An Instructors Guide to Teaching Knife Defense to Civilians Part One

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Teaching Knife Defense

The knife is one of mankind’s oldest and most valuable tools. It’s also the weapon of choice for most violent attacks around the world. A close-quarters weapon – it’s easily hidden, silent, and can be instantly deployed and quickly discarded. So why is there such a reluctance for students self-defense and even average citizens to embrace it?

1.Historically knives have an evil provenance, essentially used as a killing tool for assassins, criminals and gangs. So, in that case wouldn’t it make sense to know how to survive this type of attack?

2.The deadly aspect of knife attacks are wholly underestimated and misunderstood by most people – especially skilled fighters who erroneously assume their unarmed skills are able to nullify and overcome any edged weapons attack – well, that’s until they attend one of my seminars

3.Civilians have been inculcated by the state and media to avoid weapons of any kind. The usual mantra is “if you use a weapon, it will be taken away from you” (well have you ever tried taking a knife away from a crazed person?)

4) Then there are the groups who live an apathetic life – the see- no-evil, head-in-the-sand types. They live in fear and occupy the superficial world of political correctness. So how is that working out for Europe? A place where immigrants are the leading cause of extreme violence – with the police ignoring their crimes and arresting their own citizens if they dare to fight back?

Very few people understand the real dangers of an edged weapons attack and its rising frequency. Literally anyone can pickup a knife and be deadly. As Thomas Carlyle said “Man is a tool bearing animal, without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.” The myth of the unarmed martial artist winning against the blade comes from Hollywood and the Chinese Cinema – NOT REALITY

The Problem: Ignorance of the Real Danger
Every week three to four potential students contact me for self- defense lessons. Some of them were recently robbed and/or attacked (with knives) and they are urgently looking for training. The first thing they request are lessons in either, muayThai, BJJ, or MMA. These are all good fighting styles however none of them address the issue of an attack with a blade

I inform them that I teach RBT (Reality-Based-Training) which includes unarmed defense as well as weapons defense training, specifically the knife. Their reactions are sheer BEWILDERMENT. Some immediately hangup the phone, some tell me they don’t want to kill anyone, and others think I’m crazy. The problem is that these people all live in a fantasy world of, peace, rainbows and unicorns

A group that sort of acknowledges the potential danger of knife attacks usually seek training in FMA’s (Filipino Martial Arts). Unfortunately most programs focus too much on the stick. Well, a stick is a great weapon, but who carries one around all day? The immediate danger in urban environments these days is the knife, so I always suggest to study knife defense first, and if they have extra time, add the stick.

Tactics to Civilians in Urban Environments – Part I
The knife is one of mankind’s oldest and most valuable tools. It’s also the weapon of choice for most violent attacks around the world. A close-quarters weapon – it’s easily hidden, silent, and can be instantly deployed and quickly discarded. So why is there such a reluctance for students self-defense and even average citizens to embrace it?

1.Historically knives have an evil provenance, essentially used as a killing tool for assassins, criminals and gangs. So, in that case wouldn’t it make sense to know how to survive this type of attack?

2.The deadly aspect of knife attacks are wholly underestimated and misunderstood by most people – especially skilled fighters who erroneously assume their unarmed skills are able to nullify and overcome any edged weapons attack – well, that’s until they attend one of my seminars

3.Civilians have been inculcated by the state and media to avoid weapons of any kind. The usual mantra is “if you use a weapon, it will be taken away from you” (well have you ever tried taking a knife away from a crazed person?)

4) Then there are the groups who live an apathetic life – the see- no-evil, head-in-the-sand types. They live in fear and occupy the superficial world of political correctness. So how is that working out for Europe? A place where immigrants are the leading cause of extreme violence – with the police ignoring their crimes and arresting their own citizens if they dare to fight back?

