Edged Weapons-Good Guys vs Bad Guys
This is a discussion on Edged Weapons-Good Guys vs Bad Guys within the Defensive Knives & Other Weapons forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; For some time I have been gathering information on the truth behind what knives good guys and bad guys carry and how they are likely ...
November 11th, 2008 10:38 PM
Edged Weapons-Good Guys vs Bad Guys
For some time I have been gathering information on the truth behind what knives good guys and bad guys carry and how they are likely to use them. First we will discuss the good guys, then the bad guys.
Judging from my experience, talking to people at shows and classes, and from those answering the polls I have posted in several forums, it appears regardless of our affinity for large combat fixed blades, around 70% of us carry folders with blades less than four inches and many blades with less than three inches. Since most of us carry multiple blades, I asked that people vote using what they consider their primary defensive blade. I am not surprised about my findings, since I have found that when it comes to firearms that many folks who go on and on about the best 1911 usually carry a J frame 38 day in and day out. For many it comes down to comfort and wanting to be armed but still not attract unwanted attention.
Since it seems that so many people are carrying folders and plan on using them in self defense, it is logical to conclude that it is important to have a plan for when and how to get their knife into action. The last several years of watching people, ranging from experienced knife folks to beginners, has shown me that getting a folder out of your pocket and then deploying the blade with any sort of real or perceived stress is a tricking thing. Considering all the other options I have been able to come up with has only made me more confident in the way we teach students to deploy their folders. With a tip down, manually opening folder carried against the strong side pocket seam-
1) With your thumb between the knife and your side, draw your knife closed in a hammer grip. If you begin to fumble the knife, your natural reaction is to trap it against your body. Don’t panic, just do it, if this is your primary deadly force option you cannot afford to drop it.
2) Bring the closed knife up in front of you somewhere between your belt and nipple line. If you do not have time to deploy the blade or deadly force is no longer needed, you can hammer fist with the closed folder.
3) When warranted by the totality of circumstances and ability to do so, open the knife with your thumb using the disk, hole, or stud on the blade.
Whether discussing the carrying of a firearm or edged weapon to defend yourself, we seem to come to the same problem…deployment. Being able to get your tool into play when you need to. I realize that for many involved with edged weapons it is their concentration and many practice it as a stand-alone martial art. Survival can be like Trivia Pursuit. You don’t get to pick the subject matter. If your training is rooted in counter attacking someone with a knife already in your hand, and in reality you carry a folder, you really can’t expect to fare very well.
Most people reading this are familiar with me from one of the several forums that I frequent. It seems that lots of folks have more confidence in their skills and abilities under the stress of a real attack than I do. Where this really seems to come into play is with those who train extensively in edged weapons that believe that during a confrontation they will stab no matter what. This is largely based in common wisdom that stabs are more lethal. Again drawing from shootings we know that under stress it is almost impossible to target specific anatomical targets with a firearm there are still those who choose to believe they will be able to do so within arms distance with a blade.
First I will look at stabbing from the standpoint of blade length. Without getting scientific, it is commonly agreed upon that the typical stabbing targets like the heart and lungs are 3-4 inches into the body and that is before taking clothing into consideration. So this would be at the extreme limit of our 4- inch folder. In comparison to this, major arteries are less than 2 inches below the skin.
Watching a cross section of students from all levels has led me to believe that stabbing is very likely if the person with the knife is able to aggress forward. However when moving rearward, the body’s natural reaction not to fall, forces the arms out and up to the side, which better allows for slashing.
Being an instructor that believes in training over entertaining, I am not interested in what I can do some of the time but rather what my students can do most of the time. Because of this, I believe the following is true when it comes to the average person using a knife to defend themselves.
1) They will not have spent 100s of hours learning how to use a knife
2) They will be using a folder
3) Their heart rate will be in excess of 200 BPM
4) Their fine and complex motor skills will be rapidly deteriorating
5) They will be likely to slash violently with the knife in an effort to stop their attacker and keep the blade between them and their attacker as much as possible
For these reasons, I am now more confident than ever that Inverted Edge Tactics are the best option available for people who want to be able to effectively defend themselves with a knife without dedicating tons of training time to do so. Except for the opening of the folder, no fine motor skills are needed and weaknesses in your attackers body are targeted by default.
Now for what I feel is the most important part of this article is what edged weapons do bad guys carry and how do they use them. Bad guys have two environments, in jail and on the street. Some time ago I took my collection of nasties that was collected from clients over the years. It was more or less an assortment of box cutters, razor knives, screwdrivers, pot metal fixed blades, and folders. What was interesting was that the average blade length was almost exactly the same as those favored by good guys, right around 3-4 inches.
