Defanging the snake: the hand strike...

Cruentus

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In Filipino Martial Arts, we call the act of taking away a weapon "defanging the snake."

One of the most effecient way of taking someones weapon away if you have a knife is to cut the hand. This is also very legally prudent (provided that lethal force is justified to be using a knife in the first place), in that a hand shot isn't going to kill your attacker.

Yet, such a shot mustn't be underestimated. See this thread here: http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?p=328541#post328541

This guy was cutting a piece of fruit in a careless fashion and ruined his left hand forever due to tendon damage. I will repeat that a cut to the hand should not be underestimated.

So how many of you train to cut the hand? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages to "defanging the snake?" In what ways to you train to cut the hand?

PJMOD

Side note: One major critique I have with many knife tactics instructors is that they do not spend enough time hammering home the level of damage the blade can do. Instrustors so carelessly say things like, "And this will cut the tendon," without expressing the fact that if you sever someones tendon, you have ruined their life as they know it, because chances are that limb will never work the same again. If someone is going to train to use the blade or defend against the blade, the one needs to know the level of damage the blade can inflict, and one needs to be prepared for that level of risk, and violence. OKDOKeY, I am off my soapbox on this now...
 

dearnis.com

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Legally Prudent? Perhaps not; you end up leaving a wound pattern known as "classically defensive." Or, with an appropriate fighting blade (eg your Bagwell Paul.....) you will take the limb altogether off....
I have found that much of my blade training now focuses on stopping the threat, and I am not convinced that hand shots with a light blade (as in a small folder) are the way to go. In a duel; perhaps. In a quasi-training mode; perhaps. For real? If lethal force is justified, it is justified.
 

Spookey

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Dear All,

Legally (in all 50 states) a bladed weapon is considered lethal. An aggressive attacker with a lethal weapon should be the point of interest "not underestimated"!

Law enforcement and professionals realize the need to not underestimate and therefore are trained not to under react.

A knife weilding attacker should be dealt with in the fastest manor as to stop the attack. I do not believe tendon damage to a single extremity is considered a "stop". The attacker himself must be stopped as to insure your safety!

Humbly,
Spookey
 
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Cruentus

Cruentus

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heh... I thought I'd stir up a little controversy with my post. Good...nothing wrong with that as long as we're still smiling... :uhyeah:

Now, I was purposely vague, and some of your objections may be reasonable. So, let me explain further, and give you all some things to consider. Also, please do not think that this post is directed at any one person, or that it is even directed at anyone who has posted in this thread.

That said, here are a couple of things to think about:

#1. Legal prudence of the hand/arm cut: To use a knife, yes, lethal force must be justified, just like a gun. However, a gun that is properly regestered and in the hands of a user who is obeying the appropriate laws is much easier to defend in court then a knife. With a gun, you shoot to stop, not "to kill" per say, and you just aim center mass until the threat is over. If this results in death to your attacker, you will do O.K. in court if lethal force was justifiable.

Knives are totally different in this regard. Yes, you cut to "stop the threat" rather then to kill. Yet, wound patterns will play a role when you end up in court. If you are trained to back away from the attacker and only cut what comes in your range, then your wound patterns will most likely show cuts to the hands and forearms, unless the attacker manages to clinch with you. Even if he clinches, your wound patterns will most likely be on the hands/forearms first.

If your first cut is "center mass" with a knife (body or head shot), you have to close in on your attacker (or let your attacker close in on you) to do so, unlike with a projectile weapon. Often, closing in on your attacker is contrary to the notion of "I was just trying to defend myself and just trying to get away." Most likely, if your trying to escape, your not going to be closing in on the attacker to stab them. Whether this is true or not, this is exactly what the prosecuting attorney is going to argue if the attacker is riddled with stab wounds to the body, with no or barely any wounds to the hands/forearms.

Now, are there cases when you have no choice but to close in. Sure. If he is drawing a gun, or if he has a baseball bat, for example, your only option might be to close. However, just realize that you'll have more difficult of a time defending yourself in court is you have chosen to close in on someone and essentially attack them to defend yourself. This said, it might be good to practice slashing to the limbs even if you absolutely have to close; if this is a self-defense encounter, the attacker may drop his weapon and "stop" with limb shots before you have to attack his center mass.

