Let's Debate Knife Defense

Discussion in 'Other Weapons' started by Benning Boy, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. Benning Boy

    Benning Boy New Member

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    For this particular forum section, this may be the most important thread to date.

    Almost all of us carry knives. Most of us carry one for utility work, but many also view it as a sort of last line of defense. Yeah, it's not your pistol, but it's better than nothing.

    In my time in the Army, we were issued massive bayonets, and trained in it's use when mounted to a rifle, but recieved no formal training on it's use by itself. This bothered me.

    So I sought out formal training on my own.

    This has always been a low-traffic section, which saddens me and perplexes me, as most of us own multiple knives. Many are confident that they could defend themselves with one if needed, but in reality have no idea how.

    Guys with training, identify yourselves and contribute. Understand, here and now, that opinions are going to vary greatly, as everyone who participates has a different angle, background, etcetera. Different theories are gonna work for different people.

    Knives carry more of a stigma, legally, than even firearms. Depending on where you're from, that machete you tote legally may be grounds for arrest in another state, country, etcetera.

    Let's begin.
     
  2. Benning Boy

    Benning Boy New Member

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    Areas we should discuss:

    1) Blade shapes

    2) Targets

    3) Stab vs. slash

    4) Lengths

    5) Best blade for the buck

    Anything else anybody wants to throw in there.
     

  3. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    I have a small amount of blade training. I am not even going to pretend to know an iota of what a guy like Francisco or Jack has forgotten in their lives. I am by no means an expert, and in a knife fight, I know enough to get myself hurt, and hopefully get ahold of the other guy to hurt him.

    Period... LOL

    What I have always been shown is that in a knife fight, both people are going to get cut. That was evidenced rather quickly the first time I watched a knife instructor square off with one of his students with marker knives, the type that have an edge to them that is somewhat like a long Sharpie.

    Both guys had marks on their uniforms and it was evident both of them would be in bad shape.

    For my daily carry, I have about a dozen that I rotate thru. Right now I am carrying a SOG ATS-34 Night Vision with the Arc-Lock. It's a fast opening, tanto shaped blade that I keep hair shaving sharp.

    The blade is about 3.5" or 4" long and I was always taught to fight with the blade extending from the bottom of the fist, thumb over the top of the handle, blade pretty much parallel with your forearm and to use downward stabbing or side to side cutting techniques.

    This technique is flawed in that it does not offer really great reach, but my goal in a knife fight is to get AWAY from the other person, to clear the immediate threat.

    I am going to be honest, I would rather get shot then get stabbed.

    Knowing what a knife can do to meat does not make me want to see what would happen when a knife slashes my less than washboard abs open for the first time. :eek:

    My whole goal is to keep my knife in my hand. With an out the front, butter knife, type of hold, it is much easier to have the blade hit bone and run your hand over your own blade ( which is why people who commit knife homicides usually cut themselves ).

    Also, either the Ulnar Nerve or the Medium Nerve, I can't remember, runs along the wrist, and with your wrist tilted down, in a butter knife type of hold, it's more exposed then if you make a fist with the blade coming out the bottom of it.

    I don't have a black belt in knife fighting, I have never been in a real knife fight and I hope I never have to be in one. It is something that personally, I would rather not take part in, which is why I try to carry as often as possible.

    Now, if you are somewhere and something happens and you don't have your weapon, a good knife can be used for a lot of things. And you always have your thumbs, which can be invaluable in a close struggle.

    I would recommend that anyone interesting in some knife techniques take a look at the DVD's put out by the founder of Cold Steel. Lynn is a world champion knife fighter in multiple disciplines and he is a BIG guy. He shows some very real world techniques that can be used by even someone who is "overweight" to seriously damage an opponent in a very short period of time.

    One blade I am very intrigued with, and I have been waiting for Francisco to come into the chat room sometime, is the Karambit. That blade looks like it would be IDEAL for the type of knife defense I have "studied" for lack of a better term, in the past.

    Any thoughts?
     
