What's the best knife for knife defense?

I am constantly asked by people "What's the best knife for self-defense?"

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but seeking a simplistic answer to a complex issue is going to

a) Cost you a lot of money

  b) Make someone else a lot of money

  c) Get you raped in prison.

There's a lot of macho advertising, marketing and internet touching yourself when it comes to 'tactical knives,' 'fighting folders,' and combat blades.  This is an extension of the whole 'knife fighting' market and idealizing knife combat that is being pandered by self-proclaimed knife experts. What's worse is they are selling these illegal and dangerous fantasies as -- and I use this term loosely -- self-defense.

Since I do expert witness work in court cases involving knife crimes, homicides and assault with a deadly weapon cases(1), I have a slightly different approach to the subject. Namely:

If you're looking for a knife for self-defense, you're setting yourself up on points A-C

If you go down this road and buy a tactical fighter, a combat ready knife or some wicked looking hooked fighting knife designed by a master knife fighter  ...hopefully you'll only get screwed on points A & B.

A Knife is a Tool!

Let's start with this important fact.

Tools do things your hand, fingers and teeth can't. You can't hammer a nail with your fist, you can't cut down a tree with your fingers you can't carve with your teeth. As such, tools allow you to do a variety of jobs and applications. The key word here is variety.

A weapon on the other hand is a modified tool. These modifications make it only good for one thing. In exchange for this specialization, it is useless as a tool. For example, a dagger is a double-edged blade that allows cutting in either direction. This modification removes your ability to put your thumb/finger on the back of the blade ... a critical component in tool use.

Can a tool be used as a weapon? Yes. But the point here is that it is ALWAYS an improvised weapon. As such, it will NEVER be as over-all effective at the task as an item specifically designed as a weapon. Can it still kill? Yes any tool can be abused in this manner. But the design of the tool is not for killing. It lacks the specific modifications necessary to make it a weapon.

Let's put this in plain English. Hanging words like tactical, combat ready, combative, commando, urban warrior or some macho and cool sounding name on a knife will only do two things:

  1) Raise the price 

  2) Give the prosecution ammo against you because you were carrying 

    a 'fighting knife. (As in if you weren't planning to stab someone why were 

    you carrying such a scary and wicked knife?)

So the first standard for choosing a knife is know that you are buying a tool,NOT a weapon. 99.999% of what you are going to be using it for is as a tool. That should dictate your purchasing decision.

Knife vs. Gun

People who are obsessed with 'self-defense' often want to carry knives because they are uncomfortable with carrying a gun. This is like saying "I'm more comfortable with The Plague than Ebola," both will kill.

In the eyes of the law a gun and a knife are both considered lethal force instruments. That means the same rules about when you can legally use them, under what circumstance their use is justified.

Let me state, for the record, you do NOT get the training on when to use a knife, when NOT to use a knife from a martial arts school, knife fighting/Filipino Martial Arts seminar or on the internet. You get this specialized training ONLY through taking courses designed to inform you about the complexities of the subject (e.g. The Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network)

I cannot stress this idea enough, especially if you are thinking of carrying a knife for 'self-defense.'

One of the things that is important is YOU must know what self-defense really is, NOT what you think it is. Acting on what you think self-defense is while holding an item will get you into deep  trouble.  Weapons are like power tools, mistakes happen faster and when they do, they are bloody.

So if you still are thinking about buying a knife to defend yourself, you need to look into and get training about what is and what ISN'T self-defense (and the most common mistakes people make when it comes to claiming it). That training is MUCH more important than what kind of knife you have.

Armed Society

Another important piece of equipment to have when it comes to carrying a knife for self-defense is this: Miss Manners: A Citizen's Guide To Civility.

Yes, I just sent you a link to a book on etiquette. Not only will it help to keep you from being hassled by the cops for carrying a knife, but it does wonders for keeping you out of conflicts where you'd be tempted to ram a knife into someone's guts. One of my favorite quotes is from Robert Heinlein "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

Bottom line is anytime you put a knife into your pocket, strap on a gun or take control of an item that can take a human life, then you must also take on a higher level of responsibility. It is no longer about you, it is about the effects your actions have on others. You WILL be held accountable for your actions, especially if you use it on someone.

And a good starting point is manners. Manners as a daily thing, even. Not only do they help you avoid getting into violent situations, but they do wonders for your career and personal relationships.

I just worked a case wouldn't have happened if everyone had been better behaved. And the guy -- even though it was self-defense -- was arrested and charged with murder. (He took a plea bargain for 8 years over killing the guy because he'd done some other stupid stuff that weakened his SD case.)

What a lot of people don't understand when they fixating on getting a weapon for defending themselves is that they are taking on the responsibility of killing someone else. So how does this apply to manners?

Ever wonder where manners came from? Do you believe that good manners is a sign of weakness and vulnerability? If you do, then you are absolutely wrong. In a world where everyone was armed, squabbles often turned deadly and insults turned into duels. Manners are a way for armed people to co-exist without having to kill each other.

And if you are carrying a knife, you have to join that crowd. Not only does your life depend on it, but so too do other people's.

Selecting A Knife

When it comes to buying a knife I always tell people to take their seeing eye dog. Because they are going to go blind.

You're not going to see brand name, maker or manufacturer. You're not going to see shape, coolness, swept lines, wicked points or anything. And the biggest thing you're not going to see is all the 'tactical' bullshit and advertising.

You buy a knife because of how it feels.

Everyone has a different weight, balance and handle preference. Personally I like shorter, thicker blades with the weight in the back and the balance in the handle. My wife prefers longer blades with the weight in the tip. My ex preferred a handle with finger grooves, etc., etc..

The importance of this is because first and foremost a knife is a TOOL! It isnot a weapon, it is not for self-defense. It's for doing a job you can't do with your fingers. You're going to be using it for what is 99.999% of the time. As such you need something that feels good in your hand.

You don't need a big knife or a tactical whatever. And you sure'n hell don't need an automatic or assisted opening blade. Those can and will get you into trouble. Oh BTW, that tool element is really important when it comes to talking to the cops. They must sense that you consider a tool first. If they get the vibe that you're carrying a weapon, they will make your life ... interesting.

What you need is a tool that fits most comfortably in your hand so you can constantly, easily and most importantly safely use it on a daily basis. Past that, everything else is just advertising.

Oh yeah, one more thing. You also need to look into -- not only STATE laws -- about what kind of knife (or size) you can carry, but also look into municipal codes of the city you live in.

