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A Professional Perspective
Armed with a Homemade Shank Attacks an Officer)
Knives and other
objects capable of being used as edged and impact weapons are ubiquitous
in daily life. All manner of such weapons are frequently found on
the persons of those run afoul of the law. Indeed within certain
subsets of the criminal world their presence is a given, not a probability.
Therefore an express need to be aware of and comfortable with the
use of knives and impact weapons exists, particularly for those
police officers tasked with contacting the people that carry such
weapons on a routine basis. Sad to say, these weapons will also
be used against officers, and officers will have occasion to use
them in the performance of their work. In terms of edged and impact
weapons training this continues to be my primary focus both personally
and professionally as both a trainer and an “end user”
in the field.
officers require a system of weapons awareness, defense, and deployment
that is straightforward, quickly learned, and easily retained. Skills
must be effective before they become sophisticated, but sophistication
should develop as skill is honed. The basic framework of the system
should transfer to a wide variety of circumstances, and officers
need to be able to use them under any conditions – environmental
as well as physical. Finally, skills need to be effective under
pressure, when fighting against someone actively fighting back and
attempting to thwart their use.
All of which
are hallmarks of the Floro Fighting Systems (FFS).
I first became aware of the FFS the same way many other people did.
I saw clips of Raymond Floro sparring on the Internet.
What he did
was compact, direct, and simple. Judging from the reactions he was
getting from his sparring partners, deceptively so. He was effortlessly
hitting his opponents, hard, while they tried to hit back but usually
fell short. While at first glance it looked like the knife and stick
sparring that one might see in a number of martial arts schools,
I saw no flourishes, very little wasted movement, no slick and showy
twirling or tap-tapping of sticks or hands often found in other
edged weapons training. When I read the forums in which Ray began
expounding on the method to his madness, I grew even more interested.
The previous Filipino martial arts (FMA) practice I had been exposed
to was through law enforcement training. Edged weapons familiarization
and survival, baton training of various types, and even empty hand
applications from trainers with strong backgrounds in FMA. By and
large even the pared down stuff taught in law enforcement retained
a lot of superfluous movement and “martial artsy” flourishes
that had little relation to the applications for which police officers
might need such training. FFS looked like it might be different.
a seminar and was treated to a display of Ray Floro’s skill.
I was more impressed with what he was doing than with how well he
did it, however. Many people are effective due to personal attributes,
not the training or fighting system. As a former champion fencer,
and direct student of the late grandmaster Antonio Ilustrisimo of
the Kalis Ilustrisimo system of Filipino weapons craft, Ray certainly
has both the attributes and the pedigree to impress.
But there was
something more. Everyone at the seminar was very quickly able to
use the same things Ray did. Certainly not with the same level of
skill, but it was clear to me that with practice we would be capable
of the same things. He did not demonstrate drills and tactics that
looked nothing like what he did under pressure, but taught exactly
what he was using against people fighting back using whatever style
they wanted. And instead of hinting at advanced techniques or secret
training for those initiated into his “lineage,” the
advanced concepts were simply more sophisticated ways of using the
same simple methods.
When he finished
a mere few hours of teaching and said that he had taught his entire
knife system, I was shocked. Was that it?
In and of itself, knife sparring represents an unlikely combination
of factors in terms of real world violence. It does however develop
an open skill set based in the crucial elements of timing, position,
explosive speed and power, and technical efficiency and adaptability
against an adversary free to counter attack as he sees fit –
in other words, the most critical elements of a real fight.
It also provides
an excellent means of patterning an awareness of weapons handling
cues, an instinctive understanding of combative distance, and instantaneous
recognition and response to all permutations of angles of attack.
All things that apply equally when fighting unarmed against a knife
as when fighting while armed with one. Situational variables certainly
won’t be the same, but the skills adapt very well when trained
with proper mindset.
If FFS were
only about knife sparring, it would be a useful training method,
if not a particularly special one. But I have found that it is outside
its immediate use as a bladed weapons combat system that is most
applicable for law enforcement purposes.