  4. falseharmonix

    falseharmonix New Member

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    I'd love to hear some views on legal viewpoints as well. I'm heading to NYC for New Years and know the LEO's will be checking people and herding us like cattle to see The Ball drop. I'd like to carry something (just bought this from Spyderco...i've got a serious knife addiction growing lol) but judging by the laws I might not be able to.
     
  5. bigbad-ratman

    bigbad-ratman New Member

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    i have also received a little bit of weapons training in the past, nothing real recent though. one thing i found interesting was that more people seem to think that when defending with you off-hand you should use the back of your hand. the thinking obviously, if you injure the back of your hand you can still use your grip. i have also seen Philipino knife demonstrations where the off hand was for deflecting the attacks, not so much grabbing. the attacking principle there was short slashes that were less likely to get stuck as opposed to stabs.
    as for my fav "back up for my back up" i carry a SOG Sealpup knife. large to do whatever i need, not large enough to get in the way, with a blade that is partially serated. i normally have at least one pocket knife on me whenever i leave the house as well. however i really feel that if my life came down to me defending with my knife i am in trouble. all the other fight training i have centers around keeping your attacker close...not really a good thing when they have a knife and are intent on using it.
     
  6. Benning Boy

    Benning Boy New Member

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    And we get to some worthy points.

    Grip is huge. I learned that a single edge is held edge down, a double edge is held with the flat of the blade parallel to the ground.

    The popularity of the Karambit poses grip issues for me personally. This is a design with a whole art built around it, and lends itself to the slash and drawcut, but is somewhat limited on the stab.

    Stabbing, I'm told, provides a halt. Slashing, while excellent for promoting blood loss, takes some time depending on the cable cut.

    I'm with J.D., you want this over with quickly

    I think we should look past the concept of a duel, as nobody wants to be involved in one. All that training will be out the window the first time somebody sticks you. A quick immobilize-escape seems more than prudent.

    Edge- too sharp a knife will promote a cut that is so fine that it can actually seal itself. Too dull a blade will prevent you from reaching the really good artery opportunities.

    Thoughts?
     
  7. Benning Boy

    Benning Boy New Member

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    I think another huge misconception is throwing the knife. Never, ever, throw away the one weapon you have. A bee stings once, an is unarmed. A wasp keeps the stinger, and lights you up. Retention.

    Never let your knife be taken from you.

    I know the town badazz, pulled a knife on a skinny guy in a bar. Skinny guy took it from him, stuck it in him, finished his drink, and left. This was 30 years ago, the guy still hasn't lived it down. There's a stigma attached to getting stabbed with your own knife.

    Retention.
     
  8. Benning Boy

    Benning Boy New Member

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    And Ratman brings us to a hypothesis. I was taught the quickest way to make someone drop a knife was a slash to the back of the hand. But I believe he is correct that those tendons do not control grip. Can anyone tell us if the tendons in the back of the hand have any bearing on knife grip?

    Well done, Ratman.
     
  9. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    I come back to a situation I saw in a knife demo where the guy with the knife tried to thrust stick the knife in the guy who was defending.

    The defender was able to trap the wrist, and though he got marked by the fake knife in the abdomen, the rest of the "fight' was over in about 3 seconds as the defender quickly subdued the attacker as he was in arms reach, and therefor, vulnerable.

    I completely agree with never throwing a knife, unless it's a throwing knife and you are practicing for fun. Throwing away your only weapon is a horrible idea. :eek:

    Now, as far as the slashing effect. I completely agree, it won't stop your opponent. What if WILL do, is make them SERIOUSLY reconsider their actions.

    I am sure you have all seen this image before. WARNING: GRAPHIC!!

    http://lovelifelikeyourself.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/knife-fight-1.jpg

    Now, there are several stories as to HOW that guy got in that bad of shape, but the fact remains, that guy is MESSED UP. I am pretty sure most people would be looking to exit stage left if they got hit with any ONE of those swipes.

    There was a kid from the neighborhood growing up. A couple of years older. Kind of a loud mouth and a bit of a bully. But, he was one of the guys that would play baseball and football in the backyards, so we tolerated him.

    He went to visit some relative's in Miami over the winter break and when he came back, he had about 27 stitches that were brand new to his stomach/chest region.

