When we talk about disarmament usually even before you start the speech you immediately raise an incredible rumor where anyone says his, and where often the conclusion is that there is no conclusion.
Of all the topics an instructor has to be very careful about and on which he can do and how often misinformation happens to his students, the defense against a knife attack is the most dangerous.
There are few short knife fencing tournaments in Italy and for this reason it is very difficult for a person who is interested in the subject to find and evaluate the authenticity of an instructor of White weapons and anyone who proclaims himself a knife expert and teach attack angles, blocks, naked hand disarms, and guards could even if it looks nice to see themselves even in non-real photos.
The danger of a knife is something so well known that people usually give up on entering this research before they even try saying the classic phrase: “so much is impossible to defend yourself from a knife!” even worse if you start talking about disarming a person armed with a knife, then there you go to trigger a debate that has been going on for decades and so already this makes it clear that something is wrong.
Consider that usually knife attack in the field of self-defense is something that has nothing chivalrous and I have talked about this in several articles and that therefore the problem is not even to talk about disarmament but to avoid the attack that is done in an “infamous” way by hiding the blade or behind, etc.
Even the knife threat for extortion and robbery is somehow less dangerous because you just give the “portfolio” and the threat disappears.
The duel for strata is something rare and if you follow the news episodes you will see that they are very rare events.
Disarmament is not the way but an option
“It is almost impossible to disarm a sword-wielding opponent if that person knows how to use a sword,”says Guro Dan Inosanto.
Filipinos call him Agaw (Filipino Kali Disarms)
In my opinion, the most realistic methods for combating with and against sharp weapons come from Philippines but for a reason, real comparisons with blades and cutting weapons are extremely common in that Southeast Asian country, their fighting techniques have nothing to do with false heroism, and indeed everything aims for survival.
Often we hear about disarmament and disarmament is understood with their hands through the use and application of blows to the aggressor and a lever but this is not always the case.
The problem with this fixed thought is that no one assumes that bare-handed techniques always start from short fencing when most people are part of the knife, but if you don’t change the paradigm you’ll hardly be able to work in the right way to develop the skills needed to make things really work.
And the difficulty of defending with your bare hands is double when a well-trained attacker is armed with two bladed weapons.
If, however, the opponent is not fully trained and experienced in the use of his weapon, it may be possible for him to lose the weapon.
Martial artists of some Filipino styles of Kali spend hours every day perfecting their skills in the long-tested art of Agaw (disarmament), how much do you do?
It means that you can’t be able to do something you haven’t developed skills for, and that’s also why the training methods are never focused on this practice that I repeat is a option,but that you can only use if you know how to do it because you did it thousands of times during the armed hand sparring against bare hand.
Do you know someone who can do something without ever having tried it or done it sometimes every 6 months?.
Obsession, you need obsession and fear for the knife but if it is true that if you can you have to escape it is also true that you have to build and have your chance when you can not do it, and nn just say so much is useless, because so much you have no alternative.
The problem is the wrong view of the bare hand idea and I’ll explain later why.
In today’s increasingly violent society, the art of evasion and disarmament is something that every martial artist must include in his daily training routine.
You read that right, daily!
Without disarming abilities, the chances of surviving a fight with an armed attacker are virtually non-existent if you don’t escape.
If, as Guro Dan Inosanto says, it is virtually impossible to remove a bladed weapon from a trained opponent,why spend all this time learning disarmament techniques and theories?
The answer lies in reality.
Most real-life situations provide alternatives not available in training.
- The number one option against an armed assailant is to escape the initial attack (which is quite possible), forget about the weapon and run like an Olympic hundredmetrist.
- Option number two is to survive for those few seconds it takes to extract your weapon or similar or find and grab something like a stick or bottle, then continue the battle on more equal and equal terms.
Reasoning that few street fighters are probably as well trained as some knife specialists, it may very well be possible to survive a fight with an armed opponent and perhaps even to take away his weapon.
Surviving “the impossible” may not be impossible but with proper physical, psychological training and conditioning and learning to use the things you have with you every day.
Naked hand against knife is not bare hand
Ps. The infamous assault of a stranger while you wait for the bus is not knife defense but it is a murder for a rude you did or a fool but I remind you that attention to context and environment is a fundamental aspect in self-defense.
