James Williams, Williams Blade Design – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 342)
James Williams of Williams Blade Design joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on episode 342 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
Williams is the President of Bugei Trading Company, Inc. He has been studying martial arts since 1960 and teaching since 1975. He has trained, competed and taught a number of different martial disciplines: Japanese, Okinawan, Chinese, Filippino as well as the Brazilian system of Jujitsu as taught by Rorion and Royce Gracie.
His love of samurai martial traditions came with his study of the Yanagi ryu of the Yoshida han under Don Angier Sensei and the martial traditions of the Kuroda han as taught by Kuroda Tetsuzan Sensei. Williams also teaches Close Quarters Combat to police and military both foreign and domestic. The method used, “The System of Strategy,” is based on those skills developed and cultivated by ancient warriors.
He is the designer of the “Hissatsu,” a close quarter battle knife that is produced by Columbia River Knife. He also designs and releases blades under his own shingle, Williams Blade Design.
Be sure to support The Knife Junkie and get in on the perks of being a Patron — including early access to the podcast and exclusive bonus content.My guest this week on episode 342 of #theknifejunkie #podcast has been studying martial arts since 1960 and teaching since 1975. I'm speaking of course about James Williams of Williams Blade Design, who is also a knife designer. Click To Tweet
James Williams, Williams Blade Design
The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 342)
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast.
Your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting.
Here's your host Bob the knife junkie, DeMarco.
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast.
I'm your host, Bob DeMarco.
On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with renowned Japanese martial arts expert and knife designer James Williams.
James has a deep background, rich with martial arts study, and has trained some of the country's fiercest warriors in blade and other kinds of combatives.
But in our circles he is probably best known for the hissatsu or the otonashi noken, or one of his.
Recent small batch production tontos I recognized James in my hotel restaurant at Blade Show and introduced myself.
But before I did, I couldn't help but contemplate all the elegant ways he could dispatch me if I rushed up on him.
So I took my time and I was very polite, and I look forward to skimming the surface with James about his life and knives.
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Mr. James Williams.
Welcome to the show.
It's good to have you here Sir.
Nice to see you again.
How are you doing?
I'm doing great, I'm doing great so I I gave people just a very very rough rough 30,000 foot view of of your life in martial arts and and especially with blades.
Give us a quick and dirty of about your martial arts training.
I was looking at your biography on your website and I I knew I knew a lot about your Japanese study.
I had no idea that it went so far and wide.
Yeah, well, I got really motivated in the 50s.
Going to Catholic school with the Irish.
And even though it doesn't look like it, I was a small kid for my age all the way up till a junior in high school.
My sister's two years younger was taller than me.
Tell us a junior in high school.
And had really thick glasses and couldn't see someone's eyes from 5 or 6 feet away.
If my glasses got knocked off.
So between having to fight on a regular basis and all those things, I got very motivated to be better at it.
So as I got opportunities to do things, wrestling first in the end when I got a motorcycle in the early 60s and I could actually go somewhere.
Started studying karate and I just continued to study wherever I was.
So I've studied arts from most places that teach them been in those places.
Did some wrestling in high school and college coach wrestling, which was a lot of fun.
I really realized how much I like teaching.
Box Kickbox I was taught to box by former middle weight champion Bobo Olsen and Franks Glacier junior.
The best martial artist nobody's ever heard of.
So create arch Japanese arts, Okinawan arts, Chinese arts, Filipino Arch, Russian arts, western arts.
Yeah, so so I studied in.
You know, and started teaching at various times, but I built a Dojo to teach primarily Japanese classical arts what?
Let's see how long ago was that 91. I think she was teaching in my garage in my backyard before them so.
So yeah, it's been a lifelong passion.
To to to study and do that and then teaching has been.
A great evolution of that in the process.
What I teach now in in in the.
Japanese martial arts Cody arts.
Are with the summer I actually used at their highest level and so it's very different than what we would consider martial arts and not not in not just in the techniques, but in how you access your body, how you access your mind.
No force in the sense of muscle flexion.
Very, very different than other things that I'd spent a long time doing.
So it's been a very interesting journey.
Well, I have a question for you.
This comes up a lot in martial arts circles and.
You know you're not just a historian, you're someone who learn who who has mastered these more ancient forms of martial arts.
And then you've translated them and taught them in the modern environment for soldiers and law enforcement and other people that you taught.
Umm, do you ever have people say to you because I've heard this about Kali?
Oh, but that's an ancient martial art that has nothing to do with today, with fighting on the streets today.
And part of me thinks.
I guess I see what you mean, meeting on the streets today and what and what town and what country are we fighting in the streets on?
OK, thank you.
So please, what do you say to that person?
My my my spiel on martial arts is Mars was a God of War.
Worries about killing people and breaking things.
It's done with tools, arts, ability to do it to your opponent without having to run back to you.
Now when we take a look at everything from wrestling or Brazilian jiu jitsu, which is the new Ashtami waza modern judo, the ground grappling parts, we look at boxing or kickboxing.
You know we look at MMA.
What you're looking at are are sport based fighting methodologies, right that involve engagement and reciprocity.
OK, now the problem when you have lethality.
Is engagement and reciprocity means there's a lot of casualties on both sides?
Right, you can't exchange blows in environments like that.
And tough it out, so to speak.
So, you know if you're exchanging bullets with people and you're getting shot, that's a bad idea, right?
The most successful people we've had over the last 20 years do a whole lot more giving than anything else, and you don't hear about them, which you shouldn't be hearing about them.
So, so there's concepts in Cody you that are very different than that methodology and and for go on.
