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 piñata.  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. 


  1. Since gun ownership here in Japan is highly regulated and getting caught using one can get you a life sentence most assaults here are done with knives and heavy duty box cutters