I want to reiterate to you that when we talk about naked hand against knife you often have a too “theoretical” view where you imagine a person with bare hand and one with a knife actually You have many tools on you that can help you defend yourself and if the opportunity arises the disarming of the knife and disarmament is not just the knife-wielding lever.
If you take it out of your head that the concept of pure naked hand versus knife is not reality and already you begin to have a more open view of how you should behave.
I’ll explain better, you don’t even have to dream of actually defending yourself by bare hand but you must immediately use everything you have on you to use it against that person armed with a knife.
Example of objects that you often have on you and that you can use:
- House keys
- Objects in general
What I want to tell you that immediately you have to find time to make your own “extraction” of an object or something to use, better if you also have a knife but the law as you know does not allow you to civilian transport of the cutting weapon.
Unfortunately, knife attacks are usually unseated and done in the most cowardly way you can imagine, especially if they are related to previous quarrels, revenge, madness.
One of the important things that people often underestimate is knife extractions, because when you find a knife in front of you and you can’t run away The speed with which you pull out your knife can make a big difference,so creating the time space to extract the weapon becomes crucial and often an underrated job.
Ps. A useful and practical exercise that you can practice alone is the boxing vacuum and when you hear a certain signal the extraction of the weapon, or take off your shirt, take a shoe, random object, etc.
Clearly as you can imagine but it is obvious I think, the more the skill of those who have the weapon is high the lower your chances, because it is always the man who makes the difference not the instrument.
This applies to everything and in all contexts, the more skilled an opponent is and the more you need to raise the level to dominate the situation and win.
Let’s continue with the central concept of this post and start with a basic assumption that fuels the debate on disarmament and that’s the first question you have to ask those who say that disarmament doesn’t work:
- Okay, disarmament doesn’t work, so what do I do if I can’t escape?.
- Why does the knife then remain how do I solve the problem?.
When it comes to disarmament, you assume that you are unarmed.
But what do you mean by unarmed?
Forget it, don’t ask this question so you can’t answer it or tell you the usual improvised repertoire bullshit about knife philosophy that you don’t need at all, you have a knife in front of your face and the words are zero, you need your reaction.
I’ll tell you something right away also to avoid misunderstandings: the solution is NOT disarmament!! but it is one of the possibilities you may have. Never seek disarmament!. Never!.
But like Andrea you opened the article talking about disarmament!.
Andrea you’re telling us.
Now read don’t rush because this is one of the most discussed topics in martial arts and among the most trivialized.
One of the things that is often seen to do and that leads most people not to believe that it is possible to disarm is precisely as it is explained that is always out of a dynamic of short fencing and rapid movement of knife, you always remain in the order of theory and especially of the static explanation of disarmament as if there is the presumption of doing one of the most complex things of armed combat trying very few times and even worse in the most wrong way.
I’m sorry it doesn’t work!!.
You understand what they explain to you and the theory, what you see in YouTube is not how you study knife disarmaments so you will never learn and when you try to do it in a non-cooperative sparring context it never works.
Disarmament is a dynamic moment that allows you to control the armed hand (and even hitting the aggressor, never attempt a disarm without first hitting, NEVER!) or directly hitting the attacker’s armed hand.
Attention I repeat you should never be searched!!
But it’s like smashing for a tennis player it doesn’t always happen you can’t look for it, maybe “bring” but if there’s a chance you have to take it and score.
The same thing can be said as weapon returns, it’s not that you can use the return of the weapon as your strategy.
One of the important things when disarming is to have hit, either the armed hand or the aggressor because if you still perform a lever attempt without hitting it does not work or at least very risky because the even uncontrolled movements of a hand armed with a knife is always dangerous.
The joint lever, and I’m not talking about a fighting context, always works and only if you hit, unless you’re doing it to a child and the difference in strength is such as to overwhelm the resistance.
If I tell you that I give you a lever at the elbow you stiffen and it does not work, instead if you hit at that moment the tension is unlocked because the attention shifts and therefore I leave the “space” to make the lever.
Ps. There are methodologies of lever applications that are used to eliminate tension even if one stiffens and still apply the lever but are more control techniques to use when you can’t hit, more suitable for security operators.
