Defensive Knives?

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Cosmoline, Oct 18, 2013.

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  1. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Well there's also your feet. Personally I'd prefer a system using kicks and evasion to keep out of a face-to-face entanglement. Barring that disarming methods would seem a better choice than trying to go mano-a-mano with a short blade.
     
  2. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    Having read your assumptions about using a knife as a defensive tool, I can better understand your original impression the usefulness of a knife of shorter than sword length.

    I'm also given the impression that your understanding of attacks and CQ Combat, in an urban as opposed to a battle setting, is a bit limited

    Any defensive skill requires this to remain proficient

    Yes, this is by definition what CQ combat is. You're already close when the fight starts. Unless your experience is a lot different than mine, BGs don't line up and charge from a distance after issuing a challenge

    All weapons are more effective in the offensive role and stealth only makes them more effective

    That may have been your experience, but it is certainly not universal. There is a greater instilled fear of knives, that many believe stems from a mother's admonition of being careful not to "get cut."...at least that is what they taught us in the academy

    Perhaps because carrying a knife was commonly accepted at the time and there was not a need to state it.

    I'm not sure where this comes from. None of my training was based on a lightly dressed assailant...well, to be completely honest, it did address that the tactics taught were an evolution following the discontinuation of the common wearing of suits of armour...hence, slashing attacks, rather than stabbing attacks.

    All training is first taught against a sparring partner. That is how you instill recognition and reaction. Different attacks require different responses. In actual use, it is up to the defender to determine which attack is occuring and how response is needed

    I can only say that in 28 years in LE, I have never seen a criminal shoot while running backwards. I've seen officers do it. It is the difference between being an attacker and a defender.

    I've seen it work if the right muscles/connective tissue has been severed. I don't think you have a lot of choice but to drop a weapon when you lose the ability to grip, or keep standing when your thigh muscles are no longer working

    Have you ever considered attending a class to test your belief in the ineffectiveness of a short blade?
     
  3. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    But they can be effective, depending on the circumstances even without training. Becoming skilled with a knife is similar to becoming a skilled unarmed fighter. It takes a lot of work and a lot of training. But it's instructive to remember that untrained people still defend themselves with their bare hands at times. It's not ideal, but it's not impossible either.
    Both moot points if your enemy has already closed the range and is attacking you.

    This is really off-the-wall reasoning. Trying to turn that around to say that a knife is of questionable use because the DEFENDER has to close the distance completely misses the point. The attacker is the one trying to close the distance to use his weapon. The idea is that it might be very valuable to have something other than your bare hands to keep him back far enough to keep him from using his weapon effectively.
    Assuming we accept this as a valid point, how does that make it better to be unarmed than armed with a knife when being attacked?
    I believe this to be true. If you have to use a knife in self-defense the aftermath probably won't be a slam-dunk.
    You were doing fine right up until the last sentence.

    The fact that knife laws can be arbitrary and restrictive doesn't, in most cases, limit people to carrying only "fancied up whittling knives". A large folder may not match up well against a gun, sword or spear, but it provides more reach, far more deterrent and far more wounding potential than bare hands.
    Even if he's sneaky and duded up in loose and bulky clothing, how would that make it worse to have a knife than to not have a knife?
    I think we all grasp that a knife-wielder is SIGNIFICANTLY handicapped compared to a person with a gun. Nobody would choose a knife over a gun if given the free choice. What you're saying is that people shouldn't even consider having a knife for self-defense. If the guy runs backwards while shooting at me, I'm in EXACTLY as much trouble if I have a knife as if I don't.
    That's all well and good, but you're saying NOT having a knife for self-defense is better than having one. Even if it's only very marginally more effective than using bare hands for self-defense, it's still much better to have one than to not have one.
    How does having a knife keep you from using a system of kicks and evasion or from using disarming methods?
     
  4. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The problem, as I see it, is that by having a knife you'll try to use it. Whereas if you don't, you will use more effective means to get away rather than trying to cut him up.

    Ever chased one with a knife as an LEO? I'm trying to think of any law enforcement officers who use a knife in that manner, and I'm coming up blank. Maybe that tells us something.

    I've been doing longsword training, which has really made me rethink any of these things as practical weapons. A sword is limited and difficult to use enough. A knife is even more difficult to use. Plus it violates too many principals of good self defense. You don't go in, you get out.

