Knife Attacks and Knife Defences – Part 2

Knife attacks are becoming common. The success of a knife defence depends on the skills, level of awareness and preparation of the defender.

steve kratsas knife defence

A knife attack response can vary from panic to strong opposition, but again it depends on the elements mentioned above. One of the most common reactions is freezing or “running for our lives” (the latter one can be actually lifesaving). Therefore, one of the major goals of training is to teach our KMG trainees, instructors and students to recognize and respond …

Freezing is NOT an OPTION.

As a part of the stress reaction there is a so called centralization of the blood flow, this means the body shifts the blood flow to the most important organs for response (brain, muscles of the legs).

On the other hand, the body decreases the blood flow to the parts it is ready to sacrifice (hands, shoulders, back muscles). Since in many aspects people lose their primordial instincts many describe these effects as an unpleasant sudden lightheartedness, palpitation (mainly to increase cardiac output for possible hard physical exertion) difficulty breathing due to panic and more …

All these create panic and anxiety that totally disable the ability of the person to respond.

Many people experience these sensations of stress and anxiety, it is natural but because they very rarely, if at all, have this feeling in the daily life, they have great difficulties to manage themselves under those stressful conditions and all this in the fraction of a few seconds.

One of the most common methods used in psychiatry for treatment of the panic attacks or anxiety is CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) where a person is being taught to deal with the appearing systemic symptoms and being able to perform efficiently in addition to gradual exposure to the possible trigger. In our case training and MULTIPLE REPETITIONS as well as the ability to solve non – standard situations provides this type of CBT that allows us and our students to be more aware and ready for response if needed.

In theory it is important to optimize and improve the technical skills indefinitely. But, even providing the students with awareness and some basic skills carries significant benefit for the student. Working on aggression and determination during training may be just as important (and sometimes even more important) as working on techniques alone. The approach to the situation is important and not to the specific motion.

This is because we cannot predict the millions of possible variations that may occur in reality. But, what we can provide the approach and principles of behaving during the event. Therefore attention must be in both axis’s – theoretical and practical skills and these can be learned only by repetition and exposure to MULTIPLE scenarios.

Even if in reality we / our trainee will not perform the perfect defense or counterattack, the chances to survive significantly increase even if we use only a small proportion of our knowledge.

We know of many cases around the world where KMG krav maga trainees overcame aggressive knife attacks with a basic defense and only one counterattack.

The same can be basically stated about any profession. Some things that are learned in university are forgotten, but most of the professionals can still do their job very well.

So again, exposure to different situations and approaches to our student’s psychomotor state must be considered as one of the major issues. Techniques, even that we in KMG attempt to make these as simple as possible, you need time and repetitions to gain the proficiency. Mental preparation can be effectively done in shorter time, providing significant benefit for us / our students.

Mental trainings and visualization must become integrated into the trainings and should be advised to the students to practice also outside the gym.

From the technical aspect: repetitions and more repetitions of knife defences.

The techniques should be repeated at all levels and as our level grows, more and more attention should be to the precision of the motion. When we are sure of our techniques we should look back and see the ways we can make them better for example creating exercises that will challenge our skills. It is not related only to being able to work under stress or multiple attackers. Our inside feelings / emotional state during the performance, observation, smoothness of our motions and muscles movements, control of our thoughts, internal monolog, emotions and empathy to the others (we need to be ready to assist to these in need for help).

Defending knife attacks may not be an easy task, even for a trained person.

But since there is increased number of events with the use of knives (knife type weapons and other sharp objects) we should promote and improve our knowledge daily and not only in practical (learning techniques), but also mental aspects. The training should deal with standard as well as “non – standard” situations and multiple simulations. The students should understand (I consider all of us as students) that there is no such thing as “I already did it enough times”, but the skills must be continuously improved and well preserved.

by Dr. Tal Kvores Expert level 4 KMG Global Team of Instructors