Friday, October 26, 2007

The nature of knife wounds 2

One of the most common misconceptions I noticed regarding most knife training is the continued belief in the one stab – one kill myth. One attacker thrusts toward the defender, who respond by either evading or deflecting the knife while replying with a stab or slash to the attacker, who simply stands in place while the knife is planted cleanly onto the targeted spot on his body.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, people hardly die instantly from a single knife wound. I can think of less than 5 spots on the body that will instantly stop an attacker when hit with a knife. Those target points are not easy to get to, which is actually a testament to how well our bodies have evolved to protect these vital points.

To get to those targets without getting your own vital points attacked requires considerable skill and finesse. So that leaves a whole range of secondary targets that are worthwhile points to hit in a knife fight but will not result in an instant kill. What I mean by “instant kill” is the immediate cessation of the attacker’s ability to attack again, regardless of is mental state, adrenaline or “recreational pharmaceuticals” in his body.

A stab to the heart is a good example; doing this will certainly result in immediate shutdown on the part of the attacker. But getting to the heart, driving the knife passed the ribcage puts the defender well within range of the attacker’s arms, legs and weapons.

Which is why there’s a lot of truth in the axiom that there are only two outcomes in a knife fight: one side gets badly cut and the other dies. There’s just no other way around it. The best one can hope for is that proper training, which will drill the use of the other hand - the one without the weapon - and proper positioning that opens up the opponent’s vital points while shielding the defenders’, will keep the damage down and end the fight quickly in favor of the attacker.

One exception to my disbelief in the one stab – one kill mindset is strategic; the defender may be better off just getting a clean shot in and running from the altercation. Although running from a fight is a great option – one that makes a lot of sense against people with knives – one has to be prepared to the absolute worst case scenario, which is a drawn out knife fight, a duel. Especially when running is not an option, My current knife training has been for the “cut and run” scenario, as well as learning to deal with the dueling scenario that is prevalent in FMA. The choice is clear cut (pardon the pun): why stick around when all I want to do is create an opening for me to escape?


Kaerius said...

Yeah, this is why the japanese martial arts focus mostly on using your free hand(possible both, you may have no weapon) to grab the wrist of the hand that holds your opponents knife, as part of the defense against an attack. Draw him off balance, disarm him and disable him, and if necessary(like if more people are coming to your opponents aid) kill him with your knife or his, when you have him exposed/controlled.

As I carry no knife, if I was to end up in a knife fight, my one target would be his knife hand, if I can grab his wrist, I win, until then I must evade and deflect. I hope I never get in such a fight, I do not wish to be cut, or risk death.

One of the students/help teachers at my former jujutsu dojo(who is also a judo brown belt, with 5 junior championship wins) has won a fight against three opponents with knives, barehanded. He was cut, but not badly. Obviously his opponents were punks who hadn't trained knife fighting though.

Anonymous said...

The problem with japanese arts in their so called knife disarming si that they are not blade oriented and because of this they tend to have their "Uke" or knife feeder feed a knife in a very static and predicatable manner . The Filipino way of delivering knives is multiple stabs in a second. Not one dimensional Hollywood stabs. Almost makes a mockery of the way they portray knife weilding attackers.

This can also be seen in the way they do their katana balde work- too much of art and pausing for the ultimate one cut- no such thing. Movies are movies but they also inspire their training- Iado is a one step draw and cut...need I say more?

Ironically the Samurais were the masters of the Blade..if you fought a Samurai's fight. What happened to this combative art? They went emptyhanded. They went with unproven combative skills. The Samurais had a body count in warfare. Jujutsu , Judo, karate have none.

You want to learn how to deal with a knife? Learn to use one first.

This is how Filipino martial Arts is taught - weapons first. Stick to what works.

Stephen Renico said...


Merry Christmas.