    Plus there's another problem. Knives are absolutely deadly force. You CANNOT use them AT ALL unless faced with imminent unlawful deadly force. So they would only ever come into play if you're faced with the gravest extreme. And in that situation I do not want my life depending on a few inches of expertly-wielded steel. I'll run away or barring that use the firearm. I don't even want to be tempted to go INTO the trouble.

    I'll illustrate with a few hypos:

    --Criminal threatens with a knife from a few feet away. Do you draw your knife and lunge in?

    --Criminal grabs you from behind. Do you deploy deadly force (the knife) right then and there?

    --Criminal stabs you from behind. Do you turn and engage with your own small blade or do you try to kick him down and flee?

    --Criminal punches and grapples you. You're losing the fight but he's displayed no weapon. Do you cut him?

    --Criminal draws a firearm. You're boned.

    I'm having a hard time imagining any circumstances in real life where a defensive knife would be legally appropriate or effective.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  5. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Aren't you assuming a knife-on-knife fight or something equivalent? He draws, you draw, you go at it? That's getting dangerously close to mutual combat, and when the blood is flowing both ways I think you're going to have a tough time proving a case.

    And if it is a knife-on-knife fight, how do you keep from getting cut up just as much as him, without constant training and luck?

    Because if you train to use the knife, as you must, you will fight as you've trained. With the knife. Which means a bloody melee that's both tactically very dangerous and legally ambiguous.

    If we're ruling out guns, then I would absolutely prefer the walking stick to a knife. Something to keep him away. I don't want to go in there, and if he starts out in a grapple or stab, I want to push him away not try to cut some specific artery or tendon.

    Think of it this way. I've shot and killed things. Many of us have. We know how the bullets work on mammals of human size, even if we've never shot a person. Have you ever gone nose-to-nose with a pig and tried to disable it by cutting its tendons? Of course not. You'd use a spear or at least a hunting sword. And even then it's a heck of a challenge.
     
  6. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Cosmo, you wouldn't happen to be a lawyer would you? You seem as though you are arguing a thesis (Knives suck as a tool for self defense) and are using the Plate of Spaghetti rhetorical device to defend said thesis.
     
  7. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    You either missing the point or ignoring it. If BGs don't shoot, while running backwards, at other people armed with guns, or even unarmed, what makes you think they'd shoot at someone with a knife while doing the same. Running backwards takes a lot of practice to do with any kind of speed or balance, trying to shoot while doing that would only make it harder.

    But I have seen BGs with knives chase people...even people with guns. The guy running away did not turn and shoot at his pursuer armed with the knife.

    The technique of the short blade is very different to that of the sword. As mentioned earlier the Filipino and Indonesian martial arts are especially adaptable to this.

    If you were looking for something a bit more modern, Janich's MBC seminars are also very instructive...and a bit more practical


    As I said earlier, your understanding, and apparently your imagination, of the utilization of a small blade appears to be a bit limited.

    While I wouldn't draw a knife in response to a drawn gun, using a knife in the other instances you've offered can be justified.

    1. I wouldn't lunge in, but I'd be prepared to defend if escape wasn't available.
    2. Depends on the circumstances. There can be circumstances where it would be appropriate to cut yourself out of a grab if it was a prelude to grave bodily harm, the first overt action to carry out a deadly threat, part of an action in concert with others who mean you harm...the list goes on.
    3. Depends on the room you have. You already know he is very close to you if he has already cut you, there might not be room to kick, but there might be room to just a knife to cut your way out.
    4. Yes, he doesn't need to have/use a weapon for me to justify the use of deadly force
     
  8. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I'm just having trouble seeing how this works in a practical sense. I've read about and heard about many defensive *shootings* so I've got a good handle on those. But so much of the knife stuff seems sports-related or sparring-related. Are there any real-world examples of how a defensive knife use has played out? In particular I wonder how it would work with unarmed attacker vs. knife-armed defender or gun-armed attacker vs. knife-armed defender.

    Because you have a knife and they don't want to get cut. But it's a minor point in any case. And I agree it's not typical.