One eventuality to eliminate stiffness and it is a fundamental thing are the transitions, that is, to switch from one lever to another because you never have to counter the force but you have to re-direct it because to make a lever when it works you do not need so much force, you feel it immediately when it is too rigid to continue and then you have to change leverage, or hit to loosen the tension and continue.
The armed hand must always be controlled, with cutting weapons you can not leave anything to chance, even when it is in your hand, never underestimate it, respect it, not surprisingly the sheath is an element studied very carefully, it is a container of power.
Now there are some important assessments that you have to do as, why is that knife there?;
I simplify them with two hypotheses:
1) Intimidation/threat for the purpose of extortion or robbery where there is no real intention to injure or kill you. In this case giving him what he wants can eliminate the threat, a reaction or some problem can lead you to have to defend yourself.
2) He wants to cut you, hurt you, kill because you’ve done something that’s not good for him, or he’s a lunatic, here the intention is to hurt you. He’s unlikely to warn you because he doesn’t want to give you any advantage unless he wants to “just” hurt you or scar you like in many cultures to terrify you.
3) Terrorism/crazy,he wants to kill you because you’re there at that moment, there’s no real reason.
Now there are several things you can and do if you find a blade in front of you and you have to do it in a certain order:
- The first thing I tell you: if you can run away,you understand correctly is to run away, put pride in your pocket and rip it off, run away, bring your skin home, point, stop.
- The second thing I tell you if you can’t run away and you have a knife, pull it out immediately.
- The third thing I tell you if you can’t run away and if you don’t have a knife is to Take advantage immediately with an object a sufficient, a long weapon, a blunt object, a bottle, a shoe, pull out the belt, wrap your jacket to protect yourself, etc. he must perceive that you are armed and that you too want to hurt him.
- The fourth thing I repeat if you are “naked” never seek disarmament but fight as if you had a weapon or a knife. This is a crucial point that makes everyone say that knife disarmament does not work, because they start from defending and disarmament, but instead it all starts from short fencing. You can’t defend yourself against a knife this is the paradigm you have to break, you can’t defend yourself against the knife but you have to attack as if you were armed you can’t do otherwise,if you just think about defending yourself without attacking and hitting you get shot and killed, You have to give yourself a chance and the only chance you have is to attack by hitting your attacker. Yes, you will be cut!! It’s very likely but you don’t have a different choice!!.
Ps. If it’s a robbery of the money, the moped, the purse, don’t risk for an item that you can still buy back.
Never look at the blade!
Now if you want to figure out what to do if you’re unarmed against a man who has a white weapon one thing you have to learn to do is don’t look at the blade,you get it right.
You have to use peripheral vision!
The blade hypnotizes you and this is not good, you must always look at your attacker not his knife.
If you do this you discover all the points he leaves uncovered to be hit and there are a lot because he will tend to only want to use the knife losing all defenses and leave a lot of Open Point Target (OPT).
Now the important thing that you need to understand and want you to reflect on is that even if you are bare-handed you have to fight as if you have the knife because you can’t defend yourself from the knife without hitting.
Often not to say you always see exercises where one has the knife and the other is unarmed where one attack and the other defends itself, the problem is that the one with the knife has no protection and the bare hand one can not hit him because it would break his nose so what can he do?.
Nothing always ends up losing but it is normal because and like the Wall Sparring (the sparring to the wall) where one attacks and the other can only defend and dodge, take a lot of shots, while already if you can pull even the Jab and already the game changes a lot.
Knife defense is hitting at “naked hands”but that doesn’t mean you can’t take as I already told you a kubotan, a pen, the belt, a shoe, a bottle, a shirt, the keys, etc. but you have to do it as if you had a knife, do not think about defending yourself but attack it, consider that as soon as you see the blade you have to take an object, get used to using what you have on you, don’t just walk around naked.
This also has an important psychological function for you and also for your attacker.
His perception must be that yours is not a passive defense but an active “defense”, he must know that you hit him and that you want to take him and use his knife.
This must be your change of vision, and to do so you have to hit him or the armed hand and while there is the stop then that’s where you have to carry out control of his armed hand because you can never afford not to control his armed hand or do it while waving the blade.
To learn this you have to work with two weapons at the same time in your hands.
For this reason that filipinos used to study with double weapons and also of different lengths, a legacy taken by the Spaniards and Italian mercenaries but the work behind it is the contemporary use of two weapons with different functions at the same time.
