the blading arts at all- from any system or art,  this is a 'must-see' video. I guarantee you've never seen anything like it, and it will add a whole new perspective on the scope of fighting with sharp steel.

Steve Perry comments:

I finally got to see it, and I agree that it's worth the money and then some. Guru McCleary obviously knows his way around a blade. Gartin isn't bad, either, and his intro/explanation about folders and lengths is interesting and useful, if a bit short. His advice on using your knife as much as possible on a daily basis to get a feel for it is dead-on. His own skill and familiarity with folders comes across loud and clear.

McCleary's basics are very solid, and cover four grips, probably two more than most of us usually use. (In our version of silat, for instance, we generally favor saber-grip, edge down, and ice pick, edge forward. McCleary's explanations of these and the lesser-used saber, edge up, and ice pick, edge back, are clear and make perfect sense, at least to a silat player, especially for a fixed-blade. With a folder, you want to make sure with the ice pick, edge back grip that your lock is reaaal good; anything less than a frame-lock, you risk your own hand

In fact, all of McCleary's explanations are, pardon the pun, on-point, and done with an offhand expertise that indicates a lot of thought and
practice. Explaining that you can pass a knife a certain way, but advising against it, and telling you why without making a federal case out of it, speaks to his good sense. 

Demonstrating control of an attacker's knife arm, and the defender's responses with his own weapon are given with reasons that make perfect

This is the best introduction to a silat-style knife I've ever seen.

That said, there are a few things I wanted to see covered that weren't -- I expect they will be in the next tape, but I would have put them into this one.

Guru McCleary spoke to one in passing, but didn't get back to it, and that was what to do about the attacker's other weapons -- his empty and, elbow, knees, feet, etc. And, serious knife players often carry a second knife, even a third one, and while you might not see it, you have to assume it's there somewhere. Plus a serious fighter can do a lot of damage without a knife, so control of centerline is a must.

The finishing takedowns were great, but based on a single-attacker scenario, and I would have liked a mention or two of why they might be be adjusted in a crowded area where the attacker might have a friend.  The way we learn silat, the worst-case assumptions are that the attacker will be bigger, stronger, faster, trained, armed, and there will be more than one of him. Sometimes, you use the first guy to slow the second one down.

Finally, I would have liked a brief explanation of general legalities regarding the "necessary force" doctrine. In the U.S., different states and even cities have various laws about use of lethal force. A general throughline is that you can use such if you are in danger sufficient to warrant it, i.e., in peril of life or limb, or protecting somebody in such peril against attack. You are allowed to use necessary force to stop such attacks, but no more. Once the imminent threat is past, legally, you are done. If you stab the would-be mugger in the throat and he drops his knife, you had better not slice and dice him four more times on the way to the ground unless you can demonstrate a continuing threat to a skeptical jury.

If you get into a knife fight in public, you will be going to court, sooner or later, and while it is better to be alive to do that than not, you need to at least consider how you are going to explain what you did to a jury. "He needed killin'." doesn't even work in Texas any more.

But these are little things -- I'm looking forward to the next tape.

Pierre Honeyman says:

I received my "Blades of Thunder" tape today.  This is incredibly quick since it's just over a week since I ordered it, and it was opened at Customs.  Many thanks to the VDT Academy for getting it out to me so quickly; it was very likely shipped the same day I ordered it.

Pak Victor De Thouars introduces the tape.  He's got big frigging hands.  That's all I've got to say about that.

Steve Gartin comes in and discusses the state of the nation wrt. the legality of carrying knives in the US today.  As I understand the laws of the various states, I think Steve gives a very succinct commentary on what's likely to be allowed.  While he talks, he shows off his amazing knife manipulation skill.  He's not much of a dresser, but the man has nimble hands.  Ladies, pay attention to this - very. nimble. hands.
Steve Gartin with twin knives
WRT his commentary on the laws, as I suspected this part of the tape won't much apply to non-Americans.  As an example he says something to the effect of "You can't walk around with a great big knife strapped to your leg"; in Canada, you can.  Irregardless (Jacob, you're my favourite Swede) this portion is worth watching just to see Steve manipulate blades.  You'd think he'd been doing it all his life or something :)

Jerry McCleary then takes the stage.  First impressions: he's a big, athletic man who manages to also look like a friendly Science professor.  This is discombombulating.

Mr. McCleary then begins the instructional segment.  His presentation of the techniques is clear.  His discussion of them adds to the presentation.  He is a very good instructor folks.

This tape shows the basics of knife on knife fighting.  And, while it is basic, it still manages to contain material that is applicable to practitioners that have been at it a while.  Furthermore, if you have not seen Serak before, this tape will show you some very interesting stuff; at least I saw some material I had not seen before.

Four methods of holding the knife are shown from the defenders point of view.  From these four methods, the same basic principles are discussed with emphasis on the unique strengths and concerns of these methods.  The four methods are: sabre (or hammer) grip edge down; sabre grip edge up; icepick (or reverse, or pikal) grip edge out; and icepick grip edge in.

Mr. McCleary can move.  While the sequences are coreographed for the tape, this man shows some very scary speed.  He is quite impressive.

Steve Gartin closes the tape out with some words about daily knife use.  He also shows off some more, and spends about .25 seconds showing us all why when he says "2 to throw" he can deliver.

The tape lasts about an hour, but a group of practitioners using this tape to practice from could benefit from it forever.  It really is a very good basic training tape.

Everybody who is studying the use of the knife as a weapon can benefit from this tape.


Go to Blades of Thunder DVD