Facing the Knife
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

May 12, 2014

A real knife is very dangerous, yes this is obvious, or is it?

Based on some of the defenses I have seen taught at Krav Maga schools I would say that this simple fact is not so well known. The disarms they teach would suggest that it is like taking candy from a child, which, by the way, is also not so easy. Wake up time.

To get cut, to bleed, to watch the life force slowly leave your body, dizziness, death.

But in the dojo it was such fun; grabbing the attackers hand, swirling around, clever arm-bars, wrist rotations, and getting him into a lock. Maybe even follow that up with taking away his gun and doing a "Krav Maga handcuffing technique", (as I have been asked to teach, but I never heard of it before).

Yes, it was all so nice in the dojo, Sensei in his Asian Krav Maga uniform made it look so nice. But now, now alone on the street facing a damn ugly looking smelly street thug, it didn't work. You tried to lock his arm but he did not comply. He pulled hard and cut you as he pulled his knife away, and then he came back for some more cutting. Damn!

As you lay there bleeding, the life force leaving you, thoughts run through your mind. Why did my training not work? Why?

Oh, the answer can fill volumes.

I have written about this many times, I have taught you to respect the blade, but you did not listen. You preferred the fancy techniques and the gyms with the jacuzzi. You fell for slick advertising campaigns and exciting YouTube videos.

I have been told that our techniques do not look as cool as those from other associations but that ours actually work.

Let's face it, there is a lot of competition between Krav Maga schools. If you want students, you must offer what is popular. Today's students demand knife disarms. They have seen them, they look cool, and people like them.

But we do not offer them. We have knife disarms but we prefer to avoid them at all costs, we only offer them as a last resort when all other options are closed to us. If at all possible we avoid to attempt a knife disarm.

The questions repeat themselves like a bad broken record. "But if you do not take away his knife he will come after you again, you must disarm him!"

"If there are other people around then you as the Krav Maga person must disarm the bad guy and save everyone".

People say this as if a disarm is a choice, a realistic option. Let me be clear: It is not!

Last night I tried this on several students, including small women, a person's instinct is to tighten up and hold on to the object in their hands and pull away. After all my years of training I found it impossible to really force someone into a lock or a disarm. I go back to the words of Danny Innosanto, the only man certified as instructor by Bruce Lee, "Nice disarms are incidental if not accident".

In plane English, they do not matter. Just get away from the blade, respect the knife. The blade can slice you up and leave you for dead. When you see a knife just do what you can to get away. Do not die trying to prove that disarms are a realistic possibility.

Our approach is to offer simple and easy solutions. Over the years at IKI we have gone from the complex to the simple, from the multiple steps moves to the single step moves, from disarms to safe escapes.

But what about the other people?

Well, you just have to accept that this is not a movie, and you are not Steven Seagal (in the movie character). In other words, it would be really nice if you can beat up all the bad guys, disarms them and get them all tied up, but in reality, well, in reality you will probably get yourself killed trying to do that.

Our approach is that the other patrons at the club should not be sitting around watching you perform a show, rather they should do something, run for their lives or assist you. As we say in Israel, do not live in the movies.

Moshe Katz with IKI Instructor Brian Moffatt, Cottonwood, Arizona, USA. Controlling the knife arm and staying safe. Stay safe!! Do not die a fool.

The IKI Knife Defense Approach

  • Keep everything simple
  • As few steps as possible
  • Use the same defense in as many situations as possible.
  • Get away from the blade as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Train your family how to respond in the case of a knife attack, an earthquake, or any other type of emergency. This must be a team effort, not a "Rambo will take care of you" situation.

IKI Krav Maga training, South Carolina, Laura.

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