Stabbing and Stops

Remember the whole tool vs. weapon discussion? Here’s something else to pay attention to. Blades designed to have stabbing application — whether dagger or knife — have hand stops. Usually in the form of cross guards. Oddly enough while this does protect the hand of the person holding the knife. It’s not against an incoming attack. It’s to protect the stabber from himself.

A crossguard, quillions, a big boulster or finger grooves in the handle keep the stabber’s hand from riding up the hilt and onto the blade. This happens when the force of the stab is stronger than the knifer’s grip. It is not uncommon for inexperienced stabbers to have a cut on fingers or palm from where their hand slide up onto the edge and they cut themselves. “You stabbed someone.” “No I didn’t!” “Then where’d you get that knife cut on your fingers?” “Uuuhhhhh” “Turn around and put your hands behind your back.” (BTW, this lack of designed hand protection is one of the reason why I have such contempt for folding knives being marketed as ‘tactical.’ You have no protection for your hand if you have to use it.)

Knife Fighting Instructors

I am often asked what I think about other "knife fighting instructors." More specifically,  people  ask me if they think they should go study with a particular individual..

My answer is "Yes."

Just don't believe that anybody has sole possession of the TRUTH (tm) about knife work. Such nonsense will only make them money and get you killed. Realistically it is more likely to result in you being raped in prison if you  accept what they are teaching at face value and use it without having looked into the legalities of lethal force use. Unlike fire arms instructors, most so-called "knife fighting" experts have not familiarized themselves with -- the not unreasonable -- requirements of lethal force. This is not to say that what they are teaching won't work. The problem is that it DOES work! In fact it works too damned well if you decide to go off on someone who is not offering you sufficient threat to justify lethal force.

The reason for the quote on the top of the page is simple. People who know the legal standards of lethal force in a civilian context will take one look at most of what is being taught as knife fighting and proceed to have kittens. What is being taught as is anything but self-defense.

And yes, I am one of those less than famous experts whose arguments reek of restraint and nuance. That's because I advocate BEFORE you take any knife training that you get training in Judicious use of Lethal Force. THEN proceed with knife training so you can separate what will work to save you from what will get you thrown in prison.

This will also help you learn how to be an aware consumer. If your goal is to learn a weapons based martial art, that's one thing. And quite frankly, this is why I say "Yes" to studying with various instructors. But if your goal is self-defense, why pay for something that will result in you being afraid to pick up the soap?

Backstabbing 101 - a look into the knife fighting "business"

To begin with recognize that there is a difference between a weapon-based martial art, knife fighting and defending yourself with a knife. Forget, any idea of one stop shopping. You're not going to get everything that you need in one place.

With this in mind, I can state that most of the "name" knife fighting instructors are making their living selling you a fantasy. And it is a fantasy based on what *you* the customer thinks that knife fighting is. You go in and you are taught mastery in the skills that you assume are involved in knife fighting. What you are generally being taught is a weapon-based martial art.

It doesn't matter  whether this is pure Filipino martial arts (or some obscure and ancient blade art) being taught as war-proven fighting skills, "modernized" knife fighting (read FMA stripped down and renamed and called "street effective"), World War II combat systems or Western fencing that has been adapted and modified. What matters is that you realize that these people are making their living off having people believe that they know the "truth" about knife fighting.

And in such a small market, you don't stay in business by sending customers to other people. Nor do you stay in business by teaching something that is simple, effective and can be taught in a few days.

Instead you stay in business keeping people coming to your school or seminars. You stay in business by selling "accessories" ... the ultimate fighting knife, the advanced courses DVDs, the t-shirts and gym bags. In short, you stay in business by keeping people handing you money. One of the better ways of doing this is to establish an organization based around your teachings and to extend this organization as far and wide as possible. The participants in this organization (often, franchised instructors) pay yearly dues, for instructional materials and for whatever "new" material comes out. These regional instructors host the head of the organization for workshops.

So far this is simple business and advertising, and there is nothing wrong with that.

However, there are many pitfalls where it can turn into something else, something much worse. One of these points is when instructors decide to build themselves up by tearing other instructors down. Or encouraging their students to do the same. If you look at it from a purely business sense you might be able to understand the idea trying to divert customers from the other person and keep them coming back to you. However, that is not how business is done legally. There is a distinct line between "advertising" on one side, and "libel" and "slander" on the other.

The next time you hear a self-proclaimed "master knife fighter" saying that another instructor "doesn't know shit" or "is a fake from the biker bar from hell" recognize that you are listening to that person setting himself up to be sued for illegal business practices. That is no longer advertising, that is slander. This is especially true if the person does not have first hand experience with the other person's program. Such a person is actively  and deceitfully trying to drive business away from another establishment and is setting himself up for  punitive damages for slander, libel and illegal business practices. Right off the bat the person is engaging in  illegal and unethical practices. And as the old saying goes "people are seldom dishonest in only one aspect of their lives."

So if the person is willing to lie about someone else to get your money, what makes you think that he isn't willing to lie to you to get your money?

You might want to take a little jaunt over to the Lethal Force and Psychological hubs and see if -- in all this great training you're getting -- these very real and problematic issues about using violence are ever mentioned. These are issues you will have to deal with if you use a knife on another human being.

Getting back to badmouthing, a very important to realize that most of these people have *never* seen the people that they are "dissin" teach. There is no first hand experience about the other person's actual skill or system. This is why you don't get specific critiques of "he teaches this, which doesn't work because of A, B, C and D" but rather vague and generalized attacks on the whole system or ad homenum attacks on the person. (i.e. "he doesn't know shit," or "is a fake"). If there is a legitimate critique, then it should be able to be precisely explained and not just generalized allegations of other people's dishonesty and vague accusations of incompetence.(1)

Furthermore -- without requiring you to attack in a specific way and against multiple  full speed attack -- the person should be able to demonstrate why his way of doing it is superior. Superiority should be easily demonstrated, repeatedly and against all comers. If that person's way of doing it is superior, then it should have a significantly higher success rate than the technique he is criticizing. While I won't go so far to suggest he face a sharpened blade in the hands of someone not his student, that would be a live-fire test of his superiority in the subject.

Nah, usually it is easier just to bad mouth someone else with generalized contempt and dismissal.

In short, if you see someone engaging in this behavior it tells you more about them and what kind of things they will do to get your money than it does about the person he is talking about. And that should concern you...especially in regard to what he is teaching you about something that could cost you your life.


It's your ass, Cochise

When it comes to learning about surviving against a knife, there is no issue more important for you to understand than it is your ass on the line. It's not about the instructor, it's about you -- and what you can do after you walk out of training.

