STAB review with FFS-KI links

G'day all,

being the latest hyped system, I thought people might be interested in a brief review of the S.T.A.B. program video and the extent to which it corresponds with Ray's FFS-KI methods. I'll start with a general review of the tape and follow that with a discussion of any correlation between the two methods.

The S.T.A.B. tape.

This was my first exposure a SBG (Straight Blast Gym) production and overall it was a positive one. The production is relatively low-budget, but the picture quality is still good and the instruction clear. As is fitting with the overall SBG philosophy, the emphasis is always placed upon ALIVE training. The tape is relatively short - approx 35min - but this is more a general reflection of the simplicity of the program than on any deficiency in instruction.

The tape begins with Karl Tanswell (SBG's UK director and developer of the program) giving a brief introduction to his philosophy of knife defence and the S.T.A.B. (Survival Tactics Against Blade) program. Again the SBG philosophy is evident (or at least what I've come to see as SBG philosophy from reading their posts on the JKD forum, as well as their articles available on-line). The athletic and ALIVE focus is emphasised. Karl also brings up what for me was the biggest let down in the tape, the 'just-run-away' approach.

Moving on, the tape covers five main areas - the pick-up of the weapon-wielding arm, the three positions of the program (used to control the knife and the assailant), and the disarms. In each of these areas, instruction begins with clear details on what is being done and why. The position is then drilled in isolation by a couple of the SBG UK instructors. This gives you a good opportunity to see the way in which the position can be used to control a fully-resisting opponent. Finally, the position is incorporated into the rest of the structure and sparred as such - again this gives you a good overall impression of how and when the position should be used. From each position, attention is also paid to the possible reactions from your opponent (usually striking with his free hand or trying to pass the knife) and, more importantly, ways to stop them or at least continue to keep them under tight control. Once all the positions have been expanded upon and sparred (including with the opponent attempting to strike, pull free, and pass the blade), the disarms are added. Ideally these would be done from the 2-on-1 position; the position which the others revolve around. Again, simplicity is emphasised with only three disarms being shown. However, the three shown are clearly high-percentage moves that are easily applied and linked together from the position.


At the conclusion of the instruction, there is a brief clip showing the program being trained by students in Karl's UK gym. This gives another good look at the training of the program in an alive manner, but could have been a bit longer. It also would have been nice to have some more info on the protective equipment used for different drills.

Probably the biggest misconception I had before receiving this tape was that it would cover knife defence from a variety of different situations. In reality, the STAB program deals only with VERY close range attacks - ie. you've just been stabbed in the guts or are just about to be. This is not necessary a criticism, but possible users should be aware that the tape does not cover ways of protecting yourself at a longer distance or from an opponent who is holding a knife in his rear-hand and striking with his empty one. To be fair, you can still play with these areas in sparring with some degree of success, and I understand these sorts of details may be covered in a soon-to-be-released follow-up video. For now, Karl limits his instruction to: if you're at a longer range, just run away; if you can't, get an equaliser. Those aren't his exact words, but that's pretty much the limit of instruction in this area.

What the STAB program does provide you with, is a very good and simple system of limiting the damage a knife can inflict on you. It does this through controlling the opponent, and importantly the knife, by keeping them tied-up in one-of-three clinch-like positions. In doing this, the responses of the opponent are limited to a few actions, all of which can be controlled to effect a disarm. More importantly, the program can be trained ALIVE against a fully resisting opponent. Even with my previous reservations, this tape is definitely still worth a look. If you already have exposure to an effective knife defence system, it could be you've already got some idea of what to do at a longer range. The biggest positive for me with the STAB system was that it provided a plan of what to do if I screwed up in the application of my regular defence. As my first SBG instructional, the experience was also good, and I'll definitely be adding more titles to my collection in future.


Correlations with FFS-KI

Having now seen one of their productions, I can see what LEMon means when he refers to Raymond as the SBG of the weapons world. Both Ray and SBG train through the progression of instruction/practice - drilling in isolation - light sparring - fully-resisting sparring. In addition, both emphasise simplicity and high percentage moves which can be easily remembered and applied in a stressful situation.