Not knocking any of those things I've done virtually all of them, right.
MMA wasn't in when I was young enough to do it, but in our kickboxing we could do takedowns and stuff because Frank was like hey, people can take you down and slam down the ground in the street.
You need to be able to handle that.
So and all those skill bases I have as well because I did basically all of that stuff I used to roll around the garage with Gracies in the in the in the Indian and nobody knew who they were, right?
Hoist with could barely speak English.
By the way, my name in Portuguese is James and.
And and and good people.
Great art, nice people.
I got a chance to work with their dad actually got a chance to roll with him a little bit when he was in his early 80s.
And when you get higher level, you can do kind of stuff like that without injuring anybody, because he was really good and and and and very knowledgeable.
But he's a lot smaller person so you're not out there pushing, slamming, shoving, banging, learn anything.
Anyway, Helio, you got to wrestle Helio Gracie.
Yeah, that's how you pronounce it.
I was very honored.
I was very honored to spend a little bit of time and and stuff.
So, So what you had with the samurai is fundamentally everything is kenjutsu.
All the movements are based on the sword.
Even though the sword is not a primary battlefield weapon.
With the sword you have lethality right, you could.
You could literally drop the sword and it cut a forearm off.
So exchange is a force like you see in the movies and stuff is not something that is done or encouraged in high level code to you you have a concept O to national Kachi means silent victory.
There's no touching of blades in the process and this you know we always have the same in you know when when my enemies with in range so am I. But the reality is you could be someplace couple rooms back in the house that hasn't had windows along time in a. Non permissive environment and you could
tune some guy up 50 or 75 meters out the front window and technically within range of his weapon, but you're not practically.
You know, he may not know you're there, but here it's really difficult.
We're like 6-7 feet apart, right or closer and right, and so exchanges of blows and stuff like that aren't acceptable.
And so how do you do something like that?
That is a whole different level of study.
And the fact that.
And you see this a little bit in some of the chambara movies to cut and slash them, which are probably about as realistic as all the gun fighting movies in the West, right where people wait for somebody to count or something.
Not realistic but.
Multiples and multiples or multiples on one were not uncommon.
So now you have time to solution in maybe a second or two or maybe less time than that.
OK, well, so how do you solve this problem and survive?
Because Ayesha, neutral killing was common.
So I spent a a good period of my life climbing to the top of a of a very tough food chain, you know, with with my physicality, my my grit, my fear of failure.
Other people that was very successful kickboxer in the 70s.
They found people I could beat on the one hand.
But I was also, I had, I had a fear of failure.
So so hurting me didn't deter me at all.
It was like throwing gasoline on a fire to put it out.
It just drove me because I think that maybe I'm getting closer to losing.
So that doesn't take you a whole long ways in life.
It's certainly not in relationships and everything else, but it was something that I had to run into and go through.
But as I got into codu arts.
With that gun on, Jason, say Sophia Vinagre to you from the Yoshi clan.
It was a very, very different access way of accessing your physicality.
Your Physiology or psychology, it's just really 180 degrees, so it was a real process to let go of all of the other stuff that I I put so much time and effort into and and and had had needed in a sense, and I needed to.
I needed to solve that problem or whatever you want to call that.
I do have have done that and and recognized.
What was in it, and probably the I I sometimes take a large, large slap upside the head to realize I need to change where I was going, but traveled all the way to Australia in the Philippines to fight.
And I was literally in the ring in Australia.
And didn't get a fight.
Alright, it's really.
It's an odd story and it's and it's it wouldn't be common for ozzies because you know they're they're pretty scrappy.
Lot this just one of those odd circumstances, and it was just devastating.
Made travel halfway across the world a trained so hard, you know.
But it also let me know it was time maybe to reassess.
You know us with the woman, became my wife and just think you know this is really not going anywhere I need to.
We move back down to Southern California and and got some other things going.
I have to ask you, OK, I want to go back to this concept of the silent victory.
You know it's it's not all of the show or the you know of of blade hitting blade and all that sound in the dramatic thing that we think of as sword fighting.
I would imagine it's it's.
It takes a lot more adeptness to get it.
Almost sounds like magic, you know when we're talking that's kind of funny that you'd say that because?
One of the guys, one of my students.
He'd been a CEO, got out this.
A student of mine for quite awhile.
Then 911 happened.
We went back in the in in Seal team and so later on he'd have me down to trade at training, attachment and teaching life stuff and stuff.
For some of these guys.
At one point he goes.
Yeah, what you're doing is like like magic **** like slight of hand and I said yes so I always ask specially if I get a Group A room full of men.
How many guys are married?
How well does fighting work at home to solve problems?
If the opponent is literally half your size doesn't work, right?
So why would we fight if we have to solve problems?
Because I look at all of this as problem solving.
So fighting is reciprocity, fighting fighting is engagement, right?
At the highest level for for somewhere that's not what they were looking for.
And by the way, swords won't take all of that banging and smacking together right, right, right?
I know, I've done it, you know, and and things that you don't realize little things.
Like if you're going to do something like this, you need to have your head turned sideways because there's little piece of metal and stuff come off like this.
Did you ever read Gates of fire by Steven Pressfield?
Like Stephen present but not read.
Absolutely a must read.
Probably the best historical novel ever written, and one that has had a huge impact on some of our special operations.
Community eyes that have been doing all the heavy lifting for the last 20 years.
OK, but he described some types of close battle like that with the little pieces of of of metal and stuff coming out he does.
He does a great job of doing that, but I highly recommend that book.
You have to read that book.
