When was the last time you sat on a train, or a bus, or in a restaurant, club, or movie theater, and worried that you might be attacked by a knife-wielding madman? There are some people who don’t want to think about such things, and might want to give you a mental health diagnosis. Yet a recent episode of a crazed knife-wielding murderer wilding through the streets and subways of Manhattan once again drives home the fact that it could happen to you. So, how do you process this possibility?

One option is denial; just stick your head in the sand and insist that it is unlikely to happen to you, just like anti-gun and weapon rights hoplophobes do. Another option, if you can afford it, is to hire your own personal protection team. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, only the privileged power brokers who want everyone else disarmed can afford this option. Still a third option is to actually prepare yourself to deal with such a situation should it find you.

Fortunately, you do not have to be a special forces operator to learn some simple counterattack techniques to turn the tables back onto a knife wielding attacker. As a student of edged weapon combatives with Tuhon Tom Kier of the Sayoc Tactical Group (STG), I have been fortunate to study some of these techniques with like-minded partners.

Avoid Knife Fights

You should exhaust all options before you go blade-to-blade, because all blade confrontations are nasty affairs. Options include escape, verbal dissuasion, and launching projectiles from a distance greater than two arms length (e.g., throwing something, deploying a firearm). If all of these preferable options fail, then you are in a close-quarters confrontation (CQC). If this is the case, hopefully, you can produce and are prepared to deploy a close-quarter weapon. You cannot afford to freeze—if you do, you will end up in a ball of blood. So, what do we have to hit our attacker with or stab him with? Recognize that you do not want to trade punches or slaps for stabs because if that is your strategy, you may die.

As the “defender” against an adversary wielding a deadly weapon who is intent on killing or maiming you, you are at a grave disadvantage because action typically beats reaction. Therefore, STG’s philosophy is to counter every one of the attacker’s movements with an aggressive counterattack, or else the attacker will be completely offensive and you will be completely overwhelmed. If you are ambushed, launch a decisive, aggressive and relentless counterattack that does not stop until your assailant has stopped being a threat to you.

Gain The Edge

You need to simultaneously counter every one of the bad guy’s movements to gain the winning edge. If you are taken by surprise; that is, ambushed, the fight begins with the bad guy being the “feeder” (i.e., feeding you his blade or his blows or his bullets) and you being the “receiver.” If you are to prevail, you must change that immediately by making yourself the “feeder” and your attacker the “receiver” so that he is forced to defend himself. This disrupts his plan, and if he doesn’t have a counteroffensive strategy, he loses the fight. In order to end the fight, you need to wear your attacker down fast with your counterattacks. The terms, counter-edged weapon and “counter ambush” provide more accurate connotations of Wthe desired combative mentality than does the word defensive.

Unarmed Combatives

Even if you are not carrying any conventional weapons (not a good idea!), you can probably deploy something as a shield to serve as cover from the attacker’s blade thrusts or slashes, to buy yourself time. For example, you might deploy your handbag, briefcase, portfolio, magazine or newspaper, as a shield or as a striking or impact weapon. Meanwhile, thrusting is the most effective form of attack with both conventional and unconventional edged weapons—utilize hard pointed objects such as pens. The good news is that you can carry utility objects such as pens that are legal everywhere and that can be deployed for thrusting into vital areas of an attacker’s body. It does not appear that pens (the First Amendment) will be outlawed any time soon, and while the pen may not be mightier than the sword, unlike the sword, it does have multiple uses.

Actually, any implement in your hand with which you can thrust, you can use in a pinch (think about rolled up magazines, umbrellas, canes, keys, flashlights to name a few). With makeshift edged weapons like a pen, our targets on the bad guy must become more vulnerable, such as his eyes. If you stab your attacker in his eyes, he will become so preoccupied with the damage that he will most assuredly turn his focus inward to his own wounds. This buys you time to continue your attack, to control his weapon, or to get out another weapon, such as drawing your pistol if you have one on you.

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