This thread might possibly save your life.

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by Tom bayley, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    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.


    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.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
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  2. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    To me in a knife attack I want to prevent two main things...

    Repeated committed stabs and repeated slashes to exposed areas (I've seen enough videos to think that even basic clothing can actually prevent some damage, especially from slashes).

    I can prevent those by controlling the knife limb or rendering the attacker unconscious. As far as I'm concerned that presents a fork in the strategy. Don't chase control if a good strike is present but don't forget control for the sake of striking. Every second the knife is a free moving entity is more time for repeated slashes and stabs to take place. Every second the attacker stays conscious is more time for him to free his limb and attack again. They are sort of two sides of the same coin.

    Not that I'm any expert but my main guide to knife defence is now mainly this...

    1: Attempt to avoid the initial attack. There's a fair chance you won't so be prepared to fight on from there. You probably won't even know the first hit is from a weapon so treat all attacks as if a weapon is present. The first attack is likely to be close, fast, furious and swiftly followed by attacks 2, 3, 4, etc.

    2: Control the knife limb in some way. Some grips are better than others but in reality you will get what is available. Train to fight from a variety of grips so you don't freeze if you don't get your preferred grip.

    3: Unload every essence of anger and intent you can muster into a barrage of strikes that will put the man down. Make him rue the day he attacked someone with a blade.

    This is of course if the measures of awareness, avoidance, loop-holing, deterring and pre-empting fail.
  3. Rataca100

    Rataca100 Banned Banned

    Just to take a different stance on this, what if you wear armour? That would give you more safety in that your torso is majority protected. Chainmail still works and the like.

    (had to cut my response short)
  4. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    What if you build a brick wall around yourself.

    Don't crap post just to get your post count up.
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  5. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    stable door, horse bolted.....

    Knife awareness is a tricky subject, and indeed i only teach it to my students after I know them well. I have taught it publicly once, and that was in response to a raft of nonsense being put out by other clubs after the London Bridge Terror attack

    Outside of a LOT of drilling it is something that is difficult to teach - even in an FMA context. there is a reason we train to shoot people with knives

    Nowhere is there more crap and nonsense posted than on knife defense....and nothing is more dangerous to approach so cavalier
  6. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    Ya, in the other thread I also said the move in the video won't work.
    I would probably enter forward but on an angle (45-ish degrees) to the outside of the attack, while parrying the knife hand. Then spin in place so we're facing the same way, me next to him, my close hand holding his forearm/wrist for control.

    I know where he is, I know where the knife is, I'm scanning the environment and thinking. For the next 1 or maybe 2 seconds of time he physically cannot cut me, but I better do something immediately.

    I have options in those 1 or 2 seconds of time. If my control on his arm is right, there are several ways to take him down with that arm. That's what should have been in the video, and that's what I'm going to try first.

    Unless -- unless my control slips (or maybe I never quite controlled his knife arm!) and/or he's smart enough to move the knife to the other hand. And then? I hope that I can hide behind furniture, because I guess we're fighting now!
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
  7. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Here's a thing....even in that video the defender messes up the defence. You can see his hand do a little stutter/fumble as he parries and he then has to "re-find" the hand again for his grip. And he can only do that because the attacker leaves it out there for him to grab and isn't attacking with real energy or intent.
    So don't feel bad.....the guy in the video wouldn't be able to do it for real either. :)
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  8. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    What's also funny about that video is at 1:08ish the defender grabs the knife off the floor and does about 10 little stabs into the back of the attacker. Now THAT is more like a real knife attack. Bosh, bosh, bosh....and yet when the attacker attacks with the knife in the first place it's one committed "hand hanging" thrust and then pause. Strange.
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  9. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    It's fairly standard "can't fight and lacks any real world experience" training
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  10. Rataca100

    Rataca100 Banned Banned

    That would work as well. Most people do have at least brick walls to hide in from the maniacs outside. :p

    (post count is meaningless to me anyway)

    To elaborate my point, investing in some good armour is probably the easiest and safest bet, it would mitigate risk to your Torso. That's like the most passive defence which can work in the majorty of situations. (pending legislation, but that is less looked at than weapons from what I see) It can also work for some firearm threats but it depends what you get.

