Tactical Cheese

May 2, 1999
Has anyone else noticed the paralels between what the "tactical" scene is to combatives and what hair metal was to heavy metal?

On one hand, you had a style of music that was pretty hard and kicked ass, and artists started experimenting with custumes, make up, and showmanship; then as time wore on it became all about the make up, costumes, and showmanship to the mainstream to the point that it generated some of the most lackluster and cheesey music ever produced, rivaling even disco in the shear amount of suckness that it was.

Then on the combatives side, you had martial arts and weapons training that were all about reality, and were pretty hard and kicked ass, but as time wore on it became all about costumes, showmanship, and make believe; generating one of the most cheesey and lackluster mainstream martial scenes the world has ever seen. And it pretty much sucks.

I cringe every time I see a new tactical boywonder come out with a new undefeatable weapon or combat system. I puke every time I hear the word "tactical"(I've got a bucket right by my side right now).

It's gotten to the point where it's a bloody three-ring-circus laden with lingo and mumbo jumbo that doesn't mean a thing with all these yahoos with no real idea what their talking about and even less hands on experience in the areas they're offering guidance in. It's like the sport futility vehicle craze amongst yuppies.

Personaly, the amount of bullsh*t that's going around these days is really unacceptable, it's like a coming out party for Walter Mitty or something.

I don't really know what can be done to remedy the situation, but somebody's gonna have to do something about this or the late twentieth century/early twentyfirst martial scene will be seen by future generations as the hair metal of combatives, weaponry, and the martial arts.
Snick, like you I think the General Forums should be renamed the black tactical folder forum. But I also think you have been reverse engineered from UFO technology using junkyard parts

I like the Buck 110 almost as much as you but I am willing to try other knives. If somebody wants an AFCK than that is what they should get. The things I would like to see is thicker handles like the Gerber Magnum. The new folders seem to have thin handles.

"A knifeless man is a lifeless man"
-Nordic proverb

[This message has been edited by David Williams (edited 07 August 1999).]
There's always going to be "tactical cheese" because there is a market for it. There are many different levels to martial arts from sport to self defense to the ultimate combat systems that are easy to use and can defeat an one two or ten opponents.

As disgusting as it is there is no way to really change it. Some people are just prone to that type of marketing. I'm just training in my effective art and happy that I have it. People that buy into that stuff do not want something realistic, they are ahppy with what they have and would probably be horrified by actual tactics or too lazy to take on real training.

I'm not talking about "tactical knives", I'm all for using advances in technology and design to produce superior knives, if and when they really are better. I was eyeing a Benchmade 710 as a replacement for my XlTi that I snapped the blade off, but I don't know if I like that convex edge.

I'm talking about all the hype that's backed with nothing solid, all the stuff that's hip but isn't practical, all the idolization of these "tactical heros". That stuff.

I'm talking about getting back to what's real and losing the over-the-top balonga.

New and better stuff is real, if it really is better. And if it really is better, I'm 100% for it.

[This message has been edited by Snickersnee (edited 11 August 1999).]
This entire forum is very heavy on the tactical side. This is what's popular now, it sells, and it's what a lot of members want to talk about. I have no problem at all with it. Trends come and go. I do get a little concerned reading about the defense stuff, as most people will get hurt bad if they get in a knife fight because they aren't trained.


We have to be patient and let teenagers (of all ages) be teenagers. Let them buy the "tactical" stuff (some of it really good - most of it junk), they will learn from the mistake and come back looking for more practical tools.

For me it was "survival knives". I still love them; but, now I know there are better tools out there.
Snick (et. al).

well. My thoughts... Take them as you will. And I tend to ramble, so skim as you please.

We are all individuals. We are all individuals. We are all individuals. (I'm not)-- SHUT UP!!! We'll just use Monty Python as a smooth segue into amateur cultural psychology.