The bottomline it doesn't matter what kind of grand master, guru, streetfighter, super cop, S.E.A.L. special operative, innovator, warlord,  master or arms or some title that sounds  like a cat coughing up a fur-ball someone claims to be... what matters is that what he is teaching you -- not only works -- but does so now.

Note the idea that you can do it *now!*  It is critical.

I am dead serious about it not being about what he can do, but what he can show you that you can use to stay alive against someone coming at you in a dark and lonely place with the intent of killing you. I'm not talking what a rattlesnake on speed you'll be after five years of studying with him. I'm talking about what  you can do it as you head out the door. As I said elsewhere:

If it works now, five years of training will make it work better,

if it doesn't work now, odds are it still won't work five years from now.

I cannot stress enough that it isn't what he can do, it isn't about lineage, it isn't about how combat proven a style is, or if the founder of the style had  "blood on the bolo" (big deal, when it comes to knifework, there isn't just blood on the knife, it's on the floor, walls, you, him and the furniture too). It is about what he can show you that works for you. You are the one who is going to need to be able to use it. And if it doesn't meet this basic criteria, then it really isn't going to be any use to you in the parking lot tonight, now will it?

If you walk into a seminar and what is being taught doesn't work for you, fine, throw it away for self-defense...no matter how good the person claims it to be. Consider it a study of movement and drills to instill potentially useful movement patterns, it is NOT, however something you can use to survive a life threatening attack. A complex system will only get you killed and really isn't applicable to the average person and the situations you will find yourself in. This is especially true if the seminar focuses on training for long-drawn-out knife-to-knife conflicts. This is often referred to as "Dueling" by critics of such training. (Critics, who BTW, often have first-hand experience about the difference between FMA and how knives are actually used by criminals and military personnel. They've seen the difference and know why this kind of training won't work out there.)

I have a very simple standard: If the "basics" can't be learned in a short time and made to work against a wide spectrum of attacks then it isn't going to work in the street. In light of the fact that it will be you laying in an alley bleeding to death if you try to use something else, you might want to adopt this standard too.

And not to be the bearer of bad tidings, but the odds are greater that any knife assault you face will be at the hands of a criminal, not a trained Filipino martial artist. That means the nature of the attack is going to be significantly different. Don't believe anyone who tells you other wise. These differences can and will kill you. The physics of an attack are radically different when your attacker has no fear of you because you are unarmed vs. someone who is concerned of the danger you pose because you too are armed (dueling). Often when I say this I am met with people in these systems who claim "Well, we train for both armed and unarmed situations." Right, and if pigs could fly there'd be pork in the treetops by morning.

I have a little game you can play to test this if you really are being trained in the different physics, it's called put your money where your mouth is. If you are willing to bet your life on the effectiveness of this kind of training, then you should have no hesitation to put up say, $200. Here's the deal, you don't have a knife, he does -- with lipstick or chalk on it so you can count the hits. Square off and for every cut or stab he lands, you pay him $20. Figure you'd be dead after 10 hits so you can realistically limit it to $200. Put the money on the table and see what happens.

Until that time, don't believe that you're being trained to handle a knife attack.

Having said this, there is absolutely nothing wrong with studying a weapons based martial art or learning complex movement patterns in the perfection of one's art. That is a legitimate focus of training. However, do not confuse that with knife fighting. Training is not doing. This is especially true when you can die during the doing.

Piece of the pie

So what is the truth about knife work?

The truth is this, nobody has the whole truth. It's too big of a subject for any one person to be the "ultimate expert" on the subject. That is because the topic is so big, vast and complicated that no one person can master all the aspects of it in one life time.

This leaves you with a situation where while no one is ultimately "right." Each person has "a slice of the pie." Each of them has valid information -- as far as they go. Where that information will fall down is when they try to extend it past the localized area of truth and pass it off as the whole. There is nothing wrong with having an area of specialization or admitting that what you do only goes so far. That is there is nothing wrong with it except if you are losing income to people who claim to be the ultimate expert on the subject. And then quite frankly, it is only "wrong" to the individual who isn't getting that money.

The truth is there are countless "experts" in specific martial arts who do not make their living off teaching. And often the quality of the information is far superior to the watered-down commercialized versions. The caliber of information you can get in someone's garage is often outstanding and the politics in large organizations is far less. Some will teach you art, others will teach you how to "git-r-done." While all of them are important to know, none of them are entirely right -- or wrong -- on the subject.

What I am trying to say is that you cannot predict how you will be attacked with a knife. There are literally thousands of ways that someone can attack you. And each "art" will cover a few of them, but no art/person will cover all of them. Therefore it is incumbent on you to go out and learn as much as you can about not only the different kinds of attack, but what you can do to counter each of them...and which types of moves work best for you.

So who do I recommend?


Because nobody holds the ultimate truth, I recommend you become a seminar junkie. Go out and learn about all the different "truths" there are about knife survival. Each instructor will have something different to offer to you and you can use these different elements to become as well informed as possible about the subject, rather than a "true believer" of one particular system or instructor.

Yes there are people out there who have "seen the elephant" and what they teach is going to be different than someone who has only studied the subject as an art. Both have their value. And neither is all encompassing. Therefore, know going in what you are learning and what the person's qualifications and intentions are. From that you extrapolate what works for you and an awareness of different ways of doing things.

Just don't believe anybody who insists that his system is better than anybody else's. That's a decision that you can only make for yourself. And by this I mean that no system is "categorically better" than another, but rather that it is better for you. That doesn't however, mean it is good for the guy next to you. He may do things differently and in doing that, he will attack differently.

And you need to at least be familiar with that kind of attack and how to handle it. Therefore, do exactly what Bruce Lee recommended "Absorb what is useful."


Remember, "It's your ass Cochise." - Part II

That "something else" that hooks 'em

Having recommended that you learn from as many people as you can,  however, I do feel it is important to point out to you that if you do take this course of action you will be beset by "true believers." Depending on who you encounter, this can take many forms: from attempting to recruit you to their "clique," to verbally attack you for listening to anyone other than their messiah,  to embarrassing you by showing how much better than you they are or being just flat-out rude and snotty with a superiority trip straight out of high school

We have a saying, "You may come to the martial arts to learn self-defense, but you stay for other reasons."

Believe it or not, it is very difficult to make a living teaching just self-defense. It is not something that has a wide scale appeal. At least not enough to stay in business and keep the doors open. Therefore the "successful" instructors will add in "something else" to create appeal to a wider spectrum of people. If you walk by a typical martial arts school, you will often see them stressing ideas like confidence, self-discipline, perseverance, health benefits, etc., and somewhere in the list is self-defense too. These attributes make the school appealing for parents to put their kids into the programs -- and like it or not, kids are the bread and butter of most martial arts schools.

