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Bowie Knife Solo Training II - The Snap Cut

Howdy all! A lot of people wrote about the last Training Tip regarding how to practice the thrust, asking if we could describe the snap cut and back cut which were mentioned as secondary methods to the direct thrust of the Bowie method

So, this week I want to share some ideas on the snap cut or saber cut as you will see it called. In Fairbain's Get Tough you'll note that they use the term *saber cut* when discussing the Smatchet.

What you have to understand about the snap cut is that this is not a pulling cut or any kind of slash like you are used to seeing. It does not come back towards you in any way. Instead, it cuts while moving forward.

For example if you ever learned to carve a chicken or roast, you learned that the way to cut the meat for serving is to use a cut that pushes away from you and not towards you.

The snap cut is a byproduct of the thrust because as you thrust the natural weight of the blade will cause it to whip down and then up at the termination of the line.

(This is not my original idea, go re-read Cold Steel by John Styers if you need more info here.)

Where people go wrong with the snap cut is by adding too much wrist action and making it into a hack. This is wrong. The hack is a short range blow while the snap cut can be just as expansive as the thrust.

Typically, in the Comtech approach the snap cut is delivered on three lines; downward, reverse and forehand. There are many ways to vary this but fundamentally we stick to these lines.

Often I don't even use the forehand snap cut but throw a back cut (as we'll talk about in a future Training Tip) in its place, but there is a time to use he forehand snap cut even just as a feint. If you've studied Bowie Basics then you know which feint I'm referring to (side / side, movement 2 to 3 or 3 to 2)

So, how can we train the snap cut as a solo drill, like we did with the thrust using the ring?

First off, remember the True Times you learned from the thrust and keep to these. Just because you're making a different attack you don't change the fundamental principles of the art! So make sure the hand, body, and feet move in the correct way and alignment. This is key! Measure your distance carefully and make sure that you're not starting too close to the target when practicing.

Next, as far as a target goes you'll want something soft that you can place about shoulder to head height. Back in the 90's I used to put a sleeping bag on top of my dresser to practice this strike, so something like that should do - be creative.

Then what you want to do is practice making the strike from the different ranges we discussed last time by throwing a thrust *just above or just outside* the line of your focus point and let the blade whip into the action and strike the target.

For example, with a downward snap cut you'd thrust just above the target and let the blade whip down, and with a forehand or backhand snap cut you'd thrust just off to the side of the target.

You will immediately notice the difference in body mechanics used here than in many traditional slash / cutting based arts you may be familiar with because of the forward moving nature of the snap cut and the True Times.

Once you have this established, practice making combinations of 2 or 3 snap cuts, moving side / side and up / down. This will give you the ability to feint or make multiple attacks if given the opportunity.

Of course, on my Bowie Combatives DVDs we share a long series of 36 combinations which you can train solo or with a partner to develop skill using the snap cut combined with the back cut and thrust. These are great to do for times rounds, being sure to work both sides to build symmetry as we discussed last time!

Learn with your primary hand and then immediately do with your other hand. You may be surprised how quickly you can develop skill with your off-side hand in this way.

Add this in with the true thrust and you will be well on your way to Bowie skill!

All my very best to you,

Pete Kautz

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