    Apparently mouthy got into a quick arguement with a local, maybe a gang member, maybe just someone with a quick temper. In any event, dude took out his blade and made one slash, cross the body. Mouthy went into immediate shock and dropped to the ground. The other dude spit on him and walked away. And that wasn't even deep. It's not like his guts were spilling out or anything.

    There is something VERY traumatic about a knife wound, which is why so many horror movies feature it. It's psychologically damaging to have your flesh severed.

    I would always opt for the best action which, for me, is to create some distance. I would rather fight a guy with a knife on the move then try to stand and trade with them.

    As for weak points? The clavicle area, on either side of the neck, was something that Brett, my gunsmith, taught me about. There is a nerve cluster and some arteries/veins in that whole region and any distruption causes some SERIOUS issues.

    Obviously, this would have to be a stabbing situation, with the knife in a downward motion, but the overall trauma would be such that in that situation, if I lost my knife, I would not be too worried. :rolleyes:

    I believe the Brachial Artery, under each arm, pumps more blood than your body holds every 30 seconds or so, so cutting that, near the arm pit, would definitely cause a quick bleed out situation. At the very least, such a wound would cause an immediate loss of blood which can lead to feeling dizzy and lacking motivation.

    As for blades, dual edged blades are not legal in this state, so that is never been an option for me. I always prefer a sharp, bordering on razor sharp, blade with a strong "V" to it because when I hit something, like a small bone, or an artery or a ligament, I want to cut right through it on the way by. I don't want to get hung up on something important.

    From personal experience, I can tell you that a half serrated blade will go RIGHT to the damn bone in nothing flat and leave a jagged, gnarly wound.

    I was cutting some tie-wraps off a piece of cable one time, slipped and ran my blade across my thumb. The wound has permanently altered my thumbprint on my right hand...:eek:
     
  10. slowryde45

    slowryde45 New Member

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  11. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    The tendons on the back of the hand and top of the forearm control opening of the fist. The tendons on the underside of the forearm control closing. you want to keep your palms facing your body in a defensive situation. I will sacrifice (temporaily) the opening feature of my fists to maintain grip.

    Understanding anatomy will help understand targeting. Long bones provide structure, but also provide protection for nerve bundles and arteries. The Brachial artery does flow a huge amount of blood but is sandwiched between the humerous and the thoracic cavity making it a difficult target. The femoral artery is even bigger but is on the inside of the Femor and buried deep in the muscle. The subclavian artery is the same thing as the brachial only before it leaves the thorax. It sits directly behind the collar bone (clavicle). A downward stab behind the clavicle can sever this artery and bleed out in short order.

    Surface cuts are frequently ignored in the short term. Penetrating stabs tend to have more immediate incapacitating effect. Deep cuts that sever large arteries or disembowel can be very effective, quickly. Laying open large muscle groups can look nasty, but generally do not stop fights quickly.
    Getting around behind the adversary and penetrating the kidney pretty much puts an end to the fight. Uric acid spilled into the abdominal cavity will cause immediate paralysis (ask the OSS about this). The blood rich, renal artery fed kidney can bleed you out in seconds.

    Of course there is always the carotid artery/jugular veins in the neck. Both are fairy deep in the neck on either side of the windpipe. With ones chin tucked they can be hard to reach.

    Several good slashes followed by a downward piercing thrust with a good strong blade (like a tanto) to the top of the head will take away an adversary's ability to fight. Skulls are really not that hard to penetrate with a good blade.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
  12. dunerunner

    dunerunner New Member

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    God but I hate YouTube Vids, but here is a good series on knife fighting and techniques featuring Addy Hernandez

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu-KRpOVq70[/ame]
    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArI8wpQHlv4[/ame]
    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDRg0jfpGEg[/ame]
    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pISaNhnuocw[/ame]
    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6EW5fZMhUE[/ame]
    Onec again it is very important to say no one ever became a shooter, martial artist or street fighter watching a vid!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
  13. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    ^^ Proving once again while I agree with a lot of what Robo says out of fear of my own safety. :eek::eek:
     
  14. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    JD, Killing is not my business, but is something I am willing to do with brutal efficiency. If I must spill someones blood, I want it to pool all alone with out any of mine co-mingling. Understanding how to kill quickly allows me to NOT start the process until absolutely necessary.
     
