San Michele Sicilian Knife Fighting System
By Vito Quattrocchi
It always troubled me when so called knife fighting experts said, “If you get into a knife fight, expect to be cut.” That notion condemns even skilled blade fighters to cut, wounded, disfigured, disabled or even killed if ever forced into a blade to blade.
This is why my family, the Quattrocchi family, has spent many years in blade to blade confrontational sparring developing a knife fighting that allows a Cavaliere de San Michele an opponent with minimal risk of being cut or stabbed himself. “San Michele” is a Sicilian knife fighting system originating in the Province of Palermo Sicily. It borrows heavily from Western Fencing techniques, Savate, and Western boxing as well. This system was taught to me by my family, especially my Grandfather, my Father, and various Uncles and cousins. My male cousins have always been my sparring partners.
I have even added techniques and methods that are entirely my own, as they came to me while training. As I am sure that this is the proper way to allow a fighting system to grow, I view “San Michele as a living art, constantly coming into being and growing as its practitioners grow and develop. The result of this continuous effort is a Sicilian knife fighting system which stresses avoidance of close range in favor of long range techniques and is aided by footwork, rhythm, speed and superior tactics and strategy.
Footwork is an absolute must in “Il Arte de San Michele” for no knife fighter of any skill level does not possess superior footwork if he is at all competent in his art. “San Michele” stresses the point of the stiletto to execute techniques such as the slash, thrust, stab, as well as circular and up-thrust stabbing methods, snapping and vertical whip cuts are also employed.
Don Giuseppe Quattrocchi developed defensive footwork and evasion techniques into the system. He also stressed defense against attacks on the knife hand, parrying, counter slashing, stabbing and blocking with the knife edge.
The traditional “San Michele” method stressed the free hand behind the back method as taught in Western Fencing. However, I, Vito Quattrocchi incorporated techniques using the empty hand to stop-hit beat, parry, block, entrap and capture the opponent’s knife hand.
I recently had the honor of bestowing the title of “Cavalieri de San Michele” on William Sanders C.S.M. a man living on the west coast of the United States (Oregon) and studying the martial arts in one form or another for quite a few years. I look forward with anticipation to the nuances William will add to this comprehensive blade system. The system is particularly Sicilian and particularly family oriented.