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Why Would a Knife Fighter Use the Punyo

INSTEAD of the Blade?



Dear Friend,


In a knife versus knife situation, the standard Arnis training procedure is to block and then counter strike.  Preferably, the defender blocks the attackerís arm using the blade of his knife.  In this way, he has the chance of severing the tendons of the attacker used to cause the attackerís hand to form a grip.  In this way, while the attacker can remain alive, he is mechanically unable to continue to attack, and the threat has been eliminated.


In a blood and guts, fight for your life scenario, this seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do.


Why then does Arnis have as one of its counter strikes the use of the punyo (pommel) to strike the enemy?  Isnít that a waste of a perfectly good blade?


Letís answer that with a little story.


Letís say your at home alone one evening, and your hear a noise.  Something like someone breaking in a window, or footsteps in a back room.  You want to investigate it, so you pick up a knife, just in case.


You go toward the noise, working your way through the dark house quietly.  You donít know what the situation is going to be like.  Is there someone there?  Is it a false alarm?  Is it the dog?  Is it more than one person?


The smart thing, of course, is to leave the house at the first sign of a threat, but there are a dozen things that could prevent it.  Maybe you have to go through the area where the noise is to leave.  Maybe you are not alone, and couldnít get the others out quietly.  Maybe youíre not that smart.  Maybe you donít feel like doing the smart thing.


You round the corner, and there is someone there.  Someone for real.  He looks at you and you look at him.  Youíre armed.  Heís not.  He takes a swing at you.  What do you do?


  1. Stab him.  Stab him enough to stop him.


Okay, administering the death penalty on an unarmed intruder is frowned upon is most states.  He dies, and you get to practice your shiving technique in the shower.


  1. Drop the knife, and fight him empty hand.


Letís look at why #2 is also a horrible option.

  1. It takes time to drop a knife and prep yourself.  Enough time for the intruder to land a couple of heavy hits.  Truth is unless youíre training for impact regularly, all you have in you is taking a couple of hits.  You donít want to give away the advantage.
  2. The attacker could turn out to be better than you.  You may want the knife as a back up.
  3. Discarding the knife puts it into easy play for you and him.  Whoever grabs it gets it.
  4. The attacker could have a concealed weapon.  When he escalates, you would be left flapping in the breeze.


So, if stabbing the guy to death is bad, and getting rid of the knife is bad, whatís left?  An in-between option.  That option is to both block and strike using the base of the pommel (the punyo).


Letís look at some benefits of this option:

  1. Your force is amplified by using a hard object to hit the person.
  2. You have a knife, which gives the other guy an incentive to break and run.
  3. You have the ability to escalate if it turns against you.
  4. You donít have to spend time showering with Bubba.
  5. You may hesitate to use your blade because of its lethal nature.  You are not likely to hesitate to use the punyo.


There is always a difference between the macho solution, and a solution measured to fit the real world.  Punyo on the knife is a real world solution.



Warm regards,


Guro Mike Steenrod


P.S.  I have nearly completed the book on Anris Knife training.  The recent Black Belt Magazine article (Stick vs. Gun) in April 2008 and the upcoming Kung Fu Tai Chi Magazine article made me momentarily so busy that I had to back burner the book.