Friday, July 19, 2013

Fundamental Principles for Surviving Knife Attacks

In order to effectively survive the attack of a knife-wielding assailant we must have a plan already in place before the attack occurs. While there are different ways of dealing with these types of attacks, some are better than others.

The steps provided below represent a logical and effective means of successfully escaping a knife-wielding assailant. However, there are no guarantees when it comes to self-defense training. The key to survival is based more on mental preparation than physical techniques and tactics.

Step #1- Escape:
If you find yourself facing a knife-wielding attacker (or any weapon for that matter), you first objective should be to put as much distance between you and the threat as quickly as possible. This is no time for feeding the ego. Unless the attacker is an immediate threat to you, your loved ones, or someone else…run away.

Step #2- Use of Barriers:
If for some reason you are unable to immediately exit the situation, the next best option is to place environmental barriers between yourself and the attacker. The idea is to make it more difficult for the attacker to reach you with the weapon. If he can’t reach you, he can’t inflict injury. Large or fixed environmental barriers generally work best. This could be an automobile, a light post, a trash dumpster, a counter-top, a large desk, tables, chairs, etc. Essentially anything that can slow the attacker’s forward movement. Keep in mind that this is only a temporary solution until you can safely put distance between you and the threat.

Step #3- Use of Firearms, Edged Weapons, and Batons
If you carry some kind of personal protection tool like a firearm this would be the place to employ it. If you can’t immediately escape you should still attempt to create some distance and put barriers between you and the threat. This barrier may buy you time to respond by drawing your own weapon. Obviously a firearm would have a greater advantage here as it can be used from a distance. However, the tool you choose to carry should be based on your own personal preference and lifestyle. The key is to remember that escape is more important than trying to engage the attacker. Even if you have a tool on your person it will still require the opportunity to get it out. The best way to create that opportunity is to put space or barriers between you.

Step #4- Use of Improvised Weapons:
If you choose not to carry a tool specific for personal protection or there are not any large environmental objects that can be used as barriers, I would suggest the application of personal and environmental objects as weapons of defense. Basically this would be any movable item that can be picked up and used as a shield or as a striking implement. This might include small chairs or stools, small tables, lamps, trash cans, back packs, a briefcase, heavy books, broom or mop handles, etc. Items found immediately on your person can also be used such as belts, pocket change (for throwing), heavy water bottle, cell phone, etc. However, it’s important to keep in mind that even if you have some kind of item on your person or within reach, the attack may happen so fast that you lack the time or the opportunity to grab the item. Please don’t fixate on trying to find a weapon so much that you neglect to protect yourself from the immediate attack. Again, remember that the objective is to always seek out a path of escape. Do not stay and attempt to engage a knife-wielding assailant if there is an opportunity to escape.

Step #5- Empty-Hand Defense
There are generally two ways an assailant will attack with a knife. One way is to use the knife as a means of control, to get what he wants. In such a case the attacker will display the knife prior to the attack. The second way is commonly referred to as an ambush. In this case, the attacker will approach in such a way that the knife remains hidden from view or he may hide himself behind an object like a tree or a car waiting to attack as you pass by. If an attacker catches you by surprise, or provides you little opportunity to use the previous steps, the last-ditch final option is to resort to empty-hand defense. Keep in mind that if you are in fact attacked by surprise, you may be initially struck with the knife. The key to such a situation is to mentally recover as quickly as possible and move into either immediate counter-attack or escape, if it’s available. Do not let the shock of the attack keep you from responding appropriately.

If forced to use empty-hand skills against a knife attack, those skills should be as natural and instinctive as possible. They should be easy to learn, easy to remember, and easy to apply under the adrenaline response that is often caused by potential life-or-death altercations. Don’t be lured into a false sense of security by many of the martial arts techniques that are often taught for knife defense. If any technique requires a high degree of skill or above average athletic ability, it may not work for you when you need it most. Forget the complex wrist locks, knife disarms, or the commonly taught sparring or kickboxing tactics. This is no time to try to “fight” the attacker or to out-wrestle him. The objective should be highly focused and savagely simple…don’t get cut or stabbed (but minimize the wounds if you do), keep the knife from causing further damage, and immediately neutralize the threat. 

There are generally two schools of thought on how to achieve this objective. One school will have you try to “fight” the attacker, while neglecting the knife. The emphasis is on trying to avoid the wild slashes and stabs while either trying to strike the weapon-bearing limb or trying to strike vital targets in hopes of incapacitating the attacker. In other words, if you can’t escape you try to kick-box the attacker into unconsciousness while hoping he doesn’t purposely or incidentally wound you with the knife that you allowed to freely flail around at the end of his arm. The problem with this general strategy is that there are no guarantees that any of your strikes will be effective in slowing or stopping the attacker. There are a number of factors that help determine a person’s ability to strike effectively in such a situation. This can include the defender’s general striking ability, accuracy, speed, power, coordination, agility, susceptibility to the adrenal response, general athleticism, and the amount of time invested in training. We must also take into consideration these same factors in relation to the attacker. We must also consider the attacker’s resistance to pain and impact, whether through mental tolerance or use of drugs, alcohol, etc. The reality is that unless a person is highly trained, fairly athletic, and able to hit like a pro boxer, these commonly taught dance and strike tactics may not be the ideal response. If you are not able to immediately incapacitate the attacker he may have time and opportunity to turn the tides and severely injure or kill you with the knife.

