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How to Disarm a Knife Wielding Attacker

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Learn how to disarm a knife wielding attacker. You can adapt these knife disarm techniques to other weapons also.

Survival Fitness Plan Self-Defense (SFPSD) uses the self-kill and break techniques from Vortex Control Self Defense.

This is for how to disarm a person when your opponent has a weapon and you don’t. Techniques for when you have a weapon is in weapons training.

How to Disarm an Attacker Contents

Knife Disarm Overview

This section clarifies specific terms used when describing weapon defense techniques. It also gives specifics of how to perform movements that are generic to many techniques.

Weapon disarms training uses defense against knife attacks. This is because they are the most difficult common weapon to disarm.

Reviewing the information in this post will make weapon defense training easier.

Warning: All fighting is dangerous. Fighting someone with a weapon is very dangerous. If all your attacker wants is money, it is much wiser to give it to him/her and/or run away than it is to protect your pride.

Knife Attack

For the demonstrations, the attacker will always hold the knife in his right hand. When the description refers to a left attack, the strike comes in using an angle from the left of the attacker. The knife is still held in his right hand.

Note: This method of attack is for the benefit of practicing the defense. For more effective knife attack methods please refer to knife attack training.

Straight Thrust

A straight thrust is when the attacker strikes you from waist height into your torso. It is always done using a forward grip.

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Downward Stab

The downward stab refers to an attack that comes in using a downward motion. It is always done using a reverse grip.

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Knife Defense

Block/Grab

Every defense begins with the block/grab technique. This allows you to have two hands on his one. This is important so you have better control of his knife wielding hand.

Unfortunately, using the block/grab technique “ties up” both your hands. This makes you vulnerable to your attacker’s other hand, especially if you are slow to apply a disarm. But, getting hit is better than getting stabbed.

Unless otherwise stated, block on your opponent’s lower forearm and grab his wrist.

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Blocks

There are two main types of blocks. How it these blocks are actually applied is dependent on the situation as well as what works for you best.

Chop
To do the chop, use your forearm to chop down on your attacker’s arm. Do it hard and aim for his upper forearm, since there is a cluster of nerves there. Often, this blow on its own will be enough to cause your attacker to drop his knife.

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Bong Sao
Bong Sau is from Wing Chun. You can change the exact method of application depending on the situation. The images offer the best interpretation.

What follows is an excerpt of how to do the classic Bong Sau from the book Basic Wing Chun Training by Sam Fury.

*** Start of Excerpt ***

Bong sau (wing arm) is a defensive technique unique to Wing Chun. Use it to divert a punch by creating an angle of deflection.

Begin in the half squat position with your hands up. In one movement, turn your hand down and your elbow up. As you do so, twist your waist and tilt your body so your feet are in a fighting stance position. Your waist does the work, not your arm.

Keep your arm in line. Your other hand is a guard hand in case your opponent’s strike passes through.

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This is bong sau.

Turn a little back and bring your hand back to the center.

Switch hand positions, so your other hand becomes your lead. Shift your weight to match your new position and then do bong sau on your other side.

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*** End of Excerpt ***

Knife Disarm Grips

There are two types of grips.

The under underhand grip is when your palm faces up or to the outside of your opponent’s guard.

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An overhand grip is when your palm faces down or to the inside of your opponent’s guard.

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Making a Tap

For many of the dis-arms, once you have done the block/grab technique, the next step is to “make a tap”.

The term “making a tap” refers to the act of bending your opponent’s wrist so his hand is 90° to his forearm. Doing this makes it easier to control his hand, twist his wrist, and thus disarm him.

You can make a tap at almost any of your opponent’s joints. This makes it easier to apply locks.

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Grabbing Your Opponent’s Hand

The reference to grab your opponent’s hand means to grab the fleshy part underneath his thumb. This helps loosen the grip your opponent has on the knife so you can take it. Trying to take the knife is not wise in most cases. But if the attacker is someone you do not want to hurt, you can adapt some of the disarm techniques.

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Grabbing the Knife

If you want to grab the knife to disarm your opponent you need to do it in a way so you do not cut yourself.

