As far as weapons go in Australia, knife threats and attacks are one of the more common.  Hence why defences to these types of problems are taught very early on in the Krav Maga Global curriculum.

We start by looking at the timeline of an attack – ideally it is better to not be there!  However, there may be times when leaving is not an option. 

Obviously, like anything, the more (good) practice you can give something, the better you will get however it is important to always remember that knives are extremely dangerous and are challenging to defend against due to several factors:

  1. Proximity and Speed: Knife attacks occur at close quarters, where the attacker has the advantage of being within striking distance. The close proximity reduces the time available for the defender to react and effectively counter the attack. Knife attacks can be swift and unexpected, making it difficult to anticipate and respond in time.
  2. Lethality and Injury Potential: A knife is a highly lethal weapon that can cause severe injury or death with a single strike. Even a small knife in the hands of an experienced attacker can inflict serious harm. The possibility of sustaining life-threatening injuries psychologically amplifies the difficulty of defending against knife attacks.
  3. Lack of Predictable Patterns: Unlike some other forms of combat or self defence scenarios, knife attacks lack predictable patterns. The movements of a knife-wielding attacker may be erratic, making it challenging for the defender to anticipate and counter effectively. The unpredictability increases the difficulty of formulating a precise defence strategy.
  4. Limited Margin for Error: Defending against a knife attack requires specific techniques and timing. Any mistakes or misjudgments can have severe consequences. The margin for error is extremely narrow, as even a slight miscalculation or hesitation can result in injury. This puts added pressure on the defender to execute defensive manoeuvres immediately.
  5. Psychological Pressure and Fear Factor: The psychological impact of a knife attack can be significant. The presence of a weapon can induce fear, stress, and panic, potentially impairing the defender’s ability to think clearly and react appropriately. The high-stress environment further complicates the defence against a knife attack.
  6. Versatility of Knife Strikes: A knife provides a wide range of attack options, including thrusts, slashes, and rapid movements. The versatility of knife strikes makes it challenging to defend against all possible angles and techniques simultaneously. The defender must be prepared to counter various attack vectors effectively.
  7. Training and Experience: Effectively defending against knife attacks requires specialised training and experience. It takes time to develop the necessary reflexes, spatial awareness, and technical proficiency to counter knife attacks successfully. Without proper training and exposure to realistic scenarios, the difficulty of defence increases significantly.

Krav Maga uses two basic techniques to defend against the vast majority of knife attacks, the inside defence and the outside defence.  The inside defence details wit attacks on a straight line and the outside defence deals with attacks coming in a circular motion.  As many conflicts are encountered in lowlight environments it is likely that the weapon may not even be identified during the altercation and as such Krav Maga uses exactly the same defences to defend empty hand attacks as it does armed attacks thus significantly reducing the need to identify a weapon in the environment and change your plan to suit a specific need.

Given the above factors, it is crucial to remember that the primary goal when faced with a knife attack is to prioritise personal safety and seek help as soon as possible.

  • If you can, leave before the attacker is even in range of reaching you.
  • If you can’t leave there are options such as using barriers and/or common objects in your environment to defend yourself.
  • Remember your voice too!  Having good conversation management skills is also paramount to dealing with conflict.
  • If you have to, use the skills you have learnt to defend against the knife.
  • After the attack is over, make sure you check yourself (and anyone else you are with) for any injuries.  Many people in knife attack scenarios think they have been punched when in fact it is a knife stab.

Being aware of your surroundings and making good decisions to avoid dangerous situations are important preventative measures that can can reduce the likelihood of encountering these types threats.

Be safe.


Anna Hacquoil
Director – InDefence

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