Real-Life Knife Attacks Aren’t Like Hollywood

We’re conditioned by Hollywood to accept their view of what a real knife attack looks like, but real life is much different. We need reality if we’re to practice Active Self Protection, and this is the reality of a knife attack.

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Original video and news story here (Google Translate from Russian required):


How do I protect myself from a knife attack?


  1. I think that the Rules of Stupid come into play here. The Rules of Stupid state that you should never (1) go to Stupid places, (2) with Stupid people, (3) at Stupid times, and (4) do Stupid things. You can usually get away with breaking one Rule of Stupid, but two or more really increase the odds of bad things happening. This knife attack happened after a night of drinking (doing stupid things), arguing with a drunk (drunks are stupid people by definition), and I would guess later at night (a stupid time). That doesn’t mean the victim is responsible for the knife attack, but that the risk factors were high. Use the Rules of Stupid to protect yourself from unnecessary risk!


  1. In any territorial or predatorial violence, the attacker gets to set the time and circumstances of the attack. They will almost always launch that attack from ambush, or as we like to call it in Kenpo, from “obscurity.” Surviving that ambush is one of the most important keys to successfully defending yourself. This ambush was all it took for the knife attack to be lethal, so seeing the ambush before it is sprung can be a critical component of surviving.


  1. Empty-handed skills are absolutely critical for self-defenders. First of all, more conflicts you will encounter as a self-defender will require empty-handed skills than will require firearms skills, simply because more self-defense encounters are physical than deadly. Second, since a firearm is a tool of last resort, self-defenders need to have non-lethal options that include empty-handed skills to protect themselves from likely incidents. Third, in the moment of the encounter you may not have the time to get to your gun before you can fight your way to it. In this knife attack it wouldn’t have mattered if the victim was armed one bit. He had no time to get to a gun in that moment unless he saw the knife in hand and was ready before.


  1. 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. I am not saying it would have stopped this knife attack, but it might have helped.


  1. Spiritual fitness is an important part of Active Self Protection. You don’t often get any advance notice of the last day of your life, but we see over and over that self-defense isn’t a guarantee of winning every fight you might be placed in. You want to be at peace with God, because you’ll need that peace on the day that you meet Him. Since you can’t guarantee advanced notice, make peace today. This man didn’t wake up expecting a knife attack to end his life. But it still happened.


  1. First aid skills are important. If you’re going to train and prepare to take a life to defend yourself, you should also have skills, training, and equipment to save life should you need to. Often that will not involve defensive encounters, and in a defensive encounter your primary responsibility is to yourself and your loved ones. That said, this knife attack shows how quickly someone can die in an attack, and a stout first aid kit oriented to stop severe bleeding and the skills to use it might have helped! (I start with this: and then add and at a minimum)


Attitude. Skills. Plan.


(music in the intro and outro courtesy of


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