Another common attempt at mass appeal is a school claiming to teach several different arts at once. A glance in the phone book or at the window of many martial arts schools will prove this statement. Still another is the "health club" approach. Having spoken to members of the board of directors of the organization that invented "cardio-karate" they freely admit that it is a "cash cow" program. One that was designed to relieve the financial demands on the instructor so he wouldn't have to debase his martial art to stay in business. All of these are ways to get more people in the door and keep them there paying you money.

As is either blatantly claiming or insinuating to be able to make you a knife fighter, streetfighter, kung fu commando and/or certified bad ass. That  is another kind of hook.

So is the appeal of learning the "ultimate" martial art system; whether it was created by or is now taught by  the grandmaster/grand poo bah/ messiah on earth of the subject. The same applies to any system based on the fact that the instructor is a certified bad ass/ killer commando/ streetfighter. That isn't self-defense any more, it is marketing. And it is a very effective marketing form too, because it gives people what they want -- whether they admit it to themselves or not.

As stated, it is a smart business move to develop an organization that guarantees a steady source of income. However, many of the people who are attracted to such groups have other agendas and bring with them personal politics and dysfunctions -- not the least of which is seeking for their own "personal Jesus" (i.e. an all knowing messiah that they bask in his glory and wisdom...while looking down at others for not recognizing "the truth"). Certain people develop very a nearly religious fervor about individuals who feed this want inside of them.

While personally I am uncomfortable with the idea of someone thinking that I am a all-knowing guru, some people apparently like it and encourage it. What I do know for sure, is that they may not be better self-defense teachers than me, but  they are more financially successful for allowing that dynamic to develop. The ones who are the most successful are the ones who actively encourage it among their followers. And like churches, these groups often develop "personalities" and are actively hostile towards similar groups.

Thing is, the group dynamic, while being presented as having everything to do with the quality and applicability of what is being taught for self-defense, has nothing to do with self-defense. It is all about feeding people's egos and fantasies. Unfortunately, this underlying dynamic  is not always immediately obvious.

Recognize that there is a good possibility that you will be walking into exactly that situation if you decide to go study with someone. It's less evident at seminars, but it can be there too. This can make walking into a such a place a rather unpleasant experience. If you find yourself growing uncomfortable with either the teaching or the group, take a look and see if this has something to do with why you are feeling uncomfortable.

It is better to know about this  going in so you can avoid stepping in it...or being bit by it.

1) There is a very strange game these instructors play, they watch video tapes of these other instructors then claim that they have seen the other person teach. When you press them them about the extent of their research they base their condemnation on they tend to get vague. In other words their research is as shallow as their condemnations are generalized

Weapon Disarms

Some of the worst fantasy/lies/suicidally STUPID misconceptions in MA/ RBSD/ DT instruction are about weapons.

Both using them and facing them.

We speak of the problem of 'technique decay' on the Failure to Perform page, but with weapons, technique failure becomes -- literally -- a matter of life and death. If the technique fails, you're not just going to get punched. The problem is often these techniques have lost critical elements necessary for them to function or the move has been taken out of context(1).

What results is a situation politely described by the Josh Billings' quote. That same situation, described bluntly, is: What you think you know will get you killed!

Lawrence Kane, author of Surviving Armed Assaults, contacted me about a thread on Iain Abernathy's forum. As the moderator, he was concerned that the thread was going off into fantasy land. I read the thread and saw that indeed, the same old fantasies about facing a weapon were being promoted.

This is my answer to him...

The problem with so many knife and gun disarm techniques is that the person teaching them is usually like a virgin claiming that he can teach you everything you need to know about sex because he's watched a lot of porn. The instructor has neither faced a knife or used one on another person. In short, it's more about mental masturbation than actually getting it on.

Let me tell you that losing your cherry when it comes to facing weapons ain't no fun a'tall. Aside from all the other things I've been attacked with, I've been shot at, had people attack me with knives and I've been threatened with both. I tell you this to familiarize you with an important concept. At ground zero, there is a fundamental understanding that most martial arts and reality based self-defense virgin ... I mean instructors DON'T tell you. That's because they don't know it themselves. Yet, in a situation involving a weapon, it is the difference between you getting away unscathed or going to the hospital/morgue.

This bedrock concept is: You have to realize that there is a HUGE difference between a threat display and an actual attack.

Threat displays are deeply intertwined with the different kinds of violence. Basically three out of four kinds of violence can be prevented by simply altering your behavior.

It is critical to recognize threat display in these three contexts. The brandishing of the weapon isn't a bluff. It is a statement of commitment. It's showing how far the person is willing to go to get you to change your behavior. It is a warning to stop doing what you are doing.

The problem is that people are often engaged in what Rory Miller calls 'The Monkey Dance' (I call it 'Escalato'). They are so caught in an adrenalin rush, wrapped up in their little duck feelings, intent on winning and proving a point  they fail to see that they are being offered a choice. Again -- and we cannot press this point enough --"Stop what you're doing or bleed."

In their little adrenalin/emotion/prideful/fear washed brains, they 'think' the other person waving a weapon is just another chip in the poker pot that they're trying to win. So instead of recognizing it as a warning, they react to it as though it is a bluff.

I wish I was joking when I say that the stupidest last words ever spoken while looking at a weapon is "You don't have the guts." Unfortunately, that ARE the last words of any number of people who don't recognize the option inherent in threat displays.

The biggest failing of most of what is taught as weapon disarms, counters or defenses is that they automatically assume that if a weapon is present it IS an attack.

In pursuit of heroic fantasy, they're ignoring the elephant in the room. Namely violence can usually be avoided by changing your priorities.

One of the biggest indicators that you're facing a threat display is distance. Specifically they are usually carried on outside of attack range. That guy waving a knife around three feet away from you isn't attacking, it's still a threat display -- usually involving him telling you to to leave.

However, Captain Karate there -- upon seeing the knife -- doesn't take up the option to run like hell, instead HE CLOSES! That's right! What the jury is going to see on the security recording is an unarmed man charging a man with a knife. Then claiming that it was self-defense. Suuuuure. If it was self-defense then why did you run over to attack him when he told you to leave?

Well, okay, that only becomes a problem if you don't get killed for attacking the guy. This is why we say there are only two problems with these moves, one is if it doesn't work. Two is if it does work.