Very few people understand the real dangers of an edged weapons attack and its rising frequency. Literally anyone can pickup a knife and be deadly. As Thomas Carlyle said “Man is a tool bearing animal, without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.” The myth of the unarmed martial artist winning against the blade comes from Hollywood and the Chinese Cinema – NOT REALITY

The Problem: Ignorance of the Real Danger
Every week three to four potential students contact me for self- defense lessons. Some of them were recently robbed and/or attacked (with knives) and they are urgently looking for training. The first thing they request are lessons in either, muayThai, BJJ, or MMA. These are all good fighting styles however none of them address the issue of an attack with a blade

I inform them that I teach RBT (Reality-Based-Training) which includes unarmed defense as well as weapons defense training, specifically the knife. Their reactions are sheer BEWILDERMENT. Some immediately hangup the phone, some tell me they don’t want to kill anyone, and others think I’m crazy. The problem is that these people all live in a fantasy world of, peace, rainbows and unicorns

A group that sort of acknowledges the potential danger of knife attacks usually seek training in FMA’s (Filipino Martial Arts). Unfortunately most programs focus too much on the stick. Well, a stick is a great weapon, but who carries one around all day? The immediate danger in urban environments these days is the knife, so I always suggest to study knife defense first, and if they have extra time, add the stick


Legal Issues
Many countries/states/cities have strict knife laws, and you can be aggressively prosecuted and jailed just for carrying one. NYC has to date arrested hundreds of tradespeople including plumbers and electricians for carrying their own work knives? Note: always keep your knife concealed from overzealous cops

Finding an Attorney
It’s always best to understand the law before any potential violent event can occur. It’s the instructors responsibility to teach students about the ramifications of their actions. A great way to do this is to invite a criminal defense attorney to class with a presentation and offer Q&A’s for the students afterwards

The Inquisition
If you’re arrested the police and the ADA will often purposely trick and coerce you into making a false confession, remember, the police can legally lie to you. They use several tactics to fool you, such as: polygraphs, DNA acquisition, fingerprints, video evidence and the supposed eye-witnesses. All of these methods are extremely fallible. The only thing you should ever say from the point of arrest is: “I wish to remain silent, and I want to see a lawyer!”

Read More On: What You Should Know When Dealing With Police


Important Considerations
Note: Never bring your knife (or any other weapon for that matter) to an airport or government building, you may be arrested. If you want to take your knife with you on a trip, avoid packing it in your checked luggage, It may be more secure to send it to your destination via a shipping service, list it as a gift, and wrap it as such
U.S. Laws That Can Affect You

Knife laws vary from country to country and state to state, you need to research what the laws are for your region. If you travel internationally it’s important to know the laws of your destination.

Important Principles that May Apply
Force Continuum
This is a set of guidelines from law enforcement (similar to the military’s EOC) that define how much force can legally be used against someone in a particular situation. So if someone on the street punches you, I wouldn’t advise scalping him. Legally you are allowed to use as much force as necessary to stop him from further harming you. Knowing this principle will definitely help your case if its brought to court

Duty to Retreat
Is when a person is threatened with bodily harm and they must retreat from the threat as much as possible before using deadly force. Many blue states are using this more and more to prosecute innocent people (check your state laws)

Castle Doctrine
Is a legal rule that allows a person to protect their home, place of business or vehicle and can use deadly force without retreating (check your state laws)

Stand Your Ground Laws
Says that an individual can use deadly force without retreating (check your state laws)

Drawing Your Weapon
When you draw your knife, you MUST be in imminent danger. It will be considered the same as if you drew firearm on someone

So When Can You Claim Self-Defense?
When someone is trying to rape you
When attacked by Multiple Assailants
When someone is using a weapon against you
When attacked by a professional fighter or martial artist

If you are on the ground and an attacker is stomping on you When attacked by a larger, stronger person and can’t escape

Additional Considerations
Legally you cannot harm your attacker if he retreats, or runs away. Many people have the false notion that if you are attacked (with deadly force) you have the right to kill your attacker – ABSOLUTELY NOT. If your attacker retreats you have no right to harm him any further – Some people often ask “well, how will the authorities find out” – cameras cameras everywhere!