One glaring difference between the knives of the good guys and the bad guys was that whether they were improvised or not they were usually either intended for cutting or stabbing, seldom both.
Recently while putting together my lesson plan for Edged Weapon Survival for Correction, I had the opportunity to speak to several correction officers in addition to touring a local prison after a briefing. What I found was that the average size of the weapon seized behind the walls was about the same as those on the outside. It was also noted that most improvised weapons by design were limited to either being really good for stabbing or for cutting and seldom for both.
These findings are interesting but tend to make sense. Whether an offender is incarcerated or on the street, if he decides to carry a weapon it will be one that he prefers. Since like a good guy, offenders realize that for a tool to be any good to you it has to be carried all the time, it is only logical that it be easy to conceal so that is does not attract unwanted attention.
What separates the average offender from the average good guy? Their willingness to do violence. Criminals understand the value of intimidation and overwhelming violence. They also realize that if you have something in your hand that is only good for stabbing or cutting you better be fast and violent about doing either one before you are pulled off or attacked yourself.
So taking into account what we now know about the tools we are likely to be attacked with, what are the training implications? The first and most obvious is that some of us are guilty when it comes to being generous during training by using training knives with large blades or even using “knives” at all. The truth is that as previously documented we are very unlikely to ever see what cuts or stabs us even in favorable lighting conditions.
If you can’t see a weapon, there is a pretty good chance that you will not have seen something that would cause you to draw a weapon of your own, so your initial defense needs to be open handed, and depending on your situation you need to know how to end it open handed. An example would be that of a correction officer armed with only a radio and handcuffs.
Defenses need to be based on gross motor movements and begin in response to furtive moments. They should move you off the center line and to the outside of the attacker where you can break contact and transition to a mechanical force option or maintain contact and employ joint destruction.
I figured some of you might find this information helpful.
November 12th, 2008 12:24 AM
I carry a lockback (along with my CC firearm).
I do feel comfortable with my skills to defend myself if I have an opportunity to get the firearm out of the holster or knife out of the pocket. One reason when my wife and I go for winter walks I carry the snub in a coat pocket.
I practice the draw a lot. When I was younger, I practiced (in an amature way) stabbing. I also practiced opening and closing the knife one handed (a lockback). I'm very good. I was fast enough that people thought I carried a switch blade. I practice so much when I was younger that I can get the knife out of the pocket and open quicker then I can draw the firearm.
With all this said, you are right. Action is most likely faster then reaction.
Thanks for the thoughts. Now I feel safer :p
November 12th, 2008 12:57 AM
Good read. Thank you for your willingness to share your knowledge with us. I am also a believer in the reverse edge method to knife fighting learning from writings from people like you. I carry both folders and a fixed blade and hope that I never have to use them, but if I do, I have to win. One day I want to take some formal knife training.
Gun control can be blamed in part for allowing 9/11 to happen.
"Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum" (Latin)- "If you want peace, prepare for war".
November 12th, 2008 01:20 AM
If you plan to use a knife for defence you have to realize it won't be like the movies. In order for the knife to be effective you have to get in close, your attack has to be fast and vicious. You need to create as many wounds as fast as you can and then seperate yourself from the other person. If someone attacks you with a knife expect them to do the same. Many knife attacks look like the attacker is punching the victim but in reality they are stabbing time after time in fast repetition. Know this and expect it, if you get into a knife fight you will be cut. The one that can override the pain and sight of blood has a better chance of being the surviver.
The best thing to remember about a knife fight, is don't do it if at all possible, but if you are forced into one attack viciously and cheat at every chance you get.
November 23rd, 2008 06:40 PM
For the most part I agree with your observations.
As you mentioned the vast majority of good guys carry folders. I stress with my students that method of carry and deployment are critical aspects that need plenty of attention and training if they are considering carrying a SD knife. The knife is useless as a cutting tool until it is opened and securely in hand. In the interm from pocket to openned it can serve as a puno weapon.
It's a period of "enlightenment" for most of the people I have train when the time comes to draw and open a knife under stress. Becoming proficient at the draw and openning as well as how you handle a fouled opening has to be part of the training.
Since all of my standard grip or Filipino grip knife training (verses reverse grip) has been edge out I'm wondering what your experience has been getting students inverted edge oriented. The vast majority of cutting experience for most people (whether slicing a tomato or opening a box) is edge out so that aspect of the training you are describing seems at least on the surface to be counter intuitive given that experience.
November 23rd, 2008 07:29 PM
I carry a 3.5 inch blade lockback everywhere I go
I am sworn to protect the Constitution of the U.S.A. from all threats both foreign and domestic.
