The Optical illusions: Think of smoke and mirrors. 
Visual illusions: The filling-in of the blind spot. Sleight of hand
Other sensory illusions: Magicians employ tactile and auditory illusions
Cognitive illusions: These involve higher cortical areas of the brain 
Special effects: Just like when you go to the movies, special effects! 
Mechanical devices, secret drawers: Refer to contraptions & gimmicks.

The art of the blade is brutal and unforgiving. It is a path based upon treachery and deceit. It must be so or the participants would stand no chance at all. All knife men are fakers. We fake to get our way, we gamble with our lives. The mere physical abilities of the knife methods are no match for guile and well honed muscles that know the pathways of flashing death. The illusions cast by the master knife player will bring pain unto the body, chaos unto the mind and mortal fear unto the spirit of Christian and heathen adversaries alike. Trickery, faking and sleight of hand are as valuable in this game as are lightning fast hands and nerves of steel. Even timing and rhythm are forms of illusion. You can catch an opponent in your rhythm - patterns. Then alter the timing and strike them cleanly. It appears magical to a bystander watching. The blow is so clean and uncontested it does not seem possible that it could take place. "Voiding" is another magical trick that many arts employ. Learn about the great void and how it is employed through the combination of motion, vertigo and angle. Study how certain props can work with and within the void to enhance your overall game plan of advanced knife play. With the void, you take them to the edge, then step away fast, they will teeter and then fall in to the void both physically and mentally. All who enter that door of the void chase emptiness and shall perish in darkness. 

Do Not Be Annoyed by the Great VOID 
First of all the void is not your enemy nor is it your friend. It is a void absent of these qualities. It is as a vast nothingness that has no beginning and no end. That is part of the lesson. Infinity can be real and it can be a place and we as limited sensory creatures can become overwhelmed by that which invites us to extend beyond our limitations and parameters yet all the while we are inside of those same limitations. At the same time. This is the Kundalini conundrum. It is in no way a place that has clarity because of its lack of discernible reference points. That is the point - or lack of a point. Once you take the enemy into the void they begin to panic and will become lost within their own mind. Their senses will flee and constriction in the chest takes place from claustrophobia. They want out of the void, so be wary. They can be unintentionally lethal in their panic! This is like observing the worldly existences of a point, a line and a target. Those with supreme wisdom understand the true nature of all worldly existences by observing vertically the relationships between the preceding and current conditions (karma). Then we can understand the true meaning of void-nature and nirvana-nature in the use of weapons and warfare.


An interesting study of the two main means of creating confusion in the mind (and senses) of the adversary is the cross correlation of two methods in which the eyes and brain brings us information and also protects us from harm. The master knife fighter knows of these things and throughout his life he continues to refine and polish their execution in high stress scenarios. Only then after a lifetime of study can the confidence come forth as needed to really benefit from this method. These two commonly found actions are based upon the curved arc and the straight (fast) direct line. The PURSUIT system of the eyes is attracted by smoothly moving objects, the arc / Calm, smooth. The saccadic system kicks in during erratic movements, jumping to one target to another / agitated, nervous.So... if your opponents "pursuit system" locks onto the smooth, swift arc of your distracting motion it may be then possible to slip in the straight line completely unobserved. The Fast straight motions cause the saccadic system to kick in. Know that the center of the opponents attention is drawn away by the first (pursuit) method. There lies opportunity, STRIKE without hesitation! 

If the "saccadic method" is used the opponent is left "blinded" by a phenomenon that is commonly called "Saccadic Suppression". The eyes are the doorway to the mind. At some point we must see that the game switches from the vision - motion matrix to that of the sphere of the mind and senses. A psychological compromise will then appear for them and when it does it will work in your favor if you move quickly. Even today the neuro-scientific underpinnings of these two methods are not completely understood. What scholars argue over as per validity and usefulness, the knife fighting community figured out long ago. Sword work, bull fighting, spear fighting - all these contain the very essence of what we are talking about in this article when they are done correctly. (IE: they work on man & beast alike)! 

