Friday, January 22, 2010

Knife Defense Tips from Keith Pascal

Since Valiant for Truth asked for advice about a carry knife for defense, I've been mulling over the issue of defending against a knife. I want to answer Valiant's question, but there are some other knife-defense issues that have also been on my mind.

I noticed a discussion of some principles that I thought might apply to knife defese in Keith Pascal's last issue of Martial Arts Mastery (#479). So, I wrote him the following email:


You brought up fighting with a knife in your last e-letter, which prompts me to ask a question I've been mulling over:

How would you defend empty-handed against a knife?

On the street, if someone really wants to stab/slash you, he won't produce the knife until the last second, which means you won't have time to draw yours. Even someone who is trying to intimidate you with a knife will have an opportunity to stab you as you reach for your weapon.

This leads me to conclude that, even if I carry a knife for defensive purposes, I will more likely need to defend against a knife with my bare hands.

My inclination is to carry the hit-first-rather-than-block policy into the realm of defense against the knife. It seems a couple of fingers to the eyes or a half-fist to the throat would seriously impede his ability to continue the attack (with a simultaneous check to the knife-wielding arm, just to be safe). What do you think?

Also, I'd like to know if you think the suggestion of turning your block into a strike would be a viable defense against a knife.

Thanks for reading this, and -- as always -- I appreciate the expertise you make available to your newsletter readers. Thanks.

Keith graciously and promptly answered my email, and I asked him if I could publish his response here, on WARSKYL. He, in turn, offered to write a short article. I jumped at the chance to post an article written specially for us by someone who is not only a master in the practice of self defense, but also a great teacher.

Here it is:

Knife Attack Surprise

by Keith Pascal

For years, I have given demonstrations showing how it's almost
impossible to get a weapon out and into play, after you are attacked.
For example, if someone were to surprise you with a knife, you would
NOT be able to pull your blade out of your pocket, get it open, and
use it for defense, before you were stabbed. (Let's call it
"unlikely," and "unlucky.")

So, what do you do?

I have several quick suggestions:

  * Get your knife out early, if you are in an area where you don't
feel safe and secure.

  * If your knife "Is" out in anticipation of potential problems,
keep the knife hidden. Learn to "palm" your knife (10 Days to Better Knife Fighting)

  * Have a first response that doesn't require a weapon. In other
words, learn to defend empty handed against a knife attack.

  * Practice beginning with your feet or hands, and getting your
knife out while in the middle of the fight. And find a way to practice
this while you have adrenalin coursing through your body.

   * Don't rely on, but learn to utilize techniques where you take
the knife away from your opponent. Sometimes, it's easier to disarm
your opponent than bring your own knife into play. Sometimes.

I hope these quick tips help,


Many thanks to Keith for taking the time to give us those tips. (He may use the contents of this in another venue, but remember you saw it here first)

Can you put his advice together with some of the ideas in my letter to come up with your own drills for knife defense? I hope to have more on the subject, soon. (Be patient, Valiant)


Stephen Boyd said...

Very interesting, and it confirms my earlier ideas. For some time I have been of the opinion that knives are rarely practical for self defense. If I were in a self defense situation, I would much rather have a cane or some object longer than a knife to battle an assailant with.

Of course, a CCW would be the best choice in a knife fight.

The Warrior said...

Excellent, excellent! Good questions and a good article. I'm going to go chew on this for a while now.

Getting my own knife out is a concern for me...I carry one, but often worry about that issue (especially when I'm in jeans--is it just me or is it harder to get my knife out in jeans?). Thank you for having it addressed, and I look forward to any more on this topic in future.