Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Knife is for Killing

This is a story from an Australian man, a friend of mine nicknamed Redcap. He married a Filipino girl and lives in the Philippines for part of each year.... - Hock

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     I have had a long chat with my wife's uncle Borino. He is the family "fighter," the one with the rep. He also killed our pig the other morning for the big family reunion fiesta. (Photos not included, but if you ever want to learn how to kill and butcher a pig for Lechon, these follow it step by step).

     Anyway, he has some interesting opinions and experiences on knife killing (he uses the word "ihaw kill," not "nagaway fighting") that I have put into a draft article. Not sure where to place the article, though, a little too "reality based" for Black belt or Blitz.

     Anyway, here it is for discussion if you wish. Meanwhile, I gotta help Papa with the pigs still oinking for their supper! - Redcap

Tonacao Cuchillo - Ten Lessons In Killing With a Knife

     Sixty years old, short, wiry with broad shoulders from decades of hauling in fishing nets, Borino Tonacao has a face like kamagong, dark brown and chiselled with character. He is also our family fighter. The uncle of my wife, Borino is the man who kills the pigs for fiesta in the barangay. He has taken lives other than those of pigs over the years, but he rarely tells unless the Tanduay or tuba are loosening his tongue.

     The day he killed our pig for the family reunion, I watched him at work; then later, we talked. He carries his knife in a scabbard made from folded newspaper. It is a cheap kitchen knife, the blade is eight inches in length, and the handle of orange plastic. Razor sharp. He wears it stuck into his shorts on his right side, handle pointing to the left and he can draw it lightening fast. It seems at first the knife is pointing the wrong way for a right-handed draw into a reverse grip position with the blade down and the edge facing his body, but that is how he carries it; and through years of use, he deftly positions the knife that way in literally the blink of an eye.

Lesson 1
     Getting the knife into your hand fast is his first lesson. “If it is not in your hand, it is not a knife; it is nothing,” he says. He tells of how he has been attacked and had to fight off his attackers empty handed until he could get his own weapon into action.

Lesson 2
     “Keep moving! Yell and scream to summon your courage and to make your attackers scared of coming close. Do not stand still, or you will die.”

Lesson 3
     I asked him about the type of knife he prefers, and he simply replied, “A sharp one, this size (indicating his own 8-inch kitchen knife) and in your hand when you need it.”

Lesson 4
     The scabbard he uses he throws away when the paper deteriorates, then quickly makes a new one. “It is not important. The knife is important,” he told me. In the West, we fixate on the quality of the steel and the "rig" we carry it in. Here is a man who uses his knife every day, and he thinks only of having it long, sharp and in his hand when he needs it.

Lesson 5
     We talked about grip and position, and he says he prefers the reverse grip with the thumb on the pommel, or butt, of the handle. It adds power to the stab and stops the knife being pushed back through the hand if he hits bone or his victim struggles. The reverse grip is the most powerful for stabbing he says because he can put his back into the blow.

     The edge faces towards him so that once he has stabbed deeply he can again use his back muscles to draw the knife towards him, opening the wound, speeding up the killing and giving leverage against the struggling of the victim.

     “Your arms and back are made to pull and lift, things I have done every day since a small boy when fishing and working the fields. It is stronger than pushing the knife away from you. The reverse grip is stronger than holding it in what you call a sabre grip. I would never use that, too easy to lose your knife inside him when he fights back.” He shows me what he means, easily demonstrating the leverage used to disarm someone holding the knife in a sabre grip. Even the more secure hammer grip gives something away to the defender.

Lesson 6
     “To kill you must have power!” Borino exclaims. “You can’t half kill someone, be it pig or a man. When you kill, they will not lie there and let you do it. They will fight and scream and struggle, and you must be strong. Your heart must be hot but your head cold. You will see their faces and hear their screams in your dreams, and when you are awake they will come back and ask you, 'why did you kill me?' and you will feel shame if you did not kill quick and right.” By right, he explained he meant for the right reasons. Not murder, but to provide food if it is an animal and to save your life or your family's lives if it is a man.

Lesson 7
     We talked a bit more about killing, the why, the when, the who, and the how. Borino wasn’t bragging; he was simply telling it how it had been for him. “Killing is easy. Just stab the throat and work the hole. Open it wide and he will die. That is not hard. The hard thing is to live with it afterward. That is why you must kill right,” he said.

Lesson 8
     I showed him some knife fighting training clips on a DVD I had. He said very simply and authoritatively, “these men have never killed with a knife” and nothing more. I pressed him for more detail and he replied, “They are playing with knives, not killing. You don’t do all this when you kill, even if he has a knife as well. You get in first and you kill quickly. If you can’t do that, then you wait. Keep him away until he has time to think of dying, when his blood is cooled. Or you escape and kill him when he hasn’t got his own knife. This is not a game. It is killing!”

     When I showed him martial artists using a knife to wound or disarm their opponent, he got up, found his cigarettes, then sat down again. He looked at me in a way that made me feel childlike for even suggesting you could use a knife for anything less lethal than death. “A knife is for killing.” He said no more about wounding; he’d told me enough as it was.

Lesson 9
     We talked about where to stab, and he said he only ever stabs the throat. If he can’t stab the throat, he will cut his way there. “It is best to kill from behind, like with the pig. Why give someone or something a chance to escape, to fight back and kill you? If you try to kill and fail, they will come for you when you are weak and they are strong and you die. What is the point of that?” Indeed, what is the point of giving your victims a fair chance to not only survive but to do to you what you plan to do to them? Again, this is about one thing and one thing only. Killing. Taking life, not pretending to be some kind of tough guy.

Lesson 10
     Which led us to the big lesson. Lesson 10. Intent. To Borino, it is all about intent. He only kills when he intends to kill. He never intends to wound or intimidate. Those who know him know he will kill, and that is intimidation enough. Those who don’t know him are soon set straight by others who have no wish to see blood spilled. Borino has a reputation, but one earned, not made up by telling people how he served with some special forces military unit. Borino never served a day in the military in his life; he is a fisherman and the barangay butcher. He has been in tight spots and survived, and he has no hesitation to kill when killing is right; but when it is not, he feels no shame in avoiding death. Either his or, more likely, someone else’s.

     When he kills, he does it quickly with as much power as he can deliver, and he does it definitely, no hesitation. It is not a game. It is life or death and, so far, he has always lived. I asked him if he ever worried that one day he would die like the pig he killed for us that morning?

     “Maybe. But I am not worried. If I die that way, it will be quick. And I will take whoever does it with me to God.”

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