November 24th, 2008 12:58 AM
i don't like folders, i prefer fixed blades, small ones preferably 3 inches or less.
against a knife, another knife may not be a good idea, unless you are good in knife fighting. its better to use a gun or maybe even an air taser. me i carry pepperspray.
against a knife, distance is your best friend.
I have a crkt dogfish with me right now, placed it on my belt, handle is a bit uncomfortable though when held in a conventional forward/hammer grip.
also, when in a self defense situation, we should always assume that the attacker is armed even if we cannot see a weapon, and we should act accordingly. this is i believe to be the most practical mindset to have.
going hand to hand should be a final option, when all other options fail.
December 6th, 2008 09:53 PM
Karambit, reverse grip, wave feature for fast deployment and practice, practice, practice! A trainer blade and a practice partner are highly recommended. Good read! I know too many people who carry folders and have no clue, slow to draw, using two hands to open! Theirs are purely for utility and give them a false sense of security. Since I will not be able to carry a firearm most of the time (school, work), my blades are important in my SD. Generally 3 accessible at all times, and practice with all of them. Stay safe!
December 6th, 2008 10:52 PM
I know. The type of gun guys who say that their knife is a last ditch tool. Well if it is a last ditch tool used as a last resort I would think some training is in order.
I am going to work on some video showing the EKI Karambit worn on the reaction side for weapon retention duty. I have sold several of them for Ernie at his tables over the years by demoing just this idea.
December 7th, 2008 03:50 AM
Usually I pretty much agree with nearly everything you post but, not so much on this one.
I have actually been around long enough and into knives long enough to know how (way back) the Karambit blade configuration/profile came into being.
It was originally inspired by the "Wow Them" knives made by the "Fantasy Custom High Dollar" knife-show-knife-makers that were in the business of making fancy Neato different looking "fantastical" blade and knife styles.
One them thought that a blade configured like a talon or an Eagle Claw would have an incredible amount of bizarre/different novelty "Cool Factor" with great chances to win Best Of Show in the Fantasy Knife category. Which it did.
I'm going pretty far back but, that's the first Kerambit blade shape that I've ever seen - at least that one was a substantial length fixed blade.
Personally I think the Kerambit is a modestly useless highly self~limiting piece of ka-ka and I never personally bit on the B.S. of it.
There are great logical reasons why defensive and killing knives have always looked like traditional knives and why knife blades have been configured a certain standard way since the beginning of recorded human history.
Even the stone age knapped blades were straight blades that stabbed as well as slashed with perfectly equal effectiveness.
In a machete sized blade - "OK Granted" it's a very effective hacking tool that can really bite deep and chop away lots of meat...in a pitiful 3 or 4 inch blade length it seems limited almost to the point of ridiculousness.
I dunno...call me "old fashioned" but I just cannot understand why some folks are so hell-bent on trying to create and invent a real world defensive knife science around a completely asinine configuration for a short bladed knife.
Geesh...it's late and I've got to get up in 2.5 hours but, I'll be happy to continue sometime tomorrow evening.
This is my last post fer tonight. Stay Safe Folks!
December 7th, 2008 05:57 AM
Just Wondering, with a CCW, You cannot carry a firearm into a bar serving alcohol, but can you Conceal Carry a Knife?
December 7th, 2008 10:59 AM
I would say yes but what type would depend on the law where you live. I am not aware of any law that prohibits you from carrying a knife in a bar. I do know that at some clubs you may be checked.
My favorite bar/concert tool is my Surefire L2 since I figure I am more likely to need it to find my way out during and emergency that shoot so stab somebody. They also make great improvised SD tools. Typically because I carry a pistol the light is in my rear reaction side pocket. When it is my primary force option such as flying or a concert it gets moved to the rear strong side pocket.
January 1st, 2009 12:07 AM
Man, this is all good stuff. Years ago I was a photographic printer for the Smithsonian. In four hours "on site" I learned more than the four previous years as an amateur. I have grown up with guns. Last week I took my first tactical firearm course. Again, I learned more in four hours than in the past forty years. I say all this because theory is ok but there's nothing like real training, hands on, from professionals than all the books, videos, blogs in the world. So after this school, I'll save up some more and take the knife course.
Now, having said that, as Mercop stated, most of what I have read says you'll be the last to know it's a knife fight. I'm guessing it is very quick, very unexpected, and very lethal. I carry a fixed blade, weak side, in a kydex sheath that is sewn between my mag and Surefire holder. It's last ditch, grab and slash, no dexterity required and powered by Mr. Adrenaline.
"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." Eccl. 10:2
January 1st, 2009 01:24 AM
I always try to carry a gun in case I grt into a knife fight. But, I also carry a Kershaw Leek AO knife too.
January 1st, 2009 01:48 AM
I most often carry a balisong. Occasionally, I'll substitute it for a folding karambit.
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