01 January 2013

Defending against knives with open hands, knives, and sticks

On open hand, knives, and sticks vs knives-

I use the stick as an extension of my arm. For instance, first we teach people to use their natural protective responses to defend against attacks, they we put a pen or folder in their hand use the same economy of motion.

If you are thinking about defending against a knife with a stick based on police training...good luck. Edged weapons seek flesh, impact weapons seek bone. ASP and Monadnok teach the opposite of this for liability purposes. For me to extend my ASP instead of using it to strike closed, something had to really be going sideways. And even when extended most of the time I used it for body chokes and joint presses. This was because people were not attacking me, they were just resisting arrest.

My absolute favorite weapon in the world is a simple rattan Escrima stick. I have one next to the seat of every vehicle I ride in. When I travel as I did recently from PA to CT by train, I always carry a cane.

During training I have face people from many serious backgrounds in edged weapons. I found that I always did best open hand or with a stick. During knife on knife we usually just traded cuts. When both of you have knives in your hand (a situation you are only likely to face in training) you both just spin like a compass and soon patterns (trained and untrained) set up and you are dancing around trying to cut each other. Your weapon systems are equal.

If you are force to defend open handed, which is 90% of what we do, you are forced to deal with the attack by controlling the live hand and attacking the head and face with hammer fist, palm smashes, or elbows until they are no longer a threat. If possible at the same time you should be smashing their head into a vertical surface. This skill set is something few people whether they are police or citizens train for. Bottom line is that you need to know how to use deadly force with your hands. At this point the only reason you are not cutting or shooting them is because you did not get the chance, or cannot afford to let the live hand go. The weapon system favors the attacker.

When defending against a knife with a stick you are seeking bone targets which produce structural or Central Nervous System failure. The person with the knife is seeking to cut flesh, which makes you bleed. At least initially I prefer back hand strikes to under the chin, with follow ups to the face, temple, collar bone, elbow, wrists, fingers, knees, and balls of the ankle. It has been my experience that if you wail someone in the eye socket or back of the hand with a rattan stick they tend to forget about the knife in their hand. That split second brake allows me to finish it. I would ratten have the rattan stick then the ASP. I am not looking for that one big strike, but ratter overwhelm them with a flurry of rapid strikes to the targets afforded to me from their reaction to the previous one.

During my career I was only had the opportunity to defend against edged weapons three times.

The first was during a lesbian domestic. She came at me with a butcher knife. There was absolutely no time to access any tools. The last place my hands were willing to go was my duty belt.

The second was from a guy who was trying to stab a guy in a car. I walked up behind him, thinking he was just pulling the guy out. He turned around with an open folder, again no time to deploy any weapons. Defended open handed.

In both of the above situations the last thing my intuition would let me do was let go of the weapon hand to draw my own weapon. Both times I smashed their hand into vertical surfaces until they dropped the weapon.

During one of my last SWAT callouts before I retired, we made entry to a house looking for a suicidal female. Upon flash banging and making entry to the room we could not locate her. Another guy opened a closet door and found her sitting on the floor slashing at us with a butcher knife. At the time we did not have Tasers but I had just gone to the course on my own time and got one from a deputy on the perimeter. Because she was sitting I tried to Tase her. The cartridge failed, and without missing a beat I dropped it to the floor and in the same motion drew my ASP. I delivered one strike to the back of her wrist and she dropped the knife, was pulled out by her hair and taken into custody.

Early in my career I saw the ineffectiveness of striking people in large muscle groups, so I would just pop them on the ball of their ankles. This always folded them like a lawn chair.

So once again, based on time and opportunity, you are most likely to have to face edged weapon attack open handed, or maybe with a carried or improvised stick, not very likely with the knife. Train for all three, but dedicate the most training to the most likely scenarios first.- George

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