Sounds yeah, I've I've actually.
I I I know Steven Pressfield and I've heard of that book, but it's never been actually recommended to me, so I'll definitely, definitely what what's happening with your OK, OK, you guys out there that are listening to this?
You got to recommend the right books here.
Alright, so let me ask you with this.
With this concept of the silent victory, how does I mean?
The hissatsu which I'm holding in my hand right now and and many of your knives.
Most of your knives have a similar profile.
Have this similar sort of.
But hang on, let me let me ask you real quickly how how does the concept of the silent victory play into the design of this knife?
Because I know it's in there.
OK, well, it doesn't.
Those are separate questions and it's OK. The silent victory is a methodology.
The tool is the tool depending upon circumstances and what you're going to use.
Your holding a knife that was designed for 03 Elevens 11 Bravos to put in their kit when they were down range in in in urban environments in close combat in Iraq right and and other places so.
You know, so that is a particular engagement type, right?
It's not a primary.
The vast majority of the time, right might not even be secondary necessarily.
But you know, if it says, well, you know, never bring a knife to a gunfight.
It's like always bring a knife to a gunfight.
So I bring two knives, two guns.
I try to have at least two other people with knives and guns, right?
It's kind of a stupid thing.
Are you going to try to fight somebody knife to gun?
If they've got any type of distance?
Or something like that will.
That's it, you know, that's absurdity.
In that sense of the term.
However, there's many, many of people that have, over the last 20 years because we've been heavily engaged for a long period of time that have told me that that night or other ones and stuff that I taught them and saved their lives in the moment because of circumstances that they were in.
Your are close around people all the time.
You might be driving a vehicle.
One of the guys who tell me, yeah, we're doing a day off, which is really uncommon for this particular group.
You know, and going to the marketplace and he said I saw this guy in that discussing man jammies and.
And he said, you know, took drivers said this guy's gonna be trouble and he said, and so you know when when he got close the guy came up with a mock rob in the window.
He said cut his arm used in his elbow against it.
It took the statue out pop right behind the clavicle, said drop like a stone.
He said you know and it's so so being able to help people you know that's a tool for something like that is that a?
Go back and forth to if you can help it you know I don't teach knife fighting it's a really bad idea.
Had just enough experience with that to realize walking away one time.
Don't ever do this to yourself again.
OK, OK, let me ask you specifics.
You don't have to tell me specifics of your situation, but why is knife fighting slash knife dueling like you might do in a college class where you're going hit for hit and just kind of developing your speed and timing attributes?
Put that in the Philippines, but explain to people why a knife fight is a methodologies, right?
They're not very sophisticated.
You could look at other people like maybe old man can Yeti Dossett Paris.
And he was very slick with his stuff.
Very tight, very slick.
Very different, right?
The going back and forth when you have lethality that is a bad idea, because at any moment, and somebody could even Nick something when you're dying, and you won't even know it in the minute people don't realize it, but knives don't hurt much.
And very very often people can be badly cut and have no clue.
Remember myself one time I'm bleeding all over and I'm like where's all the blood coming from you?
And I'm like why didn't you feel it?
You feel bumps and stuff it's kind of like when you're fighting in the ring or or whatever it's not that you don't feel a lot of that.
It's just that it doesn't have much, it's it's.
It doesn't hurt.
Yeah, yeah, poke in the eye hurts the end of the nose stings a bit.
You know stuff like that, but it doesn't hurt much endorphins and everything.
Your body's so.
So what happens is you could be going back and forth with somebody and he might nick something that can't be fixed and you don't even know it yet, right?
And so you don't want to get put yourself in a position of doing something like that.
It's just a really bad idea.
Yeah, yeah, I've I've heard.
Why use the knife to solve a problem?
Then you need to set the situation up and not get caught in the situation.
Does that make sense?
Yeah, makes a hell of a lot of sense.
You know, if you don't approach many things.
That way you're going to find yourself in bad situations all the time.
So from that.
So how much time and preparation is going into setting?
Getting myself in the best possible position I could be to solve the problem instead of finding myself in the worst possible position and then having to fight my way out of it.
There's no art in that because the art is strategy and strategy.
Putting yourself in a good position the best position, right?
It's not to put yourself in a bad position.
You know, like the martial arts guy in the movies, walks down the alley and he's like he's like sensitive, something's not right, but he keeps walking anyway.
He walks, right?
Nelson, he's him and six guys?
Well, that's that strategy that's stupid.
You should have six guys in tech.
The one guy in the alley.
So, So what does this look like when you're teaching this kind of thing in a in a class?
Many of us have done martial arts, we're familiar with what a martial arts class might look like.
You know 95% of the time, but when you're when you've gone beyond teaching the basics and you've gone beyond, you know, training to the point where you're just fluid and it, and it just comes naturally.
What is a class look like when you're when you're teaching this concept?
Because it is a concept so made it out.
So this concept.
Maybe beginning knife people.
It's difficult so you know I'm teaching some basic things.
If I'm doing that.
I look at knives like this and and most of the time that's why I don't put a lot of knife stuff up on my YouTube channel and stuff.
I mean, I'm not taking a knife out unless it's a lethal situation.
Taking it out to scare somebody.
I'm not taking such drive.
Somebody off, you know, I might take it out to cut somebody out of seat belt.
The car done that a couple times might take it out to, you know, cut, open some fruit, but I'm not taking it out on against a person unless the need for lethality is there.
Right, so that's a very special group of people which I can't discuss.
I can't talk about that.
Mostly with people trying to, you know, for for personal defense.
