How to Survive a Knife Attack (And 4 Myths That Could Get You Killed)
How to Survive a Knife Attack (And 4 Myths That Could Get You Killed) by Graywolf for The Organic Prepper
With knife attacks seemingly on the rise in the news, I thought I’d write an article to give you some ideas of what to do in case you’re faced with a knife-wielding maniac. Keep in mind that this is super generic advice and some of this won’t be at all applicable in some scenarios.
I’ve had several classes in knife fighting and disarms, etc, but don’t think by any stretch that I’m an expert. As you can see for yourself on my blog, my expertise more in the intelligence gathering/protection and survival realm than hand-to-hand combat.
What relevant experience I do have, however, is in risk analysis and mitigation, which is more what you need to know if you aren’t trained and practiced in defending against edged weapons, so that’s what this article will focus on.
Myths and misconceptions about knife attacks
There are a lot of misconceptions about knife attacks to clear up first.
Myth #1) You can disarm him without getting cut/stabbed
Ok, so this is technically possible, but unlikely. One of the biggest hurdles to get over in a fight where your opponent has a knife is when you start bleeding. You might not feel the cut/stab due to the adrenaline in your system but you’ll see and feel the blood. A lot of people freak out at this point because they’ve never been hurt in a fight that caused them to bleed so their brain will lock up and they’ll hyper-focus on the wound and not getting stabbed anymore instead of dealing with the attacker.
Just assume you’re going to get cut or stabbed during this fight and hopefully you’ll keep your head in the fight when it happens.
One of the biggest things to focus on is protecting your vital parts such as your neck and chest. You may need to sacrifice your hands and arms in order to do this.
Myth #2) The attacker will lead with his knife-hand.
If you’ve ever seen a knife fight in the movies or on t.v., you’ll see the bad guy holding the knife out in front as he tries to stab the good guy. The problem with this misconception is that when you go to a class to learn how to defend yourself unless you have an instructor who’s been in ACTUAL knife fights, your lessons and practices will involve you defending against this type of attack.
This could set you up for failure.
Whereas this does happen sometimes, in most cases, the attacker will use his unarmed hand to keep you at bay and then grab you before he stabs you. He’ll no doubt swing and stab with the knife but the actual attack isn’t usually that forward. Make sure you practice with your opponent trying to get quick control over you before stabbing so you’re more used to that. Sparring matches, with practice knives especially, are much more useful than watching YouTube videos, although the videos can give you some ideas of what to practice.
Myth #3) You’ll have time to come up with a plan
Most knife attacks are ambushes within a few feet of the victim, usually within arm’s length. To adequately protect yourself against something like this, you really do need to build up some muscle memory so you don’t have to think.
Also, when someone attacks with a knife, they usually go right after the victim instead of standing back with surgical strikes. This means you need to act immediately and gain yourself some space or control immediately.
Most knife attacks last less than 15 seconds. You need to gain control of the situation within this timeframe in order to have a chance to survive.
Myth #4) The best defense is to run away
Now, sure, if you have the ability to run away, then this is your safest option. From what we’ve seen above, this is unlikely to be the case. You’ll most likely be forced into a confrontation if someone has committed to an attack.
What you should do
Now that we’ve cleared up those myths above, how do you survive a knife attack?
Learn from a qualified instructor
First things first, nothing beats training with a qualified instructor.
Krav Maga is my favorite self-defense system but it’s not the only one that you can learn to protect yourself against someone with a knife. In any case, check out your instructor’s credentials and experience with defending against and disarming knives before you spend your money and time with them. Just because they’re a badass in karate competitions doesn’t mean they know jack about a real fight, let alone one with weapons.
When learning any form, it’s best to start slowly and get the basics down before going into more advanced techniques. Disarming movements shouldn’t even be on your radar for quite a while.
If you’re using a shock knife (which I think are great), don’t put the setting up to full until you’ve had quite a bit of experience with sparring against it or you’ll be so afraid of getting shocked (simulating being stabbed) that you’ll shy away from what you need to do in practice and won’t learn anything.
In addition to a shock knife, here’s something called a scratch knife. Just something to keep in mind to bring up to your instructor: