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The Pocket
Knife Fighting Notes for Boxers

In terms of weapon fighting, I often find myself, as a coach, forgetful of my boxing roots. In a recent knife and stick sparring session with a man who I boxed with a couple years ago and who was quite hard to hit with the fist, he found himself getting double cut and consistently took a hand shot with knife or stick just after deflecting or avoiding one.

It is normal for new weapon sparring partners to get hit even more than Brian, about twice as often, actually. But I could sense him being hard on himself and paused to let him know what the sticking points were in translating boxing or Gung Fu to contact knife sparring, and which will be even more important in a possible attack by an advantage knifer.

The four sticking points for empty hand to knife are:



-empty hand

-passing strokes

-getting pocketed


In western boxing, because of rules, and in Chinese boxing due to teaching conventions, it is not doctrine to get behind your opponent. In weapon fighting you are always seeking his back. If he is any good he won’t let you have it but He’ll have to spend effort to keep you from getting to his blindside. You are forever seeking to leave him with only one stroking angle, only a back hand or only a forehand and you can only do this by getting to the side of him, and getting to his side happens best when you are trying to get behind him.


In empty hand arts stopping the stroke before it gets started is either a lost art or it is only really practiced by people with vast biomechanical or experience advantages over their opponents or partners.

Any time he is not moving you strike his weapon hand.

Any time he is striking you strike his weapon hand. In boxing terms you are punching the punch right as it gets going. Old Time boxers used to call this stopping. More recently it is known as cut-off punching.

Empty Hand

The empty hand in weapon fighting does not conform to the role of the resting hand in boxing, which will be sent in harm’s way and even used as a shield. People from empty hand arts, especially Asian-based ones, will always bring the rear empty hand too far forward for knife work and just get it cut to ribbons. You must conceptualize the resting hand as a potential tool and a prime target. If you come from karate of Kung Fu than be certain to pull your rear shoulder off line and narrow your stance.

Passing Strokes

Only boxers of the old time type or those trained at the Wild Card Gym under Freddie Roche, currently throw passing punches so far as I know. This is an old time concept fallen into disuse which is at the core of weapon fighting, weather with stick or blade. When you are cutting from right to left move from righto left. When cutting from left to right move from left to right. This closes your guard back up as you come in behind your knife. This adds the motion into the blow increasing force. Moving with the weapon also insures you are not ending your stroke in the same position as you sent it out. Returning a stroke in the direction the enemy stroke came from is the simplest form of counter attack and can be used by a blind man.

Getting Pocketed

Getting stuck in the pocket or put in an opponent’s wheelhouse is not a big deal if you are a good counter puncher and have good head movement in boxing. In boxing you want that man to miss by the closest possible margin so you can get him overcommitted. This is largely because most boxing punches are straight and those that hook high can be ducked and those hooked low caught on the arm.

Well, if you slip a thrust to the face you just gave him your neck for a draw cut. The knife is just as deadly while returning to guard as being launched. If you duck a stick or blade stroke your man just has to follow that forehand or backhand with the opposite stroke in an X pattern and you’re hit. X patterns cannot be defeated from the pocket. It is the basic weapon pattern and makes the point in front of the duelist the reference point for all his strokes through which they return. Those brings us back to the need to move off and around and past your opponent.

There are other transitional sticking points for weapon fighters tooling up their functional skill set from boxing arts and from other arts as well. But these are the most basic hurdles faced by those folks in the empty hand arts who seem most likely to make the leap into contact weaponry.

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Add Comment
jacobJune 28, 2018 1:35 AM UTC

I agree sam 100%

But the jobs that will (and has) been replaced the most isnt manual labor, it's the white collar jobs. Because they are the most expensive to hire and thus have a higher incentive to be replaced by the corporations.

Lawyers, doctors, think of all the high end jobs and they will be replaced sooner rather than later. Need a doctor? Just ask the computer for your illness. Need an operation? The robot ai can operate you. Need legal advice? The doctor lawyer can do that.

Alot of manual labor has become very streamlined and efficient so hiring cheap labor makes more sense. Most houses today (in sweden dont know about other countries) are made of pre made walls etc you just bring the pieces together like lego.
Sam J.June 25, 2018 9:35 PM UTC

Off topic my apologies but many said that computers will never drive trucks or threaten human jobs. I have said many, many times that the computers we have now are toys compared to what is coming up really, really fast. I want t point out some of the things they are, even with only the power of a lizard, they are beating humans at now. Chess, go, fighter pilots are most of the time beat by computers in fighter pilot game test, Chinese computers can recognize any Chinese person in a crowd of thousands from just a picture and now lately they are moving into debates and beating humans. A new on is they are beating humans in,

A team of AI algorithms just crushed humans in a complex computer game

Here's the important animation that I have linked before. 2018 is when the computer power really takes off. Remember this stuff doubles every two years or less. Look at what a computer can do with lizard power now. Watch this animation over and over.