Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review - Unarmed Against The Knife

"Unarmed Against The Knife" by Oscar Diaz-Cobo Copyright 1982

Where to begin? When this book came up in another thread a couple of weeks ago, I had never read it. Considering the number of knife-fighting books that I have read over the last 15 years or so, I had pretty much decided to never really spend too much time reading any more knife-fighting books.

I should have stuck to my original plan.

Look, I have to admit, I have seen worse books.

So, enough jokes and cracking on this book. Let's look at some of the plusses of the book and there really are a few.

Let's cover two things that are never covered in other books of this type. Firstly, physical conditioning. There is a short chapter (about 4 pages) on physical & "mental" conditioning. Nothing too outlandish, some isometric exercises, pushups, grip training, and even some basic hand conditioning routines. He even brings up practicing to yell when you attack a knife wielding opponent, so as to 'psyche youreself up' while at the same time trying to 'psyche out' your attacker. Also, practice putting on a 'mean' face for the same reasons.

He then finishes up the chapter with 'hypnotic visualization'. "Practice visualizing yourself destroying your opponent". This should give you an idea of how the rest of the book is going to go.

The second thing he covers is actually rather practical and as I said above is never covered in knife-fighting books.
Basic first aid if you or a friend are injured. Again, nothing spectacular, just some solid, reasonable advice.

These two items, taken together are an example of the books most basic flaw. Every time the author gives you something useful, he manages to follow it up with something that just leaves you shaking your head.

A lot of his unarmed defenses aginst knife attacks are actually very practical. Fight dirty, throw shit in your attackers face, pick up a garbage can cover (remember the book is 28 years old, this is before most trash cans were made of plastic). Attack the attackers knifehand/arm, and then close with him and just tear the shit out of him by going for the throat or eyes. Finger jabs, hammerfists, EOH blows, knees, a LOT of good stuff. But then he starts going into some overdone footwork, and man let me tell you, this guy must be part vampire because there are more than a few pictures of him biting his attacker. Not that it isn't a good tactic if the opportunity presents itself, but he seems to have a predeliction towards using his choppers.

Another problem is all his defenses seem to be predicated on his attacker pulling their blade out and letting him know that they're coming. In the chapter on improvised weapons (and as I said above, some of his stuff is quite practical) he shows a woman using her umbrella in a two-handed bayonet style, and ramminig the metal tip into her attackers face. The problem comes from the fact that the attacker is crouched down behind a tree, on a residential block, in broad daylight, with a Kabar exposed in his hand.

Now look, I know sometimes the pictures are just staged badly, but it is a recurring problem in this book.

One of the worst techniques in the book involves the attacker having come up behind his victim, put a knife up against the guys' right kidney area, and wrapped his left forearm around the victims mouth. The victim then turns toward his attacker by spinning to his right, ie: turning INTO the point of the knife at his right kidney.

You do the math.

OK, to sum up, while there are a lot of things in this book done right, there are, in my opinion, just as many done wrong.
Which is why I cannot recommend this book. The fact is, if you are able to separate the good info from the bad info, you don't NEED this book. If you are a newbie, and relatively inexperienced at unarmed knife defenses , you won't be able to segregate the wheat from the chaff, and you might just get yourself killed.

Take a pass on this one guys, it's just not worth it.

BTW, anybody want to buy slightly used book....cheap?

NOTE: This is a slightly edited version of a review originally published in another online forum in 2006.

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