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Dull Steel Knife Duels
Damien and James Attempt to Recreate Roman Scissor Combat
© 2015 James LaFond
Note the short duration of these bouts. In ancient Rome, the scissor was a rare type of gladiator with two small blades who was matched against one of his own type. This is the video record of our attempt to recreate that match up in August 2005. I can tell you this, when the guy has faster hands than you, this is all instinct. As soon as you start thinking it ends quickly with you on the short end.
At the time of this set of 41 bouts we did, I had been awake for five days. For me, that is generally an advantage, as I go right to lizard brain function. My sparring partners used to groan when I’d show up exhausted, complaining about my zombie factor. I believe Damien won 22 of the 41 bouts.
The first two videos both end with one of us stabbing the other in the face.
For the third video we are in sync and Damien scores a brachial artery stab on me which he set up with a low kick.
In the 4th video we pared down to steel gauntlets which upped our hand speed and I took up a shield, while Damien stayed with the double blade. The slower handed man is well served with a shield. During this exchange we both backed up in astonishment that we had not been slashed or stabbed. Again it ended with a face thrust. We do not aim for the throat and take face thrusts as throat thrusts, as no neck guard arrangement has been worked out that protects the throat from a dull steel blade thrust.
Notice that all of these duels between two stylistically different fighters, ended with a high line thrust. Notice also the low visual profile of the kills, the boring nature of the action, and the extreme care taken to remain right on the cusp of contact range. The time of these duels clusters around 30 seconds. For battles and spontaneous action we have found that the time is generally cut in half. In an alley these things are over in 15 seconds. When doing 2 on 1 fights we found that the first kill usually went down in under five seconds, before the encounter ended or reverted to a duel.
At this point in my evolution I was using boxing footwork supplemented by lunges and was very prone to groin kicks. Using saber shifts and FMA triangles has solved that dilemma—just in time I might add. One more shot to the nuts and I don’t think I’d be able to sit. Note, that for the knife, Damien’s kickboxing footwork was more functional.
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Sean     Jul 6, 2015

I appreciate the sense of realism you guys put into these fights as opposed to just beating the hell out of each other.

Groin kick? Is that accidental or part of the duel?
James     Jul 8, 2015

While sparring with wood or polyethylene blunts we only do check kicks for position, lest it become a kick boxing match with fencing masks with people ignoring simulated disembowelments and throat slashes.

With the steel duels, anything and everything goes. Damien has taken me out with groin kicks like five times, thrice at this agon, and as many times by arm bars and head cranks.

With steel our only rules are don't drop him on his head or otherwise damage the spine, and let him quit.

You have to have a certain level of imagination to be able to self score these things. The idea is to be weapon sensitive. In fact, the dull blade has a higher pain signature than a sharp.
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