Would you have stepped into this knife attack if you were one of the bystanders? Working on your Active Self Protection means thinking about whether to intervene in a knife attack, and if it comes your way knowing how to protect yourself from it.
Original video of the knife attack with scant information: https://get-asp.com/233u if you have more information on the attack please send it to me!
How do I protect myself from a knife attack?
- Knife attacks do not happen like you’ve seen in Hollywood. They are brutal, fast, and mean. A knife attack does not generally come from slashes or from any notice whatsoever, but tends to come from concealment and repeatedly stab at a rate of 2-3 stabs per second.
- If you know there might be danger around, you cannot stand there flat-footed with your hands at your side. That’s a great way to die. Instead, if you think danger might be coming but not imminent, get your hands up protecting your head, neck, and chest. I do this by tucking one hand under the other elbow, and the free hand on my chin as if I were in deep contemplation. Others do it using the “interview position” with both hands as if they’re holding a pad and pen. Getting your hands up shaves split seconds off of your reaction time, but that might make the difference between life and death if you can prepare whether against a single attacker or multiple attackers.
- It’s important to be trained and ready to protect yourself against a knife attack as it is against an attack with a firearm. FBI homicide data says that about 4 times the number of people are killed with handguns as with knives, but since gunshots are about four times more fatal than knife wounds, it means the number of attacks are probably similar! (if you look at the FBI data, hands and feet kill a lot of people, too!) This leads us to the principle that we must be ready for knife attacks that begin at close distance, and have the empty-handed skills to defend ourselves.
- The Five Ds are a tool that we use at ASP to organize our training and preparation for defending ourselves against a knife attack when we are not armed ourselves. (or if we are armed but outdrawn such that we must deal with the problem with our hands) Deflect, Dominate, Distract, Disarm, Disable. We pursue them from first to last, in order, to give us the best chance of successfully defending ourselves against an armed opponent. Deflect their force multiplier, Dominate as much as possible (best is the whole person, second is the arm with the tool, last is the tool itself), Distract the attacker (usually using pain, redirection, movement, etc.), Disarm the attacker, and Disable the attacker. In this knife attack it’s important to see that the knife switched hands and remember that dominating the tool and arm means keeping it from switching!
- As one of my martial arts mentors, Skip Hancock, is fond of saying, the ground must be your friend and not your enemy. You must know how to fight on the ground and not panic if the fight goes to the ground! You must have skills from bottom position, from top position, and in the scramble. You must be able to regain your feet and fight from wherever you find yourself. Too many fights require this skill to ignore it!
- Even if you’re injured in a knife attack, you must stay in the fight and not stop as long as you have consciousness. The human body is designed to take a ridiculous amount of injury and still function, so never stop fighting just because you’re injured! Even if you’re shot or stabbed, you have a 67-95% chance of surviving! (https://get-asp.com/ew3l and https://get-asp.com/p0hn give the details) So practice emotional fitness by knowing that even if the bad guy gets the jump and you’re injured, you’re still in the fight and still likely to survive if you take definitive action to protect yourself.
- The Bystander Effect is real. There were lots of people around here, but no one stepped in until one brave bystander broke the effect. You cannot count on anyone breaking the Bystander Effect to help you, especially if the attacker is armed and any help would be at a force deficit from it. Usually the best way to break the Bystander Effect is to have a force multiplication advantage, which is a great reason to keep your force multiplier on you at all times. Once someone breaks the Bystander Effect others will likely join in, so if you can and if it’s wise, don’t hesitate to be the first.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.