Criminals are, by nature, predators. Like predators in nature, they often choose a time and place to attack that gives them a tangible advantage over their victims. Often this involves surprising their targets in confined areas that make both escape and fighting back difficult. Many knife-fighting systems place heavy emphasis on footwork, angling and precise timing. They also spend a large portion of training time on sparring in open areas that are devoid of obstacles and offer solid footing and good traction. While this type of training can be very beneficial, it is not consistent with the environmental and situational realities of many common street attacks. If that’s the only type of training you do, you should seriously consider supplementing it with some hardcore, extreme-close-quarters tactics.

Reality Check
The best way to develop practical confined-quarters tactics is to first put yourself into the context of a real attack. For example, if you are attacked in an elevator, a public restroom or any confined area, there are a number of harsh realities that you need to accept: (1) If your attacker is armed with a contact-distance weapon (knife, club or similar object), defending against that weapon is just as important as what you do to him with your knife; (2) your footwork will be severely limited; (3) your knife deployment skills must be exceptional to even get your knife into play; and (4) you must “stop” your attacker as quickly and decisively as possible.

Based on these criteria, my approach to confined-quarters knife tactics is to base them on the fundamental skills of empty-hand defenses against knives and other contact-distance weapons—my Counter-Blade Concepts (CBC) system. The tactics of this system are specifically geared toward surviving confined-quarters weapon attacks and have been validated in one of the most extreme environments of that kind: prisons. CBC tactics have been incorporated into the defensive tactics programs of a number of law enforcement and correctional departments in North America and have been proven to work. If you add a knife to them, they work even better…


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Criminals are, by nature, predators. Like predators in nature, they often choose a time…