If you raise your empty hand or wave the knife about for no apparent reason it will certainly cause the opponent to become alert - cautious. So you must "sneak in" your move (distract A. or B.) as a natural, spontaneous action. (Scratch your chin, push back hair, adjust your glasses, scratch your balls, rub your thigh, adjust your fencing mask) What I am teaching you here is part of a new science called "NEUROMAGIC". Unlike visual illusion COGNITIVE illusion is not sensory in nature. Cognitive deals with memory, attention and casual interferences . The world of the knife man is fertile ground for more exploration and experimentation of these amazing concepts.

These are the facts about this rare form of magic. It times past it has been observed that a magnetizer at times can magnetize without any conscious effort of volition and almost without thinking, and yet produce the desired effect. It is an act of the will & intent. It occurs through the eyes. But can also take place via a particular gesture or movement sequence. Best done when YOU launch an assault at them. Magnetism is related to charms and anting anting. Animal Magnetism and Charm-cures are but salutary influences exercised for curative purposes, like those practiced by the so-called (Spanish) Saludadores. For a knife man it must be possible to act upon things from inside, instead of from outside, as is usual. See the difference. Rogeri Bacon, Opus Majus, Londini, 1733, perhaps more concerning the inner nature of Magic than any other writer, and does not even hesitate to give a minute description of the processes used in it. 1 He says: "To be observed concerning wax images: if I bear malice in my will against anyone, that malice must be carried out by some medium or corpus [body]. Thus it is possible for my spirit to stab or wound another person without help from my body in using a sword, merely by my fervent desire. Therefore it is also possible for me to convey my opponent's spirit into the image by my will and then to deform or paralyze it at pleasure.

Another feat based upon will or "Magnetism" is remote control of the opponents thoughts, movements and feelings. An opponent is "caught" by your gaze. Unable to move or to defend themselves they become easy prey. Mind you, they are fully aware during this time. Their head and neck may move, but their arms and legs cannot. When you "capture" the opponent correctly you will notice them tremble as they slip under your will power. To fall forwards, to fall back or to kneel is all via your will. Complete paralysis - another easy to do trick that makes'em stiff as a board. This too is another remote control technique that a knife man may wish to acquire. The enemy becomes the puppet, you the puppeteer. Signals, subliminal gestures also figure into this magic-combat equation. (More on subliminal signals & gestures here)

Given the complexity of the perceptual process, it may come as little surprise that defining misdirection is a rather difficult task for scholar and warrior alike. Another way of defining misdirection is by focusing on its function. Any magic effect in combat of any kind (what the opponent sees) requires a method (the method used to produce the effect). The main purpose of misdirection is to disguise the method and thus prevent the adversary from detecting it whilst still experiencing the effect, IE: Defeat! Misdirection is central to fencing and knife fighting and has attracted much interest from magicians and sports athletes as well. 

Alterations to any of the mind's cognitive processes will influence the conscious experience and lead to conspicuous failures in the physical world such as awareness and a phenomenon known as "change blindness" (a form of visual masking that occurs in certain conditions). To learn the material & apply it in knife work you must shift between active and passive misdirection. Active misdirection involves those methods that attract spatial attention due to some kind of transient change in sound or movement of the body, blade or feet. Passive misdirection, on the other hand, refers to methods that work by unobtrusively manipulating the opponents mind through the way in which people react to static stimuli which you obliging provide!

Now on the other hand, some Maestro's of the blade describe 3 degrees of misdirection. The first degree would be when the knife man performs two simultaneous actions, the method behind the nasty trick, or secret move, and a distractor. Having to attend to both, the opponent cannot focus on the method and that, in general, suffices to make it go totally unnoticed. In the second degree, the two actions are not perceptually equivalent, such as when a big move covers a small move, and as a result misdirection is enhanced. The third degree would be the same as the example of active misdirection. High level knife fighters often talk about misdirection in terms of creating zones of high and low threat, whereby the former will attract attention at the expense of the latter. In all truth I think that misdirection is not merely to divert attention away from the secret move that strikes your target. I think it is more about the fighters capacity to draw attention to a particular place, which we call "framing", at a particular time.

