About.com - Video Review

The Leading Edge
VHS, 2 tapes, 105 minutes total
Paladin Press, $79.95

The Leading Edge, one of Paladin Press' latest videos, teaches knife fighting skills and techniques.

Bram Frank starts off the tapes with safety precautions, recommending training with plastic knives and eye goggles. He then describes grips in detail, analyzing the merits of the forward and ice pick (reverse) grips depending on range and tactics.

Frank shows a lot on grip changes from forward to reverse grips and vice versa. That's contrary to my experience, where grip changes in mid-technique often result in a disarm or at the least, immobilization of the weapon and transition to grappling.

Or maybe I'm just not as dexterous as Frank. Someday, I'll get better with flips and spins, but for now I'll hang on to my knife, thank you. Luckily, the rest of the tapes doesn't use many grip changes at all.

Frank gives a brief overview of the 12 cuts of the Filipino martial arts. This goes by rather fast, but pay attention, since you'll need to remember them for the discussion on flow drills.

Flow drills are one-on-one partner drills where one person attacks, the partner defends and counters, the original attacker blocks that counter and counters back, and so on. There are a lot of flow drills on these tapes. Frank and his partner go through the various drills pretty quickly, but hey, you can always rewind. Better to cram more instruction into the tape than to fill it up with slow-motion that you could do yourself.

Probably the most intriguing part of the tape is Frank's discussion of biomechanical cutting. Biomechanical cutting is targeting "structural" parts of the human body. It's like demolishing a building. When demolitions experts set explosives to bring down a big building, say a hotel in Vegas or an old Manhattan office, their engineers put the charges precisely at the points that hold the building up. Boom--the building falls in seconds. The alternative is to pick at the building from the outside, knocking off little chunks with a wrecking ball.

Biomechanical cutting works the same way--remove the supports (e.g. tendons, etc.) and the fight's over. Much better (and faster) than slicing and slashing, hoping to defeat your opponent through blood loss.

The Leading Edge is a great reference for flow drills and the intricate block-counter iterations that compose those drills. It's a bit less useful for solo practitioners. But grab yourself a willing partner, and you'll learn a lot.

All content copyright © 1999-2008 James Hom