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A Worst Case Scenario - Knife Attack from Behind


Bernd (Bernie) Weiss, Ph.D.

Most self defense experts consider this to be a very difficult situation for self-defense. Consequently the advice usually given here is to comply.

However, suppose you have good reason to believe that this assailant is about to murder you regardless of your willingness to comply with his directives. At this point your decision may well be to fight. We offer here a tested self-defense routine which if done smoothly has a good chance of working. Note, however, there are no guarantees. This is why reputable defense experts advise not to fight unless absolutely necessary.

Nissim Salem, current blackbelter at the Topanga-Valley Karate School in Los Angeles, is playing the role of the attacker. In real life Nissim is a model citizen, a good husband and father of three great youngsters.

The six pictures (Figures 1 - 6) show the attacker holding a knife at the defender's throat from behind. The pictures also show a suggested set of defensive moves.

figure 1 Figure 1

The attacker (Figure 1) somehow sneaks behind you, gets his knife on your throat and threatens to cut from left to right. Self-defense experts would normally advise the victim to comply in order to avoid being killed. However, we are going to assume that the victim has sufficient reason to believe that this assailant will attempt to murder him regardless of compliance. By somewhat exaggerating the range of motions with the right arm, the defender brings his right arm up and over the outside of the attacker's arm. Note that when performing this action, the victim's elbow must be above the attacker's elbow. At the same time the defender's right hand grabs the left side of his own head thereby momentarily trapping the attacker's arm between the defender's right elbow and head (Figure 2 and 3).

figure 2 Figure 2 figure 3 Figure 3

figure 4 Figure 4

At the same time, the defender uses the left arm to strike into the attacker's face with the back of the fist (not shown). The defender can now take advantage of the attacker's momentary confusion to grab the hand holding the knife (Figure 4). Now, the defender can rotate and move the assailant's hand so that the blade is a safe distance from the throat. At this point the defender is in a position to implement any of a number of follow-up actions to control the attacker.

Figures 5 and 6 show one way of gaining control of the attacker and his knife. With the right arm's up-and-over-motion similar to the move shown in the Figures 2 and 3, the attacker's arm can be moved to allow the defender to slip out of the attacker's hold, while applying a wrist bend with the left hand. The defender can then continue to move the attacker into a relatively helpless position.

figure 5 Figure 5 figure 6 Figure 6

Our next self-defense routine will be for a more simple situation--so stay tuned.

© 1997 Bernd Weiss

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