    Well that's a bit of a problem. If you're cutting up an unarmed man I would not want to have to be your lawyer afterwards. There are a lot of things discussed on THR that fall into the category of paranoia. Handloads for example. Having a chopped up fellow moaning or dead with no weapon and claiming self defense--that's a real nightmare. It would be better, in my opinion, to focus on martial arts to get out of binds and run away rather than trying to cut tendons or stab organs.

    So you're both there with the knives? Now you may know that he lunged first and you were defensive, but assuming you win, how will you prove you weren't the aggressor or co-aggressor?
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  9. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Also, I'm being repeatedly told I have a poor understanding. Fine. But have any of you actually, in real life, sliced a major tendon with a small blade? I still have the scar from a slash across my wrist when I was young (not suicide, just stupid antics). It bled like crazy but didn't do a thing to the tendons. They were right there, all working good. The blade went through the skin easily but just glided off them. So all these drills where you play-act drawing a small blade across a joint seem a little unrealistic. Are you truly thinking that action is going to be enough to pop a major tendon and disable the attacker? Those things are tough. They're evolved to keep from being cut, with slippery tissues and fluid. And I've seen instances of horrible neck wounds in cases, but the tendons remain intact. Something about the skin's design seems to take that first slice very effectively. I think it was designed for it. Large animal claws are about 3-6" long.

    In fact I've cut myself so many times I probably should never be trusted with tools of any kind. Yet in spite of the blood there has rarely been any significant pain until minutes later. I can't say the same about getting shot. I've never been shot, but I'm told it gets your attention really quickly. Based on personal experience, if I were trying to stop an attack by delivering pain, I'd want to crack a tooth or break a nose. Those will get your attention, esp. the tooth. But a slash? He may not even feel it.

    And if the goal here is to disable rather than kill, you're taking a heck of a chance using a deadly weapon to merely disable. It's akin to trying to shoot kneecaps out, isn't it?
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  10. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    From the pathologist's study of the wound pattern and the consistency of statements with the physical evidence such as blood spatter

    What is the basis of the opinion?
    Have you defended any cases with these elements?
    Did you win?

    What does it matter how you escape?

    Is it somehow more honorable in your mind to go hand-to-hand rather than use a tool; do you feel the same way about the use of guns?

    Defensively speaking, while gunshot wounds are statistically more survivable than serious knife wounds, it is easier to defend the knife's use. Also for a non-LE person, who can't (in most places) use a gun to threaten, a knife is also more versatile without inflicting mortal wounds
     
  11. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Why this emphasis on non-mortal wounds? Aren't you using a lethal weapon as a non-lethal one, and isn't that a huge no-no?

    If I were told I had to defend my life, and could only use a knife, I'd want a dagger and I'd go for a heart strike. That's it. If my life is on the line, I'm going to use deadly force. I'm not going to putz around trying to cut a wrist or knee while he's trying to murder me. So why not go for the kill, if you're using deadly force?
     
  12. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    The goal is never to kill or disable. If those are your goals, I can see why you'd run into legal problems.

    The goal is always to stop the attack.
     
  13. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    If you are armed with a knife, what's going to stop the attack more reliably and quicker--a slash to his wrist or a stab right into his beating heart?

    You shoot COM, so why don't you stab there?

    These drills look like fun sport, but seriously? If my life is on the line, I'm going to go for the surest way to stop his body from moving AT ALL. That's what deadly force is about. And if you can afford to spend time cutting on wrists and the back of knees, maybe deadly force isn't even called for.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  14. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    The slash to his wrist...remember you said reliable

    ...actually I slash a bit further up....especially if it is the wrist holding the weapon and the slash causes them to drop their weapon. You'd them follow that with a slash to the tricep to disable the arm as you sidestep and take out the quad as you step through to drop them.

    You have to remember that they offer you their arm as they attack...I just take what is offered...remember, I'm defending
     
  15. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Seriously? Because my own wrist has actually been cut open, and it didn't do much other than make me worried about my parents reaction to this blood pouring out. I felt no pain, and my hand remained fully functional. If anything it gripped tighter.

    Historical knife fighting--back when this stuff was very real--focused on killing blows. Yet the modern techniques seem to be all about peripheral cutting with no martial intent. That gives rise to the legal problem of using deadly weapons as non-deadly ones.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  16. glistam

    glistam Member

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    I have researched several real-world cases where an edged weapon was used defensively. 6 come to mind most prominently.

