Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dangerous misconceptions about EDC knives

**DISCLAIMER** A knife can never be used as a weapon, admitting the possibility of using a cutting tool as a weapon may legally reclassify the tool as a weapon. Weapons may not be carried by civilians in public, tools may be carried freely. If I ever mention the possibility of using your cutting implement as a weapon of self-defense, I am only speaking of a hypothetical situation. I take no responsibility for your actions or ideas as they may be derived from my writing! Stay alert, stay safe, and admit to nothing!

There seem to be an alarming number of folks who think that their every day carry ("EDC" hereafter) Spyderco fully serrated, plastic handled, upside-down clipped $10 knife will instantly resolve all threatening situations with a mere flick of their wrist.

These people need to understand a few concepts:

Escalating a situation that is not yet a threat is always a bad idea

The escalation I'm talking about here, is drawing your knife, which (if done at the wrong time) will make you the bad guy, and may get you arrested. Most potentially dangerous situations can be diffused by simply backing down. You can't "keep it real" if you're dead. If some instigators stand up, and begin to thump their chests, stop and think about the situation. You don't know if they're armed, you don't know how skilled they are, you don't know how many of them there really are, and most importantly, you don't know how serious they are. I'm not saying that you should flee every possibly dangerous situation, I'm just reminding you that being Billy Badass, and whipping it out too soon, may make your the bad guy in the eyes of bystanders, and may get you injured or killed.

Unless you're well trained, your knife is not a fighting implement

If the situation warrants it, you're properly trained, and happen to be carrying a combat knife; by all means use it as a fighting implement. Draw it early, show them you mean business, and then show them no mercy. But for those of us who have a general use EDC knife, and no training, do not wield it prominently as a weapon. Hiding it in your hand, and first exposing it only when in striking distance (or during a strike) will give you the upper hand.

Your EDC knife is not a long sword. It's a push dagger.

If your attackers want to rough your up a bit, or worse, and are not displaying ranged weapons for doing so, it's likely they will attack you with their weapons, or fists and feet at close range. Here, you have the advantage of surprise. They plan to work over a defenseless person, and will act accordingly. Turning the tables on them by drawing your knife in the middle of the fray, and drawing blood from whatever is in arms reach will cause enough confusion and shock for you to secure an escape, or retreat to a better position. There's a high probability that a hand-to-hand fight will end up on the ground, once this happens, you may draw with your attacker at extremely close range, and go to town. There's no skill involved here, nor should you worry about it, the shock your attacker will suffer while going from top-dog to beef cutlet will cease the attack almost instantly, and give you valuable time to escape. It should be noted that if you are being attacked by multiple assailants, waiting until most of them get within arms distance is recommended. If you are dealing with multiple assailants, it is extremely likely that you will find yourself on the ground being kicked from all directions. If this happens, cowboy up, draw, and start swinging with broad strokes. Suffering a deep cut to the front of the shin, or the muscle behind the shin (gastrocnemius) will severely inhibit your attackers' ability to continue standing and give chase. Coupled with the shock of the blood, and the tables being turned, you are almost assured an escape during the confusion. Remember to sweep your blade broadly and in all 360 degrees, temporarily incapacitating half the group will do you little good. While stabbing motions can be devastating, refrain from using them unless you're sure to land the blow; the time it takes to stab one attacker would be better spent swiping the shins of three attackers.

Once your EDC is exposed, it is not a weapon, it is a distraction.

Once your attackers become aware of your knife, the dynamic of the ensuing combat changes drasticly. No longer will you be attacked by one assailant, they will likely gang up and surround you to regain the upper hand. In this situation you will likely have to bull-dog your way out, be sure that you hold your knife in the upside-down position! Point downward, cutting side away from you. The forward position is too easily defeated, don't rely on it when there will be many hands trying to keep that blade in a safe direction! When fighting multiples without being surrounded, your knife will become your distraction as it will demand the attention of your attackers. (knife in forward position) If you swipe your knife broadly, or stab forward, your attacker will definitely react, and will likely avoid the blow. But while they are distracted avoiding your glancing knife blows, your empty hand delivers devastating blows to the nose, chin, or eyes. Stabbing forward is a good way to bring your attacker off balance.

Ending the conflict

Of course, fleeing and calling the authorities is the best way to end a conflict, but that is not always an option. If the situation escalates to the point that you see the necessity to end the conflict quickly and effectively, (knife in forward position) bum-rush or tackle your opponent to get your body against his, and carve away. No stationary stabbing, no glancing cuts, no recovery; just broad, deep, slicing of soft, vital areas (belly, side, thighs, groin). Once that attacker is neutralized, move to the next quickly, or warn the next that he had better get his friend to the hospital quickly.

Remember: the best way to avoid conflict, is to avoid conflicts! Don't be too proud to back down, escalating a situation needlessly will only put more people (loved ones included) in danger.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Great post.

One thing that I've also observed is that in a fight, it's not uncommon for the initial wielder to lose control of their knife, often with it ending up in the other persons hands. This is bad. Hence, retention and the ability to retreat quickly are necessary skills.

I've also seen first hand that even determined attackers will stop and retreat at the first sight of their own blood drawn. When the "victim" becomes the victor, they will often turn and run away from the perceived soft target.