With more than 30 years of martial arts and H2HC experience, Michael Janich is widely recognized as one of America’s top knife-fighting experts, authorities on edged-weapon design and instructors of self-defense moves. Michael Janich was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as the 2010 Weapons Instructor of the Year.
“One of the toughest things you’re going to run into is going empty-hand against a knife,” knife-fighting and H2HC expert Michael Janich says. “It’s one of the scariest situations you can possibly imagine. And of the different situations you could be in, one of the most committed attacks and one of the most common attacks is [an attacker] thrusting straight at [you].
Michael Janich Shows You Self-Defense Moves to Counter a Knife Attack
“Typically, when this is done, a lot of times you’ll see martial arts people thrust and just kinda hang out there and wait for you to do a technique. When people do it for real, they’ll do what’s called ‘bulldogging.’ Or you’ll see ‘prison style,’ which is essentially getting [their] hands up into [your] eyes and just working the knife hard [in fast thrusts].”
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Michael Janich’s H2HC Reality Check #1: You May Get Only One Shot at Using Self-Defense Moves Against a Knife Attack
In a prison-style “shanking,” military H2HC situation or a vicious street attack in which the opponent’s goal is simply to kill you, you will have only one shot to block the initial knife thrust using self-defense moves.
“[You may] block it once if you get lucky,” H2HC instructor Michael Janich says. “The idea that you’ll [block] it more than once typically doesn’t work very well.”
Michael Janich’s H2HC Reality Check #2: The First of Your Self-Defense Moves Could Mean Life or Death
An attacker’s first thrust will either hit, miss or be avoided because of anticipation and countermeasures. The first two outcome options depend on the attacker’s accuracy. The third outcome option depends on your H2HC awareness and the speed of your self-defense moves.
“When he thrusts, I’ve got to stay alive through the first motion,” Michael Janich explains. “So [I hollow] out, [draw] my hips back and [drive] both arms forward, blocking the backs of both arms.
“My next motion is to immediately hook the back of his arm. Even if he tries to pull [away], I’ve got good control over his arm because I’ve limited his mobility to one joint.
“My next motion is to pull both arms into my chest. What we do is [get an armbar] and everything is locked up. Once I’ve gotten him to here, I’ve got good solid control.”
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Michael Janich’s H2HC Reality Check #3: Follow-Through Is Essential
Once an attacker’s initial thrust has been handled through self-defense moves involving redirection and mobility restriction, there will be the question of what to do with the attacker. If you’re alone with him, Michael Janich suggests continued self-protection and follow-through using H2HC techniques.
“If I’m a civilian, I step back to protect my groin so I don’t get punched [there],” Michael Janich says. “If he posts [his non-weapon] hand, I step on the fingers and start driving my knee into his head.” (Watch the video for more follow-through options!)
Editor’s Note: For more information regarding H2HC techniques, check out more H2HC articles written (and videos depicting self-defense moves taught) by H2HC experts Tim Larkin, Tim Kennedy, Kelly McCann, Matt Larsen and Mick Coup!