  15. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    Now that is a statement I think we can all respect and understand big guy. :D

    JD
     
  16. IGETEVEN

    IGETEVEN New Member

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    Indeed, and Robo pretty much has summed up any, and all comments I would have made, in his two posts, except for one personal comment opinion for JD.

    I like the Karambit. It is a very efficient and very deadly, fighting defensive blade weapon. It has a natural fit and stays secure in one's hand and it greatly enhances the natural movements, power and flexibility of one's hand and arm in all thrust, slash and pull movements.

    It is also very challenging to defend one's self against someone who is experienced and proficiently trained to use it. If all possible, if this blade weaponry is produced in a lethal threat situation......please use a gun. :cool:

    Jack
     
  17. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    Thank you sir. I appreciate the input and you have confirmed what I have read and seen demostrated with that particular blade.

    I respect your opinion and appreciate your input in this, and every, thread.

    JD
     
  18. supergus

    supergus New Member

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    I carry an SOG Twitch XL but I love the Karambit. An LEO at the local range has one. When he first got it he had all these puncture holes in the back of his hand while practicing with it. If you go to the Emerson knives website there's some cool video demos.
    I really don't know anything about knife fighting but I've been trying to read up on it. I guess it depends on how you are attacked. If someone has you in a choke hold, you can slice across the tendons on the top of the forearm, and that will completely imobilize that hand. If someone has you in a headlock, you can open up the femoral artery. There are probably as many defensive knife moves as there are attack moves. As far as how to hold the knife, I too was told to hold the knife with the blade parallel with the forearm. The reasons given were that 1) it's a more natural way to swing a knife, akin to throwing a punch, 2) it's easier to maintain control of your knife, and 3) the farther out from your body the blade is as you defend, the bigger the arc and the slower the movement will be. You can make contact more quickly if the knife is closer to your body. I would love to hear from more members who are experienced in knife fighting. I think everyone should learn at least a few moves because IMO empty hands fighting or using a knife is the only way to buy time to draw your handgun from concealment.
     
  19. Franciscomv

    Franciscomv New Member

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    I don't know how I missed this thread, great idea Benning!

    Although my interest in knives has been life long, until recently it had been almost exclusively utility related. I considered them tools first and foremost, for both urban and outdoors applications. My formal training with them as weapons is only a couple of years old, I was lucky enough to chance upon some excellent instructors through my knife business and I started training just because I needed to get in better shape.

    My country's VERY restrictive gun laws (at least when it comes to carrying them, not so much for owning them) were another reason for me to start looking at blades for self defense. Sure, they aren't as good as my .357, but they are better than my knuckles.

    This is a very broad topic and we could discuss the finer points for ever, and like it happens with every fighting technique, there are lots of opinions out there. The following are just some conclusions I've come to from my limited experience.

    The first thing that shocked me is the speed of a knife and, as JD already mentioned, that a highly experienced instructor will still get cut by a novice. I remember that after my teacher taught me the first few blocking techniques he said "Now we'll try them out at full speed, and you'll see they are useless". He was right, all that nice checking and slashing is almost impossible to carry out properly at real speed. Trying to dodge works somewhat better.

    Still, all those blocking exercises are good to build up muscle memory and improve hand to eye coordination. Both of which are fundamental for a decent knife fighting technique.

    As to the slashing versus thrusting question, I think there's a place for both. Slashing is certainly easier to do, especially if you try to go for exposed limbs (the hands/arms are a good target). Sometimes the type of knife you're using will dictate technique, a hawkbill is not a good stabbing blade and something like a Cold Steel Urban Dart is not well suited for slashing. Most instructors nowadays seem to focus mainly on slashing.

    Blade shapes can be discussed forever. This is a lot like handguns, what might work for me might not work for you and everything is a compromise. A good rule of thumb for somebody who's not going to be training a lot (because they can carry a gun, for example), who doesn't want to get a dozen different knives to try out, etc. The best thing, IMHO, is to get a quality knife that fulfills both the SD and utility roles. Something like a Spyderco Endura, a Cold Steel Voyager, Benchmade Griptilian, etc. Good basic folders that won't break the bank. The constant use will help build muscle memory, every time you flick that knife open to cut something you're actually doing a little training (if you carry the same knife almost every day).

