The Blade, The Plan & The Man Behind It.

There’s an old saying, “Possession of a piano does not make one a concert pianist.” The cop-corollary is, “Being issued a handgun doesn’t make you a skilled shooter.” We all know it takes sound instruction, disciplined application and lots of practice. And, we don’t stop learning after the academy graduation party. We seek out advanced training, even if it’s on our own time and our own dime, and we don’t practice until we get it right — but until we can’t get it wrong. Now, I’m talking about real peace officers, not “public safety employees” who happen to be sworn, and who grudgingly wear badges and guns as inconvenient personal jewelry.

Fortunately there’s a wide world of first-rate firearms instruction available, and any number of useful training aids for honing your skills off-duty and even at home. Furthermore, shooting has the advantage of being loud, relaxing and fun — an activity you can enjoy solo, with a friend or in compatible groups. At its core though, you have great motivation for doing it: saving the lives of innocents as well as your own.

In your mind, you know you must polish your sidearm skills because even if you only need them once in your career, you’ll need them desperately, and every ounce of sweat, moment of time and dollar of investment can be repaid in spades in one critical second.

So, how many of you carry a knife — usually a “tactical folder” — both as a utility cutting tool and a last-ditch defensive backup on duty? Slicing an orange at lunch or prying road-kibble out of your boot sole doesn’t require any special skill, but what about that other use? That rare but grim and gruesome moment when you’re locked up in mortal embrace with an armed and determined — or crazy and drug-soaked — attacker, and you can’t get to your sidearm and it’s suddenly “use your knife and use it well or die right here, right now?” If the possibility of a gunfight is heart-attack serious, I guarantee you fighting with a blade is dancing on the edge of hyper-horror. And that’s exactly why you need embedded, effective skills.



A younger Hoffner in his bandit-chasing days in the Philippines.


It’s a growing field, but there’s not much edged-weapon training available, and much of it sucks. Either it’s all about man-against-man or blade-against-blade — not suited for LE. It doesn’t take into account your uniform gear, multiple weapons and opponents, street conditions and your legal as well as physical survival. Or it’s so buried in mindless, faux-oriental ritual as to be worthless. Frankly, many “knife-fighting experts” possess a knife, a couple of disco-era dance moves, a slick line of bullshit and a credit card swiping device — that’s all.

Basically, you need the right knife (one appropriate for utility cutting and eminently qualified for fighting), training based on your real world cop-needs (simplified and direct) and a training support mechanism to refresh your memory and allow you to practice with a purpose. A brother officer has you covered on all counts.

Meet Brian Hoffner

Brian is one of those guys who, if you have a background in the military, LE, SWAT or weapons and tactics, can be immediately identified as the real-deal. One of the most experienced and knowledgeable trainers in law enforcement, he’s a full-time police firearms instructor and has been running his own national training programs for nearly 30 years.

“Hoff” made his bones chasing heavily armed, old-school Huks and bandits around the jungles of the Philippines back in the late ’70’s, preventing them from acts like blowing up B-52’s or stripping them down to their frames and carting the goodies away for sale. He served in an active interdiction/enforcement team rather than a rivet-counting security unit. His service in the PI also provided an introduction to Shotokan karate and then Goju Ryu, which is less ritualized and more about, shall we say, serious ass-whuppin’s. When Brian returned stateside, he brought a black belt in Goju Ryu with him.

Next came Houston PD, where he graduated from the academy as Honor Graduate #1 of HPD Class 103. Three years later he was formally assigned to weapons instruction and on the side, launched his first personal enterprise.

Dissatisfied with factory-made holsters, he designed, cut and stitched his own. Other officers saw it, wanted one and Hoffner’s Holsters was born. In the same time frame he kick-started his personal training operation — serving agencies, individual cops from different federal, state and municipal organizations, and then groups of private citizens.


Brian Hoffner doing what he does best — training cops.



Out of their box, essential elements of the Defensive Folding Knife Operator Kit.


Following the slaughter at Virginia Tech, he knowingly took a substantial hit in income by putting his holster company on autopilot — in the hands of trusted employees — so he could offer his already-established Active Shooter training to more agencies large and small. In the process, Hoff designed his modular Spec-Rail system, allowing officers to attach holsters, magazines, lights, gas and gear to their duty belts, which places their equipment below and out of the way of body armor, securely strapped to their thighs … kind of a drop-leg holster setup on steroids.

When he totaled 5,000 officers trained in active shooter response and with other training outfits finally catching up to demand, he backed off a little and concentrated on refining and expanding his edged-weapons training. Predictably, he wasn’t satisfied with available knives either, and designed his own.
Hoffner’s course offering and DVD springs from, and combines the lessons of over three decades of relentless work in martial arts, military and law enforcement tactics, firearms and edged-weapons skills, legal studies, design, as well as stress psychology and physiology.

Mech- And Tech-Specs

At a glance there’s absolutely nothing remarkable about Hoffner’s knife … and that’s no accident. He designed it for maximum versatility and effectiveness with no feature for a zealous prosecutor or feral lawyer for the dear departed to point to as evidence of evil intent on your part.

