I agree that as soon as you start taking out protective equpitment you start playing in the realm of sport. But there is no way you can train a full power backhand horizonal with no gear without the possibility of killing your training partner. There is the idea that protective equpitment is training equpitment. If you can practice fighting at just about 100% working in a full adreanal state then you are instilling your training into you reactions. When that happens your training becomes your fighting. This is one way of looking at it. You can use the same ideas when talking about MMA training you get in the ring with head gear, bigger than normal MMA gloves on and working just about at 100%. What happens when you get in the ring? 99.9% the same thing that happened in the gym. You deal with slightly more energy and someone you usually dont train with, but its not that different from the gym work. it seems that your talking more about the issue of tactical/enviromental awareness. If someone looks out of place or is displaying signs of predatory behavior than you should be looking at loading your counter attack well before he has initiated contact. If you do this then YOU are the one ahead on the reactionary gap. Now thats just a concept of practicing advanced street smarts. Not to mention the fact that the knife is a weapon of ambush and when you have percived the threat before it has happened it isnt an ambush. Things happen at such a breakneck adrenal charged rate in a street fight that unless you slow it down you cant really see the technique in action. By training with weapons you have effectivly added one of the biggest advantages you can possibly have in a real life situation. Weapons awareness. Just by having at least a little fimialiarty with the idea of weapons being in play you give yourself a HUGE advantage. And I dont have to tell anyone that any advantage in a fight is huge. I have been involved in some hairy situations at work and having seen knives and other improvised weapons in action on the street and i will have to say that just having weapons awareness is why I haven't been hit with belt buckle, beer bottle, or stabbed. and as far as it not working the way the drills work thats just an issue of figuring out how the drills translate into real world app. One of my students is an E6 with the USMC and going door to door in bagdad one of those supposedly irrelivant training drills saved his life. So when we talk about drills having no purpose thats not really true. Do you need to do the drills with a different mindset, absolutly. And will all of them work real world like they do in class, absolutly not. Its a fight after all and nothing, nothing is set in stone and works as the best laid plans in a fight. Most drills work using the idea of known threats, and when the threat is not known or come into play during the confrontation the drills are there to assist you to dramatically shorten your reactionary gap. And get you back into some sort of control of the situation. But on the topic of guns, that is a whole other arena. Guns are guns, and as bruce lee said (now i probibly dont have this 100% correct) but "you are not as fast as a bullet". Guns bring into play a whole different set of ideas than your typical training goes.