Self Defense Techniques
Against Knife Attacks

There are many self defense techniques against knife attacks, but the most effective one is avoiding engaging into a fight with somebody yielding a knife.

Let's be realistic here. If you think that a knife attack will be similar to the controlled conditions in the following exercises, you are in for a deadly shock.

I am sorry to tell you this: don't be naive.

Even under controlled circumstances (with wooden knives, supervision, a non-threatening training environment, etc), you can get hurt if you're not careful. Even more so in a real knife attack situation.

I would personally never confront an aggressive person with a knife or a weapon... unless I have no other alternative, that is.

The following self defense techniques are only devised to help you build certain skills that you may use later on instinctively if the need arises.

But they're only basic techniques.

To have a real chance, you should practice more advanced knife attack self defense techniques in a safe environment... And they do not necessarely come from Karate, but from other fighting systems such as Kali, Ninjitsu (Ninjukai), JDK, and others.

If you're interested in exploring effective techniques against knife attacks, you should check out a set of DVDs called The Knife Defense Fundamentals, and Advanced Knife Defense (A new window will open). Both DVDs are sold either separately or together in a set.

In The Knife Defense Fundamentals (a new window will open), you learn how to:

  • Use stance and distance to your advantage,
  • Evade an attack,
  • Close the distance for a counter,
  • Change the line of attack,
  • Control the knife arm,
  • Reverse your opponents momentum,
  • Apply standing restraint and control locks,
  • Understand the principles of a knife attack and
  • Take an attacker to the ground where you can successfully, and
  • Immobilize your assailant.

In Advanced Knife Defense (a new window will open), you build on the basic techniques onto a new level, learning:

  • Tactical analysis of direct, circular and divided force;
  • Vulnerabilities: where and when to attack;
  • Use of leverage to gain an advantage over a stronger attacker;
  • Takedowns to a restraint position on the ground;
  • Advanced wrist and arm locks;
  • Ground disarms including escapes from front, side and rear headlocks, chokes, front and rear pins and arm locks;
  • Tactics to defuse threatening situations, and;
  • 47 Sample practice scenarios with variations;


For now, here is a list of very basic Karate defenses against knife attacks:

First Situation

A person goes berserk and tries to attack you with a knife. He attempts to strike you from an overhead position.

karate defense against knife attacks

karate defense against knife attacks




HOW TO DEFEND: As he plunges down, you leap off at a 45° angle, land on your left foot and kick with your right foot at the assailant's knee.

This will throw him off stride.

Follow through with any of your Karate combinations, or even better, run away and find a safe place.

Second Situation

A maniac tries to knife you in the stomach. What can you do?

karate defense against knife attacks

karate defense against knife attacks



HOW TO DEFEND: Fall forward to the floor diagon­ally and throw a roundhouse kick to the nut's groin with your right foot.

This will make him double up with pain.

With the same leg you thrust at your opponent's knee joint, throw him to the ground and disarm him.

Third Situation

This self defense techniques is for a situation where your opponent lounges a back handed knife attack from across his body.

karate defense against knife attacks

karate defense against knife attacks




HOW TO DEFEND: Step in with your right foot and slash at his forearm with your right hand.

Disarm him and strike at any nerve center.

Fourth Knife Attack Situation

And What if your opponent tries to hold you up with a knife?

More specifically, what do you do if he surprises you and holds the weapon against your stomach.

karate defense against knife attacks

karate defense against knife attacks



HOW TO DEFEND: Make a motion with your right hand to distract his attention. Preferibly, you should step back out of his range. But if you're cornered in, slash down with your left hand.

You could grab your opponent's wrist. But in a real life situation, you run the risk of your opponent pulling the knife towards him, and cutting your fingers, wrist, or hand.

Turn your body away from the knife and smash him in the Adam's apple.



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