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Old 09-01-2003, 11:21 AM   #1
Bogeyman
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knife defenses

Hi all. I have been thinking about knife takeaways lately and it occurred to me that I have been shown three different philosophies on what to do with the knife.

1. Knock the knife out of ukes hand immediately.

2. Take the knife away as soon as possible during the technique.

3. Take the knife away during the pin.

I can see advantages and disadvantages to each method and was looking into input from others. Thanks.

E
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Old 09-01-2003, 12:09 PM   #2
mattholmes
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I don't think that I like the concept of "knife take-aways." It seems like a good way to get yourself hurt. There are much better things to do (high on the list is not being an idiot and hanging out where someone is likely to do something with a knife that would disagree with you).

Understanding that as my basic premise, then I would say that if you get into that situation, you are still not required to break out with your razor-sharp knocking, taking, or pinning skills. Why would someone attack you with a knife? I would argue that a very common reason for someone to threaten you with a knife if in the context of a robbery: the bad guy wants your wallet (or something else of value) and uses the knife as leverage, implying or stating that if you give up the object, they will not try to harm you.

It makes sense to me that (although I will certainly be in something of an alert state) it is worth it to give them their plunder. That way, you significantly lower the likelyhood that you will have to worry about their knife and your method of disarming or incapacitating them.

This deals with with a threat at a short distance where the bad guy is not directly interested in hurting you. What about when they do want to hurt you? In this instance, you are much more likely to know them, or at least to have had some previous interaction for them to have a beef with you. You can deal with a part of this by being mindful of you actions and how others will interpret them. Also, if you believe that you may have offended someone, you can add them (temporarily or otherwise) to a "watch them" list in your head.

In terms of a direct confrontation, I don't believe that they exist. Think for a second if you really wanted to kill someone with a knife. Would you show them you knife? I wouldn't. I assert that most violent offenses perpetrated with a knife are more "sneak attacks" than face-offs. Your attacker is likely to sneak up behind you and shank you in the back. Unless you have an overdeveloped sense of paranoia/always check behind you, this limits the actions you can take. For instance, you need a considerable amount of warning and space to knock the knife out of uke's hand, as you suggest. I think it is more likely that an effective technique in this situation puts you very close to the attacker's body.

But really, I think that an encounter with a knife is a very dangerous situation, and it does not serve you well to have fantasies of saving the world with masterful aikido running around while dealing with reality.

Last edited by mattholmes : 09-01-2003 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 09-01-2003, 12:59 PM   #3
Mel Barker
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Re: knife defenses

Hi Eric,

I like that idea of "knife take-aways". Here are my thoughts.
Quote:
1. Knock the knife out of ukes hand immediately.
This seems problematic. Our sensei often accomplishes this when demonstrating a hard response on a gokyu, but the advanced practitioners can slice him up quite easily.

I guess I'd ask you how often do you practice knocking ukes in your dojo in regular practice to become accomplished at it.
Quote:
2. Take the knife away as soon as possible during the technique.
Sounds good to me! Just don't let the goal of getting the knife deter the goal of unbalancing and securely locking uke.

We do this on shionage's so as to control the knife soon, and prevent uke from landing on it.
Quote:
3. Take the knife away during the pin.
Depends on the the technique. On techniques where you can't maintain control of uke with one hand, i.e. ikkyo, gokyo, iriminage... this becomes a necessity.

Mel Barker
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Old 09-01-2003, 01:04 PM   #4
Paul Klembeck
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Eric,

From a purely aikido centric point of view, try them all, as they all will give you different perspectives on technique. On the mat its all just about learning anyway. Additionally, if this is a technical interest of yours, you may want to look at techniques outside Aikido, as many of the best aren't part of the art. I recommend Hock Hochheim's books.

If you have the extreme bad luck to really get in such a fight, take whatever opportunities present themselves at the moment, including appeasment or running, rather than planning one technique or another. Fighting is unpredictable. Most of all, ignore any cuts and continue resolutely until you win.

