Re: Knife Work
I think that knife techniques, both offensive and defensive, are useful and relevant to modern life and should be taught. Knives are still used by the criminal element today. Even if you cannot conceive of a situation where you would use a knife offensively, the knowledge of how to use one would certainly aid in your defense against a knife attack.
As far as resistance to learning knife, I agree with David. It's not just a modern cultural phenomena. In the "good old days," swords were much more expensive than knives (and still are today). Any village blacksmith can make knives, and they did, but sword making is a highly specialized skill. I know from my own experiments in forging, even I can make knives but a sword is far beyond my ability. Only nobility could afford swords, so swords became the weapon of nobility, or a noble weapon. The poor could only afford knives, clubs, and such, so these became low weapons; the weapons of thieves and thugs.