Street defense unarmed vs. knife (yikes!)

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kenposcum

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A while ago, I was attacked by a knife-wielding
assailant. First, he attempted to drop the knife in my back, but I was fortunate in that I saw him in the reflection of the El train's window.
So I turned and faced him. What was scary (beyond the fact that I was knifeless) was HOW he wielded the knife: he kept the knife along his side, tight and back, and he was attempting to grab me with his left hand (he was standing left foot forward). We circled for a bit until I finally had a clear path to the stairs, at which point I sprinted to the first platform and leapt down the fifteen or so feet to the ground. Thankfully, he did not give chase.
I talked with my instructor about this, as we have no techniques which deal with a situation like this. I am looking for input (above and beyond "get a gun, kid"). Any technical advice, or direction on where to go to get it, would be very appreciated. Thanks! :asian:
 

Cthulhu

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Sayoc Kali-Silak deals with empty hand vs. knife. I would suggest that or any Filipino system that deals with knife training. I know many arts offer knife defense training, but rarely do they also teach how to actually fight with a knife. The problem is, how can you effectively teach knife defense if you don't even know how to fight with a blade? Despite what many may tell you, it is not simply putting a blade in your hand and doing your empty hand stuff.

Cthulhu
rambling at work.

PS www.sayoc.com
 

arnisador

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Congratulations on surviving. Obviously you knew one technique that worked--getting away--and your training may be part of what helped you not to freeze. I hope you called the police? You may have seen something that could help them identify this person.

You might look at this thread in this forum.

I agree with Cthulhu that the Filipino arts have a lot going for them where knife usage and weaponless knife defense are concerned. In your situation--which is tough!--if running wasn't an option and you had no (makeshift) weapons, even your jacket swung at him to keep him back, I'd try to parry away his left hand or possibly lock it, though at the speed the knife hand could move I'd be wary of that; I'd think low-line kicks; and I'd be ready to parry the blade and try to wrest it from him. We practcie lots of disarms and while they can be hard to pull off, if you're grabbed and can't get away you might consider it.

You might try a FMA seminar and see what you think of it--there are plenty round Chicago. Ask in the FMA-General forum.

Above all, congratulations on successfully defending yourself. I was attacked by a knife-wileding opponent once who grabbed me exactly as you indicate and stabbed at my gut--I blocked it and was able to slip away from his grasp.
 
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kenposcum

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I've seen the jacket idea in Vladimir Vasilev's RMA tapes, I'm curious, would a t-shirt work sort of along the same lines? It might be somewhat suicidal to take off a t-shirt in said situation, I would suppose....but this specific problem has been bothering me since, well, since it happened, I suppose. The thing that drives me absolutely crazy is that most knife defense techniques deal only with opponent leading with the knife. What bothers me about the jacket/shirt/belt(?) idea is he had his free hand forward, which would have made it easy for him to snatch the jacket away. Low line kicks, as in a side kick to the knee/shin occured to me, but, well...I kind of thought under the circumstances, my response was probably the most sane. Just worried if I'm faced with a similar opponent, but I'm cornered. Also, I find it hard to teach the Kenpo knife defenses with this experience in my history, I feel a little guilty about it.
Just out of curiosity, what FMA is "best" or focuses most on unarmed vs. weapons (they died out, they all tried to fight a weapon unarmed, ho ho ho)? Is that the Sayoc Kali-Silak?
Yes, as soon as I got to the street I found a CTA cop in his cruiser and told him the whole deal. I don't know what happened though, they never called me or anything.
Thank you very much!:)
 
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knifeman.dk

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Like Arnisador I would also congratulate you for staying alive.
Actually you now posess some information / real life - knowledge that many Martial Artists would love to have. (This is the part we cannot train).
The stance your assailant had - we call "The sacrificial stance", because he sacrifices his left hand in order to grap you and stab you. This is a stance we consider to be "high rank" or very difficult to deal with. You did the right thing - you reacted without much thinking. Thinking or playing hero could possibly have been fatal.
You ask for a best FMA system - you should instead look for the person behind the system - the guy/girl who will become your teacher. It is the instructor who guides you through the system.
You can find the perfect system with the worst instructors and you will find it worthless. About your kenpo knife techniques I would assume that if you have trained them for a while and they are motorized they could be working for you anyway. Also if you cannot picture them right now, because of the incident.
Try looking back on the situation - did you have any "daily objects" that you could have used as a throwing instrument or to put in front of you or use as a parry/strike weapon. I think of objects like rocks, wooden sticks from the ground, litter, umbrella, newspaper, keys, combs, pens etc.
Use your valuable (and offcourse scary) situation to improve your mental attitude and awareness for situations like this.
:asian: sincerely knifeman.dk
 
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bscastro

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Wow! I'm glad you survived your encounter. As for general technical tips there are a couple things I would suggest:
1. Simple is better. Some of the fancier FMA disarms don't have high percentage success. Some knife sparring with "splintering" (not on purpose) wooden blades at my old school left many a scratch/scar as I tried some of the disarms.
2. Try to use improvised weapons when possible. rolled up newspaper, shoes, etc.
3. Two hands on the wheel. Just grab and control the weapon if you can (when running is not an option). One basic defense my current instructor uses is just to parry and grab the knife arm with both hands and just headbutt and knee the opponent while keeping the knife low (holding it down as opposed to higher).
4. Simple is better. It is such a key thing (I'm sure your experience would lead you to this conclusion as well) that it's worth repeating.