So, the first thing to realize about all the b****t people tell you about how to handle a weapon is how often the best answer isn't to engage. It's to run fiercely.

Which, quite frankly, when facing a real weapon in the hands of someone who's pissed off and screaming at you to leave ... ain't that hard to do.

THAT'S why it's important to know the difference between an attack vs. a threat display. And yet that message gets lost in the teaching of all these half-baked weapon disarms and counters. If it's a threat display, look for the option to escape, don't think that just because a weapon is displayed you have to go killer kung-fu ninja commando on the guy. We call this kind of thing "Rattlesnake cornered" Rattlesnakes are so stupid they can think themselves cornered in an open field. Instead of moving away they strike. The usual result of this is one dead rattlesnake because whatever big thing they just bit, stomps them to death.

Worse though is that the guy is standing there demonstrating how far he is willing to go if you don't knock it off and what do you do? You not only don't knock it off, but you attack!

WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK HE IS GOING TO DO? He's there, cocked, locked and ready to rock and you decide to attack? Oh wait, and do an attack that tries to control the gun and punch him out instead of splattering his skull on the concrete?

With these half-** counters someone's going to get shot here; and odds are it ain't him.

Perhaps the biggest problem with most of what is being promoted as weapon disarms/defense is they are based in sports fighting concepts, not combative requirements. To be more specific, they are based on the idea that you have time to deliver several attacks that cumulatively cause enough damage to stop him.

Well, that's the problem right there, against a weapon, you don't have time for moves that aren't immediately effective for achieving your goal

Facing a weapon you have two major problems:

1) with ineffective movement, he can cause a LOT more damage than you can.

2) as long as he is on his feet, mobile and conscious, he remains a threat

Point one: With all the hubbub about fine motor control loss under adrenalin and how -- under stress -- your technique decays, people tend to forget guns and knives work just fine no matter what his adrenal stress level.

At point blank range it don't matter how much his trigger pull technique decays, that gun will still go off. And if it's pointed at you when it does, you're screwed. (This is why it is critical to deflect the weapon, MOVE and check his arm -- NOT the weapon -- you do this to so arm so the weapon can't come back at you. If the gun is pointed elsewhere, if it goes off the bullet doesn't go into you). That weapon makes up for all kinds of decay in technique. That's an advantage he has that you DON'T. The same goes for a knife, a wild, defensive slash cuts you just as well as an intentional one.

Point two: Forget about controlling the weapon, disarming him or joint-locking the weapon arm (see point one). The problem isn't the weapon; it's the guy holding it! It is HIM you need to render incapable of functioning. A big problem with most of the BS weapon defenses I have seen is that they focus on the weapon and not the guy holding it. That weapon is a symptom, that guy is the problem. It is him you must render incapable of functioning.

Here's the major problem of focusing on the weapon instead of him: As long as he is functional, he is going to be fighting your attempts to control the weapon. And that means the odds are great that he will have a chance to use the weapon on you. Let me repeat that in a different way: The longer he remains functional, the more likely you are to be injured.

This is why HE, not the weapon, needs to be the focus of your counter strategy.

Sub clause of point two -- but strongly based on point one -- is you you ain't going to stop someone with punches, kicks and point sparring hits. You got time for maybe one strike. And it better be a set up for slamming his head into the concrete. Ineffective punches and kicking (and remember they're going to decay under stress) are not an option.

If that guy isn't unconscious or dying within three moves, the person who's going to the hospital is YOU! If you think you're going to punch someone out with a weapon, you are going to get your brains blown into a fine pink mist or end up sitting on the curb trying to hold your guts from spilling out onto the street. That's the common result of trying to 'wrestle the weapon' from someone.

You're especially going to run into this bloody reality if you try any of these fantasy b****t moves that comes 'down' on the weapon (e.g. hold your hands up in fake surrender and then dropping down onto the weapon to seize it). The problem with many of these BS moves is that the 'bad guy's eyes are going to detect your big movement as you move into position and all he needs is small finger twitch to blow your brains into a fine pink mist (2).

George Patton once said "A good plan violently executed now is better than the perfect plan next week." Unfortunately, a bad plan executed next week is almost always a disaster. The problems aren't just that the technique is flawed from the start, he's ready to use violence and that it's going to take less movement on his part to hurt you more. Additional problems arise in that many people hem and haw before they proceed to act. Don't think he isn't going to see you decide to resist. There's a good chance you will get shot right there.

After thinking about it for a while, often when people decide to resist, they try to execute the flawed move with only partial commitment. Their mind may have decided to resist, but their *** ain't in agreement with this stupid plan. So now you have a half-baked technique combining with half ***** execution. That's a good way to end up bleeding on the floor. Again, this is especially true with "I've raised my hands in surrender, but now I've changed my mind" techniques that are commonly taught by virgins. Free hint here: Getting shot or stabbed when you try to do them tends to cause even more hesitation.

Your best chances of success when facing an attack by a weapon are based on how well you meet the following criteria:


1) deflect the weapon so it is pointing else where (personally I like coming up from below)

2) instead of trying to 'control' the weapon, do something to keep his arm from coming 'back' and bringing the weapon back into play (I call this 'shielding')

3) MOVE -- personally I am REAL fond of getting behind his elbow and keeping going. 

4) Immediately pile drive his head into the concrete before he can figure out how to return the weapon into play (crushing his throat is optional, but it does make pile driving easier -- especially if you can't move to the outside and get behind his elbow). While we're on the subject, moving -- aside from making it harder for him to bring the weapon back towards you -- makes pile driving him a WHOLE lot easier. 

5) Buy distance (DON'T stand there and admire your handy work)

The details of how you achieve these standards aren't nearly as important as the fact that you meet them. If you want to minimize damage to yourself, you must not only achieve these five points, but do it without hesitation and with full commitment.

These are core concepts that have saved my life on numerous occasions when it WASN'T a threat display, but an actual attack. How I do them is different than how other styles do them, but you can incorporate those concepts into your system so you can apply your training.

Basically DON'T buy any technique that you haven't tested out with a paintball gun. See if you can do it fast and effectively enough without getting zapped. It also helps if the shooter is in a Bulletman suit to keep him from getting injured.

Also, forget this "expect to get cut" ****. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as some jack *** tries to 'fight' an armed opponent. This isn't a fight, it's combat. You are NOT there to try to fight him. Your goal is to neutralize him ASAP!

In any kind of weapon situation my rule is simple "Trade a cut for a kill." As I splatter his skull into the concrete I may take a slash. That is okay. It's a price I am willing to pay in order to make sure he can no longer attack. I have a very good chance of surviving a single wound. What I cannot survive is multiple shots, slashes/stabs, strikes from a crowbar because I did not render him incapable of attacking again.