More and more our sense of individuality is being marginalized. We fit through into so many pigeonholes in the course of the average day that it's amazing we're not all square shaped. Sit in your cubicle and feel empowered because you can send an email to howareyoufeeling@yourcompany.com and let upper management really know how you feel about what sodas should be in the staff break room fridge.
We're all on a team. We're team players. But at the same time, who of us honestly isn't afraid to fart when the boss walks in the room.
This herd mentality is being bred into us. And those few companies that are trying to rip off Japanese corporate culture strategies are dipping a little too far into the lotus-eater side of things.

Anyway. My general take on society at large.
People need to feel empowered. They need to feel special, to feel sexy, to feel dangerous. These are some of our most base needs. But we can't get them in our point-and-click society. YOu can't run down the street beating people with a whiffle bat just because those are the shoes you put on that day. We're all slowly being put into retroactive molds and being told we're happy, and suck it in a little, and it'll just be dark for second, etc etc.

So people look for a release. Some way to feel important/ dangerous/ sexy. And the marketing department is way ahead of that one too. Let 'em buy an SUV. They'll feel empowered that they've got more horsepower than Ben Hur, and we'll be able to charge 10k more for something that performs just about as well off-road as my GI Joe Jungle Rager car. "Choose your own road". It's all so empowering, because giving that little glimpse of freedom is enough to satiate the average appetite. So even though there's training wheels on your SUV (actually, there probably should be-- those things flip over easier than half of the sorority girls at my school) and you can't be as dangerous as they let you think you can be, you're still satisfied because you're stickin it to them. Even though, in the end, the joke's on you.

Look at Tai Bo, the sun-dried tomato of the current yuppie/ soulless generation. Its marketing is brilliant, and flawless. Many kudos to Billy Blanks for coming out with a hell of a product (and if he posts here on BF, I hope it's with the name plastichead because I can see my reflection through my TV when he's on). But what's the main message of Tai Bo marketing? Get in shape. (be sexy). Take control of your life. (self-empowerment). Learn self-defense. (be dangerous).
Part of me wants to start a mugging spree on the upper west side of manhattan just to see some calorie-counting, macrobiotic pile of hair dye try to kick my butt without a beat. But people eat this crap up. I feel so young. I feel so healthy. And yes, it is good excercise, but I think Billy Blanks is smart enough to key into more than that, and he's laughing all the way to the bank.
We want to feel dangerous. We want to be a threat. Fight 'the man', even though you're a happy cog in his wheel.

So I agree with whoever suggested the analogy between SUV's and tactical knives. You would be just as ill-equipped in a true knife fight with a tactical knife, as you would be trying to go off-roading with an SUV. But that never was, and never will be the point of the marketing these things get. It's all about santizing. It's all about treating the symptoms of the ritualistic destruction of the individual in today's society, but never dealing with the core problem. Just keep pumping out diet coke and making sure the late show comes on at 11:30 sharp every night, and you've got the world (or at least America-- funny how we use the terms interchangibly) in the palm of your hand.

So those of you able to see through the marketing and the crap, I commend you. Those of you who think me jaded and bitter, maybe I am. I'm only 21 and I haven't given up on society, but there is a part of me that wants to ditch all of this mainstream crap and become a camel salesman in Abu Dabi.

But I will admit to you that I will be taking my BM710 and my bali songs along with me. Do they make me dangerous? Prolly not. But they make me feel like I am.

And I'll take my prozac with two lumps of sugar.

<shaking head>

amount of suckness that it was."

I gotta admit it....I really like this statement
As much as this new age Rambo BS is about empowerment etc., the key marketing tool is fear. The ads for those pathetic SUVs generally tell you to "Watch out! It's a scary world out there! You need protection (in the guise of a poorly designed, phony off road vehicle that burns more gas and only operates on smooth highways). "Buy a big, strong tank, little man. You'll be safe from the big, nasty world." The tactical marketing craze is playing on fear to some extent as well. "You need a weapon! Something our Navy Seals use to kill the bad guys. As if buying a bead blasted pocketknife will take the place of years of discipline and training. As America becomes more and more dangerous, I look for this stupidity to increase. Many people are frightened and, at the same time, lazy. They're willing to pay for the illusion of safety, and there's always going to be someone willing to sell it to them. The Tai Bo craze is great! Get off your ass and work out! But now, we have hundreds of aerobics queens who feel like they can take on the world, which can be dangerous in and of itself; biting off more then you can chew is a good way to choke.
But now, we have hundreds of aerobics queens who feel like they can take on the world, which can be dangerous in and of itself;
ROFL I don't know if you meant that to be funny but it was to me