Matt,

I have no idea what started you on this track. Eric didn't say anything about his doing something as stupid as going trawling for a knife fight. He asked a reasonable technical question about techniques within our art.

Since, however, we have arrived at this discussion, I question your facts. You might want to read James LaFond's "The Logic of Steel" containing descriptions and statistical analysis of 250 knife attacks in Baltimore, rather than theorising.

I do, of course, agree that never getting into a knife fight is by far the best thing to do. However, despite being a peaceable old guy, I know a fair number of people who have gotten into one, so, I think it is worth considering in ones training.

P
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Old 09-01-2003, 02:05 PM   #5
Cliff Geysels
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Several possibilities:

let's assume the attacker goes at you with a chudan tsuki style knife attack:

kotegaeshi (omote preferably I guess),

uchikaitensankyo,

maybe sotokaiten,

Take your pick.
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Old 09-01-2003, 07:26 PM   #6
L. Camejo
 
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Thumbs down

Haven't been into any knife fights myself. But I have had 2 friends who only saw techniques from chudan tsuki (typical stab thrust) and were able to apply techs like kotegaeshi and tenkai kotehineri (sankyo) successfully during robbery situations (mind you, these were folks who only watched Aikido and played around with it, not folks who ever stepped on a mat). In both cases they ended up unknowingly with the knife in their hand. Of course in these cases it can also be said that the intent to kill may not have been there with the attackers, which may have aided my friends in not being skewered.

To the points noted above - 1. Knocking the knife out of uke's hand (i.e. kick, punch etc.) may not be a good idea in my view. Have trained with some experienced knife fighters in the FMA and military/CQB world and have found it's a good way to lose a limb, or at least get some very deep cuts on major veins/arteries in the arm or leg if the knife wielder knows how to really use a knife.

2. Taking the knife in the midst of technique may be a bit more applicable depending on the situation, but as Mel said, don't be distracted by getting the knife and ignore the need to disrupt the attacker's balance thoroughly and to keep an eye out for other attacks. Immobilisation and control of the weapon arm is key here I think. We practice this a lot in modified tanto randorigeiko where a uke comes slashing and thrusting at you with full intent.

3. Personally I think this is the best option. It is best to negotiate the removal of the weapon on your terms, i.e. when the attacker is fully under control. In the case of techs where an arm is not free to take the weapon, I say cautiously switch pinning techs to allow a hand to be freed. In techs like kotegaeshi I tend to pin uke on his chest with arm across back and then kneel on it, freeing both my hands to do other things.

Before any technique may be applied though, I think it's important to understand deeply how ma ai, interception/timing and kuzushi work to successfully evade and thwart a knife attack using Aikido.

Luckily, the full force tanto randori we do tends to service this element quite nicely in my book. It's here one gets a feel for how sharp and quick a knife stab just may be, how easily fingers and thumbs may disappear and how hard it is to avoid if the other person fully intends to stab you.

All fun though.

Just my 2 cents.

L.C.

Last edited by L. Camejo : 09-01-2003 at 07:33 PM.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-01-2003, 08:03 PM   #7
sanosuke
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effective knife defense:

run, forrest, ruuuuun....!
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Old 09-01-2003, 08:04 PM   #8
PeterR
 
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This is an interesting story concerning Kobyashi H. and Tomiki K. The former had contacted the latter to "discuss" Tomiki's ideas concerning shiai. The two men came to some sort of understanding which eventually resulted in quite a bit of cooperation but things really didn't take off untill after Kobyashi H. tried to pick up the wrong woman in Italy. The man was known for a "hard" lifestyle but he met his match with the woman's boyfriend, several of his buddies and their knives. After six months in hospital he called Tomiki K.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-01-2003, 08:20 PM   #9
mattholmes
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Paul,

Actually, I have read a section of that study (though not all of it). Part of my post was generated specifically from it.

I would be more than happy to submit my sources for my assertions. I'm not really sure what facts I presented, as I tried to keep most of my post to my own experience and theories.

