Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to use knife fighting in self defense

In self defense, it's very important to learn when exactly to use knives in a lethal situation and the laws surrounding them. If you pull out a knife on an unarmed attacker, it will look very bad on you in the court of law. This is because it might be ruled as "unreasonable force." Use of a knife should only be used if someone is clearly trying to kill you be it with a deadly weapon. Once you understand the legal consequences of using a knife in self defense, you are ready to begin the fundamentals of knife fighting.

Disregard the unessentials - Throw out all the fancy knife techniques and false ideas that people teach on knife fighting. Forget about knife-fighting for sport. Forget about Kali, Escrima, and complicated movements that martial artists teach. In a life or death situation, you won't be able to perform all of these complex motor skills under high levels of stress. For example some might teach you to block a downward strike as you simultaneously punch or stab. In reality, an unresistant attacker might pull away and slash your arm in the process then slit your throat. When you simplify knife fighting and hone your reflexes, you will be better equipped with recalling what you've learned in training. Your goal should be to incapacitate your attacker as quickly as possible and then flee to safety.

* Learn the basics of using a knife - How you wield a knife, how you conceal a knife, how you grip a knife, etc. all influence how fast you are able to defend yourself in combat. If your knife is positioned in such a way that you can't draw it quickly enough, you will get shot or stabbed. If you don't know how to grip a knife properly, it will fall out of your hands which puts you at a disadvantage. Understand the weapon you wield and you will be able to use it well in combat.

* Create distance to draw your knife - In order to effectively defend yourself with a knife, you must learn to understand how to create distance. Attacks can happen at lightning speed. If you don't know how to create distance, you won't be able to draw your knife and you will get hit in the process. How do you create distance? Using footwork and the other weapons in your arsenal - legs, arms, head, etc. You will need to identify the threat and keep the line of attack away from you to give you enough time to draw your knife. Let's say someone tries to ambush you out of nowhere with a lethal weapon and tries to land deadly blows. You could create distance by landing kicks to the legs when your attacker is striking high as you move back and draw your knife quickly. You could also use an attacker as a human shield when faced with multiple attackers and draw your knife quickly that way. If you don't have distance, you don't have reaction time.

* Intercept your attacker's weapon hand first - When your engaging say a knife attacker in a knife fight, it's far easier to attack the hand controlling the knife. If you try to reach forward and strike the body, you will get hit in the process. If you intercept your attacker's knife hand and attack it, you will do damage to a point where your attacker might question whether your worth it or not. Your attacker might simply drop the knife due to the pain or be incapacitated from the strikes to the arm. When your attacker is for example stabbing at you like a sewing machine, you quickly move back or to the side as you slash his or her hand. If your attacker tries to slash your body, you slash the hand or arm. If your attacker tries to slash your body, you repeat the same process. This picture is an example and a video on the side will help you understand more. Once you strike the closest target, you can strike the vital areas.

* Attack from the blind side - The blind side is defined as the position where your attacker cannot attack effectively with all of his or her limbs. Once you've attacked your attacker's primary line of defense (the knife hand), you close the gap and attack from a position as shown in this photo. The reason being is if you choose to directly engage your attacker face to face, it's your skill against your attacker's. If your attacker is skilled or too violent, you will likely get struck. By attacking from the blindside, you can trap and strike your attacker while he or she cannot do the same.

* Understand how to trap - Trapping as shown in this picture involves grabbing your attacker's weapon hand to briefly immobilize the limb as you strike. I strongly advise you to learn how to trap your attacker's elbow as you can easily control your attacker's limb. As long as you control the arm wielding the weapon, you can quickly strike while your attacker is completely defenseless. Trapping is important because it's a safer way to end the threat than risk getting hit in the process.

* Know where to strike - You cannot simply attack anywhere the knife and expect the fight to end. You will need to realize which areas are non-lethal and which are lethal. You should not strike to kill your attacker unless you have solid proof that he or she intends to kill you or you might face time in prison. Therefore, you should strike in non-lethal areas to incapacitate your attacker. Target the muscles in the legs, arms, the armpits, the biceps, etc. Once your attacker is disabled, you can quickly flee the scene and call the police.

* Protect your body - You ought to expose as little of your body as possible. I prefer turning my body sideways with my knife hand pointing directly at my opponent, my chin tucked in, and my other arm preferably wrapped in cloth to protect my vital areas. Your knife hand should be positioned in such a way that it creates distance between you and your opponent. If your knife hand is too close to your body, you risk getting struck in other body areas such as your throat and you won't have enough time to react. If your knife hand is too far extended outwards, your arm is vulnerable to getting struck and your attacks won't be as powerful. You'll want to strike or extend your arm then retract to the original position not just for power but also to defend your arm. You'll want the knife to be positioned as shown in this picture. Don't block with your other hand as it exposes it to attack. If you do, this allows your attacker to retract and slash the arm.

* Use your other weapons - Don't get so focused on your attacker's weapon and your own knife that you forget about your other weapons. If someone tries to grab your knife hand, attack him or her with the free hand. Could be a finger jab to the eyes, a chop to the neck, a hook punch to the jaw, etc. and then strike with your blade. Use your kicks to keep the distance between you and your attacker. Use your free hand to trap, distract, attack, and defend as well. By combining your skills in hand-to-hand combat with your skills in knife fighting, you put your attacker at a severe disadvantage. Using improvised weapons and the environment also puts you at an advantage. If you manage to momentarily blind or distract your attacker with any object, that will give you a split second to strike in a vulnerable area. This picture illustrates an example. Don't overuse your other weapons such as a leg or your attacker might seize the opportunity to strike at a vital area.         

* Don't under-commit nor over-commit - If you telegraph your knife strikes in say wild slashing, you will automatically allow your opponent time to respond and your attacks will be poor. Wild slashing and over-extended arms might compromise your balance, causing you to fall over. If you under-commit meaning you don't put enough power in your strikes and use only tight knife attacks, you also won't do enough damage. All you will do is cause a few cuts but not incapacitate your attacker. To do maximum damage, you must understand how to use your body weight to drive force in your attacks while keeping your balance. You must also be quick with your strikes, removing unnecessary movement and reaching your intended targets. Generally, you should attack forwards, sideways, diagonally, up and down at different angles. Once your strikes reach the intended targets in quick motions, you retract your hand to defend your body. Anything beyond that is wasted movement and will likely give your attacker an opportunity to hit a vital area.  
* Control the line of attack - The real danger is the line of your opponent's attack which is the blade. Make sure that you either avoid it or redirect it away from you. For example, if your opponent tries to go for a stab - you can side step out of the way and slash the arm as shown in this picture.

Practice this with a sparring partner using a rubber knife or marker. If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to my blog for updates, more advice, and exclusive content in the near future. I'm proud and excited to offer a FREE sample chapter of my E-book "Jeet Kune Do: How to build your own fighting system for self defense!" It's essentially a step-by-step guide on how to make your own self defense system suited to fit your own needs using Jeet Kune Do. If you would love to receive your FREE chapter of my e-book, click on the link below and share a post via. social media then it's yours for FREE! Be sure to also fill out the survey on the right and provide feedback on my blog. Leave questions, comments, and suggestions below.


  1. Very good points! Defending against a knife is always dangerous.

  2. Indeed especially since someone can draw and use it very quickly.