The Ultimate Guide to Knife Combat is a collection of the best Black Belt articles on blades. Get your copy today!I’ve found that the best method for getting this kind of experience involves sparring with a resisting opponent using training knives. Knife fights occur at full speed, so all your sparring should be done at a fast pace. A crucial part of knife training is composed of offensive techniques. Only by understanding the offensive elements of blade combat will you be able to develop good defensive tactics. Knowledge of the way weapons work can give you the advantage you need to defend against them. Of course, you can’t neglect empty-hand-vs.-weapon training. To keep it realistic, engage in scenarios that occasionally include surrendering as soon as a weapon is deployed, as well as scenarios in which you can’t do that because it would place you in greater danger. The following is the training progression I teach: 1 — Avoid Improve your awareness so you can avoid threats. Study the mindset of the sociopath. Review statistics associated with knife attacks. Read about relevant criminal cases. 2 — Escape Set up training scenarios that allow escape. Engage in “mental practice” that involves planning a quick exit from the places you visit. Don’t forget to envision yourself fleeing along with a loved one. 4 — Mobility Develop your perception so that distancing, timing and accuracy become second nature. Practice not engaging with the enemy and making your escape. Don’t forget to train in the presence of role-playing “loved ones” who need your protection. 5 — Engage Know that this should be your course of action only if your life or the life of a loved one is at stake. When engaging, it’s imperative to grab the assailant’s knife hand with both your hands before executing a counterattack. Avoid focusing on disarms unless one presents itself. Incorporate training knives of various sizes and designs, as well as all kinds of improvised weapons, into your drills. Train in a variety of environments and adjust your methods according to what works where.
In volume 3 of the Philippine Fighting Arts DVD set, Julius Melegrito addresses knife tactics and applications. Order it here.Blade training is essential in the education of anyone who’s into self-defense. Never make the mistake of thinking a knife attack won’t happen to you or that you can disarm an assailant as easily as they do in the movies. If you teach, reinforce the notion that “avoid and escape” is preferred to “stand and fight.” Constantly tell your students that this is by no means a cowardly response to an attack. Your possessions can be replaced, but your life cannot. As they say, there can be only one winner in a knife fight — but more often, there are two losers. Morné Swanepoel is a South Africa-based martial arts teacher, MMA coach and fitness instructor. For more information, visit CombatCoaching.com.