Grabbing the handle would be the best way but most of the time this is not possible. The next best option is to grab it from the non-sharp side. This assumes it is a single-edged knife.

The last option is to grip the blade between your fingertips and your palm. Do it in a way that the sharp edge does not touch you.

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Aim to grab as much of the handle as possible when doing this to minimize injury.

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Taking the Knife

In most cases, you will pry the knife towards your opponent’s thumb and out of his hand. This takes advantage of the weakest point in your opponent’s grip.

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Knife Stepping Drills

These knife defense knife stepping drills engrain in you which foot to step in with. You can practice the attack and defense drills at the same time with a partner. One person attacks and the other defends.

Knife Defense Knife Stepping Drills

The explanation of these drills uses simple angles and minimal body movement. This is for ease of explanation and is also a good place to start in practice.

In reality, attack and defense can be from any angle, including curved hooking motions. Also, you will need to bend your body depending on the situation.

Knife Attack Stepping Drill

Note: The knife attack stepping drills are for assisting in knife defense training. Actual knife attack techniques are in described in other posts.

With knife attack, step in using the foot on the same side as your knife strike is coming in on.

It is the same side, which is not always the same hand. Holding the knife in your right-hand does not mean the knife is coming in from the right-hand side.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. This is the neutral position. Hold the knife in your right hand near your right shoulder with a reverse grip.

Step in with your right foot as you stab down with your right hand. Your hand and foot move at the same time, but your hand hits your target before your foot lands.

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Step back to your original position with your right foot. At the same time bring your right hand to your left shoulder.

Step in with your left foot as you stab down with your right hand from your left shoulder.

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Return to the starting position and repeat the previous movements for a few minutes.

When you’re ready, change to a forward grip and hold the knife in your right hand near your right hip. Place your feet in the neutral position.

Step forward with your right leg and stab at the same time.

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Step your foot back into the neutral position as you bring your right hand back to the left side of your body. As you pull your hand back rotate it so your palm faces up. This allows you to keep the knife pointing towards your opponent.

Step forward with your left foot and stab at the same time.

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Return to your starting position and repeat the drill for a few minutes.

You can also go straight from the first part of the drill into the second. Right downward stab, left downward stab, right straight thrust, then left straight thrust.

Knife Defense Stepping Drill

In knife defense, it is best to step in using the foot that is the mirror image of the side the knife attack is coming in on.

Also, which-ever foot you use to step in, the same side hand blocks and the other one grabs.
The following drill focuses on stepping and blocking using the same hand.

Start in the neutral position, hands empty.

Step forward with your right foot and bring your right hand down to chop your opponent’s forearm. Use similar action as the downward stab.

Use power angles (between 120° and 160°) at your elbow and wrist. Your fingers point towards your opponent.

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Return to the neutral position and then do the movement using your left side.

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Next, do the same thing using bong sau.

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How to Disarm a Knife with Self-Kill Techniques

Self-kill techniques are when you use the attacker’s knife against himself. The knife will still be in his hand. In this way, you can tell the authorities that you never even touched the knife. He pulled it out on you, there was a messy struggle, and he ended up getting hurt. The label self-kill does not mean you have to kill your opponent. A shallow stab in a superficial area will be enough to finish most confrontations.

Wrist Twist

Your opponent attacks with a left downward stab. Defend using a left chop and right underhand grab.
Use your left hand to grab over your opponent’s right hand using an overhand grip so that he cannot let go of the knife.

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Once you have a good grip, turn the knife towards your opponent and stab him with it.

You can use your left elbow to apply quick pressure to your opponent’s right elbow. This can be a break and/or to “soften” up his arm.

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Rib Stab

Your opponent attacks with a right straight thrust. Defend using a right chop and left overhand grab.

Use your right hand to grab hold of your opponent’s wrist and then move your left hand over his hand. Bend your opponent’s wrist down.

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Pull up on your opponent’s wrist whilst pushing his hand down and towards his side.

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Wrist Twist 2

Your opponent attacks with a left straight thrust. Defend using a left chop and right underhand grip.

