What would you say if you had to confront a stranger who was determined to attack you with a blade? According to your level of expertise, this terrifying scenario may cause one of three common reactions in a life-threatening situation: fight or flight. Fright is the worst possible reaction. The best thing to do is avoid the situation altogether. Getting away as quickly as possible comes in second. If you were forced to fight, would there be a way to avoid being sliced into ribbons? Tiga Tactics has 60 years of experience in the martial arts and offers several solutions for knife defense. We attended a Knife Defense Seminar at their San Francisco location to find out more.
Above: Instructors Patrick Vuong and Dr. Conrad Bui demonstrate knife defence techniques.
Day One: Learning Begin
Our adventure into the world of knife defense kicked off with some easy to learn fighting stances and simple strikes. We started with the basics. These are the details that will form the foundation of self-defense skills that can save your life in sticky situations. The techniques that we have developed were the result of studying over 1,000 hours of real-world attacks with knives and identifying the common patterns. Even in the chaos of street fights and the adrenaline they can often be four primary types of attack: hooks, knives, bludgeoning weapon or even guns. It’s like having a secret code to decipher the chaos in real time. When it comes to knife attacks, the two most common movements the aggressors make are the underhand thrust, also known as the “sewing machine,” and the overhand swing, fondly known as the “psycho stab.”
Above: Assistant Instructor Sherman Chin shows how to free yourself from an aggressor who is trying to stop his offensive strike.
The seminar focuses on knife attacks. This means that we learn how to effectively defend and attack this type of assault.
Hand stance The hand stance is the first step. Imagine you are being thrown something at your head. Your first instinct will be to cover up your face in order to protect your eyes, ears, nose and other sensitive parts. All of us have a natural instinct to protect the biological inputs we receive. This initial reaction can be used to put ourselves in a better position to defend or counterattack an aggressor. Not to cower, but rather to build a defensive fortress near your head. This isn’t just defense—it’s a poised tiger, ready to strike when the moment demands.
Above: Each seminar attendee is pitted against the other members of their group to test their newly acquired skills.
Strikes: Then we switched gears and threw ourselves into a whirlwind. Our repertoire expanded with palm strikes, loose-fingered finger washes that target our attackers eyes, precise elbow strikes—taking care not to overextend our reach, throwing off our balance—and powerhouse knee strikes. Instead of using a closed hand, the heel of the palm can be used to avoid damage to your knuckles. In a knife-defense situation, you don’t want to suffer from crippling pain because of your counterattack that broke a finger.
Above: The palm-strike prevents broken bones in the hand and bruised knuckles.
Situational Awareness is the Secret Ingredient
Surviving a sudden showdown isn’t just about how hard you can hit—it’s often about your tiger-like situational awareness. By using environmental cues like a random horn or a bing sound from your smartphone, you can raise your mental drawbridge and increase your awareness. Potential assailants often look for people who do not pay attention to the surroundings when they search for targets. It could be someone whose head is always glued to their phone, someone listening to a podcast through earbuds, or someone with poor posture. Just standing straight up and appearing to be aware of your surroundings is enough to deter a bad actor. It was also important for our instructors to point out that it’s not just about fostering your paranoia. The goal is to see the beauty in everything around us.
Above: People spend a great deal of time on their phones these days. They are therefore easy targets for assailants.
Mastering Knife Defence
When it comes to knife attacks, keep in mind that most people who have a blade are confused and scared. They often have little or no training. They may have the intention to hurt someone with a knife, but their bodies are likely flooded with adrenaline and catecholamines, which makes it difficult to think clearly. They resort to the easiest attack motions: the sewing machine or the psycho-stab. Secret sauce is the acronym we use to effectively defend ourselves against these attacks. The following is a list of the most recent PROs: (Protect. Reposition. Offense).
Protection: Safety first. You need to ensure that the knife’s sharp edge is not free to hurt you before you launch your counterattack. We practice a simple blocking technique to do this. This again draws on your instinctive ability to protect yourself. Imagine your physical reaction if someone was swinging a knife at you. Most likely, you’ll try to block a swing with your nearest forearm. But you can take this a step further by using your second arm to create an “X” shape, temporarily trapping your assailants knife wielding hand in the top of the “X”.
Above: The X Block is a fast and effective way of stopping an initial knife stab.
It is then necessary to secure the blade in a safe place by grasping the wrist and holding it tightly so that the user has a hard time releasing it. We were able to neutralize both low and high knife thrusts by mastering the X Block technique.
Reposition: Once the knife has been placed in a way that you won’t be severely injured, you will need to move into position so you can strike at your opponent. By ensuring that there is no gap between you and your attacker, they will not be able to break free or use a gap in order to attack through your defense. Straighten your elbows and secure the wrist. This will keep the attacker below your center. This procedure is intense. It was shocking how quickly things escalated, even when practicing in a controlled environment.
Above: Holding the wrist tightly will prevent the knife from reaching its intended target.
Offense: We only switched into offensive mode after gaining control. We used the strikes we had already made to attack in a manner that would disable the attacker for long enough so they could get away or their intention to harm.
Once the blade has been secured, it is possible to spend more energy on offensive attacks.
Day Two: Offense to Defense
After a day of exploring the world of self-defense, we were eager to dive deeper into the world of knife offense and defense on the second day. In the context of the Knife Defense Seminar it is knowing how to use an EDC to defend against a violent assault.
As detectives on a crime scene would, we began by forensically analyzing video footage of real-life attacks. The videos were unsettling for most of us, as the attackers appeared to be mentally ill, random and unable to understand the victims’ plight. But there was a bright side. Each attacker had a clear tell which would have made them obvious to a situationally-aware observer. The hands and demeanors of the attackers were clues that an attack was imminent. This lesson was used to illustrate the importance of a positive mindset in everyday life, and not just for self-defense.
