A series of posts on another thread got me thinking that it might be helpful to have a thread that discusses what constitutes good mechanics, good structure, and good strategy in techniques for defending against knife attacks. It is my hope that we could work towards a short list of clear aims and a set of criteria for judging whether any technique might meet those aims. I begin by posting an example of a knife defence that I think would actually be harmful to learn, I will explain why, I will state what I would do instead, and why. Please note I do not train in knife defences. Others on this forum do. I would be particularly interested in their criticisms of my suggestions.And in learning what they would do instead and why. Takeing one specific example. In the knife defence video above. 17 seconds in. The attacker does a straight stab to the abdomen with the knife in a fencers grip. The defender shifts back and to the side to create space while tuning his body to get off the line of the attack. At the same time he swats down with his lead hand contacting the forearm/wrist of the attacker. The defender then adjusts his grip sliding onto the hand applying force to the back of the hand to lock the wrist. He then uses the wrist-lock to force the attacker to the ground. I personally would never be able to carry out this manoeuvre. And if I tried it I would get myself cut then most likely stabbed. I have a level of proficiency at movement, coordination and locking that would be at least equivalent to most intermediate level students. There is no way that I could swat a moving arm and pick up the wrist lock in that situation. I would certainly miss the lock and quite likely miss the attackers hand all together. I would argue that it is not possible for most humans to carry out those movements in that situation. (1) A technique should not require a greater than average level of physical ability from a person for it to work. In the example the defender shifts back and to the side to create space while tuning his body to get off the line of the attack. Moving away from danger is an instinctive reaction which means that the move is compatible with how a person might react in a real situation. (NOTE I am not saying that this the only way to react but it is compatible with one of the possible ways someone might react.) (2) The initial movement of the technique should be compatible with the way that people instinctively react to danger. WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY In the technique as shown the defender makes contact near the attackers wrist with their hand, then grips and slides down to create the hold for the lock. Intercepting a moving hand at the wrist requires a greater level of coordination, accuracy and speed than I am physically capable of. What I would do instead is zone defend the line of the attack. This requires much less coordination. I would swat my forearm down onto the line of the attack to meet the attackers arm at some point. As I do this my intent is to knock their arm down and to apply a force dowards and at 90 degrees to the forward vector of their stab. In kung fu this is sometimes known as suppressing hand. The intention of this is to restrict the opponents ability to move and to force the attacker to adjust in some way. (3) Every movement on the part of the defender should force the attacker to adjust in some way. At this point I would be limiting the opponents ability to move their arm but I would not be controlling it. I would have a hand on the opponent and would be able to feel how they are moving in reaction to the situation. (4) It can be helpful to have a physical contact with the opponent to index their position and feel how they are moving. Having initially moved in reaction to the attack I now keep moving. As I have moved to the side of the attacker I might be able to run straight past them. I might be able to use my indexing limb to fend of a possible backslash from the attacker. I would get cut but I might get away. (5) Always consider running as an option. Let’s say I don’t think I can outrun my attacker. If I can’t run I have to fight until I can run. It is at this point is where my personal opinion differs from much of the received wisdom on the subject. I would strongly consider not attempting to get a full mechanical control over the attackers knife arm. I would be far more likely to punch them or kick them. I shall explain why. Although am happy with joint locking. I do not practice joint locking against a knife attacker on any regular basis. It would be easy for me to make a mistake. If the moment after I jump out the way and hit the arm down, I feel I have a good opening to strike. I strike. I view it as playing the percentages. In a real fight I know I am better at striking than at grappling. With my skill set If I make a good contact I am likely to cause enough damage to give me time to escape. This attitude is underpinned by a pre-determined mindset to survive the initial attack then adapt to the opportunity on the ground. I do not have a specific aim in mind after that. This brings me to my last thought. It is important to have a clearly defined mindset before the event. This gives me a script to follow. I know that nothing will go to script, but having a script gives me a fixed reference point that I can orient myself to in the confusion of the initial attack. (6) Having a clearly predetermind mindset helps to navigate the confusion of a violent situation. Now what the mind set should be ? and why? – many opinions to listen to.