Reflections on Knife Defence
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The recent stabbing in Raffles Place has shocked a lot of people and generated a lot of chatter in the martial arts community here so I thought I would share some of the teachings from my dojo on surviving knife attacks.
1. Recognise that you are fighting for your life. Knives are dangerous weapons whether in the hands of an expert or a thug and you must recognise that danger. Even a knife encounter in which there is no intent to harm (just intimidate) can quickly get out of control and turn deadly. Your aim is simple – to survive.
2. Accept that you may get cut. Forget the movies and forget those crisp training drills beloved of martial artists. Real assaults are messy, chaotic, idiosynchratic and out of control. In such circumstances you must accept that you may get cut as you fight to survive. This has implications for how you should stand and engage – as far as possible you need to protect vital areas such as your torso and the inside of your arms where all the veins are. Once you acknowledge that you might get cut you can take steps to ensure that if you do get cut, it won’t be on any vital area.
3. There are only two safe distances against a knife: far away from it and “behind” the blade (the space/distance between the knife and the person with it). The longer it takes you to get to one of these safe spots, the greater the chances of you being cut.
4. You need to act decisively early. You cannot avoid repeated cuts from a fast moving blade for very long before you get cut. Ideally, you should not allow an attacker more than a single strike at you before acting decisively. Remember, the longer the encounter goes, the greater the chances of you getting hurt.
5. Do not be a hero. No amount of money, no watch, no hassle with credit cards is worth your life. If handing over valuables in the most likely way to diffuse the situation, then hand them over. 6. Stay humble. This is one for us martial artists. Neither the attacker nor his knife has any respect for your multiple dan grade black belt and fearsome dojo reputation. He knows you bleed just like everyone else. Do not be arrogant and assume your dojo skills are superior to your attacker’s street experience. Use your martial skills to increase your odds of survival, not to impress or inflate your own ego.
Train hard. Stay safe. Keep going.