For thousands of years, knives have remained one of the most popular weapons for self-defense. Even today in the age of semi-automatic handguns that are easily concealed, many people still choose to carry a knife due to their convenience, safety, and lack of legal restrictions.
However, if you’re going to effectively defend yourself with a knife, there is plenty that you need to know. Here is a brief guide to using a knife for self-defense.
The Grim Realities of Defending Yourself With a Knife
Before start discussing how to defend yourself with a knife, it’s important to understand what knife self-defense is actually like in a real-world situation.
Defending yourself with a knife is brutal, grisly business. It’s nothing like the Hollywood portrayals where people are instantly incapacitated or killed by a single stab wound. Stopping a determined attacker using only a knife will most often mean stabbing and cutting them over and over again. Knives simply don’t inflict the same level of shock, trauma, and destruction that a gunshot wound does.
If you plan on carrying a knife as a means of self-defense, you must be psychologically prepared to use it. Otherwise, it’s a false sense of security at best and a weapon that could be turned against you at worst.
When it comes to knife fights, skill and tactics are certainly important, but speed, aggression, and determination are what wins the fight. It’s a grim reality, but if you don’t have it in you to plunge a blade into another human being over and over until the threat is neutralized, you’re better off finding another means of self-defense.
The Best Knives for Self Defense
The best knife for self-defense is going to be a knife that was designed for defense purposes. In a life and death fight, a small pen knife is not going to do you much good. In fact, many knife fighting experts say that you’re better off defending yourself using only hand-to-hand tactics than you are trying to defend yourself with a small folder that was never designed for self-defense. Again, this mostly goes back to the knife becoming more of a false sense of security than it is an effective weapon.
With that said, there are plenty of knives on the market that were designed for defense purposes, and they can be brutally effective in the right hands.
Self-defense knives can be designed for slashing, stabbing, or a combination of both. Typically, the better the knife is for stabbing, the worse it will be for slashing, and vise versa. For instance, the Cold Steel Ti-Lite is purely a stabbing instrument. Its straight, narrow blade is designed for quick stabbing attacks.
In the end, one design isn’t necessarily better than the other. However, it is highly important to know what your knife was designed for in order to know the best way to use it.
How to Hold a Knife in a Self-Defense Scenario
The two most common ways to hold a knife are forward grip (saber grip) and reverse grip (ice pick grip).
When it comes to how you should grip a knife in a self-defense scenario, it’s best to keep it simple. Hold the knife in what’s known as a forward or traditional grip. For reference, a forward grip is the same grip you would use if you were cutting into a steak with a steak knife.
There are variations of the forward grip that differ in exactly where you place your fingers and thumb, and which one is best ultimately depends on your personal preference and the shape of your knife’s handle.
There’s really only one other way to grip a knife aside from a few bizarre, uncommon grips, and this is the reverse grip. In the reverse grip, your forearm and the blade of the knife form a ninety-degree angle.
There are only two types of reverse grips: edge in and edge out. Most people instinctively hold a knife with the edge in. It’s how bad guys always hold the knife in movies (think of the shower scene in Psycho).
However, having the edge out is more advantageous because, unless your arm is straight, the cutting edge is always facing your enemy.
There are some drawbacks to the reverse grip. It does not allow for strikes that are as swift and fluid as the strikes that the forward grip allows. The reverse grip does enable you to put a little more power behind your strikes, but that power comes at the cost of slowing down your attacks and telegraphing them to your opponent.
The reverse grip is also much less effective in extremely close quarters where you don’t have room to swing your knife with your arm fully extended whereas, with the forward grip, you can effectively stab and cut at an opponent that is just inches in front of you.
On Switching Grips Mid-Fight
Don’t do it. Switching grips mid-fight is a tactic best left to Hollywood actors unless you have an extraordinary amount of training. The last thing you want to do is accidentally drop your knife because you were trying to switch your grip.
Knife Self-Defense Tactics
Learning how to effectively fight with a knife has far less to do with the knife itself than you might realize. As with unarmed combat, much of the technique behind knife fighting involves footwork, spacing, and angles of attack.
If you want to start learning the tactics behind knife self-defense, it’s best to start with the taking classes in martial arts that specialize in knives and other modern type weapons such as Krav Maga, Kali or Arnis. We at Modern martial Arts have a dedicated class just for modern weapons such as knives, batons and firearms.
In fact we are offering a Knife Self Defense Certification Course starting on Saturday July 27th, 2019. Just click the link below to register for our workshops today.
KNIFE SELF DEFENSE CERTIFICATION COURSE