I posted back in February about my second book, covering weapon use and defense. I had hoped to be finished it by now, but it has taken much longer than I expected. I’ve been busy with other work, but I’ve also revised the organization of some of the material and realized I need to have more pictures taken before it is finished.
One of the things I’ve recently revised is the way I name or categorize the steps of the 4 Step Matrix, which you can see in the graphic above. The 4 Step Matrix is a framework I use primarily for weapon based fighting, but it can certainly also be applied to unarmed fighting. Previously I had grouped the second and third steps under “covered follow ups”, but this new naming/categorization makes things clearer. Whether you’re training unarmed defense against weapons or weapon vs. weapon, you need to keep these 4 steps in mind.
The steps may sound like common sense, but in many martial arts one or more of them are ignored. The first step needs to ideally begin outside of “fighting range”. You need to strategically enter to a position of advantage. That can be done offensively or defensively (counter-based, not entirely defensive), but it must be done purposefully. Unfortunately most systems in my experience tend to start where the second step of the 4 Step Matrix is concerned, where the fighters are close enough for their weapons to hit their bodies. When your strategy and techniques begin inside of fighting range, you usually end up overwhelmed or simply brawling. It’s like being dropped into a blender. Instead, you need to purposefully enter so that when contact can be made you already have an advantage, a good place to “fight” from.
The second step, weapon neutralization, sounds particularly obvious. But it is so often ignored. One of the most common responses to my knife defense video on YouTube is that grabbing the opponent’s weapon bearing limb with two hands is stupid…that the opponent can strike with the other hand, etc.. What most people who make that comment don’t understand is that a proper two handed control with the proper body/head position prevents the opponent’s other hand from hitting you effectively. In addition, you’re not just going to stand there holding the guy’s arm. You’re going to quickly break his arm, etc.. But more importantly, if you do not control the knife (weapon neutralization) then nothing else matters! Whether it’s empty hand vs. knife or knife vs. knife, if you fail to neutralize the opponent’s weapon he can literally kill you as attempt to disable or kill him. He can make a move that kills you even after you’ve made a move that will eventually kill him.
The third step, termination, is what nearly no one misses in theory. But again, if you forget the first step you’ll have a very hard time getting there, and if you forget the second step you may end up terminated too!
The fourth step, a covered exit, is something that very few people practice. In theory it’s easy to take an opponent out, but what if he’s still moving? What if he is still able to inflict damage as he’s going down? What if he has friends?
All four steps in the 4 Step Matrix are essential if you really want to maximize your chances of survival. I think referring to the second and third steps as weapon neutralization and termination makes that clearer than simply calling them “covered follow ups”. Regardless of whether you use the 4 Step Matrix as your own framework for weapon use and defense, I hope you’ll keep each of the steps in mind in your training and strategy.
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