The following is the continuation of “6 Edged-Weapon Techniques to Save Your Life: Part 1.”
When someone attacks another person with a knife, he has all his focus on planting that weapon in his target, and his weapon arm is bristling with energy. If all you do is block the swing or manage to grab the limb, his focus on stabbing you hasn’t changed, and the energy in his arm may intensify. You’re now standing toe-to-toe with a psycho with a blade, and he’s still trying to kill you.
Here are six examples drawn from the WARTAC method:
The assailant attacks with a horizontal slash, but you evade it by leaning backward. From outside the weapon arm, use your forearms to stop a return slash if there is one, then grab his head by placing one hand under his chin and the other at the base of his skull in a cradling fashion. Then twist his head away from you, which moves the knife away from your body. By continuing the twisting motion, you can take him to the ground or slam him into a solid object. When he’s down and you’re still standing, you can run away or kick him to prevent further aggression.
Another technique that works from outside the weapon arm is the cross-face. After evading the inward slash, place your arms up to block the return slash, making contact above the elbow of the attacking arm. (This is more effective than blocking the forearm). After negating the slash, immediately trap the arm against your chest while pushing the assailant’s head away and down to the ground with your other hand. Maintain control of his wrist as he falls on his back. From there, decide whether running or continuing the fight is the better option.
The next technique is the “fold-over.” We don’t claim to have invented this concept; it’s similar to the chin jab taught during World War II. However, we’ve found that it’s extremely effective against edged-weapon attacks. It can be applied from inside or outside the weapon arm. For brevity, we’ll discuss its application from the inside position.
Against almost any type of attack effected with the right arm, step to your right, away from the weapon. Immediately turn toward the assailant and thrust your palms against his weapon-side shoulder. (Not only does the shoulder move more slowly than the wrist and weapon, but it’s also a larger target.) Striking the shoulder disrupts the fluidity of the attack and buys you time to complete the technique.
Next, grab his waist with your right hand and pull him toward you while striking his chin with your left palm. By manipulating the head and waist, you can topple even a larger assailant. This takedown is based solely on leverage and doesn’t require great size, strength or athletic ability.
This WARTAC technique is about as basic and gross-motor-based as you can get. It works great off a flinch response and at extreme close quarters. As the assailant initiates, thrust your closest arm to intercept the broadest area of his knife arm while palm-heeling his face and literally running right over him. This action takes him backward and off-balance, enabling you to maneuver him into an object or send him tumbling to the ground. The key to success is making it a simultaneous endeavor. If you pause after the block, he’ll simply redirect the blade and cut you.
Perhaps the most important aspect of taking control of an attacker’s balance is immediately distracting him, draining the energy flowing through his arm into his weapon. You must make him focus on what you’re doing to him, rather than on what he’s planning to do to you.
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The shoulder wrap works at close quarters when your assailant grabs you with his left hand and tries to pump his weapon into your midsection. Place your left arm between your body and his knife arm, and grab the weapon-side shoulder with your right hand. Using a circular motion, wrap the arm so your hands are on top of his shoulder. Now you have the weapon arm locked and can turn and drive him face-first into the ground.
This technique was designed to minimize the damage inflicted during a surprise attack from the rear. In this worst-case scenario, your first indication of danger comes from being stabbed. Remember that a single stab wound is generally survivable. However, you’d better have a plan to remove your body from the trajectory of the knife and launch an immediate counterattack.
Shrug your shoulders and raise your hands to protect your head and neck. Begin turning in the direction of the threat and swing the arm that’s nearest the blade downward at a 45-degree angle. That should enable you to momentarily pin the weapon arm to his body. Continue pivoting until his head presents itself as a target. Deliver a series of palm strikes to the side of the head to drive him away. Remember that against a blade, simple and brutal techniques are hard to beat.
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.