6 Tips For Surviving A Knife Attack


When an armed attacker charges you with a knife, what would your reaction be? I couldn’t personally say, so it is always good to hear from the experts. Today’s advice comes from none other than Ernest Emerson, the namesake of tactical knife purveyor, Emerson Knives. File this info under “Better to have and not need, than to need and not have.” 

Of course, the preferred course of action is running away. But, that is not always possible.

The following comes from Emerson Combat Series: How To Win A Knife Fight via the Daily Caller. The article is not formatted very well (Mr. Emerson needs an editor like whoa) and is a bit hard to parse, so I will distill the important pieces here.

Step 1: There is no such thing as a knife fight

Outside of the movies, when was the last time you heard of two people fighting each other in a real-deal knife fight? Jim Bowie in 1827? Yeah, I can’t think of anything either. Let’s turn things over to uncle Ernest:

The reality is that in knife related attacks there is only one knife involved (in the hands of the bad guy) and that many times the victim never knew there even was a knife involved (until he was being sewn up in the hospital).

…if you are ever involved in knife combat, you will be unarmed fighting off an attack by a knife wielding attacker.

Step 2: Do not try and go for a weapon

Trying to draw a knife or gun (if you carry) in response to a knife attack is a non-starter. Police have been trained for years about the Tueller Drill, aka the 21-foot rule. The gist of the rule is that if a knife wielder charges you from fewer than 21 feet, there is not enough time to unholster and fire a shot before getting stabbed.

You have to defend yourself against the initial attack before you ever get the chance to get to a weapon or your knife.  You have to brunt, negate, or minimalize [sic] the damage that the attacker is trying to inflict upon you, by any and every means possible before you get an “opportunity“ to access your weapon.

Step 3: Close the distance with your attacker

Control the distance – if [you] can’t run away, [you] take it away.  That’s right, charge headlong into the fray.

Remember, were talking about [when] running away is not an option. So, should I stay at arms length, dodging and darting about, trying to reach in and grab the knife while the attacker swings and strikes at full speed, when and where he wants? Staying in this no mans land is a good way to turn yourself into a chopped salad.

Step 4: Try to minimize injury to yourself

Let’s face it. You are going to get cut. The best we can hope for is keeping the knife away from our vital organs. Emerson recommends two techniques for deflecting the brunt of the bad guy’s attacks.

The Upward Triangle: This is most effective against the overhand stabbing motion or the downward slashing attack to your upper body and head.  At the instant of attack your arms come up in front and together in a clap motion as you thrust them outward and upward as you charge forward.  Essentially you are forming a triangular frame to protect and cause the strike to deflect off to the side and away from the center of the torso, the head, neck, and eyes.  The upward position of your arms naturally protects the neck from the side.

The Downward Triangle: The principles here are exactly the same as the upward triangle except in this case it is to protect against a slashing attack to the lower chest or abdomen and a thrusting attack to the gut.  Again it works best moving violently forward.

Step 5: The Tackle

I want to protect myself while slamming chest to chest into the bad guy at full speed in an explosion of power just like a linebacker blitzing up the middle into an unsuspecting quarterback.

Now this is where you can wrap him up, take him down, bite his face off, bite his fingers off, and gouge his eyes out.  This is where I expect you to do anything –Anything—to stop the attacker.

Step 6: A Final Caveat

Are these tactics and strategies infallible?  No, nothing is, save a suit of armor. Will you get cut? Probably, but you can’t worry about consequences [when] you are in a fight to the death…


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6 Tips For Surviving A Knife Attack

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