How to Defend Against a Knife Attack

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Suddenly, you are facing an assailant brandishing a knife and intent upon harming you.  Your mind races, your breath grows heavy and your adrenaline spikes, but what should you do?  

If you're able to extricate yourself from the situation without violence, you always should.  But if you must engage in physical combat with an assailant with a knife, here are some tips on how to keep yourself safe.


knife attack
A Knife Attack

Yes, the best defense against a knife attack is to simply flee, especially if you are in decent physical shape.  Many knife attacks happen in hard-to-see places and few assailants will chase you down a busy street brandishing a knife.

Find a weapon

When menaced by an attacker with a knife, grab whatever you can to fight back, ideally something that's intimidating enough to make your assailant second guess attacking you.

If you're in an ally or near a construction site, scour for a long plank of wood or metal.  Anything long and hard comes in handy as it puts distance between you and the attacker.  If you're at a bar and options are scarce, don't underestimate the impact of a bottle.

Whatever makeshift weapon you resort to, strike low and hard.  If the attacker is a male, hit him in the testicles.  Other good spots are the shins and the kneecaps.

Strike Proactively

If you're weaponless and convinced you're about to be attacked by a knife, then your options are scarce.  Most likely, you'll have to attempt to disarm the assailant with your bare hands. Don't waste time throwing punches at an attacker's head or jaw.  Swing for the throat, where a well-placed blow could immediately incapacitate them.  Jab your fingers at an attacker's eyes and, if they are male, kick them in the testicles.

Going for the Blade

If you feel like you're not in a position to physically attack your assailant, then your next best option is to gain control of the knife.  Here are some tips from a Bushido practitioner on the best way to wrest a knife away.

  • If the attacker is holding a knife close to your throat or body, put your hands by your head to make them feel less threatened and to give yourself a better chance of using your hands in self-defense.
  • Identify the hand the attacker is holding the knife in and move that side of your body out of his reach as you back away.  
  • While retracting your body, grab the attacker's knife hand with your opposite hand and pull it down hard.  
  • Grab his knife hand with your free hand too, pushing the knife toward your attacker's body while pinning his wrist.  
  • Use this leverage to push the attacker's knife toward his head, where you can either threaten or cut him if necessary.

The bottom line in fending off a knife attack

Fighting off a knife attack is an experience you're much better off avoiding no matter how hardcore your Jackie Chan fetish is.  If at all possible, give your assailant what he wants and get out of harm's way.  Money or jewelry is never worth risking your life or the lives of loved ones.