Looking back on my post, I see that I said that most "violent offenses" committed with a knife are sneak attacks. I want to first clarify that I intended "violent" to mean "where the knife ends up in the victim" as opposed "the knife was used to intimidate a victim into giving something up." To justify this statement, I direct you to this page on the No Nonsense Self Defense website. About a fifth of the way down the page, the author, Marc MacYoung, states that "as far as your attacker is concerned this is not a fight, it is an assassination." In reading further, I interpret that in the author's experience, it is very unlikley that one would have more than one second to respond. I added my own interpretation that the attacker will be behind you, and say that you will not have sufficient warning and space to knock the knife out of uke's hand. If we take Marc MacYoung's opinion as that of an expert, then I believe this to be a well reasoned argument.

(I would welcome you to ask a more specific, line-item question, and I'll see what I can come up with. I think it's also certainly realistic that I may have presented something as a fact that is, in fact >humor<, my assumption or bias.)

Also, in rereading my post, I see alot that appears... how should I say... accusatory. I must appologize for this. I did not mean this to be true. I was trying to add my views on situations dealing with a knife-armed attacker, as I believed was the original post/question. I agree that the question was both appropriate and, as you said, reasonable. Finally, I did not mean to imply that anyone was looking for a fight.
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Old 09-01-2003, 08:33 PM   #10
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Reza Kauzar (sanosuke) wrote:
effective knife defense:

run, forrest, ruuuuun....!


I'm the first to agree - when facing a knife you don't want to be there.

However, you also don't want your back to a knife and if you do run better make sure you can run faster.

Which reminds me of the old bear joke. Replace bear with knife wielding nutcase.

Two guys are walking in the woods when they round a corner and come face to face with a large hungry bear. They scream turn around and start running. The bear shrugs and figuring, scrawny as they are, a light snack would not be remiss. So the two guys are running as fast as they can and the bear is loping after them. One man turns to the other an says.

Man 1: Gasp Wheeze Christ we'll never outrun the bear.

Man 2: What do you mean, I only have to outrun you.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-01-2003, 10:39 PM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Having trained in FMA, I would suggest that the best defense of a knife attack is to learn how to handle one. Become blade conscious of where the edge is at all times and keep it way from you. Watch your distance. Attack the hand and limb. Keep a safety factor hand keeping the weapon away.

The 3 Cs of weapon work is clear, control, and counter.

Inosanto, Hock, and MacYoung can't all be wrong.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-02-2003, 09:25 AM   #12
Mel Barker
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Lynn makes an excellent point. I train doing tanto waza occasionally, and it really adds a dimension to ordinary practice. It really promotes honest ukemi as well.

Mel
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Old 09-02-2003, 10:06 AM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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Peter, great story!

I don't do as much tanto dori as I probably should. I'd say one important thing is to remember that your enemy in that situation is the man wielding the knife, not the knife. This is not to say that you ignore the knife and go for broke...just don't get so caught up with the blade that you forget the man behind it (or his friend behind you).

I've seen some of the work done by people who specialize in knife work. I'm not completely convinced that standard aikido techniques done against standard aikido knife attacks are sufficient in preparing to face a knife specialist. Better than nothing though.

Ron

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Old 09-02-2003, 12:47 PM   #14
jxa127
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Matt, I liked your post. It provides some perspective for what we do in the dojo. I read a study in Black Belt magazine that analyzed knife attacks. It may be the same one mentioned above that studied 250 attacks in Baltimore.

One of the surprising (to me, anyway) observations in the study was that the majority of fatal attacks were "ice pick" attacks to the back of the neck or upper back. This is a lot like a shomen uchi attack.

Back to the question at hand, we do most of our takeaways after the pin, but we sometimes have techniques where the knife comes out during the throw. We almost never knock the knife out of our uke's hand because (1) a flying knife is unpredictable, and (2) it's not really tanto tori if you don't tori the tanto.

