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How to Survive a Knife Fight

These are dangerous times. Almost anytime you are on social media or watching the news on television, you see them filled with criminal activity including muggings, robberies, school shootings, home invasions, etc. If this is not enough to scare you, then the general state of the world should. Terrorism, civil unrest, murder, these things have become our daily reality.

Invaders breaking into your home, pulling you out of your automobile, or threatening your family are all realities you could face any day, at a moment’s notice. I am not trying to frighten you; I just want you to be prepared to survive should you find yourself in these types of situations. At Fight Fast, we care about you and want to help prepare you as best we can. So, if this article, I want to prepare you for a situation where you find yourself either attacked by a knife, having to defend yourself with a knife or both.

Now, if you have been reading my articles, you know I love knives. The reason is that often they are legal to carry or are easy to find. You can even use other cutting devices to improvise a knife if you need to. So, if somebody pulls a cutting weapon and decides to attack you, you need to know how to defend yourself. Essentially, there are three potential movements that you have to deal with. There is the simple jab, the slice, or the not so obvious strike with the handle of the weapon. I will give you some pointers on how to deal with these.

  1. My first recommendation is that if a knife is pulled on you, even if you have a weapon, don’t try to engage. Get the heck out of Dodge. Run and scream at the top of your voice. Screaming rape or fire if you have to, that will get someone’s attention.
  2. Second, grab something, anything, a stick, a chair, a lamp, and wave it violently. Perhaps you don’t know how to use it, but once your attacker knows he isn’t going to get your money and your life without working for it, he might bug out.
  3. Third, even a piece of clothing can help you defend against a knife attack. If you can slip your coat off and whip it around your arm, you have some protection. If you can unhook your belt, you can use it for a whip and snap the thing towards your attacker’s eyes.
  4. Fourth, get your back up against the wall if you cannot run away. With your back on the wall, he has to reach you, and that means he is going to have to stick out his arm. If you can body hug that arm, you might take a few cuts, but you have immobilized his weapon to some degree and he cannot get behind you to slice your throat or stab you in the Kidney.

If you happen to have your own cutting or stabbing device, then that is a good thing. Amateur knife fighters almost always stab and lunge with more significant motions than necessary. Most people are what I’d call sloppy knife fighters, even a lot of trained martial artists. The way they practice in class could get them killed. I see fancy moves that only impress other martial artists, and as far as only moving with a purpose, well, all I can say is… these guys watch too many movies. In movies, they are focusing on good screen choreography; in a fight, you are not. You need efficiency, which means that long, slow stabs need to be eliminated from your repertoire of techniques.

One significant cause of overly-large, knife-stabbing motions is the level of commitment of the attacker. The attacker steps into the knife thrust or stab, putting his weight behind the move. This is not how real attackers attack, but this is precisely what martial artists train against. They practice their responses to a real, full-on attack, not some small wimpy flicker of the knife. Be aware that knife fighters will know how to react to that type of movement and you should never over commit like that if you are doing the cutting.

The length of motion is not the only variable in knife fighting. You have to deal with distance and timing, the direction of the stroke, order of offense and defensive moves, and so on.

In this article, I only focused on dealing with people who stab down from above or step in with a long lunge of their knife. My recommendation is that you attack or counter with shorter knife motions and you will likely be quicker and more efficient with your strikes.

To practice your movements, imagine fighting in a small closet or maybe a bathroom stall. You don’t have a lot of room to maneuver, right? So, practice your knife fighting in a confined space to learn shorter techniques. Then, when you practice in a dojo or martial arts studio, stick to those short motions, even though now, you have a lot more space. Make your opponent step into you with the more extended movement. You respond with the shorter, more efficient responses.

The techniques I’ve shared in this article are desperate measures for desperate times; they are things that you jerk out of the hat after the shit fit hits the fan. However, if you are serious about how to knife fight, if you want to survive a knife fight…you should probably look into a good course of instruction from TRS or a good knife fighting art near you.

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