    If you're going to devote time to developing some specific knife fighting techniques, try out a bunch of different designs and one of them will fit you. I was surprised by the knife I found to be the best SD tool for me. I'd never been attracted by kerambits, never quite understood what all the fuzz was about, but after I started training with one it was clear that I could use it much better than any other knife I'd ever tried.

    I'm faster and more accurate with it than with more traditional fighting knife designs, the traction and pull cutting feels more natural to me and I can combine it better with empty hand fighting from my MMA training (my knife instructors also train MMA with me, which helps a lot).

    I'm very aware of its limitations: few designs are good for stabbing, the ones that are practical to carry usually have a reach disadvantage over a regular knife of the same size (doing knife vs kerambit fights with rubber trainers is challenging).

    Hawkbills also work well with my fighting style, I love the Spyderco Superhawk and the new H1 Spyderhawk is the knife I carry when I go running or to the gym, since it's completely impervious to rust. But I know they aren't the most versatile knife designs, and I only started carrying them after a year or so of private lessons. My feeling is that specialized blade shapes can offer a lot, but they demand a time commitment to get the best out of them.

    Folder vs fixed blade is another issue I see often, in my mind it's the same relationship as between handguns and rifles/shotguns. If I could chose, I'd go with a fixed blade every single time.No opening mechanisms to worry about, no locks fail, etc. But a folding knife is much more convenient tool, especially in urban areas. I'd say the minimum length I'd consider is 3", a bit more in the winter. Sure, you can fight with a smaller knife, just like you can carry a .22 instead of a 9mm or .45. Fixed blade knives with blades around 3" can still be carried in a pocket (like SOG's Mini Pentagon dagger), and there are some very light folders in that size as well (like BM's lovely 943 Osborne with it's handsome 3,4" blade).

    Serrated vs plain edge is another hot topic, I like plain edges. I believe a mirror polished plain edge, the wicked kind of edge that will bite on anything, is superior to a serrated edge. It will do anything that a serrated edge does, and it will be more precise with neater cuts. However, "neat" might not be what one is looking for in SD, tearing through flesh and clothes might be better accomplished by a good serrated blade. Last week I acquired my first fully serrated knife exclusively for SD use, a Cold Seel Vaquero. The combination of recurve blade and serrations makes for a very aggressive slashing weapon. It's crude and untidy for utility applications, but then again crude and untidy might be a plus in a fight.

    Oh, and +1000 to what Robo said about anatomy.

    I guess in the end it all boils down to training. If you're going to incorporate a knife into your self defense strategy, you need to train to use it correctly. Good knife fighting education is hard to come by, I've seen a lot of classes that are too "duellistic" where both fighters are always facing each other with their knives drawn or others that focus too much on empty hand disarming techniques practiced slowly (some look nice and are fun, but they aren't worth a damn at full speed). You need to practice a variety of scenarios, drawing your blade after the fight has started, facing an opponent unarmed (this is frustrating, even two unarmed trained fighters against a single knife wielding combatant is hard as hell).

    Sorry for the disorganized rambling, it's 2am and I just got back home from a kick ass AC/DC concert.
     
  20. Benning Boy

    Benning Boy New Member

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    Very good stuff, guys. This is going better than I hoped, and I'm glad to see the interest.

    I will add a +1 to the femoral as a target. I've heard stories of super intelligent wild boars being the right height and having almost an instinct to go to this target on humans. Probably bull, but it does make sense.

    IIRC, Col. Rex Applegate had a graph of target areas, with a timetable of how long it takes to bleed out from a cut to each area, I'll try to locate it.

    Ethnically, I saw a guy a guy start some s**t in a Turkish bar. A Turk stabbed him in the hip with a thin folder, and left it there. There was almost no bleeding, but the guy's hip was immobile, and I got the vibe that the move was intended to do that. They weren't prone to sharing too much with Americans, so I never got any more insight into their techniques.