How to Survive a Knife Attack


Being attacked by someone with a knife is always going to be a dangerous thing, and even a trained martial artist should always make looking for an opportunity to escape and run away the number one priority. But sometimes getting away from your attacker isn’t possible, and so you have to stand and fight to defend yourself. If you find yourself in this awful situation there are a few simple things you can do to make sure that you get out of it without serious injury.

The first thing you must do is to reduce the surface area of your body that your attacker has to aim at. You do this by turning side-on to your attacker, rather than facing them directly. This makes dodging an attack easier as well as reducing the area which you need to defend.

At the same time as turning side-on you should also bring your arms up to defend your head and neck. Stab wounds to these areas are the most likely to be fatal, and so they are obviously the most important areas to defend. Your forearms should be crossed in the center and held in front of your face with the back of your hand and forearm facing outwards, as cuts to this side of the arm are less likely to bleed heavily.

By adopting this position you are not only protecting vital areas of the body, but also limiting and controlling the options of your attacker. Holding your arms in a high guard position whilst standing side-on exposes a large target along the side of the abdomen whilst covering and protecting the rest of the body. In 90% of cases your assailant will attack the unprotected area. This gives you the advantage of effectively knowing what your attacker is going to do even before they do. Controlling options like this means that you only need to know one highly effective martial arts technique to defend yourself, rather than having to learn a different technique for every possible attack.

I will describe this technique shortly, but first you must also be aware that a crazed attacker may still try to get through you guard to attack the head and neck. If this happens you have to be willing to sacrifice. Many martial arts teach complex techniques to defend against all kinds of knife attack. But the problem is that if a technique goes wrong in this situation you could well end up dead, and that is an unacceptable risk. The simple fact that you must remember is that you can’t get stabbed in the hand and the neck at the same time with the same knife. You need to be brave and actively push the back of your hand or arm onto the knife (parrying it to the side if possible), whilst using the other hand to strike as quickly and as hard as you can to your attackers face; you can then use the moment in which they are stunned by the strike to get away.

If your assailant tries to stab the open target on your side here is what you should do:

Bend over double, pulling your abdomen back away from the blade. At the same time bring both of your forearms downwards forcefully, keeping them crossed over. You should hit your attackers arm with your arms at the point where they cross over; keep pushing down so that your hands are pointing down and your attackers arm is trapped in the space between them. Now you can grab your attacker’s wrist or hand. If they have attacked with the right hand you should take hold with your right hand (which will be on your left hand side) and twist clockwise so the elbow is facing upwards. As they will have put their strength into the strike and will not be expecting this there should be little resistance. Keeping hold with your right hand you can now strike down onto the elbow joint with your left hand, breaking the arm and forcing them to drop the knife.

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Dean Walsh



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