Tactical Defense Institute Defensive Knife After Action Review
This is a discussion on Tactical Defense Institute Defensive Knife After Action Review within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have wanted to take a knife class for years. Just like I wanted to get quality gun training when I chose to start carrying ...
December 7th, 2010 06:33 PM
Tactical Defense Institute Defensive Knife After Action Review
I have wanted to take a knife class for years. Just like I wanted to get quality gun training when I chose to start carrying a firearm for self-defense, it was a natural progression of my training to want quality knife training when I chose to carry a knife.
Through a series of force-on-force (FOF) scenarios and some research and careful thought I had chosen the Tactical Defense Institute (TDI) Law Enforcement knife made by Ka-Bar as the edged companion to my firearm for every-day carry. When I brought it home and showed my husband my newest acquisition he informed me that TDI was actually a training facility in Ohio that did defensive knife classes. I immediately became interested. After all, it made sense to take a class from the people who designed the knife I chose to carry.
It took another two plus years before I would be in a position, financially and logistically, to take a knife class and after hearing many wonderful things about TDI I finally signed up for their two day Defensive Knife class that took place on December fourth and fifth of this year.
The confirmation email I received said to bring any and all knives I wanted to train with but that if I had no knife it was not an issue as TDI would have several knives available for trial and plenty of trainers to work with. Even though I didn’t need to take my TDI trainer I stuck it, my Cold Steel Ti-Lite and my Ka-Bar TDI Law Enforcement knife in my suitcase and drove to southern Ohio for my class.
A look at the TDI website gives you a run down of the facility with multiple ranges, classrooms, force-on-force houses and everything else a defensive student could ask for.
In anticipation of getting lost (as I usually do) I left my hotel an hour and a half early to make what was reported to me to be only a half-hour long trip. The directions were not hard to follow and even though I arrived to class an hour early there was already instructors there with heaters cranked setting out equipment for the class.
The classroom was clean and neat with comfortable chairs, clean tables, a small kitchenette, two bathrooms, a case to display TDI products for sale, a large television and (blessedly) two heaters to combat the Ohio cold that had swept in for the weekend.
They weren’t kidding when they said they had plenty of knives and trainers. The table at the front of the class was covered with trainer knives and live knives that could be borrowed by students.
As the rest of the students arrived we mingled and got to know each other and it wasn’t a surprised to find that I would be the only woman in the class. I was delighted to find out that John Benner, the designer of the TDI knife, would be an assistant instructor for the class as I was eager to meet him after our wonderful chat on the phone when I had called to sign up for the class. When our head instructor, Greg Ellifritz, arrived with plenty of time to spare we all settled in, some finished paying for their class and it was time to start.
There was a ratio of three instructors for twelve students (I believe), which made for a very safe environment. With any kind of class featuring weapons safety is a main concern and when you have twelve people with knives working them and trying things they’ve never tried before it’s nice to know there’s more than one set of eyes making sure everyone is being responsible and safe. Two instructors walked around the perimeter of the class checking for safety and giving tips when needed as Greg taught. Even when we sparred or did our force-on-force there was someone there to check our pockets and waistbands to ensure we didn’t forget to remove any live weapons (which I had forgotten to do after lunch on the second day and the instructor caught it (thank goodness)). That, along with the continued safety reminders, made me feel very comfortable that no one was going to end up with a knife buried in their belly or their fingers chopped off.
I think the worst wound of the weekend was a student who cut the top of his finger on the hilt of his training knife during the final force-on-force exercise. A quick rinse and a bandaid and all was well again.
Before I went I really wondered what was going to be taught in this class. After all, how much instruction does it take to figure out how to use a knife? All of us have been using knives to cut our food since we were small children and most can figure out which side to point toward the enemy. I didn’t doubt there was going to be fighting techniques taught that I didn’t know but the rest was a complete and eager mystery. I was not disappointed.