If it's a situation where where your life is in danger of the life of your loved ones.
Then the methodologies start to come into play a bit.
A lot of it is understanding.
Perceiving the time, the timing.
Right of movement in the person and not just a physical movement, but they're mental psychological movement.
The path of travel that the force, the force factor is going to take.
OK, so if you take a look at shoulders, OK, well they're the base of a triangle.
If I'm reaching straight to my chin, right?
OK, well I'm coming off an angle to do that now.
I could change my shoulders and it changes that angle.
But it's still perceptible.
You know, I can perceive you could perceive that's taking place so big part of sort of cut says.
How can I cut and not be in the place where the person saw me in the moment.
I can't step sideways to do that.
Because our binocular vision allows us to see some movements really easy and some movements not well at all.
I could displace by my footwork in the moment and I'm not actually where your sword thought I wasn't, but that's something you have to reteach yourself as as.
My teacher quoted touches on sensei.
Which would say it's you have to make disappear.
You have to make it disappear.
Have to make the movement disappear.
I can see it make disappear.
I can see the movement.
Right so so if I move my arm, I can't tell.
You can see this if I move my arm like this I move my arm like that.
Those are actually two completely different movements, but in the moment the eye can't see the difference.
If you raise a shoulder up hump or all of these things, you're getting tells constantly your facial expression.
Your eyes are tells, so there's a couple of concepts in in in Kodu ones called Mushin No mind, no thinking conscious mind.
You can't be thinking in the moment.
That means none of the looking processing things that we're doing, and we're not looking in the person's eyes because we're not going to tell us anything right?
On the contrary, you could get something a lot of trouble like that because you're missing too much.
So for summary, they would say look at the distant, direct your eyes at the distant mountain, and to focus on.
So the tip of the sword saying we get my which is, you know, like basic middle guard.
OK is you know the point of the sword is the mountain, the hands and the Takara, the are the valley and the chest is the distant mountain.
And so you look directly into focus and like Russians to schema which is also sort based art, we got robco, Vladimir Vasiliev.
You direct your eyes slightly above the head in the process, but you don't look at anything directly and that used devise is very different for people.
So when you focus, focus vision.
Is a very specific is a very specific methodology and it's really good for detail, but it's a slow processing and doesn't see much so I can't be focused vision when you know Sam and engagement with multiple people Sam doing an entry, and even though I see somebody that needs to be serviced, there's
all kinds of other possibilities that could be in entering this engagement that I can't see if I focus right, because focus by definition means.
I'm letting a whole lot of other stuff out and I'm bringing it all down to one little thing.
So, so you don't need certain types of details, but you need a lot of information has to process fast, has to process rapidly.
That makes sense yes, then this concept of vision is something I've thought about before because I've noticed that's how I drive.
I leave my vision wide open because you never know who's coming here.
And here you know from your left or from your right.
I try and keep my peripheral vision open as much as possible and then notice that my eyes dart in for focus on things that are either drawing my interest or.
Or or drawing my attention, but yeah, I I. I feel like I drive better when I do that.
For that reason driving and I tell my students, especially driving is.
A perfect opportunity to practice all of this because you're awareness of things and your ability to pick up anomalies without your conscious mind having to go, oh, what's that become critical factors, right.
And so when you're driving, which is a dangerous thing, probably the most dangerous thing that most people do every day, you can practice this or you could be, you know, you, you could be one of these people, right?
One of these people in their lap or something.
Driving right or their brain is playing a movie in their head which has nothing to do with reality.
Instead of check the mirrors, check this.
Check that what's that boom boom boom boom and if you're driving certain routes you know how often have I driven that route?
Are there anomalies on this route that I should pay attention to?
You know now if you have to be in in in a foreign country and nonprofits environment, you got all kinds of possibilities.
What might be on that route that could be dangerous to you, right?
Could be an ID could be an ambush setup.
Could be this, could be that could be all kinds of things right?
And so you can just practice.
And I tell my students if the only time you do this in the Dojo, well, you're not going to ever get this.
This has to become how you look, how you think you walk through your house when you get up to the corner before you break the plane.
If you just take and drop your head down 45 degrees, your peripheral vision increased down along.
Now you can't see you could see feet, though I can know if there's somebody down that wall before I break the plane.
Seeing things like that, it's the same going up if you going something, it's up here, right?
If I look up 45 degrees and going to see back up this way.
OK, and you teach yourself just to do that and then it becomes no effort.
Like you said, some of some virtuoso or something on the piano and see how they make it look so easy.
Yeah, like 100,000 hours of practice.
Yeah, right, but as you as you program yourself, it just becomes who you are and what you do.
And that becomes you know, that just adds to your, you know, and and your intuition and all of those things.
Another concept is called Mizuno Kokoro.
Water and Kokoro is like.
Your essence, your spirit.
It's kind of like maybe include your soul.
It's hard concept in Japanese, but it's like the essence of the person and so.
If you're completely calm inside, you're like Stillwater like a mirror.
Well, now you're reflecting objective reality.
Blow on that water.
Let emotions and stuff come in.
It's subjective reality and or signage.
St look trying to see little pieces and put them together.
So the goal of in that moment of life and death to be not thinking and completely reflected, I mean.
In the universe, every problem has within the problem the solution.
The solutions aren't somewhere else.
So if you can and I use the word listen metaphorically.
If you can listen well enough, the opponent's going to tell you exactly what you need to know exactly when you need to know it.
If you're in your own way, you can't hear.
If you're good and you know aggression, fear, I can take that.
Well, you can't hear very well, even if you're well trained.
