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  1. #1
    Moderator DragonMind's Avatar
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    Default Apache Knife Fighting

    I recently wasted about an hour of my life watching Apache Knife Fighting by Robert Redfeather. After watching that goofy show on History or Discovery or wherever it was that pitted Apache against Gladiator, I was intrigued by the guy's claims of Apache knife prowess. I know the Apache were formidable warriors so I wanted to know more. When Goldstar announced they had acquired this video, I rented it immediately.

    Man, am I glad I didn't buy it!

    The video is little more than basic fencing and not even good fencing at that. The instructor was advocating stabs to the opponent's hand (yeah, the one with the blade in it!). Fortunately for him, the assistant was very careful not to move his hand and embarrass his teacher. My FMA students fell over themselves at the footwork. Crossed feet even moving in a straight line.

    By far our favorite moment came when he was explaining the names of some of the techniques. Of course all the names sounded like they came out of a cheap Western but the Mountain Technique was a beauty. Try to visualize this. You have the knife in a reverse (ice pick) grip. The attacker lunges at you with a straight thrust (from about 6 feet away, sigh). Using a inside-to-outside circular parry you hook over his wrist and bring your own blade up to the outside with point facing the sky, trapping his wrist between yours and your blade. Now trace the silhouette from your shoulder down to your elbow, up your forearm to the blade, down your opponent's arm. Looks like a mountain range doesn't it? No, well lift your elbow up past your ears... My guys yelled in unison ARM BAR!!!

    I really wanted to learn more about Apache knife. This video isn't it.
    Barry McConnell

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Brian R. VanCise's Avatar
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    Hey Barry,

    I have not seen the video so I cannot really comment on it.
    However, I have to this point never met someone who claimed
    to teach Native American arts that were not really, really
    questionable. When people are interested in Native American
    systems I always point them to Lacrosse as that is probably
    the last vestige of their warrior training. Having said all of that
    I am still interested if there is anything out there.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sooner_sadiq's Avatar
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    Try Blaise Loong for the Apache fighting.
    Robby Hedrick

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    I've seen a few of those things and they all seem pretty bogus to me. To be honest, the likelihood of a native American fighting "system" existing in the first place is pretty poor. There would be some record of this via drawings, stories, art, etc. All of the cultures which developed fighting "systems" that were formalized also had things like written language which provided a more permanent method of transmitting information from one generation to the next rather than relying on telling stories and songs. I just don't see anything like this as being real.
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    Moderator Emeritus David Craik's Avatar
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    Perhaps Jeff Cuffee will come on to correct me, but I'm very inclined to agree with Jason. The Apache (or Apachean people which nominally included the Navajo) were quite a diverse bunch from group to group. There was little in the way of political cohesion between them and in fact they spoke at least 7 different langages.

    So I find it rather a stretch to believe that there is anything resembling a cohesive 'Apache style' of fighting lacking a ryu system. Also in light of the apparent confusion in even tying together 'Apache' people today and the traditional tribe names from which they were supposedly descended.

    I could be wrong, there is still such a thing as Zulu stick fighting (though it is more a game or 'sport'), but actual standardized techniques seem rather difficult to ascertain.
    Last edited by David Craik; 08-11-2009 at 15:28.

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    Super Moderator Jay Bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwinch2 View Post
    I've seen a few of those things and they all seem pretty bogus to me. To be honest, the likelihood of a native American fighting "system" existing in the first place is pretty poor.
    This. I have never seen a legit trace of any Native American formalized combat systems...even on the Apache reservation down south. Asking about such a thing usually gets chuckles or eyes rolling.

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  7. #7
    Super Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Bell View Post
    This. I have never seen a legit trace of any Native American formalized combat systems...even on the Apache reservation down south. Asking about such a thing usually gets chuckles or eyes rolling.

    Agreed Jay. I spent a fair amount of time volunteering with my scout troop and other groups in Sioux City as I had family in the area and never saw or heard of anything along those lines. Even during festivals when there was dancing and wrestling there was nothing even remotely resembling structured fighting. I also spent a good deal of time at Pow Wow's for the Osage and Wichita and again never saw anything like that. You would think that if such a system or systems existed they would be shown in demo's and recorded in the histories of those who came up against it in combat. To my knowledge there is none.

    I hate to just out and call this guy a liar but I think it is just trying to make a buck. Unfortunately, without some sort of proof it is hard to take seriously. Perhaps I am wrong on this one. Who knows...
    For now, more than ever before, being sincere and dedicated is not enough. We must also be right. - Walter Kroll. 1971

  8. #8
    Moderator DragonMind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sooner_sadiq View Post
    Try Blaise Loong for the Apache fighting.
    Huh? The guy trained under Dan Inosanto in FMA, but now has a video out on Roman gladiator technique and claims to have invented his own system of Silat . If he claims to be an Apache expert too, my meter is starting to rise...
    Barry McConnell

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    Senior Member torbjork's Avatar
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    Just some idle thoughts, and please correct me if I'm wrong...
    - Is it not the case that steel/iron weapons suitable for fencing-style fighting were introduced to Native Americans by the invading Europeans? If so, I would think that the fighting methods would likely follow along (if in no other way then through direct and painful experience), so that "Apachean" knife fighting technique would really be Spanish knife fighting technique anyway.

