Yes. The distinction is important: knife fighting vs. fighting with a knife. Before getting into that distinction I want to touch upon the gun. A gun is good but there are limitations to it that need to be recognize. Way back, I was friendly with a security guard who was licensed to carry. He was on the Orange Line, sitting at the end of a train when a group of teens came on board and started marauding (best term to describe it) the passengers. One of the teens started to approach my friend. My friend shook his head and pulled aside his coat to show his 357 mag. The kid turned around and went back to preying on the other passengers. I asked my friend why he didn't intervene. He said something to the effect of, "Sh*t! Who am I going to shoot in there, there were so many of them, never mind the innocent folks who might get a strayed bullet. I just made sure they didn't touch me."
Anyway, knife fighting vs. fighting with a knife. The past year has been an eye opener training in the FMA's. Initially, I thought these guys were nuts. The overwhelming majority carry two or more knives on them. (I admit to actually carrying at least two at all times now. So, something rubbed on.) Those who can, with a ccw, will also have a gun, an ASP baton, pepper spray, minimag and God knows what else. Why? Because they consider themselves warriors first and foremost and are "dressed" that way, meaning they are always prepared for the worst case scenario. The worst case is confronting one or more armed bad guys. The assumption is the bad guy also knows his weapon(s). I find it interesting that the training is largely focused on weapon against weapon. As I watch some of the more skilled (and even less skilled) practitioners, it is clear that fighting one of these guys without a weapon is almost a guaranteed trip to the morgue. This is especially true of the knife. A good edged weapon DOES NOT NEED a lot of power behind it to do lots of damage. This is an incredible equalizer for the small or weaker individual. I have a custom blade that can almost make you bleed just by looking at it. More importantly, in slashing/puncturing drills with a six inch thick roll of suspended newspapers, this knife cuts through like a hot knife through butter. On softer materials like flesh, tendons, ligaments, arteries...
The fact is the FMA practitioner never wants to confront someone with an edged weapon without one of his/her own. It's also interesting to note that a lot of the drills in knifefighting (or stickfighting) involve the following sequence of parrying/blocking, defanging and then the debilitating/killing blow. I believe the assumption is that without defanging, even after the parry/block, the opponent still holding his weapon will have an opportunity to kill you as you try to kill him. My own (albeit limited) experience with knife sparring bears this out. Attacking without defanging first almost always ends in mutual killing. Also, when you go straight for the kill, whatever difference in reach gives an advantage to the person with the most. This is equivilent to what one experiences or sees in horse stance sparring. However, if one attempts to defang first, the reach is nullified because all one has to do is to reach the knife/weapon hand of the opponent. If successful, than the opponent is yours for the taking without undue risk of being stab first by a longer reach as one goes in for a stab/slash. The implications of defanging on Uechi is this, don't assume a static stance with your hands out in classic Sanchin posture. Those hands will become hamburger real quick. The hands has to stay closer in, with the palms facing more inward (the inside of the arms/palms are "bleeder" targets". You have to be more balanced and mobile as opposed to balanced and strong (there is a distinction here). If you are not mobile, you will be even less so when the opponent slashes out the muscles and ligaments around your kness.
Now fighting with a knife. Absolutely, go in quick and powerful. BTW, you have the opportunity to use the knife without deploying the blade (a sort of more merciful approach if not more legally sound). More than one oppponent, then you have to decide real quick whether they are willing to show as much mercy as you would by not deploying the blade...
Moe, I would agree with you if one were backed into a corner with nowhere to go and no weapon of one's own. (I hope never to be in that position.) But, I have to say at this point, rushing in, in my mind, is rushing to one's death against a skilled opponent. Trying to control the opponent's weapon hand, especially when that person knows how to snake this way and that, cutting, slashing and stabbing throughout, while hitting you at the same time with his "live"/free hand is just not optimal. In some ways, waiting for the person to commit seems better. At least you have an initial idea where he is going with that weapon and hopefully be fast enough to counter it. Rushing in, you have no clue what his counter will be with the knife.
Several months ago, I was in an all day workshop with Tuhon Bill McGrath of Pekiti Tirsia International. I found it interesting that in encountering a knife attack. He advocates parry, hit the knife hand/arm (kyusho), hit the head, push off and get the hell away. With some distance, pull your gun or knife or some other available weapon. There seems to be two assumptions: One, it's almost suicidal to continue engaging a weapon wielding opponent if you have an opportunity to hit and run. Two, you should have a weapon(s) of your own to access immediately after breaking away.
Just some of the things I've been thinking about.
[This message has been edited by david (edited 04-09-99).]