Regarding the larger issue of knife defense, I'd prefer to have pepper spray or a firearm handy if threatened by a knife. That way I can counter a contact weapon with a distance weapon.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 09-02-2003, 01:09 PM   #15
Mel Barker
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An interesting statistic I once heard from a renowned hand gun trainer:

90% of hand gun shooting victims live.

80% of knife stabbing victims live.

Mel
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Old 09-02-2003, 06:07 PM   #16
Greg Jennings
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Re: knife defenses

Quote:
Eric Novak (Bogeyman) wrote:
Hi all. I have been thinking about knife takeaways lately and it occurred to me that I have been shown three different philosophies on what to do with the knife.

1. Knock the knife out of ukes hand immediately.

2. Take the knife away as soon as possible during the technique.

3. Take the knife away during the pin.

I can see advantages and disadvantages to each method and was looking into input from others. Thanks.
1. Try like everything to avoid the situation. If that fails, refer to #2.

2. If necessary, kick the knife away from the attacker's lifeless fingers after putting two .45 hollow points or a load of #4 buckshot in his chest.

Regards,

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Old 09-02-2003, 07:56 PM   #17
adriangan
 
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knife defense? cross-train in kali, i'm currently cross training in pekiti-tirsia kali and you'd be shocked to find out what a well-trained knife fighter can do

"Masakatsu Agatsu"
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Old 09-02-2003, 08:12 PM   #18
sanosuke
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another important thing if you want to disarm a weapon is to learn its mechanism, in nife defense, you need to know the mechanism of the knife, i.e the effective range, how to hold and grip, types of attack using knifes, etc. If you know its mechanism then you might have a better chance to disarm it.
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Old 09-02-2003, 10:44 PM   #19
Pretoriano
 
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Lets not talk about "knife specialists" this ones, can kill anyone and virtually any martial arts practicioners in short time, be real, preferable discuss about more "standarized-creative, high spirited dojo responses.

Praetorian
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Old 09-03-2003, 12:30 AM   #20
Paul Klembeck
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Matt,

Given your latest post, it looks like we don't have much of a disagreement at all. I was thinking along the lines of knife encounter = encounter + knife somehow involved, rather than focusing on assassination type attacks.

Regarding assassination type knife attacks, do you have any actual statistics? I respect Mr. MacYoung, so I don't want to dismiss his claim, but I don't ever seem to hear anything about such attacks on the street. (Prisons are a different story.) If you have any statistics or statistical sources, I would like to know about them.

Paul
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Old 09-03-2003, 02:55 AM   #21
Alec Corper
 
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IMHO there is a misunderstanding in tanto dori training which seems to lead some people to believe they are learning to defend against knife attacks. Tantodori, like all weapons training in Aikido, is a broadening of understanding and experience with maai, as well as a sharpening of general awareness about body placing and control of uke. This could, under certain circiumstances, be taken further into self defense technique, but only by stepping away from telegraphed, no-feint, single classic attack style training. To imagine otherwise can be foolhardy and dangerous. I totally agree with other posters that against a trained knife fighter most of us would not survive, and I have some knife training experience. If you want to scare yourself a bit find an old keikogi and arm someone with a a red magic marker and ask them to attack you. Remember that stabs are not always needed, enough cuts and you simply bleed out, get caught on tendons and lose the use of the limb. Not everybody holds a knife the same way, so grabbing from the top can cost your hand. I would also recommend Hochstein, and also Ryan and Janich for study, and absolutely geta look at Kali. When you've done all that revisit basic training and start again. Good luck, and running fast after good distraction is still your best bet.

regards, Alec

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Old 09-03-2003, 07:39 AM   #22
Ron Tisdale
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I really think that last post sums it up pretty well. Its not that the things we practice in the dojo aren't usefull...its just that the real thing isn't likely to follow that format at all. And the number of "knife specialists" would probably be surprising. SEAsian and Indonesian martial arts have taken off quite a bit lately, and there are a lot of people who have picked up more than enough to be very dangerous with a knife. And that's not even mentioning creative people practicing on their own, or other NA traditions.