And that is exactly what is going to happen if you try to 'fight' an armed opponent or disarm him.

Video Link:

In Conclusion

Let me end this by saying

1) When faced by a threat display that offers you a chance to leave/stop a behavior/give something up -- take him up on the offer. In fact, it's usually better if you follow instructions. This, especially, if it is NOT your job to deal with these kinds of problems.

2) If it is your job to deal with such problems, the time to arm yourself with a superior weapon is during the threat display! Remember the Tueller Drill (3).

3a) Although threat displays in criminal violence tend to be much closer than other kinds of violence, do NOT attempt to close with the threat displays of other kinds of violence.

3b) If attacked by a close range weapon, DO NOT attempt to draw a 'superior weapon!' It's too late. You should have done it during the threat display stage. But attempting to draw your own weapon makes a bad situation worse. Such an action:

a) leaves you exposed and unable to protect yourself. Your hands are down fumbling for a weapon instead of up and dealing with the problem.

b) So-called 'superior weapons' do NOT have the necessary defensive capabilities to save your life

(4) immediately do something that will prevent his attack from landing (see the above section). When you have time and distance THEN draw your superior weapon.

4) Accept that you're in a screwed situation. One that requires immediate resolution (see the above section). Do NOT attempt to 'fight.' Your countermeasures must be immediately effective to render him incapable of further, effective, aggression. And do this while NOT preventing damage to you, but minimizing it.

5) Based on the tactical assessment of point 4, do NOT waste time trying to secure a totally safe entrance. The longer you are out there attempting to 'gain control of the weapon,' the greater the odds are of him successfully using it on you (5).

6) If he's still standing, he can still be effective. If he's still conscious, he can still be a threat. Remove these two options ASAP.

Video Links:


1) Perhaps one of the best examples of concepts being taken out of context -- and then misinterpreted -- is Kubudo. Kubudo is the Okinawan weapons system, mostly based on the fact that the Okinawans were legally prohibited from carrying weapons. As such, they developed a fighting system based on agrarian and fishing items that would be immediately available. Items like nuncaku (nunchucks), sais, tonfas, kamas, eku (boat oar) and tekko (modified net pulling tools) are NOT weapons in and of themselves. They are tools that can be used as improvised weapons. Against an actual weapon -- especially in the hands of someone who knows how to use it -- they WILL fail.*

However,  Kubudo, which is a distinct martial art by itself, has been 'absorbed' into, not only Okinawan forms of karate, but also Japanese and Korean martial arts systems as well. Which, when you hear a TKD instructor talking about how sais were used to disarm samurai you should realize how incredibly wrong a white guy trained in a Korean system talking about how Okinawans disarmed Japanese warriors really is.

*The 'legend that samurai were disarmed with sai has been  misinterpreted by martial artists. During the Meiji Restoration the domination of Japanese society by the Shogunate and the samurai class was ended. Under the Tokagwa Shogunate, a samurai had the legal right to kill anyone who dared to insult him, much less attack him (Not very impressive since the populace was unarmed). The Haitorei Edicts  were a series of edicts to strip away the power and symbolism of the samurai. Samurai were required to give up carrying swords in public. As various rebellions show, many samurai did NOT like this idea. While full-scale rebellions were few, conflicts with individual samurai over giving up these symbols weren't. And believe it or not, this also included forced hair cuts.

As well as being weapons, the sai and jutte WERE symbols of civil and police authority. (sai two prongs, jutte one prong.) During the Restoration, special police 'teams' were developed to handle samurai who refused to cooperate with the Haitorei Edicts. Each member of such a team was armed with different 'weapons' to ensure the safety of the officers. Each item served a particular purpose --  and in turn -- 'covered' the weakness of the other items against the sword. For example jutte pole arms and manriki kusari (both distance weapons) were used to hinder the movement of the katana long enough so the officer with the sai/jutte could safely close and disarm the samurai.

Hindering of the samurai's movement was critical because, contrary to what you see in demonstrations, the swordsman isn't just going to stand there while you close the distance. So in that sense, the idea that sais were used to disarm samurai is partially true. However... a) this period of disarming samurai only lasted a few years

b) If you try to disarm a competent swordsman with sai alone, you're going to get killed.

Yet, the legend that sai work against swords is a staple among martial artists. Although there remains a vague resemblance to the truth, the sai/samurai myth has eclipsed the reality. But legends do NOT need to have the factors that make them work in real life. You need those pole arms. It's also easier if those same pole arms are pinning the samurai against a building. While you will not find the above facts in most modern martial arts books or MA schools, what you just read is history and you can find reference to it in older books like Karate: My Way of Life by Gichen Funakoshi.

2) I don't like using a squirt gun to prove this point, I prefer goggles and paintball guns:

a) getting shot at point blank range hurts like hell.

b) You can get ones that shoot multiple times. With this feature you can 'riddle' the person to show how badly such moves DON'T work.

3) Figure out and practice 'distraction draws.' These are seemingly normal movements (that one would expect in certain circumstances) that actually incorporate a stealth weapon draw. For example, when facing a person with a knife engaging in an at a distance threat display, raising your left hand, extending it and turning your body while saying "Whoa." In the meantime, your right hand has grasped your gun. Your right hand doesn't move, so the body turn draws the gun with minimal arm movement. Often you'll have armed yourself before the person realizes what you've done.

4) Most people do NOT understand the concept of 'defense' -- especially in close quarter combat. The reason a bullet works out at a distance is that it impedes an attacker's ability to effectively counter attack (e.g. after you've shot him, it's harder for him to accurately shoot back). The concept of stopping power is very important when someone is at a distance and/or attempting to close to attack. The problem with this is many people mistake this offensive concept for being defensive. They are NOT the same thing. The closer the quarters of an attack, more important an item's defensive capabilities become. That means 'how well can it be used to deflect or absorb (block) an incoming attack?'  At a distance, there's a good chance his offense is going to miss, so offense is paramount and this kind of defense less important. Up close you NEED defensive capabilities. The 'stopping power' of a weapon is far less important than it's use to prevent his potentially fatal attack from landing as well. A so-called 'superior weapon' isn't when it is out of its range.

5) General George Patton said: Death in battle is a function of time. The longer troops remain under fire, the more men get killed. Therefore, everything must be done to speed up movement. I cannot stress how important this concept is. In a close quarter weapon attack immediately getting 'past the weapon' to remove the threat is critical to survival. Most people lose because instead of focusing momentarily getting the weapon out of play in get to the real threat, they instead try to ensure complete control of the weapon before attacking the source of the danger. This leaves them 'under fire' for longer.