The last thing about legal prudence here is this. I don't care how justified lethal force is; in any given situation, it is a hell of a lot easier to defend yourself from an assault with a deadly weapon charge then a murder charge. If you kill someone, you may be facing a much harder fight in the courtroom, and if you lose you will be facing much harsher penalties. Now, if you have to kill, then you have too; but wouldn't it be wise to try to use every means available to avoid killing if it can be avoided without jeprodizing your safety? One can repeat to themselves all day long "err...its better to be judged by 12 then carried by 6;" but that mantra will be a distant memory if your in prison getting pounded in the *** every day for 20 years or more because you took the lethal way out when more the legally prudent options were available.

So, legally prudent? Yes it is. Attacking the hands/arms in hopes to stop the attacker without having to kill is the most legally prudent way to go.

2. effectiveness of the hand/arm strike: Anatomically, the effectiveness of this strike cannot be underestimated. Just click on the link in my first post at the start of this thread, and read about what kind of damage "severing tendons" can do. A person will have a hard time hurting you if he can't use his limbs.

Outside of anatomically, the hand/arm cut is tactically sound as well. If the attacker is trying to actually attack you, he will be using his hands and arms, and most likely with something in them. This means that the hands/arms will be your first available target. Also, consider that it is actually much more difficult to effectively close on someone and cut the throat or body then it is to hit the arms or hands that are attacking you. This is especially true if the defender has little training behind him, or if the defender is afraid, and doing what is natural for an afraid person, which is to back away with hands up and cut defensively at anything that comes into range.

So, when we are talking hand/arm strikes, we are not talk about techniques to the level of complication of the ol' parry the hand/close the gap/head strike/rotary throw with the throat slit as your attacker lands on the ground type-o-stuff that's been circulating the seminar circuit these days. As fun as those types of maneuvers may be on the training floor, doing anything remotely like it takes considerable skill and training; removing of course the legal mess your in for if you even manage to pull something like that off.

A hand/arm strike is simple to learn and much easier and safer to execute then a lot of what is out there. Plus, it can do attacker stopping damage. Considering the facts, I maintain that this is a highly effective tactic to employ for civilian use.

3. There are no silver bullets! Limitations to the hand/arm strike:

Again, I will say: there are not silver bullets! There is no one tactic that will destroy every attacker you come across. So, the hand/arm strike, sad to say, is not your unstoppable move.

A major limitation to this tactic is that your attacker may not stop trying to attack you, even if you've hacked his hands and arms to pieces. In fact, he may not even realize that you cut him the first or second time. You hope that your hand or arm cut will make him lose the ability to hold that weapon or attack you effectively with that limb. And, the better you are at anatomical cutting, the better your chances are for this to be true. However, you cannot rely on any one tactic. You may hit him and hit him again in the hand or arm, and he may still keep coming. He may eventually close in and clinch on you as well. So, you may have to resort to more lethal means of self-defense, and other targets other then the limbs. Yet, isn't this why you train? To prepare for possabilities such as this?

The point isn't that the hand and arm strike will without fail prevent you from having to kill your attacker. The point is that you tried; you tried to stop him without having to kill him, and that is what is important. Back to legal prudence, if your attorney can show that you tried to get away, and that you didn't WANT to kill him, and your entry wounds on the arms and hands support this arguement, then you will have much better chances.

Also, back to effectiveness, we aren't taking about doing something dangerous that will put your safety in jeapordy for the sake of saving your attacker. To hit the body or head, you generally have to hit/check/parry/block the hand/arm to get there in most circumstances; particularly if you are being attacked. Anyone who does live sparring knows this. Think of how many times you check the hand, block, or clinch the arm, or basically TOUCH A LIMB before hitting the head in empty hand sparring? Now, picture a knife, a bottle, a crowbar, or some other weapon in the attackers attacking hand. You can't afford to straight blast through that attack and risk being hit with his attack; you have to deal with that attacking limb, whether it be through a parry or check or block. Now, put a knife in your hand; that check, parry, or block turns into a cut.

If you still aren't convinced, then go see for yourself. Find a training partner and spar to 'first blood' with a set flexible/foam training knives and goggles or face masks. You will see how available that attacking limb is. You will see for yourself how "first blood" is more often then not drawn by a hand/limb shot then a head or body shot.

So, I am sorry to say that the arm/hand shot is not an unstoppable technique, and you may have to resort to more lethal means if your attacker continues at you. However, no one tactic is unstoppable anyways. The arm or limb will be your first available target, and it is an effective target at that.

