Unentangled Bladework pt 2

By Ian Strimbeck


The blade is one of the oldest tools man has created. Ranging from the ancient Samurai, medieval knights, to indigenous Amazonian tribes the blade has always been there in some form or fashion. In modern times where the idea of self-preservation is taboo and viewed highly uncivilized, how does one integrate the blade into an invaluable tool? The concept is fairly simple, utilize it with a point driven strategy. This will therefore allow you to look at anything in your environment with a point as a legitimate and lethal option. In the previous article I talked about stance and where/how to index the blade if at distance from your adversary. In this final piece, I will talk about effective targeting, movement and how/when to utilize an the actual edge of the blade to your advantage.



How and what you look at to target regardless of the tool will determine how much extra effort is necessary in order to end the fight. Compared to a projectile based weapon where the end user should be looking at the center chest as the primary targeting area, with a contact weapon such as a blade you need to be looking at the head and face as the primary targeting area. Is is it a smaller target? Absolutely. Yet, it’s an extremely vulnerable area of the human body and will prevent the adversary from getting re-entangled. Anyone that has received a laceration on the face, knows how profusely it bleeds. Now take that same concept and apply it to someone who’s actively thrusting a pointed tool in your face. Your instinctive reaction will be either try to dodge it, or at the very least put your hands up in the defense of your face. 


Moving south, secondary targeting areas would be the throat, carotid artery, or armpit. These are all soft, pliable areas of tissue that can lead to serious blood loss and eventual expiration of the adversary if left untreated. Again moving south, the brachial artery in the arms, abdomen, femoral artery, inner thigh, and perineum are all excellent areas to be perforated. All of these are extremely vulnerable and unprotected areas where a point driven tool can access freely. I am much more of an advocate of robust and vigorous techniques in lieu of the commonly taught biomechanical cutting where the goal is to tear specific muscle tendons in order to elicit a certain response. Regardless, think of where soft targets on the body are to attain a hard hit.

These are all soft, pliable areas of tissue that can lead to serious blood loss and eventual expiration of the adversary if left untreated.



Whether shooting a firearm or engaged with a contact tool, movement should be used to your advantage. In the context of unentangled and ranged blade work, movement is vital for your survival. Dealing with a blade at range isn’t a boxing match and it isn’t a contest of skill. The goal is to strike and move, the more you stay static means a higher chance for you to get critically wounded. Just as with any striking art, you want to try whenever possible to get to the outside of their arms. If you’re outside, it means more time to follow up with strikes and create distance. Being outside of their arms, requires the adversary to re-orientate themselves to you by having to move their entire body. If you were to be on the inside of their arms, it’s the equivalent of being caught in a spiderweb. You are unintentionally allowing them to have every advantage such as space, time and orientation to their target. Remember, outside gives you full range of movement, inside give you lack of movement. Stay active and stay alive.

Edge Orientation & Utilization


As previously mentioned, the point of the tool is the primary method of delivery to the target. The edge orientation is secondary, and should be brought into consideration if secondary targeting areas open up during the initial strike. The most commonly edge orientation is what’s called “edge out.” This is what 95% of blades out there on the market consist of. In layman's term, the edge of the blade is facing outward and away from you, therefore making slashing and cutting downward extremely effective. If utilizing this type of blade for secondary targeting of the arms, with the blade retracted you want to slash with a circular motion similar to the coupling rods on the outside of an 1800’s locomotive. This provides a quick slashing movement and retracts the blade back for follow up knife jabs.


The counter edge setup is what’s called an “edge in” orientation. This indexes the edge towards the user, therefore assisting in the retraction of the blade by also lacerating the assailant in one motion. Basically, the assailant “pays” for defending themselves with this blade set up. For example, they put their arm up to block the knife jab and you pull back in a horizontal circular movement and “back cut” their arm. Once your arm is retracted with the blade you have the option to utilize another knife jab. Similar to the coiled tail of a scorpion, your arm is retracted and ready to strike. As a follow up, if for whatever reason the assailant does gain an attachment to your knife hand, having an edge in orientation will assist in breaking and cutting their grip.

When it’s all said and done, regardless of your skill level everyone knows how to put the pointy end into the soft fleshy parts of the human body. Of course having baseline techniques to facilitate the delivery of the blade is essential, but don’t overthink the end goal. You’ve finally worked your way out of the entanglement, so use the blade to your advantage by creating distance and damage to the adversary. As the late Paul Gomez once said, “Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.”

Article By Ian Strimbeck
Hand-to-Hand, Grappling, Edged Weapons
I am constantly evolving how I teach so as to bring the best knowledge to my students which will therefore allow them to be better able to answer the call if violence is the only option.