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Israeli Tactical Krav Maga

Encountering a stabber almost always ends up in an injury, and surviving a knife attack is a huge success and a rarity. That is why preparation and proper training of self-defense are so necessary. However, teaching defense against a knife is one of the most challenging combat systems issues for the trainer and the instructor.

In the article below, you will find answers to the questions:

  • What kind of training equipment is best for knife defense practice? 
  • What are the essential dos & don’ts? 
  • What should you focus on while training? 

How not to practice knife defense?

Filipino martial arts approach to knife defense is considered the most useful and, therefore, becomes more and more popular.
Most instructors from all over the world base their teaching concepts on it.

But are they right? I have seen many concepts and approaches to the knife’s subject in over 20 years of training in various combat systems and martial arts. My conclusion is – they all (including the Filipino ones) have one problem. It’s the predictability of movements.

All concepts of systems and martial arts dealing with defense and knife fighting have one problem – the predictability of movements.

During the standard knife fighting training, those who train create over time a particular movement pattern. Specific attacks, blocks, and counterattacks are repeated until the body responds to a particular action with an appropriate response.

It all makes sense until you ask – what percentage of stabbers are ACT (Armed Combat and Tactics) trained adepts, and what percentage are ordinary thugs under the influence of alcohol or drugs?

The conclusion is simple: it makes no sense to learn self-defense according to repetitive scenarios. When it’s about a knife, you’d better be prepared to fight without any rules. And to learn to react with full determination and speed in training conditions, you must go beyond the learned patterns and create the most realistic attack conditions possible.

What are the best tools to use for training?

Electric, squeaky, or even lipstick-stained knives (to leave a mark after a hit), gain more and more popularity, leaving standard plastic and steel versions far behind. All these solutions are well dressed in marketing because they look good in the media and appeal to imagination… but that’s all of their advantages. Why? Because they do not fulfill their fundamental role. They don’t teach!

The human psyche is powerful. The subconscious fear of hurting a training partner prevents him from acting with full force. A bold hit with even a plastic blade can do serious harm, so students mark their movements. Sparring in full contact is carried out with gloves – to ensure minimal psychological comfort and safety. Hardly anyone is ready to fight bare fists during such training.

How do you arrange a realistic training that gives you the freedom to attack full speed and intention without permanently damaging your health?
Just use an empty half-liter water bottle.

They are soft, the air inside perfectly absorbs impacts, and while held from the cap side, imitate a knife handle. What’s more – when they hit the body, the characteristic, loud sound they make affects the psyche. These features make the training more realistic and give the trainee greater freedom to level the attack’s strength and dynamics.

How to attack

To master an effective defense, you must first master a good attack. What features should it have?

  • No rules!
  • Full intention
  • Full speed
  • Retries (learning a single attack is pointless and doesn’t reflect in reality)
  • Tenacity (attack does not stop until the situation is entirely under control)

How to defend yourself

During the VIP security team training in Ecuador, I had the opportunity to work with a bodyguard (professional boxer Carlos), who responded to the knife attack with only one punch. It was enough to knock the stabber out. The situation developed quickly (and so easily!), thanks to his abilities and physical predispositions. But what about people with no experience?

To successfully defend yourself against a knife, you have two options – either get into a clinch or get out of the situation as soon as possible. You can only use the first option if you have a plan and tools for further defense. The second – when you can use a long distance to escape.

The defense must be either fully entering a clinch or fully getting out of reach of the knife – nothing in between.

Rules for entering a clinch:
  • Block – don’t get hit.
  • Pressure – a hit once blocked must be under control.
  • Control – the ruthless pursuit of the armed hand control.
  • Counter attacks – strong, fast, and decisive counter-attacks until the attacks cease and the aggressor is disarmed.
  • Disarm – by attacks only – an unconscious person will not hold the knife.
Rules for getting out of reach of the knife:
  • Block – don’t get hit.
  • Counterattack – quick counter with one or two strokes while leaving the armed hand.
  • Ranged – fast and decisive way out of the attack range and further play the situation according to the current possibilities.

In both cases, a failed block cannot be the end of the attack. You should continue until you achieve the desired effect, instead of starting the exercise from scratch. Each, even the worst-done defense, must be carried out to the end!

Where to learn knife defense?

Join our knife defense seminar. The next edition will take place on October 24th, 2020, in Warsaw.

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