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Old 11-08-2003, 06:07 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool 1st Marines take a stab at cutting-edge warfare

1st Marines take a stab at cutting-edge warfare
Submitted by: MCB Camp Pendleton
Story Identification Number: 200311714051
Story by Sgt Matthew J. Epright

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(October 20, 2003) -- He's lethal - and he's free.

Marines at 1st Marine Regiment are taking complimentary training from a Native American master of bladed warfare.

"None of this is theory," Shi Gong Robert Redfeather said at the beginning of his Apache Knife Fighting seminar. "Everything I teach, I have used. It's not fancy. It is direct and precise - for killing."

He declined to shed light on his knife-fighting past, though several linear scars on his torso told a tale all their own.

Redfeather - a Mescalero Apache from Fayetteville, Ark., taught his unique style of personal combat to 1st Marine Regiment Marines Oct. 20 at Camp Horno.

After his introduction, but before even the basics were taught, Redfeather donned helmet and gloves and engaged in mock combat with each of the students one by one.

He gauged the students' existing skills by seeing how many times they can "kill" him before he closes for the kill himself.

This wasn't the average remedial training with plastic knives. Redfeather brought a fighting style called "Nagondzog," the Apache word for a style of guerrilla warfare practiced by the likes of Geronimo. He began studying the fighting style in 1980 and now teaches the secrets to military and police organizations.

"It's a family art," Redfeather explained. "It's not usually taught to outsiders."

Still, Redfeather holds the Marine Corps in high esteem and felt his instruction could benefit Marines. So he began offering classes here about three months ago.

It's not all guts and glory. Redfeather's style of knife fighting is a thinking man's game.

"You really have to use your noodle," he said. "If you rush into it too fast, you can get killed. It's not 'martial arts' at all."

Redfeather's knife techniques are quick and direct. There was little playing around with opponents. Almost every move was for the kill, finishing the fight almost before it even started.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Gunnery Sgt. Orlando Diaz, chief martial arts instructor for 1st Marine Division Schools. "I didn't know what type of techniques he was trying to use or what techniques he wanted me to try and use. By all means, he knows what he' s doing."

Redfeather also instructed Marines on the dangerous sections of a knife blade and how best to use each section to inflict damage on an opponent.

After imparting some knowledge of the weapons, he released Marines on each other to practice with training knives. Junior instructors assisted, providing tips and insight to the students.

Sgt. Tanner Nystrom, the regimental training coordinator, brought Redfeather and his team to Horno.

"This is something I've just recently started doing because of some contacts that I've made," Nystrom said.

This was the fourth seminar Nystrom arranged for his unit, all in the last three months.

"It's knowledge that we don't already have in the Marine Corps," he said.

A black-belt instructor in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, Nystrom said Marines could benefit from learning techniques outside of those the Corps teaches.

"It will make you more well-rounded as an instructor," he said.

Redfeather normally charges a fee for his seminars, but wants to give something back to the Marine Corps.

"(He's) doing this free of charge ... as a community service," Nystrom told the students.

Nystrom appreciated Redfeather's training so much, he presented him with a knife more traditional to Marines - a Ka-Bar mounted on a plaque.

"Everyone in my chain of command ... has been more than cooperative," he added. "They've been very helpful in putting this stuff together."

For more information about Redfeather's seminars, visit his Web site at:

E-mail Sgt Epright at

Sgt. Lee Senteno of Headquarters and Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, takes advantage of a perceived opening while engaged in simulated knife combat with Apache Knife Fighting instructor Robert Redfeather. Redfeather presented his knife fighting seminar at the Camp Horno gymnasium Oct. 20. Photo by: Sgt. Matthew J. Epright


SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............
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