Bob Kasper and The Gung Ho Chuan Association

Bob Kasper is a former USMC Military Policeman (69-73) and USAR Cavalry Scout (81-82). He was stationed in Japan for 13 months and studied tai-ho jutsu from a captain in the Japanese defense force. He is the Director of the Gung-Ho Chuan Association, a brotherhood of Marine Corps veteran close quarters combat instructors. He is also founder of the American Karate Jutsu Association and holds black belts and instructor ranks in several martial art disciplines. An avid knife enthusiast his whole life, Bob Kasper began his study of Western knife fighting in the late 1970s while researching WWII close quarters combat (CQC).

Bob Kasper was the Street Smarts editor for Tactical Knives magazine for over 5 years and has written close combat/knife related articles for Combat Knives, Modern Knives, Fighting Knives, Full Contact, Guns & Ammo, Soldier of Fortune, and Gung-Ho magazines. He is also the Editor for SNAPPING IN, The Journal of the Gung-Ho Chuan Association.

Bob Kasper is a "Close Combat Subject Matter Expert" and the current author of the close combat knife curriculum for the United States Marine Corps. His Kni-Com is currently being used by several Special Mission Units (SMU) within the Department of Defense. It is also used by high-risk security details worldwide on which Mr. Kasper served and which he is currently the Technical Operations Advisor. He has deployed to high-risk environments such as Bosnia, Israel, Afghanistan, Mexico City and Bogota Colombia to work with and train protective security details in various hard skills.

In his youth he pursued typical sports such as wrestling, running etc. and joined the Marines where he was involved in the military police. He always had a closer affinity for western arts and started to teach himself knife skills. In 1973, when he left the Marines Bob started studying [Shito-ryu] karate with Yoshisada Yonezuka, a renowned judo and karate instructor teaching in New Jersey. After nine years he attained a sandan in karate while also participating in judo classes.

During the late seventies Mr. Kasper and his training partner, Carl Cestari (who is notable in his own right as a combatives instructor) traveled several hours to New York City, from their homes in New Jersey to study with Charles Nelson. Charles Nelson was a Marine Corps close combat instructor along with Col. Anthony Biddle and taught Mr. Kasper an overview of WWII combatives. In 1992, after 14 years of association with Mr. Nelson he started an organization he called the Gung-Ho Chuan Association. Bob says, he wanted to start an organization with the words "Gung Ho" in it because it's a [Chinese] WWII term meaning "working together."

Through the Gung Ho Chuan Association, Bob met Kelly McCann (also known as Jim Grover back then). They became friends and Bob started working for Kelly teaching DoD, government and corporate personnel on how to survive in high-risk environments. Bob also teaches his own knife defense course called Kni-Com, short for Knife Combat. This course is based on what knife fighting on the street should look like. Because of the personnel he trains and the time he's allotted to train them he can't afford to have a complicated, time-consuming, hard-to-retain curriculum. It has to be simple and effective.

When Kelly [McCann] introduced Bob to a special mission unit several years ago he told him, "These men are professionals. If they don't like what they see they'll get up and walk out. That was years ago and they're still using my curriculum."

Though Bob is grounded in combatives he points out that not all military combatives are appropriate for everyone. The former USMC LINE curriculum was a good example of that. A lot of elite unit's main missions is CQB. Close quarter battle has no relevance to an individual operating alone in the street. For example, when he was teaching a SMU in Bosnia they wanted to know how to knife fight with their weak hand while holding a subgun with their strong hand. What does that have to do with civilians? You want to seek out the instructor who trains men and woman to work alone in high-risk environments with no support. Just them alone in the street, like us the civilian.

Bob's been teaching civilians since the late 70's. His first training center opened in 1979. It was a self-defense school called Personal Survival Tactics. He currently runs a training center in New Jersey where he teaches unarmed, stick, knife and handgun to civilians. Bob say's many people are under the impression that we don't teach civilians; this is false, our main clientele is civilian. The most important elements military combatives offers civilians is simplistic effectiveness. That is, easy to learn, easy to execute and easy to retain.

After WWII people were fed up with the violence of the war. Training in WWII CQC literally stopped. A handful of men continued in the techniques but as time went by it was pushed aside because of the influence of the Eastern martial arts. It's our belief that WWII CQC is a real world, time-tested martial form. Our goal is to keep this great American martial tradition alive.

