Image by Andy Ciordia
In the Blogosphere lately, there has been a lot of good discussion about knife and edged weapon defences in general and I would like to present some snippets of these discussions here as food for thought. Knife and edged weapon defence is a difficult subject to deal with at times as it forces a certain acknowledgement on the very real seriousness of the threat. Edged Weapons can be discomforting.
Taking the above into consideration, I have really enjoyed reading some interesting insights.
Facing an Edged Weapon is a Last Resort
Perhaps the most universal theme covered was the idea and acknowledgement on the very real danger posed by the knife. Even by an untrained, intent attacker. Or perhaps even more so. This was pretty much universal. It is a good indicator on just how easy the knife or edged weapon can be to use effectively. After all, it is a very simple weapon that never needs to be reloaded.
Remember we are dealing with the type of edged weapon attack that is most likely to occur. Most people don’t need to worry about highly trained assassins trained as knife fighters, so let’s stick with the idea of the average thug with a sharp kitchen knife or a dirty blade stolen from the local disposals store.
The common thug has a basic practical understanding of his weapon. He wants to stab with it. Either once or multiple times, sometimes in very quick succession.
Train Hard and Train Honestly
At the same time, facing an knife or edged weapon is not a lost cause. You still have a chance. You ALWAYS have a chance. I remember an old saying, and I paraphrase from memory,
"When two people fight, their spirits have already fought and the outcome has been decided."
- Ji Han Jae
I am not sure of the intent of the saying, but to me, it means that the more we train and the smarter we train, the more prepared our spirits are for combat. But that is just me.
A knife or edged weapon IS very dangerous. With training, it is important that we don't become too confident in our skills and want to test them out. This is common when it comes to fist fighting. And really, the consequences for getting a fist fight all bad is not quite the same as getting it all wrong with an attacker armed with a knife.
Avoid. Then Unload
It comes down to balance. Have a healthy respect of the weapon. Do not fear it but do not become complacent or ignore it.
As far as I’m concerned, if you’re faced with someone brandishing a knife, pick up anything you have to hand - preferably something big to whack them with or throw at them.
Hopefully, that would give you enough of a distraction to escape, or disable the thug enough so you can finish him off… assuming you’re in a sensible position to.
The only time you should even attempt to fight against a knife, I told my student, is if you’ve got your back to the wall and have nowhere to escape.
Then you’re fighting for your life.
When the only thing you can do is to fight back or die, I guess the choice is already made up for you.
Then you employ anything and everything you have at you disposal…
Avoiding an edged weapon attack is always the best. But if it happens, you must have some practical skills and fight for your life. That is why it is best to avoid. Matt, from Ikigai Way, was recently very honest and open with his readers when he stated:
A couple of years ago, my gut reaction was to ignore these kinds of videos because they were simply too intimidating. It’s difficult to imagine a successful defense against such deadly assaults. I told myself that I would ‘deal with it later’, or that my basic scenario knowledge was enough to get me by. Eventually I realized though that I would have to take knife self defense extremely seriously or I might as well not even study martial arts for combat purposes.
Many people feel the same way, but never make that decision to do anything about it. The risk from knives will not go away. It is the most likely weapon we will face on the street in Australia and the UK and the second most likely in the US (a firearm is most likely). And I have only researched these three countries. For any similar countries as the above three, the results are likely very similar.
Edged Weapon Attacks are Most Likely
Here is what I think about weapon or non-weapon attacks - if you can, pick your distance. I like to fight outside of the critical distance. I even box that way… I’ll throw fast jabs with the occasional cross and only follow up if I sense an advantage.
If you are young enough and fast - consider running! Yes running is an excellent defense! Assuming the goal is self-defense and not proving one’s manliness… yes run if you think you can get away!
If you get caught inside the critical distance - you have to strike or move.
And distance is the very first thing in actual combat we need to remain aware of. And edged weapons have a range all of their own. Know what it is. Distance becomes especially hard when we don't even see the weapon...
So what do we actually do? Obviously avoid the situation or run away if possible. But if we are cornered?
There is one goal.
Stop the knife. The knife is the primary weapon. How do we do that? Stop the knife wielding arm. Even better, prevent that arm from being pulled back and thrusted into you again and again. The knife and knife arm are priority number one.
Again, Juggernaut says it well:
I have heard many ‘Reality Based Self Defence’ Instructors (RBSD) denigrating grappling options for street defence. Unfortunately you may not always get a choice...In fact, of the techniques I tested, the only techniques that proved to be successful on a regular basis involved some form of grappling. Usually this was related to gaining control of the weapon bearing limb. Once you get a hold of the weapon bearing limb, you are in a grappling situation.
Controlling that weapon bearing limb is priority number one. Once it is controlled, launch an aggressive offensive using whatever tools you prefer. Your life is in danger.
Control the Weapon Bearing Arm
Really, that is what it comes down to. Controlling that weapon bearing arm and stop the knife attack. From there, launch whatever you favour. Eye gouges, biting, scratching, open hand strikes, closed hand strikes, elbows or whatever. But maintain control of the knife wielding arm.
Some final tips from Juggernaut include:
Keep it basic.
Use the CASE theory (Copy and steal everything).
If it’s to dangerous to test, discard it, it probably won’t work anyway.
Keep to a minimum number of strategies and concepts to deal with the widest variety of attack options.
Make the testing process easier on yourself, seek out an instructor who has already done this, then test out what he or she has shown you.
Yes, I have included a lot of Juggernauts material here. But it only scratches the surface of his much more detailed post on the subject. I definitely recommend popping over there and checking out his material.
Attacks using knives and edged weapons are not uncommon. If you practise martial arts, self defence, RBSD or whatever you want to call the Low Tech Combat fields, you need to cover edged weapons.
I would now like to finish off with a video some of you will have already seen, particularly regular readers or subscribers of Low Tech Combat.