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.
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
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
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.
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.