A large part of the Hard Target system covers edged weapons defence, and although this part of our curriculum is very comprehensive,  the practical modules are kept very simple. Over twenty years of cross training in many combative systems, I have never seen a definitive solution when dealing with knife attack’s and never will. Most systems that teach edged weapons sadly will not work in live situations. What may work on the padded floor, using rubber knives in the well-lit and safe environment of the dojo will be very different on the concrete, with a real blade and faced with a thug who wants to change the course of your life. I have heard a few stories over the years were Dan graded martial artists crumble under this level of adrenaline -stress and struggle with the depression that follows, wondering why they didn’t act like they do in the dojo.

Firstly, let me say that if someone comes to me telling me these stories, my immediate thought is they must have done something correct otherwise they wouldn’t be telling the story. There have been many good publications and DVD’s released on the topic of edged weapon defence. This article , like all articles I write, is not intended to ridicule any system or art. Instead it is intended to cut through some of the b******t and offer intelligent, honest and cultivated advice. I could write for days about this subject  but I want to keep it simple and hopefully you will have a better understanding of what to expect if ever faced with a blade.

1. Awareness. As always this is and should always be the first part of our game-plan. The very nature of a knife hold-up means that the assailant has to be within arm’s length or closer. If awareness is in place, we have a chance of being pro-active and avoiding or fouling his draw/weapon deployment. This is done by striking the assailants head, anywhere below the eye-line, preferably along the jaw line. Your strike must be extremely powerful, using full body weight.


2. Ambush Attack. If you are caught unawares and faced with a knife, remember at this point the attacker doesn’t want you dead, if he did you won’t know anything about it.  In most situations (not all), the criminal will be demanding something and the obvious involvement of the blade will emphasize his demands. My advice is always the same in this situation. If the attacker demands something that can be replaced, ie. wallet, purse, jacket, car etc. Best option is to hand them over immediately. The only time I recommend a physical defence is if he demands more ie. your body or the body of a loved one, also if he wants to bring you or any member of your party from A to B, most victims don’t come back from point B – B is where bodies are found.


If you feel a physical response is needed, firstly feign compliancy, secondly engage the attacker’s brian with dialogue (such as, ok I will go with you, I don’t want any trouble)  thirdly explode into your defence and continue to strike his head until he is no longer a threat.

3. Escape. Get yourself to a safe place, call the police and report the incident immediately. Also remember to call for medical assistance, if you don’t need it, your attacker will.







This is just a brief insight into the fundamentals of a knife defence. At the Hard Target School of Self Defence we also teach emergency first aid for knife wounds. With that in mind… remember, if you do get cut or stabbed you are not dead, you must continue to fight back with everything you have.