    The only other advice is accept your fate that you might very well die and try to maim the perpetrator as much as possible in retaliation. You dont always win in real life. I mean the human condition is you will fight to the death or run to the death to live, so its pretty unneeded statements as its built-in as instinct anyway. (instinct if you dont use you die or if you do use you die trying to live or live)

    Opinions of the above? I mean all advice is context pending anyway, why said person wants to stab you. (or was it a uneeded post?)

    edit: I forgot to menton i saw advice on taking your jacket off and wraping it around one of your hands to act as a shield, or usuing that to help give you protection and trap the knife/ knife hand in it.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
  11. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    It's a nice idea, but it isn't going to work with a committed collar-tie and sewing machine attack. Not unless they are polite enough to give you fair warning.
    I saw this one the other day:

  12. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Honestly if I can't run away or get away, I'd go for a 2 on 1 as you have to control the limb, striking with someone who has a longer reach is quicker and whose every strike can end my life seems silly he can do more damage quicke thqn I can unless I'm lucky...,

    As an aside someone once posted how they would deal with such a situation and it was derided by everyone including me as stupid... Right up until an original dog brother, bjj 2nd degree and student of inosantos said it was a very a good idea .....basically he said to back up into a corner sitting on the floor and kicking the rap out of our attacker as he came towards you...

    Why did the dog brother say it was a good idea as a last ditch resort when it's appears suicidal?

    Well it limits the attackers targets and protects your body and head to a large extent, it puts a big barrier between you and him, namely our legs and feet which are usually clothed and protected, and allows you to inflict damage on him as he comes in

    Not sure I'd ever use it but it made me think
  13. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Avoiding conflict is the best advice - investing in body armor impractical and in some places actually illegal.

    F, F, F - you will do one of these three and to condition an appropriate response you need to train in exposure to threats

    unneeded - when you don;t actually know it is best to refrain form making statemenst. Questions are fine, opinions on knives from those unfamiliar are guesswork and ill-educated at best and dangerous at worst

    Nonsense advice - if you have time to do this you have time to run
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  14. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    That's not what they were doing in the video, so, I don't know why you say this.
  15. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    The attacks in the video were so unrealistic and polite that anything you did against them would work, because the attacker would make them work.
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  16. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    Well ... okay, ya, you're right about that. :(
  17. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I don't want it to seem like I'm picking on you, but you raise a couple of good points for discussion.

    I'm happy to say that I've never been attacked with a knife, but even in training with someone really trying to stick a rubber knife in my gut, you don't get the luxury of a second or two to think.

    I can only imagine how much more amplified that would be when confronted with someone who intends to spill your guts on the floor for real. People who have been attacked with a knife tend to describe the experience as so shockingly visceral that cognitive processes basically go out of the window.
  18. Rataca100

    Rataca100 Banned Banned

    That generally goes without saying, i thought its generally assumed its unavoidable conflict discussing these things. I wouldn't call it imrpactical, you need to actually use it. Wouldnt know which places its illegal. Owning a pistol can be equally as useless if you dont carry it every day.

    Going to have to fill me in, i dont like guessing acronyms. Im guessing Fight, Flee and soemthing?

    I do post with the intent of having a response as expecting one, counting opinions etc. I don't exactly claim to have any authority in the area like the people teaching bad knife skills. Fair dos anyway. (BTW, i have been at the opposing end of dodgy knife defence to say the least)

    Didnt say it was good, it makes sense if you can get enough time to take your jacket off.
  19. Latikos

    Latikos Valued Member

    So... you attacked someone with a knife?

    As mentioned before: If you have the time to take a jacket or sweater off, put it around your arm and have the time to raise the arm to protect yourself - you have so much time wasted, that could have been used otherwise.

    My own experience with knives isn't special: We do have the usual defenses in training, where you have to get lucky to get the arm, yes.

    BUT: We also get shown what is more likely to happen and therefore know: The other has a knife, give him what he wants.

    The very first time one of my teacher showed a knife defense, it started with the question, who knows a defense.
    His daughter said "here", so he called her up.
    She stood in front of him, he asked f she were ready, she said yes - and he stabbed and cut several times!
    "Hey, wait, that's not what I meant...!" he went.

    And afterwards he spend a minute or so to explain the basics about knife attacks and how they usually end: With both parties at the very least injured.

    Similar during another session with another teacher: He called me up front and said: "Now you defend yourself!" and came at me with the knife.
    Now I know him and a bit about knife attacks, so I knew right away that I was to be in trouble, while he showed the others what would happen.
    Afterwards, I got a knife myself as well, and we were to attack each other.
    Long story short: If we would have put lipstick or anything at the knives, we would have had a lot of red stains on our Gi.
  20. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Many of the discussions about knives in the past have wandered into either - pointing out what someone is doing wrong without saying what they should be doing in stead and why. or into a wider discussion of awareness and self defence. The latter is clearly important but has been extensively explored on other threads. the former is easy to do but does not move our understanding forward.

    But I was hoping for a discussion of what the aims of the defender should be and what they might do to achieve them.
    Maybe it would help if people posted some examples that they liked and said what they liked about them. I have one in mind but it might take me a while to locate it.

    Four outcomes would work for me.

    Creating an opening to run. Technical knock out to allow a run. Disarm and run. Immobilise, disarm /technical knock out.

    I agree entirely with smitfire

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