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"How many knife fights have you been in?"
"I've trained for ten years in various knife fighting systems and ..."
"No. How many knife fights have you actually been in?"
"I'm trained in five different systems ..."

Knife Fighting
A Reality Break

On this page:
To Would-Be Knife Fighters* | A reality break | Amateur vs. Professional knifers | Choosing a Knife | Cost of knife use | Dueling vs. Survival | "Expect To Get Cut" and Other BS Taught About Knife Fighting * | Fantasy Self-Defense | Other Instructors | This Isn't a Sparring Match | Use of Lethal Force * | Weapons Disarms  | What If Monkeys

When the conversation quoted above starts to head down that direction, I begin to feel an overwhelming urge to put my forehead into my hand and shake my head, because I know I am about to get a long dissertation on how great of a knife fighter this guy is. Yep, he's a knifefighter alright ... his business card even says so. And I *know* that I am going to be regaled with awe inspiring tales of all the knife fights that his instructor -- not only survived --but gloriously 'won' using this awesome knife fighting system that stud-muffins now knows.

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but thinking that training in 'knife fighting is the same as doing it is like a virgin telling me he knows everything there is about sex because he's 'studied' porno movies.

The only people who are going to be impressed are other virgins. And all the cocky arrogance the world about his deadly training isn't going to change the fact, that such a person is still a virgin -- therefore NOT a knifer, much less a "knife fighter."

Oh yeah, and if you make a production out of it, a real hard case will just shoot you. Because he knows he can't afford to take the chance you'll cut him.


To Any And All Would-Be Knife Fighters
Here's a message to anyone who thinks that by pulling a weapon in a fight will guarantee he will never lose...

Learn to take your beating like a man.

If you step into the arena of violence it doesn't matter what you call it. Violence is what it is. A fight doesn't change because you call it 'self-defense.' Violence happens for a lot of reasons and an overwhelming majority of violence is NOT a matter of life or death. And that especially applies to fighting. Which is what most people who think they are 'defending themselves' are actually doing.

If you choose to 'fight,' accept the fact that you can -- and WILL -- lose. Sooner or later, the odds are going to catch up and you aren't going to be the one who comes out ahead. If you can't accept that reality, then you have no business stepping into the arena.

By panicking and pulling a knife to avoid taking an oft times non-lethal pounding, you've just escalated it into serious shit. That action has taken it OUT of social violence and made it a deadly force encounter. Your worst fears have been realized because YOU MADE IT HAPPEN.

That dude is now legally justified to pull a gun out and blow your brains into a fine pink mist. If you use you super ninja silat commando knife training on the dude, then YOU are legally the aggressor ... no matter who started it. YOU have crossed the line into excessive force AND instigated the use of lethal force. And lethal force is only justified if you are in IMMEDIATE danger of death or grievous bodily injury. Losing a fight does NOT qualify. No matter how scared you are of losing.

When it comes to using a knife on another human being let me state right now:

I don't give a fuck what you think 'self-defense with a knife' is.

Nor do I give a rat's ass about what your instructor says is justified use of force (as he teaching you all these killer kung commando deadly knife moves).

I also don't give a tinker's damn about all the macho huffing and puffing about "If I ever had to use this I'd..." BS that so many wanna-be 'knife fighters' repeat endlessly on the internet. I especially don't give a bucket of rat piss about how the founder of the deadly knife fighting system you know used it in hundreds of duels. That's because that ain't where you are. Here, chanting "I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six" is the fastest way I know to get raped in the prison showers.

I say this because about 99% of what is out there about 'knife fighting' will either get you killed or in the showers.

Your problem is this: if you use a knife according to a lot of the training that is out there, you're in some deep shit. No matter what your guru/pak/datu or some knife fighting ninja on a forum told you (or you've convinced yourself)


Because the law looks at you using a knife as the same as using a gun:
      1) A knife is a lethal force item/weapon
      2) As such its legal/ethical application is narrowly allowed/accepted
      3) 'Self-defense' is a legally defined term
      4) It is up to you to meet that standard
      5) If you didn't, you've just attempted murder... or commited
        manslaughter, or murder.

That standard is NOT going to change because you felt you were 'defending yourself.' It's very easy to allow your emotions to carry you away, pull and use a knife when it is not justified -- either legally or in actuality.

Knives are like power tools, mistakes happen a whole lot faster. And they're usually wet and messy.

Now you may think I don't know what I'm talking about ... except for the fact that my bank account is a whole lot bigger because attorneys call me when they have a case where knives were used.