Conclusion: I maintain that the hand or arm cut should be your first response if you ever have to defend yourself with a knife. Provided that using the knife at all is legally justifiable in the first place, it fits all the criteria of effectiveness and legal prudence. If your attacked and all you have is a knife, then you should be trying to get away, and you will leave a wound pattern that proves this to be true. If he is swinging a bat or wielding a gun and you do have to actually close on him to defend yourself, chances are the limb will be your first available target anyhow. I do not deny the fact that you may have to resort to something more lethal, and that your attacker may not stop with a limb cut, or any of your cuts for that matter. Yet, a limb shot or two gives your attacker the chance to stop attacking you before you do something more lethal to him. This is good for self-defense, both outside and inside the courtroom.

Now, I know my way isn't the only way, and that one may train as one pleases. However, I say that limb cuts should be, at the very least, a tool in your toolbox. If you were training with me, though, you would regard the limb cut as a very important tool, and your first response for knife use in self-defense.

Anyhow, thanks for listening.

I hope you have a few things to think about, even if you don't agree with all that I say.

PJMOD

**Disclaimer**

The above post is me being presumptious. First of all, I am assuming that before one ever would have to pull a knife, that not only lethal force was justified, but that every possible response was exausted before it got to that level. Most of the time, you can avoid any situation like that all together by not escalating a conflict, not being in the wrong place at the wrong time, by being aware, etc. If a situation gets to that level of violence, you can run, or drive away usually before pulling a knife. If your a cop, you can pull your gun before pulling your knife. Yet, I understand that a knife may have to be your response. However, it had better be your last available response. In the above post, I am assuming that it has gotten that bad.

Also, I am strictly speaking about self-defense here; not knife dueling or knife 'martial arts.' I for one, love knife dueling. The only thing I like to train better is stick dueling. Training for dueling and sparring is a lot of fun. Dueling training is the best way to build your martial skill in my opinion. My Bagwell Bowie, my favorite dueling knife I own, practically gives me a hard-on. However, I do know the difference between dueling and self-defense. And, so should you. Hell, I also like playing with complicated techniques like the ol' parry-close-cut-rotarythrow-knife slit maneuver. A little sadistic, but hey, still pretty cool on the training floor. However, civilian self-defense is hella different then many of the complex techniques that are taught. I know this difference, and so should you. So train and be happy, but know what is self-defense and what is not. This is even more nessicary when training knife...
 

OUMoose

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I was always taught to cut whatever is closest to me, so the hand is a natural choice. In a true life-or-death encounter, however, I'm not stopping there. The hand, then up to the wrist, forearm, elbow, inner arm, then exiting with either slashes to the ribcage, or whatever other vital targets are open at that moment. If that doesn't stop the person, or there is no way for me to escape, that's when the neck, armpit, groin, and "center mass" stabs are going to come into play.

As a sidenote, a sharp impact to the back of the hand will cause the grip to release for a moment, and most likely drop whatever the person was holding. First learned this with punyo strikes, but very useful with a longer pommel blade, palm stick, etc. I know, not terribly applicable for when someone is coming at you full speed, but it's one of those little tips of body mechanics that you never know might come in handy. :)
 
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Cruentus

Cruentus

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OUMoose said:
In a true life-or-death encounter, however, I'm not stopping there.

In a true life or death encounter, we basically stop when the threat stops. If the threat stops early, then your able to stop at the hand/armcuts. If the threat continues, then so do you if you must. The important thing is that you would have attempted to stop the threat in a non-lethal manner first, and one that fits your arguement of, "I didn't want to kill him, I was scared, I was backing away and trying to get away, and he kept coming in and attacking me."
 

KenpoTex

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I find that when I'm doing some knife-sparring/dueling with my training partners the short, quick "snap-cuts" to the hand tend to cause them to collapse their guard and they can also set you up for follow-up strikes. Also, after a few cuts to the back of the hand or forearm, his grip is probably going to be weakened due to damage to the tendons and muscle. Not something I'd rely on but every little bit helps.
 

AC_Pilot

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Good points above..


The essence of JKD, my chosen way, is to "intercept and destroy" an attacker's tools/body. If he's armed and all I have is a blade, I will use it to "de-fang" (I have about 100 bladed weapons in my collection, from Spears and Spontoons and poleaxes to great swords, short swords, asian swords and folding combat knives and my favorite real world blade, a Junglee short sword) A good snappy draw-cut/strike with a knife is the correct technique. Insert the blade at the right juncture, hopefully at the point of zero pressure, then gain adhesion/contact, and violently draw out/back as appropriate. You have just "stuck", NOW, instantly, MOVE.
Yes to de-fang, as it's the best way to defend while staying outside the reach of your attacker's weapon. Kali angulation/footwork and fencing style footwork aids this technique greatly. If you happen to grapple or gain closer proximity, incidentally/accidentally then other techniques like a body/eye thrust can work.
 
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