To cut to the chase - I found that the two systems complemented each other rather well. Both systems focus on close-range defence; reflecting the real area of danger in a surprise confrontation or frenzied attack. From the short amount of time I've been sparring both, it seems to me that Ray's double-forearm block to arm-wrap to takedown is far superior at avoiding the blade as long as you've at least a second's prior warning. The STAB program was mainly helpful when I'd already been stabbed by the knife or if I'd got the arm-wrap, but messed-up the takedown. It should also be noted that STAB does not currently give you options for what to once the attacker has been disarmed. Thus, FFS-KI again comes into play here as well. Overall, I was impressed by the similarity between the two systems in there focus upon effectively controlling the knife before attempting any further action. Though FFS-KI obviously has a much wider scope, the STAB program still provides useful ideas for controlling your opponent regardless of what action you take prior to entering the extreme close range.

To conclude, the video gave me added confidence in the FFS-KI method of unarmed knife defence, while also giving me a game plan of what do to if I f@#ked it all up and got a knife in the guts.



(editted for readability)

nice review. ive heard nothing but good things about the system and karl and his team helped me out a bunch at an event not so long ago



You should also check out Jerry Wetzel's Red Zone - he covers some stuff not dealt with in STAB and vice versa - and like all things trained realistically there is a lot of commonality.

I reviewed Red Zone over at (Practical Applications). Could you cross post this review over there, too?

I would like to echo Poorlittleboy's review, and add a point or two. Overall I thought the STAB program was very well conceived and presented well. It is ALIVE, and therefore has a high percentage curriculum. It is limited to extremely close quarter. I thought the pick up was, frankly, not realistic or the best option. I believe jamming the delivery system (shoulder, bicep, chest area) then attaching makes more sense. Also, instead of 3/3/3 I think each area could use one more technique/concept. The 3 resistaces presented are: ripping the knife out of your grip, striking with free hand and legs, and switching knife to other hand. What is missing and should be drilled is #4: accessing another weapon (secondary, or one in/around the environment, or one on the defenders body). The 3 control points are: 2 on 1 (Russian), unerhook, and reverse underhook. I believe the baseball bat grip should be added here. Just MHO, but it comes up when you really drill with heavy resistance. Finally, the 3 disarms are: headbutt, knee, arm wrench. An oblique stomp to the ankle joint works great! Low line, low risk and definitely can cause sufficient trauma. It is also easy to teach LEO's this. I personally train STAB as 4/4/4 and teach it to my LEO students that way. It has worked really well. The weakness to STAB, as stated above is it doesn't address at range attacks, perhaps it will in the future? The above is meant for discussion NOT criticism. I am interested in other opinions, what do others think and have you praciticed STAB or Ray's material?

Just found this, thanks for the feedback.

I will try and answer the points raised in the next couple of days.


G'day all,

thanks for the comments.

TG: I'll cross-post it today. I've heard a few good things about Redzone, but I'll have to wait until I can afford to pay my rent before checking it out (the pain of starting the new year unemployed :)).

tysaw: Nice points. Accessing another weapon is mentioned as a possibility on the tape, but never actually covered. Maybe Karl can cover this??? I agree the Pick-Up is a bit of a pain in the arse. This is what I meant by only really going into it once I'd already been stabbed (as I had a pretty good idea of where the knife was then :)). Prior to this, I was more comfortable working with the double-forearm block-parry as taught by Ray. I've also had some success working other techniques into the STAB material, and I think this points to the strength of STAB as an effective method of positional control regardless of it you use one of the three takedowns or material from your own experience.

Karl: Great to see you've been able to have a read. I had a couple of questions that I asked on your UK forum a while ago (understandable if everyone's away for Xmas). The main one was related to what to do if your opponent draws a second weapon? Thanks in advance for any comments.

Hope everyone has a fun and eventful New Year!


Poorlittleguy, I trained with about 30-35 LEO's on the modified STAB outline. Most had NO blade/kali/whatever experience whatsoever before the class. We did the drills, for about 2 hrs. At the end, I randomly called out 6-8 officers and had others go at them close quarter...HARD! Everyone was able to prevent major cuts/stabs and control the clinch positions without losing control of the blade. This was done ALIVE. I think the best thing Karl's program has done is show us a template for starting the process of teaching and training realistic blade attack scenarios...alive. I think anyone with personal experiences can extrapolate from there and build on the template that is provided. As a side note, I think the same positions can and should be used in unarmed encounter LEO training. You can teach controls, and striking/takedowns from there as well. All the way to cuffing.