The art of fooling with the enemies mind and senses. A knife man can cause the opponents attention to hyper-accentuate or to become lax. Like a magician the knife man also knows that large motions cover small motions. Attention can be directed to certain areas via the spotlight effect. The brain does something called "filling in". This is exploited during switches and vanishes. When a knife man does a hand exchange once, twice and then on the 3rd toss or exchange does the motion but no exchange the opponent "fills-in" and see's the switch as if it happened, a lethal error of the senses and vision. The BLACK HOLE figures into this also. I teach the black hole effect in the Bowie training. All about attention and misdirection via distraction and circular action. One way to mess with somebody's attention, without diverting their gaze at all, is to split their focus as a master fencer or knife man does. 

The Knifeman's knife cuts paper and others as normal but it will not / cannot harm it's owner. The knife man is cut in a fight. He heals it on the spot and restores the flesh, seals it with pressure rub, energy, saliva and intent (super glue also works similar when you are cut).. hey, just say'in! Anting anting is both preventitive and restorative in nature. It helps to have been given some kind of anting anting. Know the simple tricks that bring someone back from deaths door. The foot, the scream, the kidneys. Restore life that you may have taken or compromised. A chilling effect of restoration is one where you take his weapon away very smoothly and swift. Then before he truly realizes what you have done, you re-insert the knife (his) back into his opposite hand. Voila! Smile - bow to him now and watch the chilling, slo-mo effect wash over him. 

The knife fighter calls his shot. Just like in pool. (Or as in Billy Jack) - This is what I will do - BAM, then does it!! The knifefighter lays the blueprint down for success via the plays or master plays. Human psychology plays heavily into this. The classic "3 step death", they take three steps and fall over as in Kung Fu films etc.. as the bad guy counts out the 1,2,3 - that's a "prediction" in the martial sense.

All other misdirection is built upon this basic building block. It is the basis for the "offset" stance. It is the make or break element of a successful Spanish Guard. It is the secret of the master duelist. The angle, line and signature of your weapon are all part of your understanding as to where the knife or "distract" will take place. Your posture plays into Angle. Your timing plays off angle. The actual shape of some knives is based upon angle. We call some angles "structure"in martial arts. Angle is the axel.

The opponent takes your weapon away (disarm). As a counter you simultaneously take his weapon away! (learn about counter for counter type fighting) You escape his ploy and his intent and continue on with the flow of combat. Through "yielding" you allow the opponent to get the drop on you and then escape to have your way with them. "Escape" can mean breaking their concentration via distraction.

Levitation can be done in several ways. Please remember we are talking about a trick, an illusion. "to give the idea of floating or levitating" is the idea. Hand exchanges are a part of this "levitation" effect we are concerned with. One is done with a light weight knife, spirit gum and spiderweb line. The other is done at a diagonal line to their sight, usually in an upwards diagonal. But work both upward and downwards and notice the effects. Using the spiderline and gum the amount of levitation type tricks you can do is limitless. I like the frontal "hover & spin" as part of a movement set. Best is once shown then never again. Done! Levitation in martial arts world is part of a "sticking energy" regimen in Kung Fu.

The harmless cane (stick) turns into a sword (sword cane), Some of my knives are two tone. Black on one side, mirror polish on the other side. The knife can transform before your eyes depending upon your clothing or environment or what I wish thee to see or not. The ball cap becomes the knife. The folding knife becomes the harmonica. The empty hand becomes the knife. The pistol becomes the empty hand. All illusive aspects we teach of transformation.

 The knife fighter himself disappears, or his weapons disappear from sight as swiftly as they appeared. The vanish being the opposite of the production. The control of range and depth perception combined with distraction such as pain, noise, a flash of light or spirit shout. This then creates the window where the vanish is a true surprise and tactical - it's a psych move. This also entails the jettison of a weapon(s) as taught in our method. Or the jettisoning and recovery of a weapon which is part of (restoration). We will get to that principle later. Stay tuned !

 The knife fighter produces his weapon (knife) from nothing and nowhere. This may be accomplished via a sleeve apparatus similar to the derringer slide of the old west gamblers. He may suddenly brandish a kerchief from no where as a distraction to his true action. Through his stealth and training the knife fighter remains hidden until contact is desired IE: he gets in close and then "appears" before his chosen target from ambuscade. He produces a flash - fire and smoke (flash papers - a handy item for the knifeman) and lo' a blade appears! A common lighter can be employed in another amazing manner for a awesome tactical effect in CQB work armed or unarmed.
Tactical Magic / 2019
By James A. Keating
Conceptual Contemplations on Tactical Magic