The Cost of Using a Knife

The following was a letter I posted to the Animal list. A young man had narrowly avoided being mugged by some street rats and initially asked the list about the legal issues involving knife use. He was advised to get training in judicious use of lethal force, given advice on awareness and told tips on strategic avoidance. Which -- aside from going miles to keep you from having to use a blade -- is both an integral part of a solid legal defense and a external set of standards to assist you do what you need to do to survive a situation of  immediate threat of death or grave bodily injury.

Although the last sentence is very clumsy and hard to read, it says something very important. And that is there a strong correlation between acting and legal self-defense.

We disagree with the often spouted idea that knowing the laws of self-defense will cause you to freeze from  fear of prosecution instead of defending yourself.

Basically we feel this is an attempt by individuals -- who revel in the macho fantasy of knife fighting -- to dismiss the importance of knowing legal requirements and standards of self-defense. Knowing when you are justified to use force and when you are not justified force doesn't interfere with you defending yourself, in fact it helps you. That's because it isn't based in emotions and fear. It is based in knowing what is and isn't an immediate threat.

The only time it would interfere with your ability to move would be when you are in the wrong. In other words, when you are fighting, not defending yourself. Many instructors, who make their bread and butter off selling the warrior mythology and the espousing the deadly street effectiveness of their art, are very guilty of promoting this misconception. We consider this to be a dangerous dismissal of reality by people of questionable motivations, whether student or instructors.

In short, the young man was told to get this training before he even considered carrying a knife on the streets. Then ... the young man asked what we call a "27 Ninjas question."

The term 27 Ninjas is an abbreviation of the all too common, What if I am walking down a blind alley with $20 bills hanging out of my pockets, and I get jumped by 27 Uzi-wielding ninjas? type of question. Twenty-seven Ninjas questions are commonly asked on self-defense forums and at knife fighting seminars.

By their nature, they are worst case scenarios where the questioner has no choice, but to resort to violence.

More realistically though they are What If Monkey types of questions. They are devoid of common sense. In order to have found yourself in such a situation in the first place, you already have committed many errors in avoidance and strategic movement. People who ask 27 Ninja questions are -- in essence -- asking: Now that I have done everything else wrong, how can I get out of this no-win situation that I've put myself in without injury?

Putting it bluntly, these kinds of questions often are asked by the young and inexperienced--or worse cyberwarriors, people who fantasize about getting cornered, and therefore have the excuse to unleash the deadly fighting/knife fighting skills they think -- in the safety of their homes and dojos -- they possess.  Now, in a blaze of commando, kung-fu, killer prowess, keyboard warriors and dreamers fantasize fighting free of the mess.(1)

One older man who answered was a member of a Special Forces team in Vietnam. Who had killed several people with knife during sentry removals.


Unlike what the crop of knife-fighting experts and their cults of uber-warriors loudly preach about the idea, the use of knives on other human beings traumatized him. The young man's inexperienced question irritated him; because it seemed that the youth was actually seeking an excuse to--next time--bravely fight off a horde of evil doers with his knife.

In his defense, the young man was scared and thought it was a reasonable question. What he didn't realize was that the extent of his question went no further than his immediate fear. It did not take into consideration long-term, post traumatic stress disorder issues that arise from violence.

What follows is my reply. It is an attempt to build a bridge of understanding between the inexperience of youth (and its fears) and the nightmare of experience. Names have been removed.

The cost of using a blade

From: Marc MacYoung

Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2003

***** said

> What do you mean by gray area? Are you stuck? Are you in the place that you are not supposed to be? >Or your ego makes you want to stay?

*sigh* Here is where I put on my other moderator hat. The one that allows me to see both sides. Let me start out by saying as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young said it in "Teach Your Children Well"

Teach your children well

Their father's hell did slowly go by

And you, of tender years

Don't know the fears that your elders grew by

A) ******, he doesn't know what hell lies on the other side of a knife. B) (Kid who had posted) as a civilian, there is a legal hell you will probably go through, but...even if it is a "cleanest of the clean" self-defense application...there is another hell that awaits you. A hell that is made worse if it wasn't a 100% clean. That is to say that you allowed pride, anger or ego put you into a place where you seriously hurt or killed another human being.

This "experience" stays with you for your entire life. And when you are young or when it is sort of fresh, you can push it down and lock it away (too fresh and, no. Years later, no. It will always come back to haunt you. But three months afterward -- when you think you got it handled -- yes. Ah the confidence of inexperience). The thing is, it never goes away. You may have a large locked door in your psyche where you think you have safely locked it away , but the thing burrows out and disguises itself as it runs through your mind/life and plays hob with all kinds of other things.

It will affect you in all kinds of ways. It depends on who you are, but one thing is for sure, it will be in your "unconscious basement" and fuck with various systems (plumbing, electric, structural support, foundations, etc). And a lot of times in the calm of the night, or when you are too tired to keep the restraints on the door, it will pick the lock and creep upstairs to smash shit and jump on you as you are sleeping. And all of a sudden, you are right back there again; reliving that moment and the horror. Think Amityville Horror, but the "house" is your mind and the demon is attacking it too.

It doesn't go away...and it is very, very real.

As Barry Eisler recommended The Gift of Fear, I recommend Dave Grossman's On Killing. In it, he talks about the resistance to kill anyway and resistances about killing at different ranges. Knife work...well...let's just say,it's too fuckin' close. The resistances get stronger the closer you get. And that is the case for many, many reasons. I tell you what, even if you don't believe in it, it's like being at ground zero of a bad juju explosion. You may not even know that you have a psychic basement, but, after that kind of situation, the lock on the door to it has been picked and, guess what? Amityville Horror time.

Why do you think so many criminals burn out? Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep those doors locked and barricaded with a constant supply of self-rationalization and self-justification for what they did? When you get tired of doing that, you dope yourself. You keep on stacking shit to numb it and give yourself freedom from the pressure. You don't allow yourself to see the source of the problem until you either fall into addiction, burn out or are shuffled off into the corner and viewed as some dangerous weirdo by normal society.


And, yes, there are true sociopaths /psychopaths who don't feel this stuff...but statistically speaking, they are incredibly rare, even in "The Life." Most crims end up wrecked, warehoused, burned out, addicted or dead. And if this stuff can do it to them, what is it going to do to a normal person?Someone who doesn't have the egomania of a criminal?