    These cases all involve a person who was the clear "aggressor" and a "defender" armed with an edged weapon, usually a small knife. As of this writing I have not found a documented "less-than-lethal" usage of a knife defensively. The aggressor died in all cases. In 5 of them the aggressor was unarmed, while in one he had a folding knife.

    2 cases resulted in a murder conviction for the "defender," while 4 resulted in acquittal or no charges filed. This is not a "representative sample" of knife cases, just ones that I happen to know about.

    Both cases that resulted in a murder conviction were unarmed aggressors who initiated combat with the defender, the motive being general belligerence. In these two cases, the defender had a clear route of escape, but chose to engage anyway.

    In the cases where the defender was acquitted, the common factor is the defender had no route reasonable route of escape. In two, the defender was supine and being stood over by the aggressor. In a third, he had his back to a wall. In the fourth, the aggressor had his own knife and defender only drew his knife after shoving the aggressor back (some call it a "panic push") that bought him just enough time to get his own knife out, and this defender was stabbed in the subsequent exchange, nearly dying himself. He had no practical route of escape because he was alone at night and the aggressor was a fast, athletic fellow who was already on him and had a knife he could have easily stabbed him in the back with should the defender have tried to run away.
     
  17. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm sure that some people might take that approach, but that's a problem of tactics, not a problem with what weapon they have available. If a person tries to use a weapon just because that's what they have, they're going to find themselves in trouble no matter what weapon they have.

    Besides, this thread is about DEFENSE, according to the title and the OP, and if someone chooses to engage when they could evade, then that is no longer defense.

    If you want to talk about offense--about choosing to try to cut someone up or stab them when it's not necessary--then perhaps that would be better addressed in another thread with that title and an appropriate OP. If this is supposed to be about "defensive" knives, then offensive techniques and tactics aren't really relevant.
    No, I'm assuming only that he's not using gun. Perhaps a knife, a club, or maybe even his bare hands.
    Well, in one sense, anytime someone defends himself with a weapon against someone else with a weapon, it's "dangerously close to mutual combat".

    Of course that's not the end of the story by a long shot because we all understand (as does the legal system) that there's a HUGE difference between being forced to defend yourself with deadly force and engaging in mutual combat. If he attacks and you can't get away then it's not mutual combat, it's self defense.
    If he has a knife and you don't, how does that make you better off than if you DO have a knife?
    This assumes:
    1. That the person has trained with a knife. Obviously most people do not train with knives.
    2. That the person has never considered the possibility that evasion, when reasonably possible, is superior to engagement. Since that's a basic concept in self-defense and in the legality surrounding the use of deadly force, it's a stretch to assume that this hypothetical person can't think of anything to do other than to engage with a knife because that's what he has in his pocket.
    Well, I thought we were, but you just brought up the idea of an "attacker" running backwards and shooting at the same time. Can we agree to dispense with the idea that ANYONE is arguing that a knife is superior to a gun and leave them out of this thread from now on?
    I'd prefer just about ANYTHING to a knife, but I do not agree with your premise that it's better to be weaponless than to be armed with a knife. Having a knife doesn't mean you have to use it.

    If you are forced to defend yourself (and that is really the only circumstance that can be legally defined as truly being self-defense), it's hard to imagine a scenario where having the option to resort to a knife is going to be worse than not having the option.
    Are you saying that any cut in a given location causes equal damage regardless of its depth?

    Clearly not every cut does damage to the underlying structure of the body, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. It just means that not all cuts are administered with the same amount of force, with the same technique, or with identical cutting instruments.
    I think that there are two reasons that historical knife fighting was more focused on lethality.

    1. Mutual combat was legal and acceptable if you go back far enough and the goals of mutual combat are different from those of legal self-defense.
    2. Historical knife fighting was also more focused on the offensive than the defensive and the goals of offensive knife use are different from those of legal self-defense.

    As far as modern knife techniques being not sufficently "martial" for your tastes, that's probably more a commentary on you than on the appropriateness of modern knife techniques. The fact is that "martial" and "effective for self-defense" are not at all synonymous. The idea that a defender must be focused on killing his attacker to be effective is not only fallacious but it is also legally problematic.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  18. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Fair enough.

