Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Knife Fighting

Heres a site that I think is great, you have no doubt heard of it already but I just couldn't resist emailing you the link.

Good website. I’ve read it before and agree with almost everything he says.
I disagree partially with Lie #1 You're going to have time to draw your own weapon
If you are we aware of your surroundings you sometimes have time to draw your weapon. I’d go as far as saying you “often” have time to draw your weapon IF ( most important “if” in self defense) you have good situational awareness and detect the probable threat in time.

Cant emphasize awareness enough guys:
You may not be the guy that has 10 years worth of knife fighting training.
You may not be the guy that won the national action shooting competition 5 years in a row.
But being the guy that detects the thread just a couple seconds before the two other guys mentioned above do, is by far the best trait you can have.

He’s right though about not being much you can do if someone walks by and stabs you in the neck as you walk past him, but that’s not common on the streets where most often the first thing attempted is to intimidate you to steal your belongings , force you inside your home or vehicle. On prisons, yes, it happens just like that all the time, the objective of course being very different: just kill the man.
On the streets its usually different. None the less you should practice to have an immediate reaction of bringing your sacrifice hand forward to create or maintain the distance you need.
Same happens with firearms and if often the reason why most self defense shooting is done single handedly.

Knives are often underestimated in the gun powder era but you should always keep in mind that knives are deadlier than guns. Statistically speaking, you clearly have a better chance of survival if you get shot than if you get stabbed.

Also this one: Lie #19 You can use a knife on another human being without legal repercussions

I’d say its probably true in USA, but in other parts of the world I’d go for: “ it depends”. Basically of to variables a) who you cut b) In which neighborhood it happened.
You can cut a punk up in Villa Tranquila, do and origami swan with his guts and unless you sit there holding a sign that say “Yes, I just killed him!” you won’t get caught and probably no one will care either.

Some basics for when training with knives:
1)Practice any martial art you want, but know that only fighting a non cooperative partner is the training that matters. If you feel the training knife stabbing, you just got cut.

2)Don’t count on the Hollywood lethal strike where after a single stab the person stays motionless and pretty much falls asleep. Lots of movement event after getting cut, the fight goes on, the person can still shoot you/stab you.

3)Fighting with training knives is a great way of separating the BS from what really works for you. A strong grip with the fingers fully wrapped around the handle is the only way to go.
The first thing you notice is how easily training knives fly around: People don’t grip their weapon strong enough or use fancy grips holds and stances. And they end up losing the knife. This is particularly important for us gun guys, where the recoil can’t even compare to the strength you need to apply to keep a grip on your knife when slashing and stabbing an attacker.
That karambit knife hold where you just have a single finger around a ring at the bottom of the gip? Oh my God! Who actually does that in a fight? You’re much more likely to get your own finger broken than actually landing a significant cut.
Also an inverted grip reduces both your range and slashing options. Good for stabbing down on an opponent hard but keep those other two disadvantages in mind as well.

4)Just like with your handgun, carry your knife at all times. For most of us, that means a folder.

5)Do not underestimate the power of martial art BS. While some disciplines are good, and some instructors teach well, there’s people out there that pretty much just waste their time and if ever faced with a lethal threat, they’ll get themselves killed.
I’ll never forget the guy that was just taught how to disarm an attacker with a firearm… with a kick to the gun.
Oh, and you had to stand just where he told you for it to work.
… and he had to try it like 5 times to actually kick the gun out of your hand… after getting “shot” that is. No, he wasn’t 5 years old, he was mid 20’s, was in great physical shape and had a black belt in something. An athlete for sure, but he didn’t understand the first thing about self defense.



Don Williams said...

1) It's interesting how the US Army came to the same conclusions as Ferfal. Like Ferfal, they chose a mix of Brazilian JiuJitsu and strikes from boxing and Muay Thai as the basis for their Modern Combatives (Which has also been adopted by the US Air Force in 2008 after independent research).

2) And the Army also favors the same grip as Ferfal for the knife -- what they call the Straight Grip.

See . Knife is covered in sections 7-1, 7-3, and

Don Williams said...

The US Marines also use the grip that Ferfal described --what they call the Hammer Grip. Their combat manual is here :

Knife fighting is covered in Chapter 3, although Chapter 1 (Fundamentals) covers associated items like stance, movement,etc. See Table of Contents. Note that they think you should keep blade toward enemy, keep knife in box bounded by shoulders and neck down to waists, and put your body weight into slashes and thrusts.

