Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Survival | 0 comments

Sayoc Kali practitioners work to develop their quick draw skills as this technique with the blade is applicable in multiple scenarios. This ability to access the blade and present it quickly within a fight is an important attribute in winning, not just surviving this exchange. The quickdraw can happen at anytime, and understand that a blade can appear in a fight at anytime.  Understanding and ultimately improving upon the quick draw is accomplished through deconstructing the mechanics behind it and the seams it exploits in the opponent’s defenses. From these, attributes can then be developed to improve the speed and accuracy thereby increasing not only survivability but effectiveness in combatives.

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The quickdraw is a necessary component to an effective fighting system. Similar to a good choke, wrist manipulation or jab, the quick draw is best utilized when used in conjunction with other techniques as part of a chain of actions. It may be used at the beginning, middle or end  of the chain. Confusion results from viewing the quick draw as an isolated single movement or solution to a problem. Just as a single attack is rarely the sole formula, the quickdraw is not to be viewed as the only move needed although it may in fact be the only move needed.  The quickdraw works well in transitioning from weapon systems in CQB, in dealing with multiple opponents or when utilizing multiple weapons. Traditionally carried at the 11, 12 or 1 O’clock position, the quick draw also trains where to reach for a weapon capable of delivering a thrust faster than a firearm carried further back around the waistline on the body.

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Simple geometric truths prove the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Curved lines are represented in the fighting world by looping motions and chambers (like a traditional sidekick) are represented by 90 degree angles. A good fighter can read looping punches thrown outside the reactionary gap (a.k.a. haymakers or John Waynes) because depth is easier to determine while a straight line attack like the jab is less obvious because the mind is fooled by where the jab is sprung. The Sayoc quick draw follows this imaginary straight line from the opening of the knife sheath to the target. Drawing up and then out will be slower than drawing in the direction of the target. This target is also always deliberate and it is not to be misunderstood as indiscriminate thrusting. While developing a proper quickdraw, the blade should be fast and accurate as missing the target means working back to it making motion less than the shortest distance unlike the accurate straight line. Quick draws are taught from open carry and from concealment as training mirrors reality.


In developing attributes to make the quick draw more effective, more than simple geometry must be understood. Body mechanics determine how quickly a blade can be presented. Squaring off the body to the opponent may have different results than blading with the lead side forward slightly. Incorporating body angulation may also allow for better weapons retention on the side turned away from the opponent or it may help line up the second attack following the quick draw. Depending on the position of the opponent(s) body position may help expose seams in the posture of the opponent where vital targets are as well. From these, existing attributes can then be further developed utilizing Sayoc’s system of improving blade sheath clears and target accuracy thereby increasing not only survivability but effectiveness in combat application.

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Quick draw practice can be accomplished with or without a training partner. It can be done in a mirror, against a sparring or rolling partner or it can be done in conjunction with firearms training. Proper training should always be sought out as practicing any skill numerous times only builds bad training scars hard to correct. When trained and done correctly though, the quick draw is highly effective and the motion becomes like second nature. Knives are used for all manners of survival including on the street. Having a good quick draw can make the difference between life and death. As the old expression states, there are “the quick and the dead.”

Which will you be?

-Kevin Estela

About the Author

Kevin Estela is the Founder and Head Instructor of Estela Wilderness Education. He conducts private and semi-private wilderness and urban/suburban survival courses, tests and evaluates knives and equipment for various companies, is a Mountain Khakis Professional Ambassador, and is a life-long outdoors enthusiast with additional pastimes in canoeing/kayaking, fishing and cooking. Kevin's work has taken him from Los Angeles, CA to the United Kingdom and many points in between. Kevin is ranked in both Sayoc Kali and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is a shooting enthusiast. Kevin is formerly the Lead Instructor for the Wilderness Learning Center. When not teaching outdoor skills, he is a full-time High School History Teacher and Track and Field Coach who lives in Connecticut.