Which means later on like last week I had dental surgery because you got hit more than you thought and later on in life gets expensive, not week right.
Didn't matter in the moment, only this other thing mattered.
Where you know, even if you, even if you were, you know, even if the other guy went to the hospital and and you couldn't get out of sit up straight out of bed and eat for three days afterwards, right?
If that had been lethality, we'd both be in the ground.
I guess whoever, whoever dies last wins.
Is that how it works?
Yeah, that's that's that's what I was told in in Kali.
You know, whoever dies second wins the knife fight, yay.
They're great stuff.
Yeah, exactly, I won.
I wanna talk a second about this slight of hand concept.
I mean you were talking about jabbing straight to the eyes and how that's an easy.
How do I make my body not moving?
It's normal way.
How do I make it so it lines up like?
Right now I'm flexing my you can't see it, but I'm flexing my rhomboids which actually bringing my scapula in.
So I'm I'm literally right now I'm flexing my I'm bringing my right scapula in by flexing the rhomboids minor and major into my spine and starting from there.
How can I make normally we reach?
We have a, you know, a way of coming off the shoulder, which is what how everybody reaches.
But you can literally make it go perfectly straight in the process.
OK and that's just one very simple and you start teaching.
Do you ever read the book dune by Frank Herbert?
My wife has and we've been talking about it a lot recently.
Any justice but this would be like Benny just red training where you go in and you start realizing.
OK, so I can bring my scapula up, make it move up.
If I just isolate the better scapula which connects at the top inside corner of the scapula, sub trapezius and at the bottom at the bottom of the occipital I can actually make that bone in your back move up, but you can't see it from the front because the only way that.
They move some funds by flexor to pesos.
And so you start practicing doing little things and realize that we do so much that we have no understanding or control over.
But all these are tells to people that can see, you know, I used to get my students when we do some boxing because not because boxing was the good solution to problem.
But all of those other arts I talk they're good from the standpoint where you get used to people punching at you, get used to seeing movement.
You get used, staying calm in the process, right and and even a lot of the the people had some boxing, but they're pushing off their back foot to jab.
Well, as soon as you're flexing your back foot.
I'm already slipping and moving.
I have to wait for the punch to come out, you know, just to kind of a broad some of these people are really fast.
If you wait that long and not get out of the way right?
So so how do you take that away?
Like in in code you you can't push off the ground to move and I can't push on the ground to stop.
Say that again, please.
So I can't push on the ground with my foot to move forward and I can't push on the ground with my front foot to stop.
So it's called yukimi floating body.
So when you move, the body should float.
If you touch my shoulders, you should feel no movement going up and down on my feet are hitting the ground.
Another way of saying would be the most soak in the hole.
It means no legs.
It's kind of like when you see an Aikido.
Guy uh, they kind of seem to glide a little bit there.
They're really studying it.
Very different art, I'm sure, but but they do have that sort of gliding Mass Effect.
I've seen anyway, and I've seen a lot of them.
They're not seeing nobody does, but I haven't seen anybody with that.
OK, so this is different from that movement.
So not knocking anybody staying, it's just that I haven't seen that.
OK, you if you're not practicing kenjutsu, high level kenjutsu, and there's all kinds of levels, even in Old Japan.
Then and using both can work and stuff.
They're not practicing kenjutsu if you're not practicing, due through the chance you have.
This movement are almost none.
As as a criticism used to say people are misunderstanding kata.
Content is not about real fighting.
Real fighting changes endlessly caught it takes you into another world.
What you're doing with kata is you're programming your body to move in a different way.
You're programming your your mind to access your body in different way.
Like if I do this with my arm, right?
Let's see if I can show this just a little this movement and that movement are not the same movements, but you can't tell by looking.
You can tell by feeling.
If you grabbed a hold of my wrist, you could tell by feeling.
But you can't tell by looking.
OK, So what what did Sunsu say about 500 BC was a matter of deception.
What could be more truly deceptive than doing exactly what someone has?
Of their whole plot, their whole body and mind is programmed to view that as something, but it's not that.
Right, so that's the sleight of hand part.
It's by definition or faults, right?
They're fakes and they're fine.
They're not real.
This is real, but you can't see it even when you're looking at it.
I'll have to have you because this is the hard thing I've had people ask and I need to get back to this guy in Brazil.
The problem with zoom classes is if you don't feel this.
You can't literally understand it right?
Anyway that process.
It tooks time.
How long did it take you to get like soft, so to speak?
And I would say that beginning steps it took the 80s, right?
It took the 80s and a couple of scary situations I had to put myself into realize what I'm Jason say was actually saying.
Right, because what I'm hearing and what's being said, I can only hear what the paradigm I have.
Right, I don't have another paradigm.
And so until I can actually tactically tactically feel another paradigm.
I can only go to the one I have.
I might recognize it as different.
But I can only go to the one I have that actually brings me back to what I was saying in the very beginning.
When I asked you about how some people claim ancient martial arts have no place in the modern day.
And of course I can.
I can see how some things might need to be adapted or changed, but really, it's the importance of how familiar familiar you are with that paradigm that you're discussing or whatever that paradigm is so.
Yeah, that's that's a that's a kind of a lazy thing.
Listen if you want to know about surviving life death situations.
The old stuff.
Orders of magnitude better.
Because that's what they did.
If they acted like the martial arts that we do now, they'll be dead people all over the place and be killing each other right and left.
Would be that people are winning, they'd be killing each other.
Because everything's engagement reciprocity so so you can't go back to the ancients who know way more about blade shape that by far than we'll ever know.
