Self-defense basically boils down to two objectives: avoiding (or at least limiting) injury to you and stopping your attacker. Most defensive-shooting training typically focuses on scenarios that simulate these dynamics at a reasonable distance of at least several yards. Functionally, that distance provides the perception of safety, as well as the time necessary to move, draw, fire and simulate a happy ending. While this may be realistic when representing an attacker armed with a firearm, it is not consistent with the reality of an assault with a contact-distance weapon like a knife or a club.

Close-Range Attack

The best way to understand the characteristics of a close-range attack—like a typical stabbing—is to observe actual attacks. Over the past 10-plus years, I have analyzed dozens of videos of actual knife attacks and have consulted on several incidents. Based on careful analysis, I’ve found that they consistently share the same characteristics: 1) they are initiated at close range; 2) the weapon is often not brandished before the attack; 3) the attack involves multiple, repetitive thrusts; 4) the non-weapon hand is used to probe, gauge, grab and control as a precursor to the knife thrusts; 5) statistically, most people are right-handed.

Based on these characteristics, and lots of force-on-force training and experimentation (both my own and that of other respected instructors), one of the most reliable ways of defending against a typical knife attack with a handgun is to first achieve decisive control of your attacker’s non-weapon hand—typically the left. The concept is to use it and the leverage it offers to achieve a short period of mechanical control while you draw your gun to stop the threat. Sometimes known as “same-side control,” this tactic is one that every serious defensive shooter should practice diligently.

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