As Hoff says, your knife should not shout, “Prosecute me!” In fact, if a lawyer is handed the entire Operator’s Kit complete with DVD, they would find precious little grounds to paint you as a bloodthirsty fiend. In courts today, that’s the best you can hope for. It doesn’t even have a catchy “take all I’ve ever earned and more” name like “The Extreme Executioner” or “Dark Assassin.” It’s just “Hoffner’s Folding Knife” — nice and bland.

Weighing only 4.5 ounces, it carries light. With a blade length of 3.5″ and overall length of 8.38″, it’s just big enough to do the job. Construction is open and flushable, with stout frame pins and stainless liners sandwiched between textured G10 scales. The classic spear-profile blade, offered with smooth or half-serrated edges, is 440C stainless with a matte finish.

Ambidextrous thumb studs deploy the blade easily and it locks via a liner-lock. Unlocking and folding the knife is a 1-handed operation. The reversible pocket clip is sturdy, mounted high on the frame to sit deep in your pocket and relatively short so your draw stroke will be faster and shorter.

Large, circular cutouts about midway on both sides of the frame provide grip and indexing points for drawing and orienting the knife and for transitioning between holds. Deep serrations at the axis end and butt serve dual purposes. When the blade is closed, the axis end can be used as an impact weapon and the serrations on the butt form effective pain compliance surfaces. They also aid in overall grip security. Optional Torx tools are offered; one to precisely fit the axle for tension adjustment and another for the pocket clip and frame screws.

Overall, the size, geometry and dimensions of the knife lend themselves perfectly to stability in the spine pick and foil-grip positions and retention of the knife when encountering lateral resistance, violent impacts or manual attempts to seize the knife away from you. Again, this is no accident, but a result of careful design.

Some may wonder why the Hoffner’s knife isn’t offered with any spring-loaded assisted opening options, flippers, levers or additional mechanical safeties. First, these were eliminated to avoid unnecessary complexity and weight, and to negate possibility of mechanical malfunction. Second, Hoffner tried to keep the knife legal in as many jurisdictions as possible. Although the blade can be deployed by inertia — and Hoffner teaches that technique — it’s not classified as a gravity knife.

The Operator’s Kit also includes a red training knife. Many training knives are simply formed, contoured lumps of poured plastic or rubber, bearing little resemblance other than general shape to the “live” knife. Hoffner’s red trainer faithfully replicates the construction, features, balance and weight of its operational brother, right down to the ability to reverse the pocket clip. All operating aspects match, the only differences being the color, a dull edge and a rounded point, which leaves the red knife’s blade .5″ shorter than that of the live knife.



The “foil grip” gives you extended reach, security and support from the skeletal structure of the hand.


Hoffner’s folding knife with two fixed-blade cousins: the Hand Spear and the Beast.


Hoff demos an advanced arm-trapping move and sweep.


The Training DVD

The hour-long video is packed with good stuff, but what you won’t find in it are: Keanu Reeves-like, Matrix Reloaded-style levitating, spinning ninja-wizard moves or a Yoda-like Asian guy in a spotless white gi demonstrating the Castrated Crane defense stance or the Flying Monkey attack form. Hoff doesn’t even spout fortune-cookie mystical sayings or quote ancient Bushido parables in a funny, phony accent. It’s just an American cop passing along wisdom, warnings and hard-learned lessons to fellow American cops.

What you will find is reassuring. You don’t have to be a physical prodigy, have a rainbow belt in Duk Dang Dong, a spandex Spider-Man suit, or limitless time to devote to katas. As Hoff tells you, it’s not about knife fighting. It’s about defending yourself — on the street, in front of a review board or in court — from one or more aggressors against you and your knife. Not going for a quick kill, but simply getting them off you and away from you, creating time and space for episode number two of your action sequence.

You’ll learn how to properly carry your folding knife, smoothly and certainly draw and present it and safely secure it while remaining open for sudden changes in the script. You’ll learn the importance of those circular indexing cutouts and the grip positions, which will give you about another 2.5″ in effective reach while simultaneously driving the knife, braced firmly by either your thumb or the skeletal structure of your hand.

Using simple, direct and forceful moves, Hoffner shows you how to guard and block, sweep and jab and recover — never stabbing — because it’s “liability suicide,” is not as effective as sweeping and jabbing and actually exposes you to greater danger. He even tells you what you should be shouting at your attacker while you’re dealing with him, for his benefit and that of witnesses who may be testifying for — or against — you at a later date. The object is to be alive at that later date. That alone should whet your curiosity.

You’ll have to practice, that’s a given. But Hoffner has broken everything down into blocks separated by practice breaks. After initially watching the video all the way through, I estimate your practice sessions should last 10-15 minutes each. You’ll see progress quickly.

The complete Defensive Folding Knife Operator Kit runs a very reasonable $139. Hoffner wanted you to have everything you need at a price you can afford. I’ve trained with masters — and some charlatans — and I think it’s the best and most appropriate-for-LE deal available. It’s cheaper than life insurance … and those policies only pay off if you lose and die. Think about it.

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