The second school of thought takes all of the previously mentioned factors into consideration. While the emphasis is also on avoiding the wild slashes and stabs, this school also prefers to directly or indirectly control the weapon-bearing limb in some fashion. However, the control of the knife arm is only a small piece of the whole puzzle. This control is performed in such a way that it inhibits the attacker’s ability to use the knife while the defender viciously counter-attacks vital targets. Keep in mind that this is not some “wrestling” strategy or a means to attempt some intricate joint-lock or knife disarm. Also, this is not about catching the attacking limb out of the air as some martial artists frequently demonstrate. It’s simply an instinctive method to slow the use of the arm (for a split second) in order to allow for more effective striking techniques and follow-up, all without the worry of the knife flailing around like a fan blade.  As previously mentioned, accurately striking the vital targets on a moving attacker isn’t always easy.  However, through the use of limb control which enhances tactile and kinesthetic sensitivity, not only is striking these vital targets easier but it’s also more accurate. This is obviously important during the chaotic nature of real assaults. All of this being said, it’s important to note that there are a variety of ways a defender can “control” the attacker’s weapon-bearing limb. This might include grabbing the wrist with one or two hands, hugging the arm in some fashion, or applying forward pressure to the elbow or upper-arm bone. Another option is indirect control through manipulation of the attacker’s head and spine. The reality is that some of these tactics are better than others. However, some limb control is always better than none.  The best thing about this particular school of thought is the fact that it’s based on natural and instinctive responses. In other words, control of the weapon-bearing limb is what the majority of intended victims will attempt without any previous training.  There are hundreds of documented reports and many CCTV video clips to verify this. While it’s true that these cases didn’t always result in survival for the victim, we have been able to learn that in many cases they did attempt to control the weapon-bearing limb in some fashion.  We have also been able to learn that the majority of people that have survived knife attacks also employed a limb control at some point during the attack. However, the key to effectively using this method as a means of surviving a knife attack is to go beyond instinct and train with specific tactics and strategies that are based on this innate response. 

When trying to decide which school of thought to follow, keep in mind that there are other critical issues that are often overlooked. As an example, are the tactics applicable to women, teens, and seniors or are they specific to young athletic men? Are the skills applicable to ground attacks, when mobility is limited?  Example- if you find yourself on the ground with a knife attacker sitting on top of you, will the same tactics work? Will the tactics work with limited mobility or in confined spaces such as airplane aisles, on a bus, a train, or some other close quarter environment? The reality is that many of the techniques and tactics taught for knife defense will not work in many of these cases.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to note that with the use of proper awareness the chances of being attacked with a knife are fairly low. However, that doesn’t mean that you should not be physically or mentally prepared to escape such an attack should you find yourself facing this situation.

FAST Defense w/ Bill Kipp- Self-Defense Seminar Warsaw, Indiana


The FAST Defense "Stop Assault FAST" seminar is being held in Warsaw, Indiana August 11th-

Stop Assault FAST with Bill Kipp, former Marine and FAST Defense founder.

Award Winning personal safety and empowerment program for women, men, and teens

The full toolkit of the ABC's of FAST Defense:

-To recognize the warning signs of attack and avoid threatening situations before they become dangerous
-How to avoid attackers by not looking like a victim
-To use the power of your voice and body language (most confrontations and assaults can be stopped by a strong voice, good eye contact and body carriage)
-To find and utilize the power of your fear, not be paralyzed by it.
-And when all else fails, to protect yourself and your loved ones with simple & effective FULL FORCE techniques to the attacker's vulnerable areas

WHEN: Sunday August 11th, 2013 - 1pm to 4pm
WHERE: YMCA - Warsaw, IN
COST: $50 per person
Suitable for women, men, and teens ages 13 and older. No previous training or experience necessary.
Pre-registration required. Space limited to only 25 participants.

For more info-

FAST Defense w/ Bill Kipp - Bully Defense Seminar Warsaw, Indiana


The FAST Defense "Stop Bullies FAST" seminar is being held in Warsaw, Indiana August 9th-

Stop Bullies FAST with Bill Kipp, former Marine and FAST Defense founder.

Award Winning assertiveness and self protection skills to effectively protect children from Bullies

The BEST investment you can make in your child's well being.

-Avoiding common playground altercations
-How to handle name calling and teasing
-Protecting personal "space" and possessions
-Assessing appropriate defense and how NOT to start a fight
-Verbal skills to back off a Bully
-Physical escapes from grabs or pushes
-Confidence and Assertiveness Training for all walks of life!


Participants will also learn simple yet effective strategies to detect and avoid a potential stranger abduction
WHEN: Friday August 9th, 2013 - 6pm-8pm
WHERE: YMCA - Warsaw, IN
COST: $30 per child

Suitable for children ages 6-12
Pre-registration required. Space limited to only 25 children.

For more info-

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-27 years training in personal safety -Multiple martial arts black belts -Multiple instructor certifications -Certified law enforcement trainer -Crime Prevention Specialist -Previous self-defense trainer for one of the country's largest airlines -Child safety specialist -Certified Fitness Trainer -TACTIX Fitness Trainer -High Intensity Training Specialist -FAST Defense Instructor -Kid Escape Instructor
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