31 August 2012

The two biggest problems with using a knife for self-defense


The thing that pisses me off with all the knife fighting BS out there is that they continually ignore the two biggest issues when it comes to using a knife for personal protection.

#1 Defining for the student exactly what situations would actually cause them to draw their knife. In firearms this is shoot/don't shoot training. A knife is deadly force option, so if my understanding of use of force is correct, you would have to be defending against deadly force. Let's look at a few possible scenarios. They all start with your knife in your pocket.

A) You are attacked open handed. At least in my eyes, this is not justification to produce your knife.
B) You are attacked with an impact weapon. Even a short impact weapon like a tire iron is going to give your attacker the advantage of distance. If you manage to identify the threat and get your knife out and attempt a cut or a stab, it is likely to be much less effective than their blow to your skull.
C) They have a knife. This really all comes down to range, but this is the one that so many people like to train for and proclaim knife fighting prowess.
D) They have a gun, and if they are holding it on you and not shooting, you going for your knife and then attempting to close distance will likely get you shot.
E) You are attacked by more than one person, but none of them are armed. The law is on your side if you pull the knife. If you manage to single one out and cut or stab him and the others can see, they will likely be inclined to leave. But, it is more likely that they will rush you not seeing the knife. The knife requires motion to be effective, and once they are on top of you it will be hard to create that motion.

While working the street, I made it habit during all walk up contacts to have my closed ASP in my hand. I would have rather carried a straight stick but we were not allowed. With a flick of the wrist I had what I believe is the best tool to deal with spontaneous open hand, edged weapon, or impact weapon attacks. If the threat,time, and opportunity allowed, I practiced dropping my baton and in the same motion drawing my pistol.

It made sense to me to walk up using a tool that I could subtly carry in my hand that gave me the most options for dealing with threats that were not obvious deadly force situations.

#2 Showing the student exactly how hard it is to deploy a knife under stress.

Just as I am not impressed by someone who can draw a pistol on the buzzer and dump a magazine into the A zone of an IDPA target, I am not impressed with someone who is fast as lightening with a knife already in their hand. The goal is decisive, defensible decision making, and the ability to get your knife out if you ever have the chance.

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