Monday, June 4, 2012

Dissecting Knife Attack Defence.....

(This post by Hans van Beuge)

Wayne Roy has recently written about some restraint and control tactics for knife disarms.  Although over the years I have had to protect clients who were threatened or attempted to be assaulted by assailants armed with knives, syringes, screwdrivers and broken bottles, I don’t profess to have any specialized expertise in knife disarms. 

The reasons I prevailed had more to do with the incompetence of the assailants than my proficiency... plus my willingness to deploy the rule of physics that say’s no two objects can occupy the same place in space at the same time, without catastrophic results. (Namely the offender’s head and whatever hard object I could hit it with).

My best advice to those when confronted by an offender armed with an edged weapon is to immediately run away very fast.

However, this option is not available to us when we are protecting a client. Under these circumstances our options are to neutralize the assailants attack or to shield the client and absorb it.

As such, I believe Wayne offers some very simple and effective advice on limb control of an edged-weapon armed offender.  However, I would like to add the following:

Effective knife-attack defense tactics need to be based on knowledge of how deadly the blade can be.  Up close a knife can be deadlier than a firearm.  In fact if a major artery is cut, loss of consciousness can occur in seconds, and death in under a minute.

So know the anatomy that is most vulnerable.....

Be psychologically prepared that you may be cut multiple times in a confrontation with a knife attacker, and be prepared to apply self-triage and first aid when it is over. 

There are countless incidences of people who have beaten a knife wielder only to die of their own wounds shortly after

If you are in an area of Protection work that offers a high incidence of probability of a knife assault, wear a stab/slash resistant vest and gloves. Bearing in mind those highly vulnerable targets like the carotid and brachial arteries are still exposed.

Be aware that it can be extremely hard to grab an attackers hand.  Good knife fighters do not need to ‘telegraph’ strikes to cut powerfully, and will often ’feint’ moves to create openings.

As Mark James of Panther Protection Services pointed out, most knife attacks resemble prison shanking’s rather than the more dueling type choreography that martial artists prepare for.  Think of the prison-yard rush style of attack.  A much more frenzied style of assault that is harder to defend against.

However,don’t let the fear factor psych you out over defending against the knife.  The good news is that statistically, most knife attackers aren’t James Bowie on amphetamines.

They are predominately uncoordinated, unfit, un-trained, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol or all of the above.

If you train the odds will always be in your favour.  Utilize the diminished fighter theory.  Their speed and effectiveness will be severely impaired and it will be easier to disarm them if you have already hit them over the head with a chair, baton, or any other dedicated or improvised striking implement. 

In short, turn them into a human piƱata.  I can personally recommend the effectiveness of a wall-mounted fire extinguisher.

Never underestimate an assailant and be highly respectful of the lethality of edged weapons. Make your training reality-based, not based on supposition.

For more insight into the realities of knife defence, scroll down to the 2-part series below. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

C.Q.C. Basics : Knife Defence - a Primal Response

(This 2-part series by Wayne Roy - C.Q.C. and I.P. Consultant)

The assailant holding the knife in the photo above is Mark James, the Executive Director of Panther Protection Services in Atlanta, teaching defensive tactics at the Fulton County Police Training Academy.

To me, the photo highlights three very important points about unarmed knife defence.....

Firstly, most knife attacks on the street happen at close range - talking range - about two feet.  Secondly, it's a natural survival response to initially try to evade a blade.  And thirdly, it's just as natural to try and grab the knife hand. 

Why do people try to grab?  It's a primal psychological response... an attempt to control (stabilize) a situation that's suddenly out of control.

However it's just as natural for the person holding the knife to react when their control is suddenly taken away by you grabbing their wrist or arm. 

Keep in mind that your attacker's knife is their power... and when they suddenly loose control of that power they will desperately want it back

The most common counter-measure they'll respond with is to pull back on the knife hand... or they'll grab or push you with their other hand as they lean away (see photo below).  It's a primal response that I recommend be incorporated into everyone's knife defence training!

So now we've covered :
  • why it's natural to try and grab the knife hand
  • and that your attacker is going to violently react to your defensive grab.

Now it's time to consider what you're going to do in the next 1-2 seconds... because that's all you've got before you start experiencing that 'getting punched' feeling that is actually the sensation of being stabbed at close-quarters.

It's always a good idea to disrupt your opponent if you can - with one or two quick power strikes.  But if you don't, then you've got a struggle on your hands, and your only other option is to apply a takedown or a restraint of some kind.

In my next post in this series I'll offer some insight into the universal principles of restraint and control.  But in the meantime I'll like to leave you with a quote from Mark James :

"Remember most knife attacks are ambushes.  So don't think martial arts - think prison shanking. That's what you will most likely be defending against."

My thanks to Panther Protection Services for the photo :

C.Q.C. Basics : Principles of Restraint & Control

(This 2-part series by Wayne Roy - C.Q.C. and I.P. Consultant)

Universal Principles :  Regardless of whether you're disarming someone who is threatening you with a firearm or a knife, or you're applying a non-violent restraint to someone who's drunk or being difficult, chances are you're applying one (or a combination of) the three universal principles of limb control :
  • twist - any action that applies a spiral twisting pressure to a joint 
  • lock - any action that forces a joint against its natural direction  
  • fold - any action that applies folding pressure or leverage.

I initially developed these principles as a Defensive Tactics Training Module because they can be used to explain the power dynamic of any restraint or disarm. 

Following is a photo of the 'twist' principle, followed by a photo of the 'lock' principle, then the 'fold' principle.  And although these principles are shown being applied to a wrist, they could just as easily be applied to a finger, an elbow, a shoulder, a knee, or an ankle.

Below is an example of applying an outward spiral pressure to a wrist (twist).

Below is an example of forcing a hand back against the wrist-joint (lock).

Below is an example of applying folding pressure to a wrist (fold).

Now I'll use those principles to describe a few limb controls. The first is a 'twist-and-fold'.  With my left hand I've twisted the wrist outwards from the shoulder, and with my right hand I've folded it over and pushed down.  The combined power dynamic will force the opponent straight down to the ground.

This technique below is a 'lock' on the elbow-joint and a 'fold' on the wrist joint.  It turns the arm into a straight lever (a handle) that can be used to force someone down to the ground, or move them to a different location.

This technique below is a 'lock' on the elbow-joint and a 'lock' on the wrist joint, which also turns the arm into a lever.  All you need to do at this point is lift the hand up and push forward and down into the shoulder, and the opponent will be forced to bend over into a weakened state of balance.  From there you can kick, knee, or change to another restraint.

So as you can see, those 3 principles not only allow you to understand the power dynamic of a restraint or disarm... they make it easier to explain the technique when you're training with (or teaching) a colleague. 

Just remember 'twist, lock, fold'... universal principles you can apply to any joint... to a finger, an elbow, a shoulder, a knee, or an ankle. 

My thanks to Mark James of Panther Protection Services for the top image :

And also to Stephen Needham Photography for shooting the techniques :