Free Bayonet Video Review

Well...I just finished watching the second
of the ROSS free bayonet videos (part of the
great Bayonet Trilogy...which I haven't
watched all of yet).

I was really curious to see what the ROSS
weapons system looked like. I fenced for
four years in the SCA, I've done (and am
working on doing more, Filipino Arnis/Kali),
and I study some classical Japanese weapons
work. I've also done some Chinese weapons
forms here and there. I'm no expert (with
any of it), but I have at least seen enough
of various weapons to have some idea of how
most people go about training weaponry.

Well...ROSS does it quite differently. And
they do it very, very well.

You won't find any angle attack drills on
this video. Nor will you find long forms,
two man sets, or any other such thing.
Instead, what you will find is a system of
teaching yourself how to fight with a free
bayonet. (Side note: This is why I love the
ROSS system and am so interested in it...the
emphasis on SELF-teaching...find a copy
of Scotts "We are all self-taught" post,
if you, don't finish reading my
blitherings...go read it now, then come
back. Thank you).

The tape starts with...well, the tape starts
with a quick, but very important and
powerful comment from both Scott and Sean.
And that is that this is NOT a self-defense

That's right. They say that. Flat out. This
tape isn't for self-defense. This tape is
about MILITARY knife combat. It's about how
to use a BIG honkin' blade on a battlefield
against other soldiers who are all trying to
kill you.

I really admire Scott and Sean for having
the integrity to say that. Why? Because
(minor rant coming, beware) I am so sick to
death, in this modern era, of everyone
claiming that everything they do is for
self-defense. I mean...there are people out
there who would tell you that learning to
fight with a katana is valuable self-defense
training! Now, I LOVE Japanese blade work
(I suck at it, but that's another
story...:D), but I have no delusions that if
I am ever attacked, I will draw my blade and
cut down my foes like I'm in a Kurosawa film!
I train with it because it's fun, it builds
some attributes...and it's fun!

Scott and Sean have the integrity to tell you
straight out what the tape is and isn't
about. Any you know what? Neither of
them seemed to experience any pain for doing
that. The pain comes later...

Anyway...back to the tapes.
The first tape starts by outlining the
various grips in the ROSS method...and there
are quite a few. Some look pretty
conventional (saber, reverse), while others,
like the Skinner grip, are just damn odd.
Scott and Sean then go through some drills
to work on changing and acquiring those grips.
There's some really neat partner exercises
here, as well as some solo ones, which can
make grip training (normally damn boring),
into a pretty interesting exercise. The
emphasis seems to be on working with the
grip that avails itself, rather than forcing
a particular grip on the situation (pun

After grips, Scott and Sean move into a section on structure and strikes here. This is really almost two sections: one the "classical" methods, which look a lot like western fencing methods, and one on the
more "modern" figure eight "striking" patterns. I put striking in quotes because
this isn't a striking pattern like a FMA
angle drill, or a JMA kata. It's several
methods of learning to move yourself around
the knife (get the tape, Scott will explain)
in order to bring it to play on your
opponent. Much more free form than most
weapons work...very cool.

There's a brief discussion on the Snap cut,
and some drills for it's application.

Next, we have inoculation, which is, in
essence, a method of receiving an incoming
knife attack. This is not conventional
blocking and parrying...this is blending with
the attack ALA Aikido or Tai Chi, par

That's tape one.
Tape two starts with some dueling drills,
in the classical mode. There's some
interesting material here on dealing with
a carbine when all you have is a free

After dueling, of course, comes infighting.
Scott and Sean go over a variety of drills
and concepts for dealing with knife fight
when it gets up close and personal. This
also where the two of them start to "tune
each other up" a little bit...I was really
impressed. These two are whacking each other
with metal training knives, and pretty much
smiling about it. I really gotta get my
Shockability series out of storage. (Small
apt for the summer...)

After that, there's a section on disarms.
According to Sean, this is just a cursory
overview, but that doesn't mean there isn't
interesting material to work with. There
are three types of disarms covered here...
Lever disarms, Impact disarms (more tuning...
including one part where Sean really blasts
the hell out of Scott's arms), and disarms
after the takedown.

The tape winds up with a section on "soft
work". What is "soft work"? Well...imagine
a combative Tai chi expert with a military
blade, and you'll start to get a picture.
It's very fluid, up close, and personal. I
love it...

Scott and Sean finish off the set with some
wonderful advice...I won't list all of it
here. But I think the most important point they make is: Make your training enjoyable!
If it isn't're not likely to keep
doing it.

If you have any interest in weapons work
at all, get these tapes. They offer an
extremely intelligent and radically different
perspective on the often controversial
subject of knife that's well
work taking a look at.

Jake Steinmann