When asked about the difference between WWII CQC and traditional eastern martial arts Bob stated, "The biggest difference is the time it takes to become combat effective. Because we only concentrate on few techniques the training cycle through competency is a lot shorter. Where most martial arts believe "more is better", WWII CQC believes "less is more."

More about the Gung Ho Chuan Association
Founded by Marines in 1992, the Gung-Ho Chuan Association, or GHCA, is a brotherhood of close combat instructors who research, practice, develop and teach the principles, tactics and techniques used by the elite Allied Forces of WW II. The GHCA is one of the premier close combat training organization in existence today. Forged in the streets of Shanghai, China, and tempered in the Pacific and European theaters of war, this form of Western combatives which is also known as "gutter fighting" is still considered by many to be the true essence of close combat.

Like their forefathers, GHCA members not only practice "gutter fighting" but put it to test in high risk environments such as Mexico, Bosnia, Peru, Haiti, Indonesia, Kosovo, the Middle East, Africa, Israel, Afghanistan and Colombia. Since the GHCA's existence, approximately one-half of the certified instructors have deployed to high-risk environments as trainers, members of protective security details, and military special mission units.

Keeping with WWII USMC Close Combat tradition several GHCA Instructors are current Close Combat Subject Matter Experts for the United States Marine Corps. The goal of the GHCA is to produce high-quality instructors and practitioners of close combat, and to live up to their motto - "Working together to keep our fighting heritage alive."

Gung-ho, or "working together" comes from the motto of the US Marine Corps' most elite WWII outfit, the Raiders. Often misinterpreted as "hard-charging" the term "gung-ho" was brought to the Marine Corps from China via Col. Evans Carlson. Col. Carlson was temporarily attached to the Chinese 8th Route Army as an observer. This disciplined guerilla outfit was the only Chinese unit that held the Imperial Japanese Army advance. So impressed was Carlson that he brought back their motto and instilled their harmonious fighting spirit into his newly formed command, the 2nd Raider Battalion.

The founders of the GHCA adopted "Gung-Ho" as its own to identify with its fighting spirit and close combat roots. The term "chuan" or "fist" was added to denote an organization of close combat practitioners. The GHCA logo are the Chinese characters for "working together" surrounded by an inverted triangle with rounded corners. The symbol was first seen in the U.S. at the beginning of the 1942 Raider movie "Gung Ho" which starred Randolph Scott as Lt. Col. Evans Carlson. The colors red & gold are the Marine Corps colors.

There is strong evidence that Carlson first saw the ideogram on a triangular shaped sign in a Chinese Army camp. This logo can be seen in the beginning of Our Kind Of War, which is a book about the Raiders, authored by the Raiders. In November of 1992, the GHCA Director received written permission by the President of the United States Marine Raider Association to use the gung-ho symbol as its own logo and emblem.

More about Kni-Com
Kni-Com is a program of instruction (POI), which utilizes principles, techniques, and tactics from Western military and criminal schools of knife combat. It is based on the reality of a violent knife attack and the body's natural reaction to it.

Every combat knife POI must include training in realistic assaults. There are many manuals on close combat that include a study of enemy tactics. We should follow their example and know our enemy and how he operates. Once you understand the mindset of the 'predator', you'll approach your training in a more realistic manner.

Bob says, "the first thing you must understand is that a 'predator' uses the principle of surprise to begin his assault. The chances of you drawing a knife for an initial defense is very slight. Unfortunately, you won't even be thinking about your knife once the sudden violence has begun. The second thing you must understand is that he will continue his assault until he has complete control of you. The assault is going to be fast, furious, and continuous. Therefore, you'll have to counter him unarmed until you're able to draw your weapon. At this initial stage of the encounter the quick draw becomes the most single important aspect of knife fighting."

Bob states that the success of a tactical draw depends upon two things. Equipment design and practice. Especially practice! No matter how good the design it won't work unless you practice. Draws should be done under various stressed conditions using one-hand, two-hand, and off-hand scenarios. Kni-Com includes drills such as slap, grapple and ground draws. These stress induced Fend-Draw-Attack drills train the practitioner to draw and counter for various violent encounters.

Kni-Com consists of the study of enemy attacks as well as drawing under various conditions. But knife combat is much more than just getting the weapon out. Like any other combat skill it must include a blend of defensive and offensive tactics designed to quickly end a confrontation without sustaining a serious injury. Yes, you can expect to get cut. But don't let it happen on purpose. You DO NOT want to close in if you don't have to. You DO NOT want to sacrifice a limb or take a cut or thrust to deliver one in return. It's like taking a bullet before you return fire.