In any case, running is always the best option, but it's not always available.

Anyways, just some thoughts.

Bryan
 
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Parker

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Nike-Do wins again. Nice surviving there, man.

Go talk with Fred Degerberg at Degerberg Academy (773) 728-5300 about this sort of thing. He has some very serious kali/ arnis guys in his stable and they can help you out if you want to follow up with training for this. There are soe other great FMA schools around, but Fred has been bodyguard to some very big people, he has beena bouncer at nasty nasty places and will give you the real deal if you ask.

If a guy grabs you with one hand and tries to stab you with the other, leave the one hand grabbing alone. You know where it is if it is attached to you. It also sounds contrary to good advice, but if trapped like this, your best bet (unable to leave) is to close with him. Every time you back out of the way of a stick, you give him the op to stick you again. You will only get lucky so many times.

You would redirect (I do not mean parry, I mean smash) the attacking arm with the knife, then immediately close and destroy him and go thru him to leave. Attempting to deploy any sort of weapon instead of moving and killing him will take time you need to spend destroying him.

Keep it simple. if nothing else, read the WWII close combat manuals (Do or Die, Get Tough, Kill or Be Killed, Cold Steel) as these were written for real world work and rely entirely on basic simple PROVEN techniques.)

Email me if you want a bit more specific information. If you are out in western burbs I have another great place to find info.

And yeah, two hands on the wheel works better!
 
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GouRonin

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...and people always wonder why I wear a belt.

I was once at a bar when a guy pulled out a knife. I pulled off my belt and at the time I was wearing one with a large pewter buckle. I started swinging it in a circle at my side and invited him to come on over and check out the workmanship of it. He declined but it was a mighty fine tool at the time and I'm glad I thought of it.

Recently Big Guy gave me a beautiful give of a small skinner knife but I have been getting hassled for wearing it from several sources. The sheath is fairly visible. So when Jaybacca gave me a folder I started wearing it and put Big Guy's in a display case. (It's sweet)

Some people say that wearing a knife escalates things but I like to think it's a nice deterrent to be able to say to someone drawing down on you, "Are you sure you wanna do this?"

Speaking of Vlad's knife videos and improvised defense videos. They are good to check out. If you pick up one useful thing from them isn't it worth it?
 

Cthulhu

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I mentioned this to my instructors and they offered some good advice. If the attacker has the knife in the rear hand, basically strong-side back, circle around to the attacker's back (obviously out of range of the blade), which would be to your right, while avoiding the left hand that's trying to grab you. By doing this, you are forcing the attacker to not only have to step forward to get the knife in a useful range, but he'd have to also attack around the left side of his body. Ideally, keep circling until you have an avenue of escape. Then, run like hell!

This technique won't work if the attacker is strong-side forward with the blade in that hand. By simply maintaining centerline, he'd make it damn hard to get around to an advantageous position. Plus, most important, the blade is closer to you.

For everyday carry stuff, we've been looking at aluminum training karambits, such as the ones made by arnisandyz. They don't come to a sharp point, but the tip that is there will still take an eye out and can be used for tip rips if applied hard enough. There is no edge. However, the hook of the curved blade help facilitate control of an attackers limbs in medium and close range. The point and knuckle-duster can be used for destruction in long range, as well as for hitting pressure points closer in. Playing around with them after class, they seem like a pretty good thing to carry, and they should be legal in most states.

Hell, they're just fun to train with in general.

Cthulhu
 

arnisador

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I agree with the right-circling idea. A finger lock on the left hand may work if the arm is held well out--just break a finger as quickly as you can, closely watching the right hand--but for the most part if you can touch him, he can cut you, and it's a risk. Remember you can also hit the outstretched fingers of his left hand with a punch or backfist or something which will cause some pain. I would be unlikely to try an armbar as you have to move your body too close to him. If he gives you a strong grab an aikido-style redirect and spin/throw might throw him off balance, but might also spin the blade into you.

Someone attacking like this is showing that he has experience and a strategy. Were there no imporvised weapons available? Pocket change to throw, a package in your hands, garbage on the ground? Really, this was probably a good time to use the improvised weapon of your wallet thrown in his face or even at his feet, followed by running like the wind (assuming that's what he wanted).