Now someone will say but if you find an expert how do you do so?,you are right but how many experts can you find?.
And if I find Buakaw Pramuk fighting you think you’d have a chance, but how many Buakaws do you see walking down the street?.
So train thinking about a normality because between 0 and 100 there are a lot of numbers in the middle.
The study of drills
Studying drills with the knife is fine to study the technique but it is not a good choice in terms of increasing your real abilities because you have to learn to move in chaos so you need to know how to improvise and recognize inputs.
The knife moves molt quickly and there is no predetermined design, for this the drills are only used to learn the technique and know some dynamics but it will be different every time, so sudden, it serves you to learn the attack phase that clearly also in defense.
Everyone has their own way of attacking (for trajectory, intensity, speed, power of shots) and that’s why drills are not needed even though I know there are lovers of statistics but it is never so, especially if the person knows how to handle the blade and even if there are common attacks such as the classic ice peak and the blow to the lower belly , aggression, speed, repetitiveness of shots, angle of attack, power, time will always be different and that is why you have to train with different approaches, from the more technical/tactical (stocked, combined cutting angles, etc.) to the most violent typical of a madman (discharge of shots from one direction).
In training do not worry about being hit, you are training not to be but learn from your mistakes because as I told you you are training in one of the most complex arts of personal defense but of the martial landscape, the real combat is always armed in the history of man.
For this intrinsic feature of the blade (point and cut) you always have to flow and your footwork becomes exasperated and fundamental, because the exits (evasions) must become natural as walking.
Ps. That’s why short fencing practitioners then become skilled strikers, very evasive, insidious, pungent.
Basic knife exercise
A basic but foundation-based exercise is to work on the 5 cutting and tip angles starting to do so with the order 12345 cutting and tip and then also narrow and wide after a while to get to mix them with a scattered order. Fundamental but random angles of attack.
I advise you to do this as a warm-up in all classes.
Train yourself to find time to extract and find a makeshift weapon, or other items/clothing considering your habits.
Learn how to take advantage of the environment and what you usually have with you.
Fundamentals with the knife
The fundamental basis for knife fighting is footwork.
It allows you to maintain the correct distance between you and your opponent.
Being adept at moving quickly away or towards your opponent is essential in any combat scenario, but when you’re pointing a knife at you, the importance skyrockets.
When you think about footwork you have to imagine something evasive as it happens in boxing by some athletes, with feline movements hitting suddenly and constantly moving.
That’s the right kind of footwork for knife fighting.
Obviously a sharp weapon in your hands, you don’t need much force to do harm to your attacker, but it’s much more important to stay light and agile with a firm grip of the weapon.
A knife-wielding cut or a quick, direct lunge to your face can be all you need to end the fight.
The distance you choose to fight your opponent is crucial.
Many instructors teach their students to engage in knife fights at a distance of boxing.
But if we look at a round of a boxing match and count how many times each athlete gets hit, we’ll notice that contact happens too often.
If boxers exchanged their gloves for sharp blades, within ten seconds they would be in a lake of blood.
As for knife training there are hundreds of drills and exercises that improve close work with knife and weapons in general, but all these drills are trained and have been developed with the sole purpose of improving your skills: sensitivity, coordination, motion mechanics, etc.
That’s why they are called drills of refinement and sensitivity but they should NEVER! be confused with real armed combat with the purpose of survival.
To train the knife-wielding combat you have to practice short fencing.
In combat, a knife expert always fights in distance that Filipinos call wide hand,which is the distance just beyond the distance of the kicks.
This is because it is easier to avoid being cut, and can still pursue its primary goal, which is to break the snake’s tooth and cut off the attacker’s armed hand.
Breaking the snake’s tooth
If you cut off your opponent’s hand instantly you will disarmit. This is the real disarmament of knife not the use of levers.
If you cut his hand it is physically impossible for him to hold a knife when tendons, muscles and ligaments for the control of his hand are damaged.
Once you’ve broken the snake’s tooth, it becomes harmless, and then you can decide whether to kill it or let it go.
Ps. Remember, even if you’re right, the law will convict you.
The correct footwork and distance are key for this strategy to work.
Injuring and breaking the snake’s tooth,is a tactic also used in stick combat.
