“The winner in a knife fight is the one who dies the next day.”
Several weeks ago my school held a fantastic seminar on knife defense. The techniques we learned were from the Israeli Defense Force’s Counter-Terror Unit 707 (CT 707) and were brought to our school directly by our instructor who had trained with Nir Maman.
One of the biggest eye-openers I walked away with was that I didn’t know what I thought I knew about knife attacks and knife defense. What follows is a summary of the class that I hope you’ll find useful.
Knife is a Most Deadly Weapon
In the seminar we learned that the knife is the most dangerous weapon to defend, apart from someone shooting you outright with a firearm or cooking you with a flame thrower. We were told that if you fight you WILL get cut or stabbed. The reason for this is that the knife requires no kinetic motion to be deadly, unlike bat or other blunt weapons. This means that you really don’t need to swing it like other weapons for it to be deadly.
This was highlighted by a story. Our instructor told us of an altercation in a parking lot with a knife wielding moron. The first cop to arrive was able to capture the knife then subdue the loony. As more cops arrived, a “dog pile” on the perp ensued as the assailant became hard to control, virtually crushing the bad guy and the first officer on the scene. When everyone finally got off the cop who had arrived first, disarmed the attacker, and began the dog pile sat up and gave a huge gasp for air — and dropped dead instantly. Turns out the bad guy had another concealed knife he was able to pull out of his boot. Even as he was piled on by numerous cops, his movements severely limited, he was still able to make small stabbing and sawing motions, enough to kill the officer on top of him.
Defend the Target, Not the Attack
This is very hard to do. “Common sense” tells you that you should be defending the knife strikes coming in. Imagine our surprise with the drill that followed. The drill consisted of defending against a rubber training knife with one attacker going full bore at you. Every time you got poked you would reset and start over. This proved to be pretty much impossible to beat. To prove the point further, the drill was expanded to include two attackers. You can imagine how sad that looked.
Always Assume the Attacker Has a Knife
Knife attacks are hardly even seen when they’re coming. One minute the attacker’s coming at you with what looks like a haymaker, next thing you know you are cut or stabbed. If someone’s acting aggressive and is reaching back or into their hoodie, assume a knife’s coming out even if it turns out it was just a fist. Interestingly, 96% of knives are concealed at waist level so if you see someone going for something there when things are getting heated it’s a safe bet that it’s not a Snickers bar to share while talking things over.
There Are Several Progressively Serious Stages You Can Go Through
When attacked by a knife you should examine your options in this order:
First and foremost, if you have the option to get out then GO! Even if you have years of intense training at your disposal, even if you’ve graduated from CT 707, even if you are Nir Maman himself — if you have the chance, RUN LIKE HELL out of there.
If you can’t escape then you should look for things to throw (i.e., throw dirt, sand, rocks, whatever). Throw that for all it’s worth then see Option 1 again — RUN!
- Grab a longer weapon than the knife
It is essential to grad something that is longer in reach than the knife to knock the knife out of the attacker’s hand. This is NOT another knife, even if it’s huge. You don’t want to find yourself in a knife on knife fight (see quote at the head of the blog post). What’s meant here is something like a broom, stick, pipe, etc. And you are not attacking the attacker by braining him over the head, you are knocking the weapon out of his hand then running like Hell.
- Resort to knife defense
Lastly, if you can’t run, you can’t find anything to throw, you can’t find something to knock the knife out of the attacker’s hand — THEN you should resort to knife defense techniques.
The attack has to be crazy fast. And as with all Krav attacks, there is no stepping, it’s a lightning fast blading of the body then lunging into the attacker while striking. During the lunge it is critical to defend the vital targets. By protecting vitals you are increasing your chances of survival. You’ll most likely survive a stab in the back (not to mention the cool scar and story you can brag about some day) but in the front of your body your chances drop significantly.
When you first notice that knife defense is your only option you need to establish some distance between you and the attacker and blade the body. Again, you need to protect the vitals and lean way back to strike out the knee of attacker. Repeat as necessary.
We went through this technique several times and branched out to some other interesting techniques. We all had a great time and I thought the balance between lecture and skills drills was just right. We suffered no illusions, however. These techniques take weeks, months to learn fully. We were immersing ourselves in them for a morning and would clearly need many more sessions of practice before being proficient, just like any Krav Maga techniques. What we did gain, however, is a real appreciation for these moves and just how deadly these attacks can be.