Kni-Com is a practical system for all those who carry a knife for defensive purposes. It's not based on bullet reflexes or jackrabbit movements, nor does it take years of practice to become proficient. It was developed for an average person with average ability to learn combative knife skills in a reasonable amount of time. I base its success on the fact it is now a part of legitimate POI used by several Special Operations Units in the Department of Defense as well as being taught abroad to US personnel serving in hostile areas where knife culture is predominant. This is not to say it has been taught to one or two members of these units but to the whole unit and incorporated into their existing program of instruction.

About Kni-Com Seminars
The purpose of the Kni-Com seminar is to teach military, police, security, and civilian personnel techniques of knife combat which supports non-use of firearms when operating in an hostile environment.

The techniques in this course are currently in use by several military, government, and police agencies, United States Marine Corps, Fortune 75 executive protection teams, DoS contractors, and DoD SMUs to increase personal survival when the use of firearms is, for whatever purpose, not available. The course was specifically developed to train personnel who may already have defensive knife skills but want to enhance their survivability by bringing those skills to a higher combat level.

The course information is beneficial to all regardless of background and is designed to enhance the ability to protect oneself in sudden, unexpected violent confrontations. Methodology: demonstration, execution and application.

The 3-Day Kni-Com Seminar is broken down into three sections: basic combat skills, knife fighting skills, and street skills. These sections will be taught using the pyramid method of instruction over five 3-hour training sessions. The skills will then be demonstrated step-by-step. The principal and assistant Instructors will lead the class through the execution stage until each participant has a thorough understanding of the task at hand. Practical application of the techniques will then be demonstrated and practiced. The course also includes multi-media presentations on 'Combatives' and the 'Effects of Imminent Danger' which includes video footage of actual assaults.

Tasks are continuously reviewed during the course of instruction. This enables the participant to retain the newly learned skills. The goal of the 3-Day Kni-Com Seminar is to bring the individual's combat knife skills to a level of competence so to efficiently and instinctively neutralize a sudden unexpected violent assault. (Periodic maintenance is recommended to maintain/increase the level of proficiency.)

Kni-Com Task List:
Principles, grips, the guard, movement, slashes, thrusts, snap cuts, off-hand skills, startle cuts, checking, kni-com drill, carries, stress draws, covert draws, Euro-American techniques, jailhouse techniques, legal issues, basic unarmed combat, transitional skills. Bob Kasper also maintains the Gung Ho Chuan Website at as part of his duties as Director of the Association. This association is protecting the legacy of World War II Close Quarters Combat Methodology and Instruction.

Bob Kasper as Knife Designer
Bob Kasper, who is an Honorary Member of The Knifemaker's Guild, is also well known for his Kasper Fighting Knife designs. They include: the "Bulldog", "Pug", "Companion", "Scorpion", "Perfigo Fixed", and "Gaunt" which are all handmade by Al Polkowski. The "Classic" made by Randy Lee. The "Performer" made by Jim Siska. The award winning 'Grande' made by Rob Patton. And the very popular "Kasper Folding Fighter" series and "Perfigo Folder" made by Pat Crawford. Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) has teamed with Bob to produce the Crawford/Kasper Fighting Folder and Polkowski/Kasper Companion; these knives are reviewed in this issue.

Bob designed knives to more effectively coordinate with his style of combatives. This led to his cooperation with knifemakers on various projects; most noteworthy of those projects are his very successful collaborations with Al Polkowski including the Bulldog, Pug, Companion, Scorpion and Gaunt. He has also worked with Pat Crawford on the Kasper Folding Fighter, which led to various versions including a mini and fixed blade neck knife.

Bob mentioned that he had a hard time finding a knife that could perform the way he wanted it to perform and started going to knife shows to see if there was anything close to his ideal. Attending knife several knife shows, Bob kept noticing Al Polkowski's creations and bought several. After that he decided to have Al make his knives. It turned out much better than Bob expected, Al was able teach Bob about knife making and he was able to teach Al about knife fighting.

Through this training, Al learned why Bob needed certain design features and Bob learned how his knives were constructed and what parameters he had to work in. Bob states, "Al Polkowski is in a league of his own in making concealed knives. No one can match him. I thought so years ago, and I still think that way today. The first knife, the Companion was a design that came from the request of a chief trainer of a SMU who wanted a low profile knife to carry concealed. The Scorpion is the latest evolution of that fixed blade series. "For me it's the most efficient fighting knife that I have designed. I see it as the ultimate balance between size and effectiveness. You have to carry it and use it to see what I'm talking about."

