November 24, 2023, Israel
There are only so many ways to hold a knife, there are only so many ways, so many angles, to attack. And yet there are many cultural differences around the world that one must be aware of. To understand the attack, you must first understand the attacker. You must understand his culture. If you do not understand his culture, his religion, his lifestyle, you are at a huge disadvantage. Fighting a terrorist in Jerusalem does not necessarily prepare you for dealing with a gang member in Los Angeles. Facing a cartel member in Mexico may not prepare you for facing an insurgent in Iraq or an Afghan mujahidin. You need to understand what is at stake for him, and for you.
Thus, knife defense is not only physical.
This leads me to today's point, the skilled knife attacker.
To understand, let us first describe the unskilled knife attacker. The unskilled knife attack may come at you with an icepick knife attack, or a straight thrust to the stomach. These are very dangerous and deadly, but they are relatively simple. Therefore, some make the mistake of thinking they can grab an arm, or charge forward and try and overpower the attacker. There are many mistaken notions that have led many to premature deaths. Due to the simplicity of the attack an illusion exists among certain Krav Maga instructors that they can grab an arm, or charge forward before being stabbed. I strongly disagree with this approach. Teaching at many military bases I have seen that the soldiers are not able to defend against knife attacks, despite having taken the military Krav Maga course.
Now when it comes to the skilled knife fighter the truth comes out and is exposed more easily. All the grabbing attempts, the trappings, the control, the disarms etc. are exposed in all their nakedness. When you reach out to grab the knife arm, the skilled attacker will simply rotate his arm away from you. You will be like a child playing monkey in the middle, and you are the monkey. Most knife defenses are based on trying to grab the knife arm, I disagree with this. My approach, using our forearms and our Universal Block (for more details you will have to come to class, I cannot teach it here) involves being defensive, "protecting the strike zone", and understanding that the knife attack comes to me, rather than the other way around. All the techniques I have seen depend upon speed, strength and precision. Any Filipino knife expert will show you how that will fail in a real situation, how they will be quicker than you and you will be perpetually chasing them, until you are stabbed to death. The reaching/grabbing approach will prove its uselessness.
I have demonstrated our techniques for knife defense all over the world, to civilians, military and police, and they have understood the benefits. Here I just want to make the point that when you face a skilled knife attacker all your delusions about knife defense are exposed, the bare truth is revealed. It is very difficult to defend against a knife, we need to lower our expectations and be realistic. We Can defend against a knife, but we should not try some fancy technique or attempt a disarm. Reality has proven that these do not work.
I have worked with knife victims all over the world, I have seen what works and what fails. We must we willing to face the truth when we face the knife.
Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.
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