Article:    Draw!

There’s a lot of knife attacks happening on the street so it’s vital to be able to stop it before it starts. Knife fighting often starts from the point when the opponent draws his weapon. Some would say that it starts long before then and that you should either pre-empt your attacker or even better not be there.

The knife stuff I’ve seen first hand seems to break into two groups. Firstly, those who want to stab you whilst you’re fighting someone else. These are the infamous ‘backstabbers’ and are in some ways the most dangerous as you’ve got your hands full and they’re out on the periphery just waiting for a chance to stick you and then brag to their mates afterwards about how they ‘did’ you. The other group is where you’ve got a guy fronting you with a weapon and who’s either going to use it or just wants to scare you with it. It’s hard to tell these two apart so the best thing is either to use your tongue to get you out of trouble or to bash both types and let god sort them out. Think of it as avoid, talk or bash and you’ve got the picture.

Avoidance is best done early. If you leave too late they can sometimes get a ‘bee in their bonnet’ that they must stab you and running won’t necessarily get you out of it, as they can be persistent. I lost one friend this way so realise that it happens often enough. You’ve got to be really fast if you’re running as adrenalin can really tie you up and whatever speed you’ve got might not be there. Despite being hundred yards champion at school I’ve both chased and been chased and not found the same speed there when the adrenalins pumping. Maybe it’s god’s way of levelling the playing field. A gentle walk out of the trouble area is best done early and with little fanfare. If they’re drunk they may not notice.

Conventional Knife defence wisdom says you shouldn’t kick against a knife attack and there’s some truth in that, in that if you do get stuck in the leg you could lose your mobility and not then be able to run, and they may have reinforcements coming. However, it’s often about where on the time line you do it. Do it early and drop them with a front kick as they are going for their weapon and then either follow up to finish them, then run, or just drop them and run, You have to choose in the moment. Don’t tarry too long. Leave any danger area quickly. Front kicks, and shin kicks are the ones to do against the knife. Round kicks don’t stop forwards movement and can be entered on. Then you’ve got a knife or screwdriver sticking out of your chest. Keep him at bay with front kicks if he’s trying to stab you and you need distance.

If you can’t hit them early then sometimes draw counters like we have in Filipino martial arts can be helpful. Think of these techniques as pausing him so you can bash him without him having the knife in play. Most knife guys have their belief in the weapon. Psychologically that’s where there courage is based. Denying them that weapon means that you’ve got more chance. I’ve outlined a few in the photos so you can see the concept.

There’s lots of rubbish taught about knife defence. In most of it you are being reactive. You are replying to their questions. If you’re ‘tongue tied’ talking to the police, taxman or bank manager think what that’s like and multiply it a hundred times. Whilst reactive knife tapping is great to practice, under pressure it’s hard to do. It’s role is to give you an idea of the game and to give you attachment skills for the time when you haven’t got any options left. It’s part of the strategy not all of it. It’s teaching you knife defence from an easy semi attached starting point.

Think of the process as firstly avoid or secondly talk if it’s too late to run and judge if that’s all you need. I’ve got out of two knife situations using verbal skills. If it looks like it’s going down then escalate first, trust your instincts here. Tapping and gripping is for later in the game. Before that you’ve got to be pro-active which means doing them first, or on their preparation. This is your third option. Use direct attacks then you get to stop hitting and draw counters. These may play a vitally important part in your survival. Only then are you into being reactive and in trying to funnel them into an area where you can best deal with it, without getting hurt too much.

Conversely, the place to start is with the tapping drills as the other stuff is harder to teach and is developed once you know these passive/ reactive drills. Then you can break in and out, stop hit and even just run!

Of course the best counter for most of this is to change your life situation if you are strong enough to. If you are working the doors every night then your chances of being stabbed have to go up. Change the type of people that you hang around with and your odds improve. Classy people don’t generally stab people as often. Focus on your martial arts as a way of life and you’ll not only change your environment but have better instincts of preservation. Predators who are out there will be able to see that you are not going to be easy prey. In addition you’ll have more control over your emotions, and not have your ego fixated on ritualistic nonsense and posturing that could get you killed. As the saying goes you make your own luck.

Good training and stay safe.