“The first thing I’d say about hand-to-hand combat, having seen you guys,” Graham said, “is to avoid it at all costs.”
Good thinking there, Graham, I thought.
“But if you do need it to get out of some situation, forget everything you thought you knew about fighting and go for the eyes. Poke, scratch, anything. This isn’t the movies and it’s not a fair fight. Do it fast, do it unexpectedly, and inflict pain. People can’t focus on hands coming for the eyes. Even you guys might have a chance.”
Maddocks turned his back and asked me to grab him around the neck. I figured he’d throw me, and came in with my knees flexed, ready to straighten him up, pull him backward, use my weight to keep him off balance. Almost as soon as my forearm touched his Adam’s apple, I noticed a knife at my raised elbow. It was a double-bladed survival knife, with a four-inch blade. The handle was black and the blade glinted in the late afternoon sun.
I let my arm drop, very carefully, and stood back.
“Where did that come from?” I asked. I hadn’t seen him pull it.
Graham lifted up his cotton shirt, which he wore outside his pants. There was a sheath, no thicker than a pocket penholder, and it was clipped inside his pants so the knife was out of sight.
“I teach my students to slash,” Graham said. “Don’t stab, slash.” The idea was to surprise and hurt the assailant, then run like hell. A slash across the face, especially the forehead, should stop just about anyone. Forehead cuts were especially bloody. People bleeding profusely from the face generally forget what they were doing and become intensely self-absorbed.
So we stood among the flowers and practiced the technique involved in slicing up people’s faces. “Z” strokes were good: zip across the forehead, slice sideways over the nose, gash across the cheeks and mouth. I recalled doing something similar years ago at St. Mary’s grade school. We called it “playing Zorro.”
The summer afternoon was sweet and moist, heavy with the odor of flowers and grass, and we stood there for an hour or so, playing Zorro. — Tim Cahill, in his book Road Fever (read for free)