Right away, on day one, we opened with a brief introduction of the class and instructors and dove right in to the types of knives available for self-defense and how to choose the right knife for you. There was even a short lecture on how to ensure the locking mechanism on folders would stay secure so as not to collapse on your figures mid-fight. Greg had a bag of knives he brought with him that were passed around for all to see what was available and how it worked.
John talked about the TDI knife and how and why it was designed and it was great to hear it from the designers own mouth. I also learned that my other favorite little knife, the TDI Last Ditch Knife (LDK), was designed by the instructor, Greg Ellifritz. Right about then I was feeling really glad I chose this class.
Then we all moved to the training area and went right into learning different opening methods for folders. We talked about the different grips available for knives and the stance to go along with fighting with a knife. We practiced deploying our knives from various positions such as kneeling, on our backs, sides and what not. Then we had to “earn” our lunch.
Greg wanted to prove that deploying a knife while exhausted was different than from standing and rested so he had us all get down and do twenty pushups and from the top of the pushup position we were to deploy a knife. When we thought we were done he had us do twenty more and try again. It was then we were beginning to see a number of fumbled and failed openings.
After lunch we talked about the rules for close quarter drawing of weapons in general which was either creating distance in order to draw or gaining control of the attacker long enough to draw so that your defensive tool of choice could not be taken from you or the draw interfered with. We did a number of exercises to create either distance or control through sparring with partners.
We learned a twelve-step slash and stab drill and practiced that extensively. We did live deploying and cutting drills to demonstrate the difference in speed between fixed blades and folders. We worked with our knives in our off hands and did the knife equivalent of the Tueller drill by having to draw our knives and deploy them against an advancing attacker. We talked about anatomy and targeting areas on the body that would either cause enough physical damage to end a conflict or cause rapid blood loss which meant that, naturally, we would have to practice them on our sparring partners. Then we talked about wound enhancement by maximizing trauma with the knife. We also talked about the legalities of using a knife for self-defense.
After working knife defense against common grabs and attacks we were given a demonstration on just how quickly one can be rendered unconscious from a choke hold by a volunteer being choked out (a sobering exercise to be sure).
It was a long first day but very educational and hands on.
Day two started with knife care and sharpening. We were fortunate enough to have a custom knife maker in our class who gave his professional opinion on knife sharpening techniques and products. It wasn’t long before we were back out on the training floor learning drills for an unarmed person defending against a knife attack and fighting a knife attack with a knife and some more techniques to thwart off multiple attackers.
Just before lunch we went outside where they had hung up a deer carcass and we all took our turn slashing, stabbing, hacking, coring and cutting this poor deer carcass until it looked like something out of a bad horror movie. I was amazed to personally feel how easy it was to stab right through ribs as I felt them crunch and crack under the force of a TDI wielded by my little hand.
On the other side of the deer we dressed it in clothes and got to try for ourselves how clothing can change the results of slashes and cuts. We even got to try stabbing with other tools like tactical pens and one student went to town with a tactical flashlight that buried itself into the neck of the deer making a very wicked little wound.
While we ate lunch we watched a video on how easily skin cuts and the demonstration of cutting a pig carcass dressed in various clothes (wonderful meal-time entertainment!).
After lunch we pulled out the mats and did fighting from the ground when an attacker already has you on the ground and mounted you. We talked about secretly getting your knife out and then it was time for the force-on-force.
Greg got dressed up in a training suit and laid down the rules. He would attack us in any way he saw fit and the fight would not be over until he felt he was dealt a fight-stopping blow or until we fought our way to the other side of the classroom (through him, of course). Those of us not fighting would play “jury” and decide whether or not the actions of the person fighting were justifiable. This I found to be most unique and interesting as each person fighting was forced to think more about their actions in regards to the law and how they would defend them.
When it was my turn I was very nervous (what 100 lbs woman going up against a 220-plus lbs instructor wouldn’t be?) but I didn’t back down. He confronted me and attacked. I fought open hand until I had the chance to draw my knife. A good cut to his inner leg and I escaped to “safety.”
It was a relief to hear my classmates say I was entirely justified in my actions.