I must admit, I have a serious problem with the current "knife fighting" trend...especially when it is these cyber-studs who roam the Internet and go to these stud-ly, knife fighting seminars where they practice committing mayhem on their fellow beings. I've watched tapes, and I've listened to what a lot of people promote as "knife use." Quite honestly, what too many instructors are saying will either get their students killed or thrown in prison. Killed, because if you are in a situation where you are legally justified in using a knife, then that move had better have a block inherent in it because something lethal is heading your way. In prison because they teach the guys to attack with a blade sans that kind of threat. That makes it murder or at the very least manslaughter, neither of which are justifiable or legal.

Even if the "knife fighter" doesn't go to prison, do you have any idea what that is going to do to his psyche? I'm not even talking legal here, some part of him will know what he did was not justified.

Also referring back to Grossman, violence is THE most "toxic environment" known to mankind. Now a lot of people, can get away with it because they are the ones committing the violence. But, in truth, it fucks everyone else up, some more, some less. Head-to-head violence, however, really fucks up everyone because you are both the offender and the victim. With this dual citizenship, you can't hide in either convenient definition.

And quite honestly, I suspect the awareness of this dual citizenship is one of the reasons many crims will avoid attacking someone who is calmly prepared to do what is necessary to survive. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it is over and above the "he might get killed messing with the wrong dude" fear/deterrent.

(Kid who had posted), the incident that you had was a mild taste of the hell that is out there. A situation occurred where the door was cracked open just a bit. And it is not uncommon to be scared shitless when you get a peek. But one of the most important things to do is NOT to let fear/ego/ emotion put you into a situation where you are likely to throw the door wide open and jump in.

Putting it bluntly, that is a what a whole lot of the knife info that I've seen taught is assisting people to do. Despite their huffing and puffing about what bad asses they are, all they are focusing on is their fear of the event. They don't pay enough attention to legal, moral and psychological issues that result from knife use. But from where the person is, it looks like he is taking steps to close that door. They're really convinced they're taking care of the problem. In fact, they are opening the door still wider. And, worse, setting themselves up to fling it wide open and dive through.

This is why establishing withdraw/evasion protocols is so important. It keeps you away from that door. No, it is not as emotionally gratifying or ego massaging as carrying a weapon and telling yourself "If I ever had to use it I'd...." but it is far, far safer on many, many levels. Your emotions can hijack you (read, Daniel Goleman's: Emotional Intelligence). What's worse is that they can set you up to catapult you into hell. If you just think carrying a knife and asking the list "would I be legally justified in doing this?" is enough thenyou are not seeing the full scope of the problem. The fear arising from that quick peek into hell is guiding you, not calm, rational, critical thinking.

Now on any other forum, you would have been bombarded with "Ook, Ook, slobber drool, see how big my dick is" responses. What I want you to see is the fact that you're getting solid, dependable advice about getting information from a credible source about the legalities of use of force. You're getting damn good advice on awareness and strategies to create a buffer between you and the criminals. As well as creating a rational, reasonable set of standards and behavioral track record (I did A, he did B) -- that you can articulate to the police and DA -- about what

1) you did to avoid it,

2) what he did that told you it wasn't "innocent" and

3) why it was necessary to do what you did. And on top of this, you are getting a better understanding of the hell that lies in wait on the other side of the door. Once you understand that, all this other non-macho, practical, rational stuff is way more appealing because it keeps you out of that hell.

For the record, (Kid who had posted) is one of the people on this list who knows what it means to use a knife on another human being. He knows the demon that I talk of here, as do others. Talk to them and see what this demon has done to them. And heed their warnings: Don't let fear, emotion or pride cast you into hell by learning only enough about this subject to calm your immediate fear. The truth is, it will never work.

The door is still cracked and despite all of their blustering and posing when you go to these knife fighting forums, populated by ultimate cyber warriors...they stink of fear. They have never taken the rational, logical steps to close the door. Fortunately for most of them, they don't live lifestyles where they really would have to use this stuff, but they still have become fixated on it. Never there, but never able to let it go. The only reason that door stays cracked open is that they keep it open. Never able to fully close it, but never brave enough to go through it either. And forever dismissing, deriding or just never getting around to coughing up the cash for any information that would bring it out of their fantasy and into reality.

Don't fall into that trap. Because if you think a peek of hell is bad, wait until you end up getting catapulted there because you were lingering by the door, peeking in. Either close the door or go in fully prepared.


That's what I told this young man.

For people who want to learn knife fighting in order to "defend themselves,"think long and hard on this post. It deals with the realities of using a knife on another human being. Before you've gone there, all sorts of things look more important. Once you've gone through that door, they are shown as nothing but silly pride and baseless fears. That's because what's on the other side of the door is far, far worse. Unfortunately, I speak from experience on this issue, and I would not wish this hell on anyone. Don't go through that door.

Although I am talking rather poetically in this post, there is a seriouspsychological basis to the subject. It addresses post traumatic stress disorder, post traumatic event disorder, legal, criminology, social and ethical issues that lead to all kinds of problems. The long-term ramifications of these issues are seldom addressed by martial arts or reality-based combat proponents. Although they are not part of the fantasy of violence, they are very much the reality of the aftermath of violence.

Oh, for the cyber studs who will read this page and go off and rip me apart on their ultimate combat forums...well, Eric Hoffer said it best: Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.

Grow up, boy, this is real life we are talking about. And that goes beyond your fears, pride and fantasies. It involves people's lives and complicated adult issues. You aren't the first one to go down that road, and some of us have gone even farther. Do yourself a favor and don't scoff at the stories of trouble coming your way from further up the road. If you don't have the wisdom to do that, at least have the good manners NOT to lie to younger more inexperienced people than yourself about what it takes to be on this road.

'Cause you ain't made the trip yet...and we both know it.




1) The answer to a 27 Ninja question is: "You die...what were you doing there in the first place?" While it is technically possible to survive the kinds of scenarios that are painted with these questions, the person who has the skills/commitment/ferocity to do so will hardly ever put himself into that kind of situation


Marc MacYoung

Growing up on the gang-infested streets of Los Angeles not only gave Marc MacYoung his street name “Animal,” but also extensive firsthand experience about what does and does not work for self-defense. What he teaches is based on experience and has proven reliability for surviving violence. If it didn’t work, he wouldn’t be alive to talk about it.

He is considered by many to be one of the most analytical thinkers on the subject of  surviving violence and personal safety today.  He has taught police, military, martial artists and civilians around the world. His message is always the same: Hand-to-hand combat is a last ditch effort when other, more effective, preventive measures have failed.