    I am also generally very sceptical of "native" fighting systems suddenly appearing on the scene after supposedly having been transmitted orally and in secret for hundreds of years. There are occasionally people who claim to know "viking" fighting systems, which invariably involve the long sword used by wealthy chiefs and the retainers of kings, but almost never the long spear and axe that everyone else would have used. The only exception I've seen so far is Icelandic Glima, but that's more of a martial sport than an art.

  10. #10
    Moderator DragonMind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by torbjork View Post
    Just some idle thoughts, and please correct me if I'm wrong...
    - Is it not the case that steel/iron weapons suitable for fencing-style fighting were introduced to Native Americans by the invading Europeans? If so, I would think that the fighting methods would likely follow along (if in no other way then through direct and painful experience), so that "Apachean" knife fighting technique would really be Spanish knife fighting technique anyway.
    Interesting to speculate on but I don't think the fencing connection would be there. The early contacts with western Native Americans would have likely been either military (with sabers) or hunter/trappers with axes and skinning knives. As the Native Americans were not known for metalworking, their sources for weapons would have been barter so I would imagine them going more for utilitarian tools than sabers.

    I have watched demonstrations of "counting coup" and can see how many of the techniques in that would apply in battle, especially with club, axe or blade. I can't believe that any warrior tribe would not have a method of training its young men in techniques and tactics. Being a physical skill taught through repetition and refinement, I'm not really that concerned that there is no written record. There are many peoples of the world that have very long and detailed oral traditions with no need for a written form. We have to be careful not to try and impose our own methods on another culture. Besides, there just aren't that many ways the monkey can move. So many Asian styles are wrapped up in as many rituals and trappings as the Roman Catholic Church. Strip all that away and styles start to look remarkably similar. What I would be most curious about is the Apache tactics for blade/stick work.

    I am also generally very sceptical of "native" fighting systems suddenly appearing on the scene after supposedly having been transmitted orally and in secret for hundreds of years. There are occasionally people who claim to know "viking" fighting systems, which invariably involve the long sword used by wealthy chiefs and the retainers of kings, but almost never the long spear and axe that everyone else would have used. The only exception I've seen so far is Icelandic Glima, but that's more of a martial sport than an art.
    Yeah, I agree. I've been seeing some "Celtic" systems coming out of the woodwork and they smell like week-old fish.
    Barry McConnell

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    Its also interesting to note that frontiersmen tended to adopt native American tools and weapons, tomahawk, long knife, club, etc. There is little evidence that native Americans in any sort of wide scale, adopted European weapons outside of firearms. In environments where things like that did happen, those techniques were adapted to tools that favored the environment ala machete and long knives rather than sabre, stiletto, and rapier. I would suspect that if something like were to have happened in America, we would have seen a similar adaptation taking place.

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    Senior Member sooner_sadiq's Avatar
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    Blaise did study under Inosanto for some time. He does have a video on Roman Gladius fighting techniques, the ones used by the Roman army with their weaponry. He is also almost of full india decent and spends quite a bit of time on his reservation. According to him the techniques are more familish as opposed to schoolish. As far as I know he did not invent his own silat and does Seni-Gayong.
    Robby Hedrick

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    Senior Member elder999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Craik View Post
    Perhaps Jeff Cuffee will come on to correct me, but I'm very inclined to agree with Jason. The Apache (or Apachean people which nominally included the Navajo) were quite a diverse bunch from group to group. There was little in the way of political cohesion between them and in fact they spoke at least 7 different langages.

    So I find it rather a stretch to believe that there is anything resembling a cohesive 'Apache style' of fighting lacking a ryu system. Also in light of the apparent confusion in even tying together 'Apache' people today and the traditional tribe names from which they were supposedly descended.
    .

    This question has come up enough to have become a little tiresome.

    I say that, then say look at this post, from more than four years ago. Briefly, I'll add that Robert's student that I mentioned, Alan Tafoya, had a pretty extensive background in arnis before hooking up with Robert Redfeather....he's also got some of the fastest hands I've ever seen.....and he's a little crazy, too, but I say that in a good way.

    Then I'll say look at this post, from the same thread, and read between their lines: if there is anyone with systemized or catalogued American Indian martial techniques that have been passed down in their family, they're probably not sharing them on video. They're probably not sharing them outside their family, and almost certainly not sharing them outside their extended family, that is to say: tribe.