    I'm saying that tendons on a living thing are harder to cut than some of these drills I've watched appear to imagine. The skin can be flayed open--often is--with no substantive damage to anything important. I'm pretty sure that's by design. So I"m skeptical when I see drills showing the instructor running a short blade over someone's wrist or elbow and the student/attacker just dropping the tire iron. Surgeons have to use extremely sharp blades to make any progress on adult tendon and sinew.

    And there's the length and velocity factor. I think when you're talking about what I would consider a proper blade--of dagger or sword length--you can deliver much more effective blows and thrusts that get to core tissues. The little ones just seem to get caught up in cloth and skin too much. Thankfully so considering how many times I've slashed and jabbed my long-suffering body with them LOL
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  19. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not talking about knife fighting and I don't think folks should make the mistake that we are.

    We're talking about defending oneself with a knife when you don't have other weapons available and you don't have a means of escape
     
  20. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Don't be, people are soft and mushy.
    I've seen tendons cut when folks misslick with a fillet knife, close their folder on a finger or hit the back of their hand working up a deer.
     
  21. Bix

    Bix Member

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    Man - this thread's all over the place.

    Straying into the validity of biomechanical cutting is just going to make this thread longer than it needs to be.

    Defensive knife use stops fights. In the real world. Sometimes against unarmed attackers, even:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZZ7oVI72Mg

    http://crimeinchicago.blogspot.com/2011/07/cops-assailant-stabbed-during-attack.html

    http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/2011/09/no-charges-self-defense-in-the-stabbing-death-of-eduardo-guillen-tellez/

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-08/news/chi-man-stabbed-during-fight-along-riverwalk-downtown-20131008_1_riverwalk-good-condition-older-man

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/wgnam-doctor-prevent-sex-assault-063009,0,6009958.story

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-12-05/news/chi-cops-burglar-who-loses-knife-fight-after-taking-residents-tv-xbox-20111205_1_knife-fight-burglar-xbox-video-game-system

    These are just a couple stories from my area over the last couple years. It's not hard to find similar stories in other locations.

    In addition to my earlier Janich recommendation, I'll strongly recommend Shivworks (and associated guys like Paul Sharp) for instruction in (i) the context of criminal assaults and (ii) the use of tools - including small blades - within that context.
     
  22. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    Cosmoline,

    Along with a variety of false and sometimes silly assumptions, you completely ignored my description of a relatively common attack on deployed service members, against which a knife like the ARK is the only reasonable weapon of defense. I have at least hundreds of hours of stick practice, but cannot reasonably fit a cane in my pocket.

    I have also had two wrist punctures. One of them, I had to keep firm direct pressure on all the way to the doctor.

    John
     
  23. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    They use scalpels to make careful good clean precise cuts with proximal edges that can heal well, while in a fight you're making hard slashing rending cuts that rip and tear as well as cutting. There's a greater relationship with dressing game than surgery. You can't equate the two beyond there's a blade and it is sharp and it is cutting.

    I've worked with all sorts of simulants and with livestock and you can not only cut flesh, but sever tendons and ligaments with the normal force of defensive knife use.

    Don't knock it until you've tried it.
     
  24. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Thank you for those, they are interesting. Maybe there are some regional differences at work here. In the Chi you can't exactly pack heat I hear. But notice how many of the wounded suspects are still at large after having been slashed and even had a knife to the chest? I don't find that reassuring. If the guy has the energy to run off, he could still continue the attack. The knives appear to be serving as a form of physical persuasion.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  25. DT Guy

    DT Guy Member

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    Cosmoline, I have to admit, I disagree with almost everything you wrote. :)

    Look up 'compression cutting' to see about small blades, and (just like with firearms) 'placement' is everything when you calculate how much cutting someone can stand; touch a blood filled organ, the aorta, carotid or similar, and you've got about twenty seconds of daylight left.

    As far as whether a knife is a 'good' defensive tool in the eyes of law enforcement, I would submit that survival trumps appearances in that case; do what's necessary, moral and legal and you will deal with the rest afterward.

    Honestly, the difference between a trained knife guy and an untrained knife guy is far, far greater than a trained and untrained shooter.

    Larry
     
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