Note that they also use BJJ plus strikes from boxing, but also include the Fairbairn style strikes (knife hand to carotid, eye gouges, palm hand to chin,etc.)

From what I've seen in police manuals, US police use similar techniques --plus baton, mace,etc.

In other words, the guys who do this for a living --at least in the US -- don't seem to do Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon kung fu or Praying Mantis chicken pecking, from what I can see.

And they don't hold knives like prancing European fencers either.

DaShui said...

Que Pasa FerFal,

my green beret friend stabbed a good many people fighting in Vietnam.
And got slashed twice.
He prefers the reverse grip because you are able to hide it better. To this day he does not know which Vietnamese slashed him across the chest. He only realized he was wounded when the medic poured alcohol into the wound.
He also said that the double edged gerber he was issued tended to get stuck in the enemy, he had to use his foot to pull the knife out.

David said...

Not planning to need any of this, mind you, but my question is: if defending against a knife attack, I would think that a club, stick, or some sort of shield would be better than a knife. Pepper spray looks better than a knife, too, to my armchair warrior eyes.

The point would be to prevent getting cut up while finding a way past or over the attacker to escape. Putting any part of the body inside the reach of the opponent's knife would strike me as a guarantee of getting cut badly, so a defensive tool that created a buffer zone would seem most ideal.

I always thought a hardened umbrella (carbon fiber, fiberglass or even steel shafted), possibly topped with a broadhead from a hunting arrow might be ideal (no one makes one that I know of...maybe I'll go into the business...).

Bob said...

Hi Ferfal,

I'm a bit curious, what martial art do you practice? For how long?


Anonymous said...

DaShui, just an FYI: Jim Bowie's knife fighting technique was based on European fencing. Nobody can say he was inept with a short blade.

Also, I saw a video of two Venezuelan prisoners in a less-than-lethal knife duel (they do this for money/entertainment.) Both were employing their knives like rapiers and using footwork like something out of a 15th-century Italian fencing manual.

Anonymous said...

A knife is a seriously seriously last ditch weapon. And pulling it out for intimidation purposes means you've made serious mistkaes in your personal safety and awareness, basically your an idiot.

There is no way 'not to get cut' from someone with a knife who is attacking you, save a bullet shot to the head.

Interestingly the 'unbreakable umbrella' which is sold could theoretically (what do you think Ferfal?) be used as a spear if thrust hard enough at an approaching attackers face, enough to straight out knockout or kill them. Essentially an improvised short spear.

Apart from this a 'stick' won't do squat, they'd just block it with their hand and you'll almost certainly miss due to their speed. And who the hell is afraid of a stick?

Pepper spray (or even alcohol based spray) is a great investment, if brought out immediately, it will buy you those precious 2 seconds of 'stun' that will enable you to run away. For self defense better than a knife, since a knife if used would almost certainly be used offensively.

FerFAL said...

Hi Bob, I started out with firearms when I was 15. (3 months, 2 or 3 times a week). When I was 18 or 19 I did some ITF TKD, 6 months or so, less than a year. It was good for fast reflexes but I never thought it would be of much use in a real fight. The kicks where pretty good though, but the higher kicks aren’t something I’d use in a street fight.
Then I did boxing for a couple years. That I really liked, and I wasn’t that bad. Teaches you how to protect your face and head, throw good punches, how to stand and move. A couple of years ago I started training with a guy that does MMA, mostly started with him so as to have ground fighting moves, but since he also had another instructor that did boxing and tai box, I stayed for those classes too. Did it for a couple months, then quit, then went back, unfortunately nothing steady and I do it very sporadically when I have time. Those were excellent classes because I’d spend 3 or 4 hours practicing different disciplines that work and sparring a lot. Boxing, BJJ for ground fighting and grappling and Tai box for kicking is an excellent combination.
I also took classes of self defense shooting and CQC (bare hand, baton and knife)


Anonymous said...

I read the Pentecost ebook ( and some time after that, when attending a presentation at the local Krav Maga center, noticed the instructor demonstrate disarming a bad guy who led-in with his knife hand, exactly what Pentecost said will not happen in real-life unless the guy with the knife is real dumb. When I questioned the instructor, all he could do was change the subject and mumble something incoherently. LOL I ain't no knife-fighter, but I'll take the advice of a guy who survived prison over a Brentwood Krav Maga instructor anyday! :)))