In closing Bob states: "Awareness and avoidance will get you safely out of more jams than any amount of combative training ever will. And don't think that way of thinking is being cowardly. It's not. It's about being street smart."


The Viciousness of Assault and Resilience of Man
Are your knife defense techniques and tactics able to withstand a real world assault?
By Bob Kasper

According to most media reports violence is on a downward trend. What they fail to report is that violent attacks are more violent than ever. For whatever reason people who commit violent attacks today are more inclined to go "all the way" rather than just beat their victim. This is especially true in multiple attack situations that can turn into a vicious feeding frenzy once the victim is down. Knowing how vicious an assault can be, we must be sure that the tactics and techniques we employ are effective enough to stop this type of mad aggression.

And we probably think they are effective because we're hitting all the right spots with the right tools. But what about the resilience of man and your attacker's determination to survive? The following paragraph is a recent newspaper article showing just how vicious an assault can be and how resilient man can be when his life is in danger. (I have edited out the names of the gang members, victim and location for personal security concerns.)

Real world attack
Authorities said the three gang members drove to the victim's home in a pickup truck at 10:15 P.M. that day and started, what first appeared to witnesses, to be a friendly conversation. But a struggle quickly ensued. "They hit him with an ax handle, and he got back up to fight," reported the detective. "They stabbed the victim once in the chest and twice in the stomach, slashed his forehead and then his throat twice, once nearly ear-to-ear," the detective said. "They tried to shoot him three times but missed," he said. Investigators uncovered a .38-caliber slug from a tree near the scene. The victim needed 175 stitches before he could be released from a hospital a few days after the attack. The end.

You're probably asking, "How the hell did they miss shooting him after beating him with an axe handle and stabbing and slashing him?" Easy answer - he was running away from the scene when they shot at him. It was at night, with low visibility, a moving target, and everyone under extreme stress. He was hit so hard with an axe handle (and I'm sure more than once knowing the gang's mode of operation) that he was knocked to the ground. He got up to fight and was slashed and stabbed several times.

Note the placement of the stabs and slashes. Believe me, these were not amateurs. I'm very familiar with their way of sending a message. They don't send punks to take care of business. After the knife attack he broke loose and ran from the scene under gunfire and made his escape and immediately retreated to a hospital for medical assistance. An excellent example of the resilience of man with a will to survive.

Real world training
When we train we usually address different attack scenarios using different types of weapons. And this is usually done in a training area with plenty of room and normal lighting. The above real world assault is a great lesson on how complex an attack can be. Multi-assailants, surprise assault (friendly exchange turned violent), multiple weapons escalating from less to more lethal, confined space (doorway to a home), natural environment (steps, sidewalk, grass, scrubs, trees, etc.), confusion, fear, life threatening injuries.

Think carefully about this scenario. Put yourself in the victim's shoes. Would you survive? Will your techniques and tactics stop a determined attacker with a will to survive as big as yours? Will your "defanging the snake" and "veil of blood" techniques really stop someone hell-bent on destroying you? Are you sparring with knives and stopping after someone scores with what you perceive to be a "killshot?" Are you training for the real world or just dancing in the dark? Knife defense is not a game used for titles and competition. It's not a fitness exercise. It's a deadly force used to counter real world violent assaults.

I've said this before and I'd like to re-emphasize it. When you draw out that knife to defend yourself it means you are in fear for your life and deem it necessary to use deadly force. Otherwise keep it out of play. But if you do draw it out, do so with all the violence and fury you can muster up because anything less may not be adequate to stop the violence perpetrated against you and/or your loved ones. And how violent should we get? The following paragraph is a recent news article about a woman who survived a rape attack.

A man has been charged with trying to rape a woman who castrated him during the alleged attack, police said. Erik Williams, 21, allegedly tried to force a 42-year-old woman to perform a sex act on him early Friday, and while the two struggled the woman bit off his testicles, police said. The woman went to police headquarters and turned the testicles over to officers, authorities said. Williams later arrived at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center with injuries matching the woman's description, police said. Doctors were unable to reattach his testicles, hospital spokeswoman Sandra Wilks said.

Williams remained in the hospital Saturday in police custody and was listed in stable condition." As I asked before, "How violent should you get?" That violent.

For more information about Bob Kasper go