In July 2004, I resigned from my position as Video Production Manager at Paladin Press™ to become Director of Product Development for the Masters of Defense (MOD) knife company, which had been acquired by BLACKHAWK! Products Group. Initially, I worked for MOD’s founder, my friend Jim Ray, but ultimately rose to the position of Category Manager for Knives. In that capacity, I was in charge of all marketing efforts related to knives.

Since I believe strongly that responsible education sells products, I came up with the idea of producing a concise “crash course” video on defensive knife tactics and giving it away with every BLACKHAWK! knife sold. I proposed this to BLACKHAWK’s leadership, got a thumbs up, and with the help of my private students Michael Rigg and Vincent Luke, shot the video at Paladin’s™ in-house studio. I edited the video myself and originally titled it “Combative Knife Concepts.”

Although I had received formal approval for the idea and presented information in it that was identical to the live demonstrations of blade tactics I had done on stage at BLACKHAWK’s SHOT Show booth, BLACKHAWK refused to distribute the video. It was listed in their 2006 catalog; however, they never produced or distributed a single copy.

Not wanting my efforts to go to waste, I took a hard look at the contents of the video and compared it to the information contained in my Fighting Folders series. I realized that it not only provided a more concise and up-to-date overview of my Martial Blade Concepts curriculum than Fighting Folders, it also represented the best distillation of the “go-to” tactics of the system. Functionally, it was both the ideal primer for students new to knife tactics as well as a literal state-of-the-art reference for advanced MBC practitioners. I therefore retitled the video Martial Blade Concepts and with Mike Rigg’s help licensed it for distribution through the Paladin™ catalog.

Because the Fighting Folders series was shot over several years and the MBC system continued to evolve during that time, it ultimately became an imperfect reference for the current system. For beginning students, Martial Blade Concepts does an excellent job of introducing the logic and basic principles of MBC, including its focus on small knives (the kind you actually carry on a daily basis), its emphasis on stopping power as the goal of real self-defense, and its explanation of the best knife targets of the human anatomy. It also presents concise, straightforward instruction in the most important tactics of MBC’s standard-grip system.

For advanced practitioners, Martial Blade Concepts brings the MBC system full circle, distilling the complete system taught in the Fighting Folders series into the primary “go-to” tactics while still introducing all four Defensive Responses. It also clearly defines and reinforces what has become MBC’s distinctive targeting strategy. Although this video is focused primarily on combative applications, it also highlights the importance of reflex-training or “flow” drills in developing skills and spontaneous reactions and teaches two critical drills not found in the Fighting Folders series: the Outside-Outside Drill and the High-Low Hubud Drill.

One of the questions I receive most often from aspiring students of knife tactics is, “How do I train without a partner?” Realizing the need for good information on solo training, as well as the emerging significance of the Martial Blade Concepts video as a training tool, I decided to revise and expand it. In 2009, Mike Rigg and I went back into the studio and shot about 30 minutes of all-new bonus material. Mike then took this new footage and re-edited Martial Blade Concepts to yield Martial Blade Concepts - The Enhanced Version. This updated video features a totally new introduction that explains the latest evolution of the MBC system and clarifies the elements of my older books and videos that are, for the most part, outdated. The body of the video then presents the same hard-hitting, straightforward instruction that made the original version uniquely instructional. Best of all, this enhanced version adds a 20 minute bonus section in which I explain in detail the methods I use to effectively develop combative knife skills through solo training. The solo training section explains and demonstrates the importance of visualization and describes the process of breaking skills and movements down into their component parts. Training these parts independently allows you to learn and perfect them quickly and to integrate them progressively into the full, combat-worthy technique.

In the bonus solo training section I also explain the construction and use of simple training apparatus, including the Sinawali Pole and the Filipino Cross. I show how these simple, inexpensive training aids can help you visualize specific targets and provide both a visual and physical reference for your practice. I also demonstrate how the rotating structure of the Filipino Cross can be used to create a high-speed, repetitive series of simulated attacks that enable you to quickly and efficiently hone your skills without a training partner.

Martial Blade Concepts - The Enhanced Version is a great video that has been made even better by adding the exact information students have asked for most. Available exclusively from Stay Safe Media, it is by far the best reference currently available on the core MBC system. This video is the best place to start if you are interested in MBC and/or the basics of effective knife tactics. It is also must-see viewing for advanced practitioners interested in recapturing their focus on the most critical elements of small-knife tactics.

Michael D. Janich