Leaving the Scene of a Crime
These laws vary from state to state but according to the police you are supposed to remain at the crime scene until the police arrive. But that could also be dangerous, if the attacker has friends nearby, they can harm you. It may be better to escape to safety, and explain your reasons to the court later

Types of Knives that will Get You in Trouble
Technically the police can arrest you for carrying chopsticks however in court they have to prove intent, don’t make it easy for them. Just carry something that will give you benefit of doubt in a court – like a work knife. Here are some types of knives you should avoid carrying in public at all costs (check your state laws)

Never Carry or Use a Kerambit – Anywhere
The Kerambit is a SE Asian weapon with a semi-curved blade that looks like a large claw. They are weapons of killers, the purpose is to disembowel or rip apart the attacker. Some police in SE Asia will shoot you instantly if they see one on you. If you make it to court you will be found guilty without question

Balisong
These knives have been banned for years in the U.S. for absolutely no reason other than they are the tools of villains in the movies. I personally would rather have a straight blade than a balisong

Knife Belt
This is a knife disguised as a buckle and part of a belt, there have been prosecutions in many states that have jailed the defender because extremist judges ruled that wearing this belt showed premeditation.

Ballistic Knife
This is a spring loaded knife blade that’s propelled out from the handle with a push of a button, it has the ability to penetrate a target several feet away

Bowie knife and Military Knives
Carry one of these large knives on your person in NYC or any other large city and you will get you a free ticket to a city mental ward

Multiple Knives
I once met someone who carried three knives, he walked into a high security building, thus setting off the metal detectors. He was arrested and placed in a city mental institution

Shaken (throwing stars)
Shaken is the actual name of throwing stars in Japan, Shuriken are hand blades and possession of either one is highly illegal in many states

Choosing a Knife
Once you understand the knife laws in your area it’s time to choose your EDC (everyday carry). I first developed an interest in knives as a child and since then I have owned well over a hundred. At first I was excited with each new acquisition, but now, any knife that’s pointy and sharp is fine with me, in the end it’s just a tool

I consider straight blades a better option than folders, no moving parts – nothing to go wrong. However for the urban gentleman, a compact folder may be more realistic. In many cities around the world a blade length slightly under 4” is fine; there are exceptions – so do your research. Note: if you go to London a large spoon is considered a deadly weapon

It would be to your advantage if your weapon looked more like a utility knife, not the Rambo deluxe model. For compact knives/ folders, it’s best not to choose a serrated blade, they can easily catch on clothing and be ripped out of your hands. You should be able to open the knife quickly and easily. It’s best if the handle is not slippery otherwise you may lose the knife

Ideally the knife should have an integrated choil or similar device to keep your hand from slipping forward and being cut. Some knives are semi-auto, meaning they open with a button (check your local laws) I prefer not to use my defensive knife for utility purposes, but to keep it sharp and ready for any heroic deeds

There seems to be a preference for some students to purchase expensive knives for their collection and to use a cheap knife for EDC. That’s beyond stupid, don’t be cheap, you need a dependable high quality knife – your life may depend on it

General Carry
When choosing a knife for EDC, make sure to carry it in the same place and position, thereby creating an unconscious reference point. If the knife has a clip, make sure it doesn’t show in public. Similarly if the knife has a clip and wave device (quick-draw) hide it under a large shirt or jacket. In the summer, when wearing light clothing be cautious that the silhouette doesn’t clearly imprint through your clothing

Get a Grip
The handle is the most important part of the knife, I would rather have a larger grippy handle that fits securely in my hand and compromise with a smaller blade. All your fingers should be wrapped around the handle firmly in either a standard or reverse grip (I am referring to the average size folder)

So why is it that many Filipino and Silat experts hold their knives with one or more fingers off the handle? Because their teachers did so. Others use it as an affectation (this group belongs to the ministry of silly grips). Anytime you post your thumb or forefinger on top or on the side of the blade, you have already diminished your grip strength on the knife by more than 70%

I will tell you with scientific certainty – unless you wrap all your fingers around the handle your grip will be insecure and you can easily lose the knife. I have researched this extensively and interviewed many hand doctors/surgeons. *Exceptions: larger knives can be gripped in alternate ways due to their longer handles.

For a Full Report on Grips see
Knife Grips Part 1
Knife Grips Part 2

An Instructors Guide to Teaching Knife Defense to Civilians Part Two

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