FFS use for
police baton training goes without saying; The machete/stick method,
like the knife system, is simple and learned very quickly. Testing
it in force-on-force training with fellow officers, I found them
to be immediately functional against armed and unarmed attackers
after only brief instruction in the fundamentals. There is the added
advantage of an emphasis on close in weapons handling – allowing
it to function in tight quarters like doorways or narrow hallways
(such as in a trailer home), or with a fellow officer standing nearby
– a common pitfall of wider, twirling based methods being
the accidental striking of nearby officers during baton deployment.
Due to the
FFS emphasis on common principles and tactics across diverse weapon
types, the knife method readily transfers to non-knife tools, most
notably in terms of law enforcement to shorter “fist load”
implements such as tactical flashlights. FFS knife tactics can be
used without modification when striking with these lights, and would
be very useful in a building search or similar circumstance in which
the tactical light was deployed along with a firearm and a need
for an immediate non-lethal alternative, or a weapon retention situation
emerged. Indeed almost any short object can be used in the same
manner, as was ably demonstrated by an FFS practitioner who had
occasion to use a cell phone against multiple assailants in an unfortunate
(for them!) real world confrontation.
The knife method
also relates directly to empty hand boxing skills. The very same
movements used in fighting with the knife, or with short implements,
can be used empty handed. But unlike traditional boxing methods,
FFS does not make use of “knuckle punching” techniques.
Instead it utilizes striking with the bottom fist, edge of hand,
forearms, and elbows at very close quarters. “Knuckle punching”
can lead to broken hands in actual fights, and I know officers who
have done so. A police officer can ill afford to damage the functioning
of his hands in a fight with a combative suspect. Having a broken
hand or fingers could seriously compromise the ability to restrain
and handcuff a suspect, or to draw and use a sidearm or other weapon
in a physical encounter that “goes south” after already
coming to blows.
empty hand striking of this type applies well with weapons in hand.
The police tactical environment is an extremely complicated one.
It involves the handling of weapons at very close quarters in and
amongst persons who may offer anything along a wide spectrum of resistance.
Tactical operators will be engaged in physical altercations with
“no-shoot” subjects far more often than they will engage
in shooting confrontations, and must be able to protect themselves
and their weapons in both types of engagements. Operators must have
a means of dominating resistance with stunning and/or controlling
measures that can be applied with weapons in hand, and FFS striking
skills have shown promise under exactly these conditions.
What is particularly
noteworthy with the FFS method is that all of these skills can be
practiced under pressure, through sparring and force-on-force drilling
exercises. Moreover, due to its common principles and transfer across
various weapons and empty hand usage, skills in each area are developed
concomitantly i.e. knife training directly develops empty hand,
which in turn develops fist load weapons, and so on. This is a boon
when considering that most departments have a limited amount of
time per year in which to train officers in disparate edged, impact
and empty hand defensive tactics. With FFS, training in one is training
in all of them.
In my ongoing
experience with FFS since that original seminar, I have come find
a great deal of practicality for this system in a variety of use-of-force
Yet what is
most refreshing is that Ray Floro does not pretend to be something
he is not, which is rare in combative arts circles these days. He
knows that what he has to teach has value for law enforcement and
military professionals, but he does not pretend to be a “tactical
guru.” He offers what he has and asks the experts to see it
through their eyes, changing and adapting it to the specific needs
and recommendations of the professional.
Which is a
nice change from the wannabes and commercial commandos seeking validation
of their modern day man-at-arms image in the post 9/11 world.
is a police officer and use-of-force instructor serving in patrol
and SWAT assignments. He has experience with a variety of defensive
tactics and tactical weapons disciplines, and background in fighting
arts that includes the Floro Fighting Systems, judo, jujutsu, and
traditional Japanese and Chinese arts.
Floro Fighting Systems
Specialist in Filipino Arts:
- Empty Hands
- Knife Fighting
- Single Sticks
- Double Sticks
Specialise in one or all.
Innovative teaching methods
ensures that you will easily
learn to fight effectively regardless
of age, experience or expertise.
No forms, drills or katas.
- Private lessons
- Seminars and workshops
10 minutes of knife sparring Raymond had made a believer out
-Sgt. Jeff Guthery
United States Army Special Forces