Survive a knife attack

We often get asked about how to defend against a knife attack. It’s a question we have grown to dread as there are no finite skills or tactics to overcome such a threat but it is something we have tried to answer below. Due to the nature of such attacks, there are a myriad of things you must consider, hence the length of this blog. Please stay with us; it may save your life one day.


First things first, if you’re ever confronted by someone with a knife and have an opportunity to run away, run. Never consider taking the person on if this option is available.

The reason for this is simple. In order to overcome somebody with a knife, you must have faster reflexes than them, and even that might not always be enough. Even if you are trained to defend against knife attacks, there is still a very high probability you are going to get cut.

This is because of the diversity involved in a knife attack. You must remember that 90 per cent of the time, it won’t be a single attack but a series of continuous attacks, often frenzied. It is very seldom someone will only stab out once, especially if the attacker has any knowledge of knife mechanics.

Instead an attack is likely to come in the form of slashes or in a combination of two, which makes anticipating the attacker’s second move tricky.

If you do find yourself in this situation then the most important thing is to study your surroundings. You must ensure the attacker cannot back you into a corner. If you get caught against a wall, your space to move and defend becomes extremely limited. Instead, use your surroundings against your attacker.

The next important factor when facing a knife attack is to protect your face, neck and organs. One stab to any of these areas could neutralise you, even kill you. It will also prevent you from escaping if any opportunity does present itself.

Instead, defend with your forearms. You’re much better taking a cut to the arm in defence of your vital areas. Any cut to your forearm will hurt but will cause relatively minimal damage.

The best solution is to dodge and weave. Stay in motion with your attacker and try to ‘pull’ your body away from them. If they try to stab your stomach, pull your stomach in as you jump back. If they strike towards your legs, pull your legs back. If they strike at your head, bend your neck back. This may sound simple but it can be easily forgotten in the heat of the moment.

If you’re completely unable to escape and fighting is the only option, then you must not rush the situation. Keep a cool mind and block the attacks patiently, staying focused. If it’s possible, try to counter-attack with punches to the attacker’s face. If you have to block with the left them immediately hit them with the right and vice versa, do it. You must be bold.

If you think you’re stronger than your attacker, then grab their wrist. This will eliminate the opportunity for them to slash at you. You can then secure their second arm in a lock or strike the assailant to make them release the knife or disable them.

Do not try to disarm them if they deliver a non-committed attack. In our experience, you will not be able to properly grab hold of the knife. Instead you’ll open up your vital areas and potentially slash your palm.

Anyone who is experienced in wielding a knife will never deliver an all-out, killing blow because they will immediately expose themselves to being disarmed. Instead they will play with the knife and try to deliver slashes and non-committed attacks to cut but not kill you. Their aim will be to slowly break down your defence.

That is why counter-attacks are so important. It will damage your opponent, possibly forcing them to flee, or anger them into delivering a committed attack. If they do, you may get a chance to disarm arm.

If possible, keep a distance between yourself and the attacker at all times. If you do have to engage them but start to lose your grip on the situation, let go and get back. You must be patient.

Distance is important for two reasons. Firstly it will enable you to study the attacker, read their next move. Secondly, it buys you extra time to defend.  Although that may not sound like much, it could mean the difference between life and death.

Distance can also provide the opportunity to strike the assailant from behind. This will limit the attacker’s sense to your position and movements. If you can attack them this way, then pressure-point strikes will be the most effective. If they let go of the knife, you must continue with your attack in order to get them into a take-down position for apprehension.

We understand that may sound unfeasible to most of you but trust us, your instinct for survival is an empowering thing. However, if you’re a lady of 5-4” facing a 6-6” monster it’s unlikely you’ll overpower them.

In this situation, if you truly feel attacking your enemy is the only option, then jump head-first into their chin and nose. Use all your might, your head may cut but you’ll damage your attacker more. It will hurt, and you will have to dig deep to stay focused, but it will be worth it.

Always remember in any attack to defend with a plan and work your way towards escape or disarming the attacker. If there are people nearby then make as much noise as possible and never just defend in hope the attacker will get bored and leave. You will probably get killed.

Our last piece of advice is this. Always keep your attention on the knife, despite the attacker’s attempts to divert it. You must understand the knife is the main threat to your life, not the attacker.

We hope none of you ever have to utilise this advice but if you do, good luck.

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