Hi tysaw,

nice info! Agree 100% with your comments. I have a question or two about a couple of your modifications:

1) When do you make use of the baseball style 2-on-1 grip and what, for you, are the positives of this position?

2) How do you react to the opponent trying to access a 2nd weapon?

I like the baseball grip, but find that unless you're doing something with it straight away, some people have a tendancy to move to far away from the opponent's body to effectively control them and/or affect the disarm.



Tim, I use the bat grip as a transition (a secure one) to go to the Russian 2 on 1 or the underhook/wrist control grip. It is useful when you crash the delivery system and wind up on the inside. Straighten your arms, put a lot of weight into the oppt. and downwards toward the ground, head and body tight to the oppt. This really loads the oppt's structure and impedes his movement. It also is useful when someone bicep curls out of the 2 on 1. I switch to a bat grip and jam the oppt's hand into his body while kneeing and headbutting him, then go back to the 2 on 1. Also, I use it when the oppt. goes for his weapon i.e. he goes for a pocket knife/belt knife...when he reaches, bat grip it/ballistic hit and then go to a control position. The bat grip also allows you to step on the blade to strip it out of the oppt's gripm if the hand gets near the ground...a strip disarm. "How do you react to the oppt. trying to access a 2nd weapon?". This is where the underhook or reverse underhook comes up. If, for instance, you are doing the scenario in a kitchen area (common for EMS, police in domestics) and while controlling with the 2 on 1 the oppt. makes a grab for a knife on the counter with his free can grab the hip/pull and reverse underhook (switch to a better control hold asap). If you have a 2 on 1 or a bat grip and the oppt. goes for his backup weapon or your weapon on your belt area/pocket/etc. Switch to wrist control (on the blade hand) use the underhook to jack up his free arm from accessing his/your weapon. Hope that made sense, I think my descriptions may suck! Your final question on bat control/oppt. moving out was common when we trained these positions. I think the answer lies in AGGRESSIVE control/motion once you sink a control position...coupled with BALLISTIC attacks to the high and low line (which is why I think adding an oblique stomp makes sense). To be honest, even with helmets on, it isn't easy to use a hard headbutt and maintain control. The knees, armwrench, stomp don't require loosening the 2 on 1, bat grip (tight body position!), and the underhook. Make sure you drill with the oppt. in different environments and make sure you put environmental weapons around as well as backup weapons wherever people carry them...then give the option to the attacker to go for those in the mix. It is fun! Please let me know if the above is clear. I just got off my 24 hr. shift and am headed to bed.


can someone explain what you mean my underhook and "reverse underhook" I am having problem visualising it.


Hi Bruce,

hope you're well rested now :). Thanks for the descriptions - more than clear. I think the main problem people have with the baseball grip is the aggression - but it's good to have the emphasis confirmed.

I checked the same question with Jerry W. of the Redzone program and he mentioned the same points as you - agression and pressing hard into the opponent's shoulder and torso with yuor head and body.

I think you've also cleared up the use of the underhook for me. Do you have any problems with the opponent managing to access the weapon just prior to being placed in the underhook???


Hello to All,

Just finished watching and "sparring" the STAB tape PLG lent me.

First off, I would just like to say that I was VERY PLEASED that the tape PLG lent me was an ORIGINAL purchased copy.........and not a pirated one...

My opinion of the STAB System - EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There are many similarities in what I teach, and this just serves as a confirmation that I am on the right path........

The 2-1 arm controls, with the variations to the position.

As Tysaw said, it provides a practical, applicable foundation (or template) where realistic knife defence can be taught EASILY.....

I only needed to watch the tape twice, and I was able to effectively teach it to my students straight away.

Of course some aspects of it we "modified" to suit our own needs......but overall, a great purchase.

Fantastic job Karl

Now I would love to see the RED ZONE KNIFE DEFENCE...