One of the most terrifying occurrences in self-defense is to be attacked by an offender with a knife. It usually happens in a split second, and suddenly you are face to face with a madman who wants to stab the life out of you. Even for the most skilled and experienced martial artist, this is a situation that is highly dangerous. For the average person, faced with possible death or very serious injury, the gripping fear one experiences usually causes a complete shutdown (freeze) of the mind and body.

Knife attacks are over in a matter of seconds. One must be able to respond in an instant, to have even a chance of survival. What are some of the “rules’ when confronted with a knife attack? The very first action should be to face the attacker. A “natural” reaction for the untrained individual would probably be to turn one’s back to the attacker and move away, only to be knifed in the back and side. One must at all times face the attacker in a crouched, three-quarter stance, with arms in front of one’s body. This is a basic ready position that enables you to see what is going on, and to be ready mentally and physically to defend.

There are two types of knife attacks: one is the “slash” whereby the attacker tries to slice with the knife. Slashes are difficult to defend against, as the attacker who may miss you with his first horizontal slash, will immediately come back with a “backhand slash. It is very important to “wait” for the attacker to make the first move. Why? Because now he has committed to an attack and not just a threat to attack. Once the weapon is away from his body, you have a “chance” to parry, block, and grab the weapon hand. Once you have control of the weapon hand, never let go of it. This is vital, because if you release the weapon hand, you are giving the attacker a second chance to cut you, and now he is alert and aware of your possible defense. You don’t have many opportunities, so take full advantage of immobilizing the weapon hand.

Now, for the trained martial artist, there are many various types of strikes to pressure points available, as well as joint locks and takedowns. Always take the “knife” from the attacker immediately after the encounter. Do not leave the knife either on the ground or foolishly with the attacker.

The other type of assault is the “thrust” This can be done with the “ice pick” grip. or the “hit” grip, which is just a very firm grasp of the knife ‘s handle. Once again, it is important to wait for the “thrust'” Once the attacker commits to a thrust, we can move to the side, parry, and control the weapon hand, and then immediately execute our defense in a vicious attack to completely disable the attacker. Mercy is not shown here. This person has just tried to end your life, so be completely ruthless in your self-defense counter attack, However, once you have taken control of the knife. you cannot legally stab the attacker, as this is in the eyes of the law, tantamount to you attacking the person. So be careful, as witnesses to the original attack can be used against you in a court of law.

In conclusion, assume a ready position, wait for the initial slice or thrust, side step to avoid the attack, take control of the weapon hand, and execute your self-defense tactics with speed, power, and viciousness, and always take the weapon. Defending against a knife, or any sharp edged weapon is very dangerous, but the alternative is even worse.