    Of course, Indians do take people for "relations" from outside their tribes-I've gotten a few Navajo and Apache "relatives" since moving to New Mexico- so anything is possible

    It's just not likely to exist beyond games, sports,pow-wow dances, and the possibilities of the examples I mentioned in that other thread.

    Bottom line, to me anyway (and what do I know? ):

    Blaise Loong=Talented JKD guy with an active imagination.

    Adrian Roman=Not so talented American Kenpo guy with a rank-mill cash-cow for the gullible.

    Robert Redfeather (in spite of his videos, which I've never seen, and I generally don't make judgements from videos:they're meant to demonstrate ideas of the thing at best, not be examples of the actual thing): Inheritor of something, that I think may just be Spanish in origin, or, as the original poster said: fencing. (If you look at the contact between Spanish settlers and the natives of what would become New Mexico, you find a pretty complicated history of intermarriage, forced conversion, and gobs, and gobs, and gobs of cultural exchange-it's complicated enough here that there are actual crypto-Jews: descendants of Jews who were forced to convert by the Inquisition,came to MExico in the 17th century and practicecd their faith in secret: and some of them are tribal members....)

    Anyone else advertising "Native American martial arts" in magazines or on the web? Well, there is that guy in Fort Collins (?) I won't mention by name who is largely FOS, and the rest probably are too.....
    Last edited by elder999; 08-13-2009 at 17:48.
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    Moderator Emeritus David Craik's Avatar
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    Geez, I forgot all about that thread. Getting senile.

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    Moderator DragonMind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sooner_sadiq View Post
    Blaise did study under Inosanto for some time. He does have a video on Roman Gladius fighting techniques, the ones used by the Roman army with their weaponry. He is also almost of full india decent and spends quite a bit of time on his reservation. According to him the techniques are more familish as opposed to schoolish. As far as I know he did not invent his own silat and does Seni-Gayong.
    That doesn't jive with the biographies out there including the one on his own site. If his great-grandfather was a hero of the Filipino resistance in WWII, he sure as heck isn't all that much Native American.

    I get cautious when a guy claims to be following "secret" rites of the Apache Elders, and then references Kali, Silat (his "blended" version he calls Silat Sabungin in his 3-DVD set), Roman, and Norse influences for his super-duper "non-martial art warcraft" (his words not mine). He may be a talented practitioner but this kind of incredulous hype really detracts from taking him seriously. Sorry, but something here smells and I don't think its the fish.
    Barry McConnell

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    I have to agree with Mr VanCise about those who claim Native American warriorship. I keep seeing this ad in BlackBelt Magazine on a guy called "Chief" Adrian Roman Choctaw Indian. Now I checked out his creds and seems like he's got rank in Ed Parker's Kempo. But what kinda catches my attention is his Native American martial art. At first he called it the 29 degrees of Tushka-Homma, now he calls it Falammichi. I'm not sure what its about but I'm part hispanic and part Chiricahua Apache from my mother's side of the family and I'm very much in tuned with Native American roots but I never heard of a standardize and structured Native American martial art. The only thing that I know that is from the Apache tribe that is being taught today and is very effective is Tom Brown's Tracking School. Where Mr. Brown learned about tracking and surviving in the wilderness from an old school Apache Scout. Other than that there is no Geronimo Ryu...lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by katana73 View Post
    The only thing that I know that is from the Apache tribe that is being taught today and is very effective is Tom Brown's Tracking School. Where Mr. Brown learned about tracking and surviving in the wilderness from an old school Apache Scout. Other than that there is no Geronimo Ryu...lol
    And, while his methods are effective, there is a great deal of doubt about the veracity of his "Apache scout" story-in fact, it's likely that's just what it was: a story.
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    Well that may be true.
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  19. #19
    Moderator Don Roley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sooner_sadiq View Post
    Blaise did study under Inosanto for some time. He does have a video on Roman Gladius fighting techniques, the ones used by the Roman army with their weaponry. He is also almost of full india decent and spends quite a bit of time on his reservation. According to him the techniques are more familish as opposed to schoolish. As far as I know he did not invent his own silat and does Seni-Gayong.
    Ok,

    So far we have this guy claiming to know..

    Apache knife fighting, which seems exclusive to him.

    Roman gladius skills, that seem to have been passed down for fifteen hundred years despite the fact that it would be useless information for most of that time and there seems to be no mention in that time that the arts survived.

    And,

    Viking fighting arts, which pretty much are in the same boat as the Roman stuff.

    The first test of listening to this guy can be found in my blog on martial arts frauds. Namely, if he can't show a valid teacher who taught him beyond a shadow of a doubt he is not worth listening to at all. I would be sensitive parts of my body that he would give excuse after excuse and never be able to provide someone or something that would prove he actually had some sort of classes. C'mon, three systems and we can't get even one teacher to stand up and say, "I taught him in what he claims to have learned"?

    My opinion of him based on what I see of his stuff, he should stay far away from sharp objects.
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