Knife Attack Teaches Several Important Lessons for Self-Defenders

Was this a terrorist attack, or was it suicide by cop? Hard to tell, but stopping a knife attack is a scary, chaotic event. That’s doubly the case when there are multiple defenders as there are here! Practicing Active Self Protection means you’re trained and equipped to think about the lessons this incident teaches us all, and you can use them to save yourself and innocents in a moment of need.

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Original video of the of the knife attack with significant details: (I was able to read it the first time I clicked, but after that it required a login…not sure why)


A second news story on the knife attack that says it was suicide by cop and not terrorism: I am not sure which is correct here.


How do I survive a knife attack in a crowded area?


  1. If you have a partner with you when you’re attacked (be it a LEO partner if you work on a team, or your spouse or martial artist buddy), you want to do everything you can to work as a team. Knowing each other well and communicating clearly will help you protect yourself from danger like this knife attack. This takes training and practice and commitment, but two partners working together present a formidable challenge to any attacker. In this knife attack there were obviously MANY defenders, and clear communication was very important (and seemingly sketchy).
  2. The rules of firearm safety apply whether you’re training or fighting for your life against a knife attack or any other. One of the most difficult to follow in a real life gunfight is Colonel Cooper’s Rule #4: be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. It is exceedingly difficult to do, but self-defenders must stay aware of what is behind their threat so that they take minimal risks to innocents when defending themselves. There were innocents EVERYWHERE in this video, and minimizing friendly fire potential and danger to bystanders was difficult at best. This is why movement is so important and continually being aware not only of your threat but of your environment.


  1. The goal in any defensive firearms use is to stop the threat. The threat here was from a knife attack, and once they put her down the threat ended. Good work stopping shooting! Never draw a firearm if you’re not willing to use it, but if the presence of the firearm stops the threat, don’t pull the trigger! If the bad guy flees or surrenders, that’s a very successful defensive firearm use and you’ve met the goal. If the first and second shot stops the threat, then it’s time to stop shooting and take follow up action.


  1. You must know your firearm, how it functions, and how you’ll respond with it in the moment of need. Pressure testing your firearms manipulations in force on force and other training classes is critical because you need to know that you can get your firearm in the fight and keep it in the fight! If your habits will inadvertently drop the magazine (as in this knife attack) or your grip will cause the slide not to lock back on empty or other induce other malfunctions, you do NOT want to find that out when the balloon goes up.
  2. You must know the range of your force multiplier and the range of various force multipliers that might be used against you. Knives are short-range, fast moving force multipliers. Firearms are extremely long-range, fast moving force multipliers. If you have a gun facing a knife attack, stay at distance! The closer these defenders got to the woman, the more worried I got that she was going to get a good stab in before they shot her. Know your force multiplier and use its advantages and minimize its disadvantages.


Attitude. Skills. Plan.


(music in the intro and outro courtesy of Bensound at




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