What if we want something for reasons other than what advertisers are hyping it to be? Does that make us bad because we appear to have been swayed into buying something because of hype? I would like a Chevy Suburban or Ford Excursion 4X4. Not for their macho image and 'safer' attributes but for the ability to haul my family and all of our camping/fishing gear. And Anchorage can have 5-7 months of winter which most of it is covered in snow.

"A knifeless man is a lifeless man"
-Nordic proverb

i understand where you're coming from, even though i kinda like hair metal


I'm enjoying this thread and most have what has been said so far, but I want to point out one thing:

Folding knives today have stonger locks, are easy to open and close with one had, are easy to carry with slim profiles and pocket clips, are available in a variety of edge combinations, come in a range of truly superior stainless steels, and are just all around lighter, tougher, and better tools than they were two decades ago. Most of this development (along with loads of useless garbage like tanto points and chisel grinds) has come as a result of the "tactical" trend. So there is a positive side unless you are a hopeless anachronism like Snick and feel that nothing worthwhile has been done to folders since the Buck 110. No offense, Snick

On the martial arts scene, I agree completely with eskrimador1. The late '90s will be looked back upon as practically a Renaissance, and much-needed correction to the several decades that preceeded it.

David, no offence intended (well, perhaps a little
)regarding SUV buyers, more about the tactics used to promote them. Just an overstated, on-topic, tongue-in-cheek rant over a few of my favorite pet peeves.

Personally, the most frightening thing I've ever seen is a group of leotard clad women with an attitude, walking out of a Tai Bo class. Made me want to grab my tactical knife, leap into my 4X4, and drive like the devil himself was on my tail.
I would agree with the "renaisance" theory in that good information is now easier to access, but there's still an overwhelming amount of cheese to sift through. And yes, you can sift through cheese, they sell that powdered stuff for spaghetti.

But this is more a result of "the information age" than more people doing good work.

For instance there's a guy coming out with a book on fighting with the navaja next month. He claims to have insider info on it's use and history.

Unfortunately, he never considered that there might be some hopelessly anachronistic weirdo reverse engineered from U.F.O. technology and assembled from junkyard parts who has dedicated the better part of his study and practice to the Western arts, particularly those of Spain, and especialy the navaja, who is armed with cultural exposure and reference works, including a contemporary manual on the combative use of the navaja that is just about done being translated and is on the verge of release.

The book is Sevillian Steel, you can see an interview with it's author, who's some kind of ninja or something, on Paladin Press's site in their "featured author" section. He lists so many documentable factual innacuracies or just plain fabrications as to inspire no faith whatsoever in him at all. I am getting a copy of this book express delivered and will do a complete write-up on it. It's possible that he actualy does convey authentic technique with fabricated background, but highly unlikely.

This is a good example of one form of tactical cheese, misinformation. The guy thought there was no way anybody could call him on this subject, so wrote and released some hoopla. Unfortunately, few people have much knowledge of this area, and this guy will be seen as a groundbreaking pioneer.

While there is good work that is now available on WMA that wasn't before, from the likes of such men as James Keating and John Clements, there are also guys like this who for one reason or another are trying to make a buck or achieve crossover status regardless of the authenticity of what they promote.

Unfortunately, all to often the people who don't teach anything worthwhile vastly outnumber those who do.
It think the song writer Warren Zevon mentioned something about "trying to separate the real thing from the wishful thinking".

Americans, being rather rich as a whole tend to try to "buy competance" instead of practice, practice, practice. This is true of the military buying the latest wonderweapon and than reducing forces and cutting back on training. And its also true on the shooting scene were some guy shows up at the range with a $900+ pistol, plus trick gear, and is all over his target.