Above: People who attack with a knife typically use a few common methods, such as the overhand “psycho stab” demonstrated here.
Staying alert is something that has to be practiced. Our choices can have a significant impact on whether or not we become a victim. This situational awareness will hopefully give you an advantage when it comes time to defend yourself or take the offensive. For those situations where a defender is not free to escape, such as when they find themselves in in a building or enclosed space, we bolstered our mental toolkit with the Four E’s – Entry, Enemies, Escape, and Extinguishers.
Entry: Be mindful of the entry points as well as the behavior of those passing through.
Enemies: Pay attention to people who are acting strangely, seeming out of place or who appear to be upto something. Listen to what your instincts tell you.
Escape: Escape routes are just as important as the entry points. You could use windows or utility doors. Avoid putting yourself in a corner that is impossible to escape.
Extinguishers: Being aware of the location of the fire extinguishers will give you an unexpected advantage if the worst happens. Extinguishers may be used to obstruct an attacker’s view or as a bludgeon.
Above: Try not to enter a building or vehicle in a place where there are no escape routes.
Exam for Knife Defense
Then came the crescendo—a gripping knife defense exam. Then we split into two groups to engage in a mock fight, where each group had to defend against the knife attacks of another. Randomly, attendees were asked to choose between a low, underhand sewing-machine attack, or a high, overhand psycho stabbing. It was as close to a real knife attack as we could simulate—a terrifying, yet eye-opening experience. Each participant in the seminar was required to perform the The following is a list of the most recent PROs: concepts against at least 10 other attendees under the sharp eyes of our instructors, testing our reactions and physical endurance. We were a bit sore and tired at the end of the exercise. But we learned that each knife defense scenario is unique and you must always be aware and train for it.
Above: To draw a blade while under attack, you need to have a cool mind and use the right technique.
Afternoon session: Knife laws, perception, and carry positions
After lunch, we began to explore the complicated laws surrounding knife carry. We may not like to think of legality in the situation but the fact is that if you need to defend yourself, either with a blade or against one, you will probably end up in court. It is important to follow the local knife laws. There are laws in most places that dictate whether you can carry a fixed or folding blade, the length of your blade and what type of blade. It is dangerous to ignore these laws because you may get into trouble.
Carrying a knife also had a perceptional aspect. The emotional response of most people is different depending on which style of knife they are looking. If you look at the knife that comes with a Leatherman Multi-Tool, your reaction will be different than if you were to see a karambit. In court, this emotional response may be relevant. If you decide to carry a knife with a design that looks different from the generic “steak knife” look, be prepared to deal how people feel and potentially react to it.
Above: Even if knives are functional, the general public may perceive them as more dangerous than those with traditional designs.
We navigated through different carry positions—in the pocket, waistband, pocket clip, dangle sheath, or on the ankle. Each carry technique has its pros and cons, both in terms of accessibility and concealability. As long as you carry your knife consistently, regardless of any legal restrictions, there’s no wrong or right way to do it. After you get used to the knife’s location and how it is accessed, the motions will become second-nature. Consistent practice is the key here—you don’t want to fumble when the moment arrives. You can practice drawing the blade once per day when you wear the knife for the first time.
Draw and Use the Knife
Drawing the knife isn’t just an act—it’s an art. From the ‘Stealth Draw’ that keeps your knife hidden like a ninja, to the ‘Combat Draw’, where your non-dominant hand plays defense while you unsheath your knife, we learned to adjust to the situation at hand.
Above: How quickly can your knife be drawn? Face-off against someone who is trying to do the exact same thing will give you an idea how quickly a problem can escalate.
Stealth Draw: Face your opponent so your blade remains hidden the entire time. The movements are subtle. You should not make it obvious to the aggressor that your knife is being drawn. It is all about leveraging the element surprise. When someone appears to be intent on attacking you and then suddenly a knife appears out of nowhere, they may change their mind.
Combat Draw This technique should only be used when the situation is already escalating into an assault. Your non-dominant arm will keep your attacker away long enough for you to use your knife.
Above: The Combat Draw is a great way to keep an attacker at bay as you use your own knife.
Once the blade is in place, you have to decide how you want to use it. Keep your movements simple. The combination of a hammer-grip and diagonal cuts from shoulder to hip will cut through anything that is in your path while minimising the risk that your knife may be knocked out of your hands. Use these techniques only for as long as it takes to convince the attacker they’ve made a mistake or to give you enough time to escape.
Final Thoughts, Embrace Your Inner Warriors
The conclusion of our two-day trip was a profound realization: You, yes, are the weapon. The knife? It’s your sidekick. A tool you can use to increase your weaponry effectiveness. With regular training, you ensure that the sidekick never upstages the hero—you.
Above: Training should be intense, effective and fun. Tiga Tactics checked these blocks during the Knife Defense Seminar at San Francisco.
Are you prepared to stand up for yourself? You can defend your or another’s life if necessary. You can choose to live no mater what. That’s the question we left with—a question that continues to echo in our minds as we step confidently into the world, armed with the knowledge that could one day save our lives.
- Knife Attack Q&A with Patrick Vuong of Tiga Tactics
- RECOILtv Home Defense With an Offensive Mindset
- Knife Defense Seminar at Tiga Tactics: Lessons learned
- RECOILtv Home Defense Strongpoints
- Daniel Defense 300BLK Subsonic Ammo For Home Defense
The post Tiga Tactics Knife Defense Seminar – Alertness and Survival In San Fransisco first appeared on RECOIL.