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The secret to a knife is this real life stress inoculation. Without high pressure, live blade training (with a properly certified and trained instructor in control of the blade) you will never know what works. Almost any “knife defense” can work when the “attacker” is given one angle and a fake knife. Even if they are given a real knife, as long as the “attack” is predetermined and done in a “safe” training environment, anything can be made to look good. Just the other day I was talking with a sometime student of mine who also takes at other schools when he told me a Krav Maga Expert showed him some really cool disarms for a knife. My first and only question was: Did he allow you to use a real knife and come at any angle. His answer was no. In my certification and subsequent training, every trip I must go against a real knife and real intent. The instructor would never kill me, but I and many people over the years have bled on the mats to discover our knife defense was knife stupidity.

Now that I have said all that, the questions find out more remain what works and how do we train it effectively. As for what works, I would like to say first and foremost that disarms as a general rule do not. I repeat THEY DO NOT!!!!!!! Sure you Magoo into one once in a blue moon, but trying for one on the street against an attacker who intends you harm and most likely death is a sure fire way to make sure they achieve their goal. Why then do we have disarms? Self-Perfection. Training disarms is meant only to build familiarity with the blade and its lines of entry and exit. It builds sensitivity and precision. The same sensitivity and precision that will enable you to escape the encounter ALIVE. Note here I said alive, not unscathed. In a real world encounter you most likely will get cut. This is why the live blade training is important. It will minimize your fear of the weapon and, over time, even minimize your body’s reaction of shock when cut in a “survivable” area. I put that in quotes because if you have not been cut, there is no survivable area. Your body will go into shock and shut down, thus granting your attacker free range.

So now that I have established that disarms are dangerous and only a training tool for attributes, let us look at what does work in a real life encounter. First off, make sure you always — and I mean always — have a knife on your person and you are proficient at getting that knife deployed. Make sure your knife is a good tactical knife and not a standard low-grade knife that many people carry. There are many fine choices out there, and the type of knife you use will determine your fighting tactics, as every different type of knife demands that different attributes be emphasized in the fight. With the realization that I cannot give you a customized detailed fight plan without seeing you and the type of knife that you will deploy, I will give four main pointers to surviving an encounter using a knife against almost any weapon.