No matter where a person is, chances are a knife is within reach. Think about it. If you're like most Americans, right now at least one of the following items is nearby: a pocketknife, a kitchen knife, a letter opener, a pair of scissors, a screwdriver, a box cutter or a razor blade. Because edged weapons are not only deadly but also readily accessible, martial artists must prepare themselves to survive an assault. This article will assist you in that endeavor by debunking some of the myths associated with knife defense and providing effective techniques for stopping a real blade attack.


The Traditional Model

Many dojo teach edged-weapon defense. Unfortunately, most of the techniques are designed to work against unrealistic attacks: single, robotic stabs to the midsection and exaggerated overhand stabs that resemble the shower scene from Psycho. Against such attacks, just about any defense will work. You can execute an X-block followed by a wrist lock and several impressive-looking counterstrikes, joint breaks and so on. You can even catch the weapon hand or redirect it by blending with the trajectory of the weapon. Often, the defensive techniques result in the disarming of the assailant. Reality check: Try that with a man holding a razor blade. Our hats are off to anyone who can accomplish that feat against a full-speed, unscripted attack. Sadly, real edged-weapon defense is more complex for a variety of reasons. First, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single, robotic stab outside the dojo. Real attacks are sneaky, fast and gut-wrenchingly violent. Second, most incidents involve multiple stabs and slashes from various angles. To make matters worse, you're unlikely to see the weapon before being cut. Ask anyone who's ever been stabbed, and he'll probably tell you he had no idea he was in a knife fight until he was cut. Based on this knowledge, you must assume that any assailant is armed until you can determine otherwise. Your punch defense must be consistent with your edged-weapon defense because you might not be able to distinguish between the two in the heat of battle. You must also consider that you'll probably be grabbed before you're stabbed. When assailants attack in a stabbing motion, they generally hold you with their free hand to ensure that they can drive the weapon into your body. A grab isn't as likely to precede a slashing attack because penetration isn't as much of a factor. Another major component of the traditional model is the concept of the 12 angles of attack. You're required to spend weeks, months, even years practicing them so you can recognize and identify which angle a real attack might come from. Then you're supposed to master numerous techniques designed to work against a single angle of attack. Remember that having too many choices leads to hesitation, and when facing an edged weapon, hesitation is a luxury you can't afford. If you find this critique of the traditional model a little harsh, locate a committed partner and a training knife with a marking blade, and have him try to cut you at full speed. When you're finished, count the marks. [ti_billboard name="Run-Through"]

The Progressive Model

Many instructors realized that the traditional model fails to adequately prepare students for a real knife attack and felt compelled to develop what we refer to as the "progressive model." Proponents of this approach advocate minimizing the damage by using your arms to absorb stabs and slashes until you have the opportunity to close the gap and attack the assailant. They profess that you should "expect to get cut in a knife fight." The goal, they say, is to prevent having a vital organ punctured. That sounds logical, doesn't it? While a cut or stab to your arm isn't likely to be fatal, it'll certainly result in a potentially serious injury. After sustaining a few wounds like that, it'll be nearly impossible to use your arms to protect your vital targets, let alone mount an attack of your own. So even though getting your limbs cut or stabbed might not kill you, it can certainly lead to your demise. Some systems that fall into the progressive-model category teach sparring with an assailant who's armed with a blade. You quickly learn that no matter how much you might outclass your opponent, you can expect to get hit eventually. Now, imagine being cut or stabbed rather than punched or kicked. Enough said. Another progressive-model approach is to attempt to grab the weapon arm at the wrist with both your hands or to capture and secure it with both your arms — using the two-on-one defense. Effectively executing either technique is no easy task. But let's assume that you're able to secure the weapon arm. Now what? You're in a position of having to struggle with a thug who's grasping an edged weapon. If he's bigger or stronger than you, you'll probably be taken to the ground in a deadly wrestling match. While you have both hands tied up, he has one free. With it, he can pound you into the ground or grab the weapon and stab you. You'll then have to gain control of his other hand, which now holds the implement of your demise. Edged-weapon defense isn't a give-and-take proposition like sparring. In fact, the term "edged-weapon defense" is really a misnomer. There is no defending against an edged weapon. All there can be is overwhelming aggression. The only thing that will stop a knife attack is your ability to be more violent than your attacker. [ti_billboard name="Head Twist"]

A Different Approach

After spending countless hours researching and attempting the most commonly taught edged-weapon defenses, we concluded that the majority work only against a cooperative partner. Neither the traditional model nor the progressive model works against a realistic attack. Through trial and error, we came up with a viable solution to the edged-weapon dilemma. The approach is so simple that it's hard to believe no one else is using it. By avoiding the weapon, taking the assailant's balance and manipulating his head, we found that we could avoid having to perform the most difficult component of edged-weapon defense, which is catching up with and gaining control of the fast-moving weapon. [ti_billboard name="Cross-Face"]

WARTAC Techniques

The Weapon Acquisition and Retention Tactics method of knife defense focuses on avoiding the blade by parrying and/or evading it, then acquiring the assailant's head. Once you control his head, you immediately compromise his balance.Stay tuned to read the continuation of this web post in "6 Edged-Weapon Techniques to Save Your Life: Part 2."

About the Authors:

David Hallford is a multiple black-belt holder with more than 25 years of experience. He has devoted 13 years to studying violent crime and developing realistic self-defense tactics. Richard Nance is a police officer, SWAT team member, defensive-tactics instructor, firearms instructor and second-degree karate black belt.

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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