Little kids by three and four had to carry sharp knives and stuff even even if they were Flint because you couldn't get through that you couldn't get through your day without being able to cut stuff right?
And at every point you're killing animals.
Not an easy thing to do with some of those things right?
You're fighting off predators, you're human or otherwise right with tools.
You know all kinds of tools.
I've got a, I've got a bronze.
I think it was probably a small dagger, but it could be a small spear point from 1000 BC still sharp to the way.
And and you're looking at.
I mean it's it's really a a work of art right?
3000 years ago.
So when people say they didn't know in the old days, yeah, that's just.
Arrogance, which is a dangerous thing.
Humility is really beneficial to you, but arrogance is a is a is a bad bad thing.
Well that's agreed.
I agree with you on that.
I think maybe I'm misrepresenting the argument.
I've heard I've heard like karate.
Why would you do that?
Why would you do that?
That's how unarmed people defended against the samurai sword.
You know, Kali.
Why would you do that?
That's too ancient people on a battlefield with with shortswords that's not how we fight anymore.
I think that's.
Mean is it short sword?
Yes, and so people that are doing some of these things like this with small knives.
And like those things are designed for barongs and short swords.
Why sache stuff that Lops off arms?
This is a way that you mean that anyway that whole would have to get in, but I wouldn't suggest that, just saying, but I mean those people are really look they went out in the jungle with those things, those working tools and they fought with those tools right?
And it's true that karate set, but what if you don't have anything else?
Right, what what?
Those are the tools that you have.
So are they as efficient in a lot of ways, no.
But in fact.
You know, come up or a sickle in in Okinawa is for cutting rice and stuff.
OK, so this is a Japanese one.
I don't have the kusari part that the chain and the ball.
What happens with the moves but you can see that this is not designed for farmers tool.
This is designed human beings, right?
It's designed to hit and and pull on the way out so.
So you know.
But The thing is, people have to fight with what they have right?
And some of them got really good at depending and obviously some of those things are not going to be good for war.
But what if you're walking down the street and you got a book?
Or you can grab up a rock or break off a stick, right?
You don't have another tool on you?
Well, some of those things then can be.
Can be beneficial to you, right?
The operating system, though, is very different.
The stuff that I've been fortunate to study is up at that.
You know, there's levels in any Society of of skill.
Right, there's levels in any skill, so I'm fortunate to have been exposed to train for a long period of time on on two different.
Really masters, although they wouldn't use that term.
Two different systems of code, you and that it's just a different ball game, but that wasn't the majority.
People by any stretch of the imagination.
Right, it's like anything else there's you know, and that's why you get people like new, Moto, Masashi, or Yaquis people that could easily beat other people or multiples of other people.
They're on a different level, right?
They're on a different level.
Did you design this knife and the and and I also want to talk about, I want to talk about the knives that you have.
You've done a lot of collaborations with CRKT on the production end, but you have also begun Williams Williams Blade design a couple of years ago and you have actually been more than a couple now.
You've got these beautiful, beautiful versions of this kind of knife, of this style of knife.
So we just played design.
Got started by request for some special guys that I trained for collaboration with Daniel Winkler.
You know, designed the knife for them knifemaker to the seals.
By the way, yeah, so.
So that that got it started.
And of course they have specific needs.
You know they have specific needs when we're designing nice it was this this particular.
Knife right here.
OK, so let's see how we can see all that OK and.
And so that that got that going.
And then you know some some other requests we were going someplace and we want something a little larger.
Ping pong circumstances that that really got us off the ground, and that's with my son Christopher, who has been around this his whole life.
One way or another he remembers me.
Putting knife things together, you know, as a hobby when he was just a little kid and then you know he did.
The budget trading catalog was in high school and so he's been around this and he's actually doing a really good job with with a lot of the the folding designs blade shape like this is oseroff like they said that's called oseroff is equity so we use a few shapes.
Create some shovels aquatic designs, right?
But he's really, he's really done an excellent job.
I'm actually very, very happy, but very proud at the same time because his innovations and stuff, a lot of the stuff he's designing, it's really excellent.
We have some fans of the show, some some friends of the show who are carrying these and especially the smaller version of the knife you just held up the of the fixed blade and people are going bonkers over them.
I too love them.
I have a question though for.
I want, I want you to talk a little bit about the handle design in particular with the one that Jim has up on screen to the left.
Now, there's no guard.
There's no guard on this knife.
There's no guard on this knife.
I'm talking about you see the one on screen.
It's got a very simple.
You know it's the handle design that you usually use without a guard.
And yeah, it's so.
Explain to us how you how.
You can have an awesome thrusting knife like this and not need a guard.
There's a lot of knife cultures by the way that don't use guards on small knives.
OK, just we're not so.
The reason is, how do I hold the knife?
That's a big part of it.
How am I gonna hold the knife?
So if I'm thrusting and I'm holding it like this, that's it.
That's a inefficient in a lot of ways.
Easiest to block if I'm thrusting and I hold it like this, and I'm coming in like this.
This is far more difficult for somebody to block and the whole life is lined up with my hand right?
It's lined up with my hand if I happen to decide I need to establish something that this go finger goes over or that thumb goes over in the process, right?
And I practice, I want to be able to move the knife back.
And 4th Edge forward, maybe Edge, you know, edge towards me, edge forward.
I want to change it back another way, and there's different ways that I know.
You guys can't really see that.
With that back a little bit more, you know, and so you learn well, how am I manipulating the night?
What do I want to do?
How do I turn it from one orientation to another?
