Bowie Knife Workshop After-Action Review – American Heritage Fighting Arts

Just in time for Independence Day, Forteza kicked off our American Heritage Fighting Arts program with a three hour introduction to the Bowie knife.  While we had originally planned to launch this new program with a seminar on the tomahawk, due to a snafu with one of our distributors, we found ourselves without tomahawk trainers! Oops.

This worked out just fine, as there is no other weapon as  quintessentially American as the Bowie knife.

The Man – the Knife. While Jim Bowie’s knife duels are famous, there is no evidence of any special design of his devising, or a connection to the weapon that would come to bear his name

The Bowie was not so much a new invention, as the inheritor of about two-thousand years of European big knives, beginning with the Germanic saex. Although taught in fencing salles throughout the south – particularly in New Orleans, alongside the sabre and dueling sword, there was little formally written on fighting with the big knife, with the most notable sources being an illustrated newspaper interview from 1890 and  John Styers much later “Cold Steel”.  Our own Bowie knife system comes from Forteza Combatives instructor Keith Jennings’ 14 years of research into the weapon. Keith has at one time or another studied with three of the modern masters of the Bowie: James Keating, Dwight McClemore, and Pete Kautz. The program taught at Forteza reflects the teachings of three instructors, as well as Keith’s own research into the use of the knife in Western martial culture going back to the medieval ages, through the World Wars, and to today.

The seminar focused on the basics of large knife dueling starting with the grip, the basic stance and guards, and the three basic thrusts. After learning how to attack safely using the age old True Times, students worked on defensive actions, including basic parries, stop cuts, classical fencing techniques such as the inquartata and passada sotto.

Next, the students learned the deadly back-cut, taking advantage of the Bowie knife unique blade design. Using the clip point of the blade, students went through the mechanics of a proper back-cut, and how to use it both offensively and defensively.

Finally, with enough basic training under their belts, it was time to pressure test what the students had learned. There were a lot of different training backgrounds present, from historical fencing, to Filipino martial arts, Military knife training, and boxing. All of this showed up in their sparring, and everyone was quick adapt the bowie knife to their pre-existing skill set. There were several nice passes, and all of the fighting looked crisp, deadly, and ended quickly, just as a Bowie knife fight should!


Bowie Fencing Video Clip One

Bowie Fencing Video Clip Two

The next in our line of American Heritage Fighting Arts seminar series with be the Tomahawk and Long knife Seminar on Sunday, August 4th.

One Comment on “Bowie Knife Workshop After-Action Review – American Heritage Fighting Arts

  1. Pingback: Tomahawk and Long Knife Seminar Review and Training Footage | fortezafitness

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