Yes it is deplorable, but we can only control what we do. We work out, put in the time, and DO the things others only see on TV.

Its a great feeling to out shoot someone with a $1000 gun, by using my old Colt with 50% bluing wear and the original barrel. Its even better to outshoot him with his own gun!
Same with knives. I've learned to put my faith in my sharpening abilites to keep my edge up. My old Ontario Kar-Bar that's sharp will outcut the latest super steel that has gone dull because the owner doesn't know how to sharpen.

Even we in the know will fall prey to some gimicks because we are forever looking for better ways. Witness the chisle grind on the CQC-7. Yeah I've got one (BenchMade) great knife, but I'm putting a regular edge on one of these days. It will look funny, but it will only be noticed by the people in this forum, and I don't think anyone here will give me any crap about it.

We will continue. We will guide the ignorant, and not lecture them, nor berate them, for they are simply ignorant (like we once were), but not stupid.

Let the yuppy have his Genu-whine Authentic Seal A-pproved Tactical Wunder Weapon System,(Gasat-Wwiz), that only gets used on car camping trips. We will know are own.-Brian

P.S. "Thats more words I've spoke since I've known you".


Your use of my phrase describing you makes me think you're uncertain of what I meant. In context with anachronistic weirdo makes it sound like a snide remark. It was not a backhanded compliment but a compliment with reservations. I meant that you're ingenious but needs refinement. I'm just trying to exercise that I.Q. of yours

"A knifeless man is a lifeless man"
-Nordic proverb

[This message has been edited by David Williams (edited 08 August 1999).]
Dave, no offense was taken at the comments. I thought the two of them were cool in a sort of way, and fit because I'm a weird guy.

Eskrimador, and anyone else for that matter, feel free to e-mail me with any question on WMA, or even start a thread. I don't have all the answers, but I share what I know.


I have no idea who taught Keating and Clements.

Keating's ABC concepts are documented in Manual del Baratero, available in authorized photocopy form from www.barataria.com , I'm almost done with my English translation of this 19th century text.

Clements has manuals out the butt. Check www.thehaca.com , several are online.

Certain WMA's never died out, for instance Catch Wrestling, which is still taught in wrestling schools run by the old profesional wrestlers from the days when it had all the showmanship+real violence.

The knife techniques have also survived throughout the ages, among certain cultures like the Hispanics and the Romani, though they're not exactly mainstream. Techniques that bear a remarkable resemblance, even if in a more simplistic form, to what is taught in Manual del Baratero is still taught to U.S. Army soldiers. John Steyers also was teaching authentic Western knifework.

But there's a few things Eastern stylists miss a whole lot;

First, WMA is much more extensively documented than most of the Eastern styles, that is, historicaly speaking. There are more modern works on Eastern arts than Western.

Second, Western arts are quite different than there Eastern counterparts in philosophy. There is damned little spirituality or metaphysics to it, it's mostly about destroying your enemies, and there isn't really a, how to put it?, there isn't a tradition of copying the same master's style throughout all space and time.

You were, and are, expected to develop your own style. You learn from the manuals and maestros, you don't mimic their every action.

This is a point lost on many re-enactors, as opposed to WMA-ers too.

Of course, every master was in the buisness to make money as well as teach the skills, so naturaly they tried to promote themselves as superior to everyone else, look at George Silver, and there are discernable national styles, but it's a very dynamic and eclectic scene.

The term WMA is misleading, think "fighting skill", in the same way you think about a soldier's training. You don't commonly think of Army Combatives as a martial art, see what I'm saying?

It is not uncommon for Western manuals to not teach a "style" at all, but rather lay down the precepts for the use of that weapon, allowing you and your maestro to work something out on your own. A lot of it is conceptual, you take those concepts and develop your style. Like Le Jeu de la Hache, or even Manual del Baratero. It's not a "paint by numbers" proposition.

Anyway, considering the vast difference between Eastern and Western arts, I can see how Eastern-stylists have a hard time understanding what's up with WMA.