Facing an attacker armed with an edged weapon is one of the most terrifying situations you could ever imagine. If you do not have a weapon, or if you recognize the attack too late to draw a weapon before the attacker closes the distance, you will most likely have to rely on empty-hand defenses to save your life. To increase your chances of survival, those defenses must be practical, logical, and easily learned.

At this point I can already hear some of the well-worn gun-guy clichés start to fly. “If someone attacks me with a knife, I’ll just shoot him” or “That guy shouldn’t have brought a knife to a gunfight!” Irritating clichés don’t qualify as real weapons against a knife-armed attacker—especially when they’re backed only by archaic, square-range marksmanship skills.

Yes, firearms are the best way to deal with a knife-armed attacker; however, when you’ve brought a gun—or empty hands—to a knife fight and you’re playing by the knifer’s rules, solid, unarmed counter-knife tactics are what you need to survive. I began studying empty-hand defenses against knife attacks more than 30 years ago, when I first got involved in the martial arts. The knife defenses I learned were derived mostly from aikido and based on classical exaggerated knife attacks, not the dynamic methods actually used on the street. When my training partners and I “turned up the heat” and attacked with intent, the contrived defenses we were learning invariably fell apart.

Practical Defense

Frustrated with the system I was studying, I began looking for martial arts that actually taught practical, street-realistic knife tactics to see how they addressed counter-knife skills. After all, if they could cut well, they probably had a good idea of what it takes to not get cut. I ultimately found the Filipino and Indonesian arts, which include some of the most effective small-knife systems ever developed. They also provide a great foundation of knowledge on effective knife defenses and served as the basis for much of my study.

Although the traditional techniques of those arts were a significant improvement, they were not an ideal “turn-key” solution for modern self-defense needs. In some cases, the techniques reflected legal and cultural norms of Asian society that were inconsistent with modern self-defense. They also tended to focus on high-level skills that required intensive training to gain combat efficiency. A system was needed that took the proven counter-knife tactics of these arts and distilled them into a practical, easily learned system that was consistent with the training goals and legal concerns of modern society. The result is what I call Counter-Blade Concepts (CBC). My first goal in developing CBC was to understand how most real knife attacks actually happen. Analyzing videos of actual knife attacks from all over the world helped me define the common elements of all knife attacks based on instinctive human body mechanics.

Typical Knife Attack Elements:

• Knife attacks start at close range.
• Typically the weapon is not brandished before the attack.
• Most people are right handed, so most knife attacks are right handed.
• Attackers typically use gross motor skills, which are primarily forehand motions.
• The non-weapon hand is usually used to grab and gauge distance.
• Attacks will involve repetitive motions, not a single cut or thrust.

Using these common traits to define “the problem” of the typical knife attack, the CBC system uses a logical sequence of actions as the basis of its defensive tactics. This sequence is as follows:

• Minimize injury to you
• Counter and disable immediately or draw your own weapon if possible
• If you cannot disable immediately, maintaincontact and control the attacking limb, limiting its mobility to the shoulder joint
• Create a power base to attack and disable
• If you are duty bound, restrain, control and disarm
• If you are not duty bound, break contact, evaluate, scan, and escape

This basic sequence forms the foundation of the CBC system. Another critical element of CBC is the significance of the term “concepts” in the name. That term is not intended to imply that the skills of the system cannot be quantified; it emphasizes that principles are more important than rote technique. These principles are expressed in the four phases of CBC training: deflect and counter, control and counter, returning blade, and combined skills.

Phase 1 – Deflect & Counter

The best counter-knife techniques are based on the same body mechanics as sound knife-fighting methods. However, rather than using the knife to disable the attacker, you must use your natural body weapons and available improvised weapons. The defensive actions remain basically unchanged.

With this concept in mind, the first phase of the Counter-Blade Concepts program is called “Deflect and Counter.” It focuses on blocking and redirecting incoming attacks with the back of the forearm and checking with the palm. No attempt is made to capture the attacker’s limb or to disarm the weapon. Instead, the checking or passing action interrupts the attacker’s motion and creates an opening for the primary counterattack: a finger strike to the eyes. Attacking the eyes disrupts the attacker’s vision, causes intense pain, and often creates a spontaneous disarm. Eye strikes can be immediately followed by low-line kicks to the ankle or knee to create a “mobility kill” that allows you to create distance and leaves the attacker unable to follow you as you escape. These tactics also create an opportunity to deploy your own weapon so you can continue your defense on equal or preferably superior terms.

Deflect and Counter is a simple hit-and-run approach to empty-hand knife defense. It does not require any grappling or controlling actions and is designed to immediately debilitate your attacker so you can seek escape.

Pages: 1 2
Show Comments