Wednesday, June 7, 2017

6 easy steps to master knife-fighting for self-defense

In my blog post "how to use knife-fighting for self defense" (, i explain some of the fundamentals of knife fighting. In this blog post i'll explain the more technical details of knife fighting for self defense. Before you can train in knife-fighting, you need to learn some of the fundamentals for training using a knife. This guide also comes with helpful resources.

 * Have a proper knife grip - There are many ways to hold a knife each with their own advantages. For the sake of this post, you'll learn the fist grip. Start by holding a knife with an open hand. Slowly wrap your fingers around the knife like you're making a fist then tuck your thumb on your index finger. This picture should illustrate what it should look like.

* Practice efficient deployment - When carrying a concealed knife, make sure that you place it in an area where you can quickly draw it in combat. Usually you should store it anywhere in the upper body. If you don't put thought into this and just put it wherever, you won't have time to deploy it when you need it. Some knives come with handles and others are strapped. Find one that suits you.  

* Learn the angles of attack - The angles of attack using a knife are very simple. You slash/stab upwards, downwards, side to side, and diagonally as the black lines indicate. The red arrow indicates where you should thrust. Once you understand the angles of attack, you'll need to make sure that you avoid or redirect your assailant's line of attacks while delivering your own.

* Practice controlling distance - Distance is very fundamental to any form of combat. How much distance is needed for a knife to reach you? Have someone extend his or her arm and hold either a fake knife or a pen until it touches you. That's how much distance is needed for someone to do damage. While there's no set "safe" distance, you generally should only stay within a few inches to centimeters away from the attacker's knife. If your too close, you'll get hit. If your too far, you won't be able to attack when necessary.

* Practice keeping your balance - If you don't know how to keep yourself balanced in knife-fighting with proper footwork and efficiency then you'll fall over. Make sure that you're in a comfortable fighting stance. Don't over-lean to any direction or take huge steps that compromise your balance.    

1. Practice knife drills - If you want to be efficient in knife fighting, you'll only need a basic set of motor skills that can easily be applied to any striking melee weapon. Incorporate any slashing and stabbing movements from any martial art such as Kali. You should be direct and non-telegraphic in every knife attack. Slash or thrust just enough to reach the intended target and retract.

Why is this important? For several reasons. If you do a wild full swing with your arm, you waste time and energy. Your attacker can see the attack coming and thus defend against it. If you attack but don't retract your knife, your attacker can injure your arm in the process.

2. Get the proper training equipment - In order for you to get the best results out of knife fighting, you need to train under intense pressure and realism. I recommend getting a shock knife (link to product below.) They are non-lethal but still scary and realistic enough to keep you motivated enough to perform under stress. Keep in mind that they aren't available for civilians in some states so you'll have to resort to other products. The Spring Assist practice fighting folding metal knife folder is a realistic training knife. It has the look and feel of a real knife. Another one i recommend is the Bokken plus Jim Wagner training knife. This type of knife is useful as you can coat it with lipstick or chalk to mark the areas you or your sparring partner have been slashed or stabbed.

I don't recommend getting full body armor and face masks. You'll want to make knife-fighting as realistic as possible. Only use safety equipment that you'll know you'll need such as eye-protection to prevent serious injury. Use other gear and equipment such as shin guards to protect areas you intend on striking.  

3. Practice accuracy - In order for you to defend yourself effectively, you need to incapacitate your attacker as soon as possible. Targeting major arteries and organs will cause blood loss but they won't stop an attacker quickly enough. The same applies to bodily areas that induce pain as your attacker may probably have high pain tolerance.

What are your primary targets? If you sever the radial nerve, this will cause weakness and loss of coordination in the fingers. Your attacker will also have problems straightening the arm or holding the hand. If you slash the the flexor tendons in the hand, the attacker will lose movement in the fingers. Cut the ulnar nerve and the attacker will lose grip strength. Cut the trapezius muscle and it will cause the arm to go weak. Striking any of these areas aren't fatal but will almost certainly cause the attacker to drop the weapon. 

The targets i consider secondary are the triceps, the biceps, the kidneys, forehead,and the subclavian artery. 

4. Begin with a scenario of attack - Alot of schools do drills, techniques, and sparring but neglect one of the most important aspects of knife fighting - knife deployment. You'll need to construct a scenario where you need to hone your skills in situational awareness, creating distance, and deploying your knife quickly. It's not as simple as just pulling out your knife in the face of danger. Doesn't matter how good you are at knife sparring. If you haven't trained to recognize a threat, you won't be able to draw your weapon fast enough against an unexpected attack in combat.

Make a scenario with a partner where he/she'll try to surprise attack you with a lethal weapon be it through a conversation or walking past you on the street. If you don't have a partner, visualize one. If you want to learn more on how to do that, check my blog post "how to train for combat realism" ( Start by learning how to read violent and aggressive body language. Signs of an attack may include dilated pupils, open mouths, tight and raised shoulders, a tense body, heavy breathing, placement of feet, nervousness, etc. Where are your potential threat's hands placed? Usually people planning an ambush with a concealed weapon will place their hands in their pockets before they strike. Make sure that you keep a safe distance away from the potential threat and you raise your level of alertness based on hostile body language.

5. Transition to knife sparring - When knife sparring, you need to have two different sparring sessions. One is for the untrained attackers and the other is for trained attackers. For the one involving an untrained attacker, either you or your partner need to mimic his or her movements. When someone is playing the role of an attacker, have him or her engage in various reckless attacks at different speeds. Could be a sewing machine fast stabbing or slashing. Have him or her rush in towards you. Be creative and use different types of attacks.

For the trained knife fighter, now you have to be more tactical. Remember that in knife sparring for self defense, you ought to have no rules. Use whatever is necessary to survive. When faced a trained knife attacker, you'll need to create an opportunity to put him or her at a disadvantage. You can do this through improvised weapons, feints, the environment, distractions such as kicks to the legs, and "slicing the pie" or "fighting on the blind side." This involves using your footwork to get into a superior position where your closer to the body and farther away from the knife. From there, slash and stab at vital areas then quickly retreat.

6. Keep practicing - All that's left is that you consistently practice maintaining proper balance, footwork, timing, speed, redirecting and avoiding the line of your opponent's attack, the list goes on. With consistent training, you'll be a skilled knife fighter in no time!

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