Greg Ellifritz and John Benner were both excellent instructors that I would be happy to work with again and again. Greg, a police instructor with thousands of hours of training in everything from knives, firearms, hand-to-hand combat and even field medicine, was knowledgeable and confident in his teaching without being cocky or overly opinionated. He was humble enough to give credit where credit was due and not pushy with his techniques. He had a likeable sense of humor but didn’t let us get too far off topic before he reeled us in again. He promised he would never try to take away anything that someone had adopted to work for them and he was true to his word even praising those who had adapted different ways to accomplish a goal. We all teased him that at times he got a manically gleeful smile while sparring that indicated he had far too much fun with his job.
As a woman it’s sometimes intimidating to go to a male-dominated class as sexism can be very alive and well but I felt very respected, not feared or undermined. Greg and John both listened and responded to me as an equal student to my male counterparts. While some of the other students were gentler in their sparring with me Greg gave me the training I was seeking by apply a more forceful approach that I would have to repel. John was not far off giving tips and helping to drive home certain points. I was greatly impressed with their professionalism, knowledge, clarity, organization and teaching ability.
I learned more than I could have previously imagined and in the best way possible—by doing the work instead of just listening to a lecture or watching a video. Aside from the techniques of slashes and stabs some of the most important lessons I took away from the class have been the cardinal rules for drawing a weapon (distance or control), the speed of drawing and readiness of the fixed-blade vs the folder and how even the simplest of clothing items can frustrate the outcome of a slash but have little effect on the outcome of a stab. I was not the only one ditching my folder knife in favor of a fixed blade and many people purchased the TDI Law Enforcement knife before the end of the first day to replace their primary carry knife. Knife placement was always driven home as often you cannot draw your knife with your dominant hand and keeping your knife in a location where both hands have access to it is very important.
I like to vary my training by spreading it out amongst different trainers and schools but I am fairly certain I will be going back to TDI for another class or two or ten. I would recommend to others that they do the same.
December 7th, 2010 07:08 PM
When i first started taking Krav Maga,i had already looked into other things,the training for gun and knife use and defense from other martial arts,and i was amazed.The feeling at the end of the day is incredible.
December 7th, 2010 07:08 PM
December 7th, 2010 07:16 PM
Exellent writeup and enjoying to read. Thanks!
I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.
AR. CHL Instr. 07/02 FFL
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December 7th, 2010 07:41 PM
THAT was an excellent review. Thanks for posting it. I'm a big fan of the TDI LE knife too. That is also the knife I normally carry.
December 7th, 2010 08:09 PM
Excellent review, sounds like a good class.
When I get back to Ohio on a more permanent basis, I plan on taking several classes, including the knife classes there. It is close to home for me, and I don't think I have ever head a bad word about TDI courses.
Fortes Fortuna Juvat
Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor
December 7th, 2010 08:23 PM
So limatunes, seeing as you're the person who sold me on carrying the Ti-Lite, did you get a chance to practice with it in class?
My metric for that question is this: When you engage knife-to-knife with another person and their hand/knife is out of your field of vision and they strike at you, if you can intercept and stop that threat, then you're getting there.
After all, how much instruction does it take to figure out how to use a knife?
Another answer is whether you have a defense for knife-at-throat while pinned against a wall. Both front and back.
Nothing is ever "enough," but those scenarios require enough training and practice such that if you can survive them, you're in the game.
Thank you for another great class report. Well done as usual.
"It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."
December 7th, 2010 08:56 PM
Wonderful read! thanks......
'Be careful, even in small matters' - Miyamoto Musashi
December 7th, 2010 09:39 PM
Excellent report on what sounds like a valuable and practical class.
"I do what I do." Cpl 'coach' Bowden, "Southern Comfort".
December 7th, 2010 10:39 PM
Thanks, great review of a class that I want to take.
Don't do things you don't want to explain to the Paramedics!
Stupidity should be painful.