I can't be caught up in stuff and guards get caught up in gear and everything, right?
So what you do is you.
Spend time learning how to handle your knife with both hands.
It's no different.
Actually, with both hands and both eyes.
Pistol rifle doesn't matter, right?
She with both hands both eyes.
I use my swords both hands for all kinds of reasons.
One, you just never know, but you start taxing so you can manage the tool depending upon what I'm actually trying to accomplish in a minute in the moment.
Because I'm going to be very specific if I have to solve a problem more specific I am and what and and getting to the right solution.
The more efficient and effective the solution is going to be.
If you start flailing and all this kind of stuff, well, your efficiency is going to go way down, and that's not good.
Kendall, how do you handle the the the opposite energy?
You have someone who is?
The opposite of your, uh, inner quiet calm.
And they're coming after you like Caveman.
I love it.
Those are not my day.
Those are not the dangerous people.
So part of this.
Is I'm not going to contest for space with vector force and our strategy.
We have somebody the first the strategic Prime Directive do not contest for space with vectors of force.
So that means no blocking.
That means nothing there.
It's the only thing that works.
Did the entire force continuum?
Right, the fact that I can take punches or take some stuff or blocking, what can you block?
I mean, there's all kinds of stuff you can't block.
So right from the beginning, you don't contest for space.
So if somebody's coming in, they're big in this, well, that's great.
That gives me a lot of energy, makes it really easy for me to see what they're doing.
And, you know, I can't demonstrate it here, but if we get a chance to get together.
You know, I can easily maneuver, shall we say.
But the footwork is really different.
It's not like the footwork I used in boxing or wrestling where footwork is really, really important.
Boxers with really good footwork are the most successful boxers, right?
Because if you don't have good footwork, I would say victories in defeat.
That's right, your feet my feet so so, but our way of moving is different because it's not a shifting like this.
You need to be able to displace movement that the eye can't pick up in the moment.
Right, so the eyes phenomenon, would you know designed implement, but like everything, it has limitations and a lot of limitations exist between one ear and the other ear.
They're not just in the eye.
So, so how can you?
How can you train yourself to deceive the eye in the movement you know?
Flavius Vegetius Renatus and his de ray militari you know what?
For Centurion, a domino in every battle.
After all, the eye is fooled first.
OK, all right.
Well, how do we fool the eye?
Let's start working on I need to fool the eye.
I need the eye to see something that it already is programmed for.
That isn't what's actually happening.
And so you've got you've got people that spent long periods of time.
Studying how to do this and fortunately passed it forward.
Right added on here and there.
Maybe a little got lost, but somebody else added on and so the value of the old old stuff is is incredible because this as sophisticated as we think some of the modern statistical stuff is way more sophisticated.
Way more sophisticated to some of.
It's just like.
No, you get certain people corona sensate, by the way, is not doing well physically.
Anybody that has extra prayers for him, he's in the hospital, but his movement is probably the best of the old movement.
If you go on and look him up, you can see Corona touches on.
You'll see some videos and stuff and and every now and then you'll see him move things like 180 movement that you can't even see the middle up from the side where everything looks the slowest in front of him.
Just goes from one position to an end in his blades there.
And you're like how did you do that right?
And I've had.
I've had the opportunity to work with.
Some special people, one in particular who are trained.
Or you're still a teenager now he's been in the military over 20 years.
At the very, very top of a very, very exclusive food chain who has implemented a whole lot of that this stuff over a long period of time.
And you know, just because the tools are different.
The tools are the tools Masashi said in this book, where you shouldn't have a favorite tool should be able to use any tool.
OK, well, the tools are just different.
You know people, someone to carry a knife for self-defense?
Where do you carry?
I said I carry pistol for self-defense not really for so much for self-defense but for like Eli Dickens right?
You know people say well why do you carry everywhere?
Well you know what your what are you afraid of?
My fear is something like that would happen and I wouldn't be able to help.
Same easy look at my car in front door.
There's an ice pack, individual first aid kit, both doors, another one back here on the right.
Stuff to quit, grab, you know not major bleeding plug chest holes, do some barely staying right just, you know, have some knowledge and training and and the warriors the warriors.
Protector and defender, right?
It's not a fighter in that sense of the term, ego or any of that stuff, right?
You know, there's a, there's a concept in I don't have that school.
I've got the schools, but they're not up.
There there's two characters, a satsujin Ken the killing sword and cuts genkin the life giving sword.
So in some of the modern derivations they love the cutscene Ken, the life giving sword and so.
Years ago I was trying to find a show to master to write out both characters and we knew that sets into cuts gene can.
It's the sword that cuts down.
Evil is the sword that gives life.
OK, so if the sword can't cut down evil, it's not a life giving sword, it's just a useless piece of steel right?
And and the and the goal is your protector and defender.
So finally after like 4 shoulder masters I wrote a long letter to.
And now in Kyoto you know, sensing and and explaining this because there's a lot of there's a lot of coming in writing that that killing sword and I said, and I just explained all of that to him, what I just explained.
And so he wrote that that scroll.
And then wouldn't charge me for it.
Thank you for the paper and ink and that was it.
And so that that gives us what's called.
Duty a reciprocal duty.
And so one of my top student instructors, Jim O'Connell, came up with idea, so we got a Navajo shaman to carve a peace pipe.
And flew to Kyoto and and presented it even presented to condo sensei.
But that's literally what the people I work with at one level.
Here is what they do.
They cut down evil to protect the innocent, and boy there's some serious evil out there.
Yeah, right about that.
Well, how do you want this?
OK, you've had this storied career.
