Recently on my YouTube feed I saw this:
Silla Knife Pattern
I have to admit that I had no idea that this form existed but with a little research it seems to have been around for many years. I have my own ideas about the pattern and the techniques included within. However, in this article I am going to focus more on knife defense.
I am not sure if there is a more controversial topic in the martial arts beyond knife defense. Many different systems have different ideas on what should be done, from simple tactics to having large chunks of the syllabus devoted to knife and blade defense.
There is really so much to write on this subject that for now I am just going to write some of my thoughts on knife defense.
Can you defend yourself against a knife?
This question is often posed by students and instructors alike. In my mind, it is a totally worthless question. Whether we think it is possible or not, it is something we may have to deal with. We shouldn’t make the issue academic but have a realistic look at what options we have in that situation.
You will be at a huge disadvatnage
Following on from the initial question, we have to be very realistic about our chances, you will likely get injured, possibly badly if you opponent has a knife. I was trying to explain this to one of my students the other day and he was surprised that I wasn’t telling him that the techniques we were discussing were full proof.
If you are taking what you do seriously you need to realistic about you chances in different situations, lest you teach you students that they are able to handle any situation with a low block and spinning back kick.
We can’t rely on attackers or criminals being clumsy and stupid, just to make ourselves feel better and add validity to any techniques or strategies we may want to teach. If you know that someone has a knife, and if you have another option, don’t engage in physical self-defense with that person.
As an additional, resorting to physical self-defense should always be our last option
You won’t know there is a knife
To follow on from the previous point of ‘if you know the person has a knife’ we need to realize that most time we won’t be aware the other person has a weapon.
Generally, unless you are being threatened, people don’t wave their weapons about. They don’t want other people to know what they are carrying, they are not interested in giving you a warning so that you can test your martial techniques.
Also in many countries carrying a knife for no reason is illegal, even if it isn’t likely displaying blades about your body would attract unwanted attention from the police.
The first you know about a knife is usually when you are being cut or maybe, if you are lucky enough, when the person is reaching for it. It won’t be presented from 8 feet away.
The attacks won’t be telegraphed
Again, following on from the previous point, knife attacks are going to be close ranged, they are not going to be presented from a distance that gives you lots of time to adjust yourself to a knife attack.
Things like, check if the knife is double edged, look at the grip that is being used, check the style of knife and so on are all impossible.
The only time that you will see the knife at any sort of distance will be if there is a knife threat, in which case you should be active. Not waiting for any sort of attack
Don’t try to disarm
Disarms are cool, they look great and are a real mark of ‘skill’. However, there are extremely dangerous and difficult to pull off. Especially the way a lot of systems present them as a neat step to the side, crank the wrist and wayhey you have the knife.
The frantic aggressive movement of the knife and the cost involved if you fail make this a high risk technique.
The best disarm is to knock out or otherwise incapacitate your attacker, not go chasing his knife.
Don’t try to have a knife sub-system
As well as having held a black belt in TKD, I am also an instructor in Krav maga and Balintawak Eskrima. One of the things that these 2 systems have in common is the empty hand and knife defences are very closely linked. There is no need to completely change your movement and tactics when dealing with a knife. If we take the previous points in to account then this can only be a good thing.
Spar/drill with weapons often
As with everything, the best way to find out what works is o train live. This involves:
Gentle sparring with a dummy knife
Introducing the knife unexpectedly in to a sparring situation
Situation and pressure drill involving knives.
When these things are introduced into your training you will find that you and your students’ attitude to knife defense may change a lot.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Like I said knife defense is a very big topic and one that I hope to revisit in later articles. But for now these are my main thoughts on the subject