December 7th, 2010 10:46 PM
Nice review, thanks for posting
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” -- Thomas Jefferson
December 8th, 2010 08:12 AM
Nice. Did the class touch much on the legal issues of carrying a knife? I'm interested in the TDI, but my state's laws on knives are confusingly worded enough--plus, without preemption, any town or country could have a different law about knives--that I'm probably going to stick with a folder.
December 8th, 2010 10:40 AM
Just want to add my thanks for a great report.
Curious . . what about the attack on you made your classmates say you were entirely justified in your action to draw your knife and make a good cut to his inner thigh?
"It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end"____Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519
December 8th, 2010 05:47 PM
Yes, they did talk about different state's carry laws and a little bit about interpreting them because, yeah, laws can be really confusing sometimes.
Originally Posted by Ishmael
We talked a lot about lethal force and when it's appropriate. For instance, when someone is just standing in your way asking for money or for directions, YES, he is assaulting you because he won't let you leave but lethal force is not justified because you are not in fear for your life or serious bodily harm. Perhaps a shove or something less lethal is an option, but lethal force (which a knife certainly is) not at that moment.
Originally Posted by 3D
There was one FOF scenario where the instructor went up to a guy and asked directions and kept pestering him and the guy just up and punched him in the face, jumped on top of him, pulled a knife that was knocked out of his hands, beat the living day-lights out of him, stomped on his ankle to keep him from coming after him and then ran away. The instructor had not once indicated that he was a dangerous threat, but more of a pesky bother. We all agreed that in that case the "good guy" was looking at a serious assault charge and probably some time in jail.
In MY FOF scenario he approached me and said, "Hey, Baby, you want to go to a party with me, don't you?" I said, "No, get away from me," and he kept advancing. He was close but he had not said or done anything to make me believe that he was a serious danger. Auditory exclusion starting kicking in because the closer he got the more amped up I was getting for a fight. He said something like, "Hey baby, come with me," and that's the last thing I heard and I kept telling him to get away. ONLY because I have it on tape I know he said, "I'm not letting you leave," but I DID NOT hear that in the scenario or I probably would have responded earlier with a hit. He indicated he was threat right there but because I didn't hear what he said I just kept saying, "Get away from me."
He then grabbed me by both arms and I fought to get them loose by trying to kick or pull away my hands. Of course, this lead to a ground fight when he dragged me down. On the video I can hear him talking to me but I didn't hear much in the actual fight. Auditory exclusion works for scenarios too. He was saying things like, "Come on, Baby," and "You're a feisty one." The GOOD thing (I know this sounds funny) about an attacker having both of my arms is that while he has control of me I have control of him. If he has both of my arms he can't hit me or try to take off my clothes, drag me away, etc. It actually keeps me pretty safe and buys me time to think about what I want to do next without having to worry about defending against blows.
When we fell to the ground I tried very hard to fall on top of him and got my hands free and just started elbowing him in the face, kneeing him in the side and when he rolled to get away from me I started hammer hitting him in the kidney area.
He ever so slightly pulled away and I tried to escape but he grabbed me again and I responded by hitting him in the face, curling up my legs and kicking him as hard as I could in the chest.
He fell back away from me and I fell away from him giving me plenty of room to draw my knife because now I was CERTAINLY in fear for my life. I was on the ground on my back and didn't want to flip over and try to run because I knew he would just jump on my back because it was very clear he was not out of the fight. On my belly with a 220 + lbs man on my back with easy access to my weapon would be the worst possible place to be. I chose to move away from him by scooting backwards along the ground but he was on top of me in a matter of seconds.
I used my feet to keep him away the best I could but he caught one of my legs and pulled me back into him and when he tried to climb back on top of me I saw an opening for a good slice to his leg and I took it. He rolled away, I gave him a little push and ran to "safety" and the scenario was over.
Everyone was unanimous that I did nothing prematurely and I used appropriate force for how the scenario played out and I left as soon as I could without trying to stay to finish him off, etc.
Does that explain it a little better?
December 8th, 2010 07:13 PM
That sounds like it would make a great video.
Don't do things you don't want to explain to the Paramedics!
Stupidity should be painful.
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