Unfortunately, and it’s something I can’t stand to see, in modern tournaments where fighters clearly use helmets and protective bodices and therefore sure of that, they engage in constant head-searching clashes, losing sight of reality.
If a fighter uses the strategy of “breaking the snake’s tooth”, and hits his attacker on the armed hand and WITHOUT BEING PROTECTED by Hockey gloves as in tournaments, that poor hand would have shattered bones and would suffer the same consequence as being cut by a blade, can’t hold the weapon with that hand.
Although these fights are useful and fundamental in training because they teach you how to manage stress with adrenaline flowing to a thousand, that type of practice and type of combat should constitute no more than 5 percent of your training.
It shouldn’t be your focus if you’re interested in self-defense, as rules and scores rarely reward blows on your opponent’s armed hand, but instead it’s the things that save your life.
In a knife fight timing is as important as footwork and proper distance,but more ambiguous and difficult to explain.
The timing in combat can be described as the ability to hit your opponent before, during or after he has carried an attack.
You have to feel, feel that good fraction of a second to target your technique.
Once you’ve developed good timing, you can literally move at a tenth of the speed and still be extremely effective and appear to your opponent as fast as lightning.
In training meetings with martial practitioners later in life, it is not difficult to see younger athletes affected many times than they are, thanks to a timing very close to perfection.
To develop timing it is necessary to acquire awareness and familiarize yourself with the lines of attack (i.e. knowledge of all possible angles of attack), both things that increase with time and experience.
But there will never be perfection is a continuous search.
As in most life matters, perception is everything because it allows you to anticipate and make the right choice for yourself.
These points are some of the important parts of knife fighting, but it’s only part, it’s one of the most complex jobs a martial arts man is facing.
Fleeing is always the best solution to defend yourself from a knife attack.
This is the basic rule!
The first OPTION ALWAYS. So, the first thing to do if someone attacks you with a knife?
First of all, run.
As I told you to defend yourself from a blade you must first learn to use one and you have to do it by practicing short fencing and the more you learn to use a knife, the more you learn to respect the damage it can inflict.
All it takes for a blade to do harm is to touch you and without even special skills even if you consider that everyone knows how to cut because everyone in life has used a knife or a cutter.
A knife-wielding attacker must not possess great skills for seriously injured people.
Instructors looking for a disarming against a knife attack are lying to you, they don’t understand and they know the terrible reality of a knife fight because they don’t have experience of short fencing.
I understand it’s cool to imagine disarming the robber but the decision to try it could be the last decision of your life, the reaction must be the last option to use and again to seek disarmament.
The marker test will show you why you buy a red marker, set up with training partners in a bounded area, complete protections even protective helmets and ask your training partner to simulate a robbery and if you react to hit you as he wants, then assault you with marker as if it were a real blade, free as he wants.
No matter how many locks or disarming techniques you try, you’ll soon be full of red lines throughout your body.
Don’t worry keep training!
The best option when facing a knife is to escape.
If you can’t escape, the first thing you need to do is immediately find an equalizer.
If you have a knife with you, immediately pull it out, or take an object, break a bottle or throw any object you find on the spot, stones, glasses, chairs, tables, plates, etc.
Use anything to distract the aggressor and create space for you to escape.
If you don’t have escape routes or “equalizers” items, and you have to rely on your bare hand skills alone, it becomes very complicated, but you have to use your hands as if you had a knife and if you can use a shirt or jacket to protect yourself.
In any case, you could still be cut, maybe even fatally, that’s why the best option is to always use the number 1 strategy that is to run away.
It takes many hours of training and different conditions, we are talking about one of the most complicated things in martial arts and self-defense so there are no guarantees but as Bob Breen says:
“To survive a knife attack you need a lot of luck but the more you work out and the luckier you get.”
With the knife you need respect and obsession, do not leave things to chance, it is a blade.
Trainers, trainers, trainers, mistakes in training, continue, insist, try again, forget your pride and your ego, naked hand against knife is the most complex job you will do but this job will be gold for your martial arts.
No matter what martial art you study, I don’t care what it is, Ninjutsu, Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, M.M.A. (mixed martial arts), Tae Kwon Do, etc.
If you don’t learn how to handle or defend yourself against attacks with sticks and knives, your training has deep limits.
Knives and sticks are everywhere.
Knife is not a game!
Street Fight Mentality