This should interest wanna-be knife fighters for three reasons:
     1) I have personally survived several knife incidents and I've seen
     a lot more first-hand, so I know how knives are commonly used.
      2) I know the dangerous and illegal fantasies that are commonly taught
     in the 'knife fighting' business -- and
     most of it is NOT self-defense.
      3) While in self-defense cases I prefer to work with defense attorneys,
     when it comes to illegal knifings, I prefer to work with prosecutors.

So basically you have a choice, you can listen to me now, or you can listen to me in court.

And if you listen now, hopefully you'll stay out of court. If you end up there, you'd really rather have me on your side explaining why you didn't do what you are being charged with. Add to this that if (despite this warning) you choose to listen some so-called knife fighting expert who promise that you'll-be-a-weedwhacker -of- death-after-you-study-his-deadly- system, don't be surprised to see me testifying against you for what you did to somebody who didn't deserve it.


A Reality Break
The reason I'm so harsh about what is being taught as knife combat is NOT to get you to come and study my "ultimate knife fighting system." I'm trying to save lives ... either yours or someone else's. This ain't no game and it ain't no fantasy, so let's get some perspective on the subject of so-called "knife fighting."


Amateur vs. 'Professional' Knifers
What are the difference 'ways' you will be attacked with a knife? Clearing up an unfortunate choice of words about how a 'professional' and an 'amateur' will attack you with a knife.


The Psychological Cost of Knife Use
Unlike many 'experts' on the subject of knife fighting, I have used knives in the street. This is not a brag, it a statement of fact. The reason it is not bragging is that I have also experienced the psychological, psychic and moral hell that resulted from the experience. This is a letter to a young man who seemed too eager to carry a knife to defend himself in the streets. It addresses the real costs of using a blade.


Choosing a Knife
Which knife is best for self-defense? I get that question all the time. Here's what you need to think about before you buy, much less carry a knife for self-defense.

Dueling vs. Survival
Most so-called "knife fighting" training that is currently taught has very little to do with how knives are commonly used in violent situations. This is because much of what is being taught is predicated on what can only be called 'dueling.'
The mindset, physics, strategies and attacks that occur in dueling situations are radically different than the many other ways that violent people use knives. Dueling is only one aspect of knife work, to survive you need to know the others as well.

"Expect to get cut" and Other Lies Taught About Knife Fighting
There are a lot of "macho myths" about knife fighting, here are some of the reasons they are dangerous misconceptions

Fantasy Self-Defense
There is a lot of fantasy-elements in the so-called 'knife fighting' world. Much of it having to do with the idea of it being a knife fight at all. But before you can start to winnow out the fantasy from the reality, you have to understand a little about the nature of fantasy and the politics that so often plague groups and organizations. Issues that will seriously affect what you learn regarding knife work -- and if you end up in prison for murder if you do what your 'teacher' told you.

My Thoughts on Other Instructors
What about other knife fighting instructors? Are they worth studying with? My answer will surprise you.

This Isn't a Sparring Match
There are a lot of people who have gone to a few seminars, maybe even attended a camp who are going back to their school and hanging up shingles about their knife and stick fighting credentials. Furthermore there are many of these people's students who think they now know something about knife work. This is a very dangerous misconception

Use of Lethal Force
The bottom line is that in the eyes of the law, using a knife on another human being is using "deadly force." There is a very narrow spectrum where the use of lethal force is allowed, and if you don't know it you will end up in prison, losing everything you own to litigation -- or both.

Weapon disarms/Facing a Weapon
Unfortunately there are many people who have never faced a weapon in their lives telling you what works to 'save your life' when weapons are involved. The problem is that most of these techniques will get you killed. Or, if you're extremely lucky, merely hospitalized and maimed for the rest of your life. We take a hard look at the fantasies and the realities of weapon disarms.

What If Monkeys
It seems that no matter what seminar you go to there is always someone asking "What if it doesn't work?" Although this page is important for students to read, this page is by and large written for instructors, giving them advice on how to handle WIMs

Return to top

What You Don't Know Can Kill You
(How your SD training will put you into prison or the ground)

Liar, Cheat and Thief
Maija Soderholm
(Knife and sword)

Writing Violence Vol: II
Getting Stabbed
Marc MacYoung

(Effects of getting stabbed)

Deep Survival
Lawrence Gonzales
(Crisis mental preparedness)

Law of Self-Defense
Anthony Branca
(Legal issues of SD)

On Killing
Lt Col Dave Grossman
(Psychology, professional)

Knives, Knife Fighting…
Marc MacYoung
(Street knife realities)

Safe in the Street
Marc MacYoung DVD
(Crime recognition/avoidance)

FTW Self- Defense
Clint Jahn
(Street culture, self-defense)

Musashi In Plain English
Peyton Quinn
(MA, Philosophy)

In the Name of Self-Defense
Marc MacYoung
(Violence, crime & aftermath)
Read AFTER "What You Don'tKnow..."

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