This week, we take a question from SOS Subscriber Brent (Ontario, Canada), who asked the following question:
Q: Your flinch response is to stop a knife that is thrust at you with 2 hands; in this situation, how do you best finish a disarm/avert the the assault?
We contacted two experts in the field and included their responses to Brent’s question below:
Name: Adam Ticknor
Bio: Adam Ticknor is a former Recon Marine and a Scout Sniper. He currently works as a fitness instructor, rehab specialist, and a body language instructor. You can see him as a member of Discovery Channel’s Season Two of The Colony. Adam maintains a blog at whynotadam.blogspot.com. He is located the Austin, Texas area and may be contacted for additional information or training (shooting, fighting, surviving, fitness or body language) at [email protected]
Courses Taught: Armed Defender
Response: Never EVER try and stop a blade with 2 hands – the back cut will destroy your fingers, hands, wrists, or forearms. There are a lot of schools that teach an xblock for a high line or a jumping back two-handed grab of a knife hand. There are many problems with this, including:
- back cuts
- their other hand
- their other hand having a weapon
- the other person having grappling skill and you are two-hand committed
- thee other person understanding angles steps past you
- The other person may have showed up with friends
If you don’t have a blade or some object (any object) to intercept the thrust, then I advise the following:
While stepping offline (closing their body, meaning take their arm across their body and moving out of the way), use the back of the hand/wrist to deflect the cut, and with the other hand hit the attacker in the throat or eyes.
If you can’t step offline (no room), then with an open hand HARD check to elbow crease.
If you have a pistol handy, hit the attacker in the face with the barrel and pull the trigger. The gun may go out of battery, but they were just face-punched with a pistol. Once you hit them and pull the trigger, step backwards and establish a good shooting platform and put a round in their body or face.
Name: Jerry Wetzel
Bio: Jerry Wetzel is the founder and chief instructor of Red Zone Threat Management, a company dedicated to providing real life self defense training. He has been training exclusively in reality-based combat for over 10 years. In 1999, Jerry founded Centerline Gym, an organization dedicated exclusively to researching the realities of violence and developing tools and tactics to deal with them. He has appeared in magazines and numerous instructional videos. Since he began training, Jerry has had the privilege of training with some of the world’s finest instructors. Among other achievements, Jerry is the former VP of the worldwide Crazy Monkey Defense Program; a Certified Full Instructor in Jeet Kune Do and the Filipino martial arts – From Paul Vunak; a Personal Defense Readiness Affiliate – Tony Blauer; and a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Chris Haueter. Jerry is dedicated to discovering the TRUTH in combat, and believes it is of utmost importance to take biological, psychological, emotional, and behavioral factors into account and then apply them to a resisting opponent under realistic conditions.
Courses Taught: Disarm and Disable
Response: That is an excellent question, Brent. You’re correct, when a stimulus is introduced quicker than we are able to access a learned skill, the flinch response takes over and we default to something gross motor and this is the basis for many tactics we teach.
To directly address the response in your question, a protective shielding with hands is a great start. From there, the next step is to immediately seize control of that weapon-bearing limb. This is also an instinctive response and it’s where the next few pieces become extremely important.
Essentially, you’ve got it but now what?! This is where instinct can get in the way of our survivability. Instinctively, we want to stay away from that blade and keep our body as far away from that blade as possible. The problem is that this plays right into the hands of the attacker’s own instinctive reactions.
Let’s step into the mind of the attacker for a moment. You’ve decided to inflict violence on someone for some reason. You’ve also decided to turn the chances of success in your favor by bringing a knife. Everything is going as you thought and you get to work with that blade. Suddenly, the intended victim has the audacity to protect themselves by grabbing hold of your arm. No big deal – simply rip that arm free and get back to work and swing harder and faster. Fortunately, they are trying to back up while keeping control. Heck, we might just run them over.
You see, while controlling the limb is a quick patch in the short term, in order to maintain control we need to control the whole person if we want to turn the tide here. To do this, we need to drive serious pressure while maintaining dominant position on that blade. Using our legs, we will drive pressure like we’re trying to run them into or over something. If they fall, then great – there’s our window for escape, but we’re not done yet.
In the Red Zone program, we also show how to spiral them to the ground and onto their face. If we pin them to the wall, we can strip the blade off of their leg. If we end up dumping them on the ground, we have put ourselves in a position to get this blade out of play while maintaining control of the person (and possibly deliver a bit of blunt force discouragement).
It’s important to note that the goal is to get the weapon out of play or create a window for escape. We are not looking for a prolonged exchange of techniques while standing directly in front of the assailant (which sadly is taught all too often). It’s also important that we don’t let go with one hand to try and strike the bad guy. Good striking requires space, which is also what the other guy wants. Striking can have it’s place, but only after we have gained control.
Analyzing the Experts:
- Takeaway 1: While there seems to be some disagreement between our experts about the two-handed shield, both agree that deflecting with the hand is a smart initial move (Adam suggests using the back of one hand while using the other to strike in the throat/eyes, while Jerry advises gaining a dominant position on the whole body of the attacker, starting with gaining control of the weapon-bearing limb).
- Takeaway 2: Adam suggests using a weapon for defense if you have one, while Jerry advises a more disarm-focused approach i.e. taking the weapon out of play and creating a window for escape. Each approach has its pros and cons, depending on the tools available to you. If you are armed, there are certainly other legal consequences to keep in mind. Anyone carrying a concealed firearm or other weapon should certainly be registered and know the laws of their state. Many states, under traditional self defense laws, encourage a victim to walk away or escape if possible, but this option may be less realistic if faced with a bladed weapon and having legitimate fears that your life or a loved one’s life is in danger.