My own experience is limited in that area, but even before I was graded in aikido, I could reverse a blade from a thrust grip and slice yudansha instructors pretty much at will. And that with little "official" training in knife work. If this topic is how to deal with real attacks, I don't see how we can avoid this reality.

As to knocking the knife out of their hand...was that supposed to be with a stick? Or barehanded? And please don't tell me someone was thinking of using a kick...

RT

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Old 09-03-2003, 08:48 AM   #23
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Quote:
Alec Corper wrote:
IMHO there is a misunderstanding in tanto dori training which seems to lead some people to believe they are learning to defend against knife attacks. Tantodori, like all weapons training in Aikido, is a broadening of understanding and experience with maai, as well as a sharpening of general awareness about body placing and control of uke. This could, under certain circiumstances, be taken further into self defense technique, but only by stepping away from telegraphed, no-feint, single classic attack style training.
Basic tantodori as practiced in most dojos is exactly as said above. But it must be remembered that there are other Aikido systems that break the mold and go beyond, including feints, distractions, minimising of telegraphing, switching of types of attacks, full resistance and the like. And then there are individual instructors who go even beyond that, while maintaining the foundation of the previous. Not all Aikido is practiced with the simple telegraphed knife attacks alone.
Quote:
To imagine otherwise can be foolhardy and dangerous.
Totally agreed.

In this I remember a reference made in Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge regarding which was stronger - Karate or Aikido, due to the existence of certain strikes/kicks that may be hard to evade, deceptive etc. It all comes down to the individual and how he/she trains, not the weakness/strength of the specific art or style (or weapon). The fact is, a person may have a knife or gun or phaser cannon, but it comes down to the degree of skill and confidence the person has (whether conscious or unconscious) in wielding the weapon that makes things effective or not. I agree that certain weapons are more effective at causing injury than others, but it comes down to the ability to use the weapon, the human body being one of the more advanced ones in my book.

Going back to something I read on metsuke -"where the eyes are focussed, so is the mind." It has occurred repeatedly to me in training (and in reality as well) that the more I become absorbed in my attacker's attack/weapon of attack, I steadily decrease my own ability to deal with that attack, because my mind is focussed on the weapon and not what is controlling the weapon, while the aggressor is closing distance and bringing his weapons to bear on my position with increasing effectiveness.

Just a couple thoughts.

L.C.

Last edited by L. Camejo : 09-03-2003 at 08:55 AM.

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Old 09-03-2003, 09:05 AM   #24
Ron Tisdale
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Quote:
It has occurred repeatedly to me in training (and in reality as well) that the more I become absorbed in my attacker's attack/weapon of attack, I steadily decrease my own ability to deal with that attack, because my mind is focussed on the weapon and not what is controlling the weapon, while the aggressor is closing distance and bringing his weapons to bear on my position with increasing effectiveness.
This is exactly what I meant to say, but you said it *much* better!

Ron

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Old 09-03-2003, 06:14 PM   #25
PeterR
 
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Hi Larry;

I know you know but although Shodokan tanto randori takes things closer to the edge than most tanto dori some people tend to forget that it is afterall a rubber/cloth knife. When it gets to shiai the rules are geared to the idea that it is a real knife but even so people often take liberties. Most people understand the difference.

I hinted at it in a previous post on this thread but some of Tomiki's tanto dori techniques (kata) are interesting to say the least. Half of the Nidan training is learning how to target with the knife including my favourite "the yakuza belly thrust" which I understand is and always has been quite popular amoung certain wayward individuals. Even here though - I am not sure some of the tanto dori techniques are worth trying in the field exactly as they are (the neck trap one gives me the willies).

Back to the dogma - randori and kata togeather come to give you a fair idea of what is involved in knife fighting. It might not make you a better knife fighter but it sure opens your eyes.

Last time someone threatened to use a knife on me I just stood tall and stared him down. The little yak wanna be backed down.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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