You've had a life, a lifetime, a lifetime of of martial arts training from Systema, which, to me is so weird.
I'd love to have you explain it to me, but not right now.
Is very good.
I was really surprised we were at Toby Threadgills in Texas.
Right after 911, no right before 911. And we're watching this Russian guy do this stuff and guys are kind of making comments and I'm watching this thing and I go.
No you guys, this guy's good, he's really good and I'm thinking where the Russians get this stuff right?
And it's like, and so I made a thing.
I said, well, if I could get a hold I'm gonna train with this guy.
Right and so.
He was supposed to come over, but then he couldn't.
911 and everything and then so was later on.
But it was that was that year that was 2000 late 2001. He came to Toronto when I got a chance to to work with him and I was I'm I was very impressed.
I was very impressed because he's very much like classical code.
You in so many ways and very deep.
And it looks funny, but go ahead and get out there.
Yeah, yeah, right.
I I can't even imagine.
I can't even like looking at it.
And who knows, maybe I'm not looking at the legit stuff, but looking at it it it.
Even it must be so good at what it does that I look at him like that's not real.
So a friend of mine, we were in Russia and he was not at the time but you've been former.
Kickboxing European kickboxing champion, right, gentleman from England and.
In that niche, like yeah, go ahead, do whatever you're going to do.
And and and Misha heard him what you didn't intend to do.
Right, he hits so much harder than it looks like, and his timing is so impeccable.
It's it's it's.
It's hard, you have to.
It's another experience thing.
You got to experience it, yeah?
And I felt so bad because I should've told my friend.
She said, you know, make sure you go a little slow at the beginning because whatever energy you bring is the energy that's coming back.
It's like against the wall.
A little harder.
Expect to come back a little harder, right?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So I know it looks funny, and mishaps would probably.
Lose a little weight, but the deal is he's really good.
OK, so that is the guy that is the guy I've seen.
What do you want your legacy to be?
James, that's what I was going out with all this you've got you've got a good grandpa.
Hey man, that's what that's what I want.
So say it again.
Where I'm at at this point, you know, I'm in my mid 70s I'm I'm very functional for my age.
I'm still actively teaching, including people that go in non permissive environments.
The thing that I get the most.
Gratification for is when I've had a positive impact on somebody's life.
It could be, you know, talking to one of my students today who's not as old as I am, but he's getting close.
You know, saying well, you you taught me how to be a man, you know and I'm like oh OK or you know just various things like that you know that where, where you've had enough of a positive impact on somebody's life that's benefited them now some guys come back and they say hey, you know you saved my
life with what you're taught me what do you do with that you know I've heard a lot of guys in 1968 I pulled a lot of folded flags to a whole lot of parents and and and why.
The next of kin so, and I'm still in a in a place where we lose people and and.
Yeah, so if you can, if you can bring them back to their family like the gentleman that in in the one situation daylight up early when we were talking.
He says yeah, well, you know this, we're just.
It's not really the proper way of thinking.
I said listen, you came back OK?
You couldn't, you couldn't.
You couldn't give me any more than that, so for me, that's the most important thing it impact you have on lives.
Whether people like this or that or what do they look at this stuff.
All this later on isn't as isn't, you know.
I mean, we make quality stuff by design and and and and people we work with and make whatever price range you're working with.
They make quality stuff right for the price and it works.
This design all designed to work, not design.
I don't think what in my head I look at what's going to work, how and why.
Look at history, right because our ancestors.
And however, for myself personally, how many people can I have?
How many people I helped in have been positive for?
I'd venture a guess to say that it's not just the people you've trained and now now I get knife.
Corny, but it's also the people who love your work, love your your knives, and and get enjoyment or actual use out of them.
I thank God haven't had to get actual use out of this.
This has just been a a thing that I appreciate for its pure beauty and it is a beautiful knife.
It also makes my basement bar feel a little bit more secure as it guards the whiskey.
Told me and I was like 6 years old.
He said son.
A man needs a knife.
So you know, I remember my most precious possession was a Jack knife, right?
Never walked in those days.
I mean there were knives that locked, but nothing that we had.
We had what we called Jack Knives, right?
And I remember.
We used to hold them like like this.
Right, I mean first time my step somebody in self-defense in grade school wow all right?
Well, we're going to talk about that in the exclusive interview we're going to do after this.
James I want to thank you so much for coming on.
The Knife Junkie podcast.
It was more than a pleasure meeting you and I know there's so much more we could talk about.
So it was a real pleasure.
Thanks for coming on, Sir.
Appreciate you having me take care.
Do you use terms like handle the blade ratio walk and talk, hair pop and sharp or tank like?
Then you are a dork and a knife junkie.
Two things that I really pulled out of that.
I mean, there's gonna be a lot that I pulled out of that.
But two things.
It's the idea of not fighting but problem solving.
Love that and the whole slight of hand thing I like, I know what a pain is.
You know when you're fighting, but to think of it as slight of hand and develop it from there and train in that way.
It's mind-blowing to me.
I think it's awesome.
Anyway, it was a great pleasure having James Williams on.
I've been a huge admirer of his knives for a long time, and after this conversation I think I have to get one of those Winkler collaboration.
Have they are so sweet, be sure to join us here next Sunday for another interview with another.
Amazingly interesting knife person and check Wednesday for the midweek supplemental Thursday night.
You know, it's Thursday night.
10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time right here on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.
And if you want to listen on the go, be sure to download the show to your favorites favorite podcast apps.
So for Jim working his magic behind the Switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco, saying until next time.
Don't take dull for an answer.
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