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Seminar Report:
Switzerland 2004

Apenzel, Switzerland, 8/18/04, 13:50 hours

It is a cool, sunny day as we drive through the Swiss Alps. The car is a BMW convertible with the roof down, moving fast through the narrow twists and turns of the quaint countryside. The driver is a professional model of Swiss / French ancestry; the kind of danger girl who causes a commotion on the street just by walking by and smiling. Today she is kindly showing me around the region of Apenzell. I feel like half tourist and half body guard as we see the old town and church.

Normally I like to blend into a crowd and vanish, but that is not possible today. A group of young art students who are doing sketches of the architecture literally start singing "Pretty Woman" in English as we pass by. I am convinced we are in a film. I expect at any moment to start seeing subtitles appear in the air as people talk. I just want to make sure that it stays a light comedy and does not suddenly become a Jene Reno picture or something.

I was here on business, though, and the training objectives we had set beforehand were intensive.

We would do a 2 day Bowie Knife workshop, 5 days of private instruction in Filipino Knifecraft, and a 2 day Modern Knife for Personal Defense seminar. This was a heavy course load, but luckily I knew Alex, my "Swiss Connection" was up to the task. As a former Judo and Kickboxing competitor as well as Comtech Riddle of Steel training adventure graduate, he was mentally and physically ready for the challenge.

We were based out of the town of St. Gallen. This Canton was known for the skill of their warriors in using the halberd in the old days. It is close to the Rhine river, and on a clear day from the hilltops you can see into Germany. Warriors here must have been good to defend the border! The countryside was our training ground, in the woods, hills, and streams for the most part.

The Bowie Knife Workshop

A small group of us trained in the core fighting mechanics of the big knife for two days. The guys were introduced to the full speed training methods we use to bring out quick skill for fighting. On Sunday we trained outside near a stream, and enjoyed advanced fighting combinations, test cutting and environmental sparring.

Private Training

This covered many aspects of the practical application of the Filipino knife and stick arts. Single and double knife, stick, reverse stick, two hand stick, drills, counters, fighting scenarios, knife grappling, and flowing from art to art were covered.

Modern Knife for Personal Defense

Some of the seminar participants

The first day of the course focused on such elements as legalities, styles of knives, drawing the knife, verbal commands, basic cutting and thrusting, striking styles, target drills, and sparring scenarios.

Right hand vs. left hand in the knife-tapping drill

Day two featured the ways to counter and set up an opponent, the chain of knife (cadena de daga), knife standing to ground grappling, releasing techniques, scenarios with dialog, counters to knife hold ups, and more.

Pete and Alex practicing the Gladiator Drill, using a focus mitt and padded weapons


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