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Grab your opponent’s hand with your left hand using an overhand grip. Once you have a good grip move your right hand over the same hand. Your two hands ensure your opponent can not let go of the knife.
Pull your opponent’s arm to the outside of your right shoulder and then fold his wrist back towards him. This will cause your opponent’s arm to bend so you can slash or stab him.

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You could also go into a wrist twist lock so he drops the weapon.

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Fig 4

In Vortex Control Self Defense the Fig-4 is a knife grabbing technique. In SFP Self Defense we adapt it to be a self-kill technique.

Your opponent attacks with a right downward thrust. Defend with a left bong sau and right underhand grab.

Guide your opponent’s arm down as you curl your left hand towards you and then on top of your opponent’s upper arm.

You may choose to strike your opponent in the face.

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Continue to hook down inside your opponent’s guard with your left arm until you grab your own right forearm.

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Drive your right elbow into your opponent’s face and then grip the top of the knife with your left hand.

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Release your right hand and move it away. Pry the knife out of your opponent’s hand towards the outside of his guard.

10 Fig 4 4 Weapon Disarm Techniques, Self-Defense Weapons, Self-Defense Tips, Self-Defense Moves, Workout, Self-Defense Techniques, Survival Fitness Plan

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How to Disarm Knife Wielding Attackers With Break Techniques

A break is when you break your opponent’s limb. There are quite a few break techniques in Vortex Control Self Defense. In SFP we only use the “B” type.

B1 Break

All B Breaks use an overhand grip and the same arm-break technique.

Your opponent attacks with a right downward stab. Defend with a left bong sau and a right overhand grab.

Guide your opponent’s right arm down as you shift your body to the outside of his guard.

As your opponent’s right arm comes down your right hand comes up on the inside of his guard. The intention is to grab your opponent’s hand so he cannot let go of the knife.

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Continue to guide your opponent’s arm down until it is horizontal and tight across your body. Your opponent’s arm is snug in the crook of your elbow.

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Pull his hand towards you whilst using your left upper arm to apply opposing pressure on his elbow.

B2 Break

Your opponent attacks with a left downward stab. Defend with a left chop and a right underhand grab.

Note: You could also use a left bong sao.

Guide your opponent’s right arm down as you shift your body to the outside of his guard.

As your opponent’s right arm comes down curl your left hand underneath it. The intention is to grab your opponent’s hand so he cannot let go of the knife.

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Continue to guide your opponent’s arm down until it is horizontal and tight across your body. Your opponent’s arm is snug in the crook of your elbow.

Pull his hand towards you whilst using your left upper arm to apply opposing pressure on his elbow.

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B3 Break

Your opponent attacks with a right straight thrust. Defend with a right chop and a left overhand grab.
Guide your opponent’s right hand between your bodies.

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As you do this use your right hand with an overhand grip on his right hand so your opponent cannot let go of the knife.

Continue to guide your opponent’s arm between the two of you until it is horizontal and tight across your body. Your opponent’s arm is snug in the crook of your elbow.

Pull his hand towards you whilst using your left upper arm to apply opposing pressure on his elbow.

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B4 Break

Your opponent attacks with a left straight thrust. Defend with a left bong sau and a right overhand grab.

Note: You could also use a left chop.

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Pull his right arm across your body as straighten your left arm out perpendicular to his right arm. At this stage both your elbows face down. Your opponent’s elbow is on top of the underside of your elbow.

Grab your opponent’s hand with your left hand so he cannot let go of the knife.

Pull his hand towards you whilst using your left upper arm to apply opposing pressure on his elbow.

15 Knife Defense Break Techniques, Survival Fitness Plan Self-Defense Training

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Knife Disarms Video Demonstration

Here are some Vortex Control Self-Defense demonstrations.

You’ll love Vortex Control Self Defense,
because it is simple to learn and easy to apply!

Knife Disarms Conclusion

Anyone can get a knife and they are easy to conceal. Knowing how to defend against a knife attack is very important.

In this post, you have learned how to train for knife attacks and a few specific knife disarm techniques. I hope you never have to use them in real life.

Remember to always use a training knife to avoid getting hurt.

Did you find this article about how to disarm knife wielding attackers useful? If so, please share it with your friends.

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