Tough situation. Your training helped you keep your cool and not freeze--it worked. But I can see where you'd feel better after you'd worked out a possible response. Remember the famous saying of the well-respected military knife expert William Fairbairn though (from here[/url):


IF YOU ARE UN-ARMED - "THERE IS NO DEFENCE AGAINST AN OPPONENT ATTACKING WITH A KNIFE".


He repeats:


...we state there is no means by which an unarmed man can defend against a knife fighter.


He furthermore says:


I have studied this issue for more than twenty-five years and have experienced the attentions of the finest instructors in the world. Please be assured that no martial arts school or technique can offer a predictable method of defense against a knife, and most of the techniques and methods one sees are suicidal against a knife fighter.
 
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knifeman.dk

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Another area could also be to prepare your mental attitude, psycology can help, both in ways of "reading" another person but also in ways of preparing you for getting cut or maybe even emptying your mind so you are willing to risk your own life to stay alive.
Carrying a knife in means of protecting is another matter - it would not be considered good selfdefence in Europe.
But it could possibly save your life (and very possibly get you killed too).
:asian: sincerely knifeman.dk
 
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Morpheus

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In the first poster's post he mentions that the BG kept his knife arm in tight and led with his free hand. I would take this to mean that the BG wanted to secure with the free hand and then shank him as many times as he could. Keeping the knife arm in and coiled like a spring is good practice and I think it's a basic tennet of WW2 knife fighting. Not sure though.

You took the best option available in an unnarmed vs knife confrontation: you escaped and evaded.

There is no way to learn to take a knife from someone unnarmed who knows what he is doing- as someone pointed out above. if Sayoc Kali or whatever else may well be a fabulous complete system, but there is no silver bullet when it comes to this and while the knife-defenses in SK may be great they are still the equivalent of throwing rocks at an oncoming car to try and stop it.

So if you can't fight unnarmed versus knife, and you're worried about not being able to run in every scenario, maybe consider changing the paradigm.

knife vs knife is much better odds. Consider learning a knife-based art and consider carrying a short fixed blade or a tactical folder.
 
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knifeman.dk

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:D Or why don織t you just shoot the guy before he even consider attacking you....
-learning a bladed martial arts system should help your empty hand skills - not turning you into a potential killer. But again, if it is about staying alive or being dead - then shoot him:cool:
knifeman.dk
 
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GouRonin

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I like to carry 3 knives. One for me. The second for me in case I lose the first one, and a 3rd for a friend or to leave on the body.
 
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migo

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If the police find you with 3 knives don't you think they're gonna wonder... or arrest you?
 
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GouRonin

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Not really. I just say I open a lot of boxes. Having knives on you makes one consider their actions more carefully when making decisions. In fact I just picked up a forth recently and I am deciding if I want to just rotate my knives or wear a forth one.

Unlike some people the knives I carry are in the 20 dollar range with the exception of one good onw which I can show and justify quite easily. That way if I need to ditch them I don't lose too much ca$h.
 
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tmanifold

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Originally posted by GouRonin

I like to carry 3 knives. One for me. The second for me in case I lose the first one, and a 3rd for a friend or to leave on the body.

Where have I head that before? I know that qoute.

Tony
 
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GouRonin

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Originally posted by tmanifold
Where have I head that before? I know that qoute.
Tony

I dunno. I just said it. But I think I may have heard it elsewhere too. Either way, I just said it.
:D
 

The 14th Style

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Unlike some people the knives I carry are in the 20 dollar range with the exception of one good one which I can show and justify quite easily. That way if I need to ditch them I don't lose too much ca$h.


Hey GouRonin, a question if you don't mind. I was looking at some folders the other day in the 20 to 30 dollar price range. I didn't see any point in spending much more than that. But I held off because I wasn't sure. Do you think it makes much difference?
 
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AldonAsher

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I agree with GuoRonin. All of the folders I have cost $20 or less. I usually throw them when attacked. Here's the reason: In most situations I have been in, there was not enough time to draw and open the folder. I'm sure there are a lot of skilled people around (especially on this board) who can draw and open their folders very quickly. However, I've only had one instance where I had time to draw and open. I did it by buying myself time by shoving the attacker away and then retreating to safer distance. Fortunately there was only one attacker. In a multiple attacker situation, I don't think I would have had the time.

Yes, I know it is very important to practice drawing your weapon. Especially from the way you carry. And yes, I also know it is very important to be aware of your surroundings so you can spot trouble before it reaches you.

I like to throw the folder in the attacker's face because of the element of surprise. Most people don't expect it. Plus, if you carry your folder clipped in your pocket, the motion to reach the knife and throw is very simple. I am a firm believer in keeping it simple. I know in the few times I have been ambushed, there wasn't a lot of time for fancy stuff.

Also, by catching the attacker by surprise, I now had the reactionary advantage. It took the creep a second to figure what I just did. Now I could either attack or run (my preference).

The downside of this is if you can't get away or haven't taken your assailant. Now he might use your weapon against you.

So, that's why I buy the cheaper folders. Can you imagine throwing away a $100 knife every time?
 
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