For the next week or two, I’ll be working on an old concept that I’ve only recently re-discovered: Unorthodox use of weapons.
As we’ve previously discussed in the article There is no difference between armed and unarmed combat, there are certain unspoken rules and conventions that arise during physical confrontations which we are not aware of. For example, a person wanting to attack us will often just attack with his or her body – fists, feet, elbows etc, but not throw sand in our eyes or use a pencil as a stabbing tool. Despite the fact that the attacker might want to do something similar, he/she will often not do anything like that because it’s unconventional and unorthodox. There are some that will do such things and they are fearsome opponents because their creativity lets them do things other people wouldn’t.
That is why I often attack with a practice knife that I grab in the middle of a sparring session. My sparring partner is sparring with me and often doesn’t count on a knife attack happening because, you know, we’re just sparring. This mindset needs to be erased and reshaped into one that expects the unexpected. Even my knife attacks in the middle of sparring are quite conventional because knives are conventional weapons. An unconventional attack might involve throwing a focus pad on my partner in order to distract him, and then attack with something even more unconventional. This way my partner trains his/her response to creative attacks and I train my creativity in the middle of a fight. One friend of mine has told me that on several occasions, it happened to him that his sparring partner threw an unexpected strike at him, from up high, or a rotational/jumping kick, and that he just froze, not out of fear, but out of lack of expectation. This frame of mind needs to be changed.
So, what is unorthodox use of weapons?
It is a practical science as well as a philosophy. As regards philosophy, the main ideas have already been mentioned: through unorthodox use of weapons, you employ your creativity in order to give you more tools than you would have had. Thus a Muay Thai fighter will not only use his eight limbs but bottles, credit cards, keys, chains, teeth, fingers, sand, water, the blinding effect of the sun – to his advantage. Thus a person with a gun will not only shoot from it but use it as a striking and thrusting implement, and, with sufficient knowledge, as an explosive. Through unorthodox use of weapons, you are given many more tools and a mindset that expects attacks of a similar nature. Simply put, you are a better and a more realistic fighter.
As regards the practicality of it, some ideas have already been mentioned, and I will mention others too, but the main point is to invent your own unorthodox uses of weapons. One thing to hold in mind is realism: some unorthodox attacks are simply not effective or effective enough. Know what you gain from each attack. If it is better to simply punch and kick, then by all means, punch and kick.
But learning to use everything close to us as a weapon is a good habit. Form no favorites: learn to use each weapon and then discard it. If you are more inclined to some weapons than others, you already became a specialist, and not a generalist, and a generalist is in this context much better than a specialist.
Practical ideas for training:
(let this be only an inspiration, not a definite guide)
- when sparring unarmed, attack with a weapon
- when sparring armed, try to not use the weapon but only your body
- when sparring in a room, subtly move towards the lights switch and turn the ligths off, and then attack
- throw stuff at your partner before you attack
- use other people as shields, or unexpectedly attack your partner together with someone else that wasn’t suposed to participate
- look at the things in your room and try to figure out a way to weaponize them:
- a pencil might be used for stabbing
- a deodorant might be used for spraying into someone’s eyes, or hitting
- shoestrings could be used to trap arms or legs, or to suffocate someone
- a flashlight could blind someone in the dark, making a good introduction to a fight
- yell at your training partner. Voice can in itself be a formidable tool.
Keep this in mind: if it saves your life only once, it was worth all the training.