How to Use a Knife In a Self Defense EP6

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Using a Knife to Protect Yourself

In most self-defense scenarios, people are engaging an asymmetrical threat. The aspects that make it unequal in some respect may be due to physical size, strength, strategy, tactics, or number of opponents. These reasons and more using a knife for self-defense could be a great equalizer.

Review our Research;

No Equality! Fair Fights Do Not Exist. Learn How To Tip The Scales In Your Favor

If it is a life or death self-defense situation you may have to improve the odds. For a person to have some skill level in the use of a knife as a self-defense weapon there must be some basic level of training and regular practice.

As a person improves their experience, knife fighting skills that are taught in the beginning will merge with the other elements of fighting to produce a better-trained combatant.

There are many videos and methods for using a knife. The method described here has stood the test of time. We have tried many others and always come back to this method and its a great starting point if you choose to learn others.

In this video, we are going to illustrate a folding knife attack as it one of the most popular EDC in America.

How Dangerous Are Knives

In law enforcement, there is a controversial principle called the “21-Foot Rule”. It is a measure of distance that relates to the time it would take an officer to recognize a threat, draw a sidearm, and fire two rounds center mass against an attacker charging with a knife or other stabbing weapon. The controversy centers around the distance and time.

Too close - dont underestimate the knife

The 21-foot “Rule” is Back in the News!

Putting the distance debate aside, one only has to appreciate the danger that a fully armed and bullet prove vested police officer has against such a primitive weapon. The concern that law enforcement has about edged weapons and the training they go through reveals how dangerous these weapons are.

3 Elements of Using a Knife In Self Defense

  • Draw The Knife

  • Table The Knife

  • Defend With The Knife

Training video: Start slow focus on getting the movement down the speed will come in time.

Basic Knife Draw, Table, and Movement

Knife Grips- How to Hold a Knife

The best way to hold the knife is either with the straight saber grip or the reverse grip.

1. Hybrid Saber Grip (below). Grip the knife in the strong hand by forming a "vee" and by allowing the knife to fit naturally, as in gripping for a handshake.

Self Defense Training Knife Saber Grip
Self Defense Training Knife Saber Grip

The handle should be positioned diagonally across the palm. Point the blade toward the enemy, usually with the cutting edge down.

The cutting edge can also be held vertically or horizontally to the ground. Use the straight grip when thrusting and slashing.

2. Reverse Grip or Icepick grip is when you hold the knife with the blade held parallel with the forearm, cutting edge facing outward.

This grip conceals the weapon from the attacker's view. This grip also affords the most power for insertion. Use this grip for slashing, stabbing, and tearing. Reverse Grip is the preferred method for close-quarters fighting in an automobile or narrow hallway.

Drawing The Knife Step By Step

  • Raise your free hand to protect your draw of foul opponents draw at the while driving your knife hands thumb deep into your pocket position thumb forefinger below the clip.

  • Pull straight up

  • Rolling blade over

  • Deploy blade

  • Open in reverse guard to protect your draw from being followed and fouled.

When you have a failed draw, work through them to the end.
When you have a failed draw, work through them to the end.

Failed or Fouled Knife Draws

When you have a failed draw, work through them to the end. Do not just reset or call a do-over. Fouled knife draws are mini pressure tests and an opportunity to work through them to the end. We left many in the video as examples. Some are obvious some are less so because they worked through.

Self Defense Stabbing Angles of Knife Attack

The retraction of the knife is just as important as the strike.

  1. Stright Up- targeting the neck, throat, or thoracic cavity

  2. Hook Upper- 45 degrees targeting into neck, throat, thoracic cavity or heart

  3. Awkard angle 45 degrees targeting pectoral

  4. Upper- targeting rib cage pectoral muscle

  5. Awkard Backhand Upper- targeting rib cage pectoral muscle

  6. Straight forward thrust- targeting the abdomen or thoracic cavity

Folding Knife Draw-AxxNox
Folding Knife Draw-AxxNox

Self Defense Slashing Angles Of Knife Attack

Any attack, regardless of the type of weapon, can be directed along with one of nine angles of attack. The numbers represented below are the times on a clock. For Example, 2-7 is from the 2 o'clock position to the 7 o'clock position.

  • 2-7 Angle of Attack. A downward diagonal slash, stab or strike toward the left side of the attacker's head, neck, or torso.

  • 11-5 Angle of Attack. A downward diagonal slash, stab or strike toward the right side of the attacker's head, neck, or torso.

  • 3-9 Angle of Attack. A horizontal attack to the left side of the attacker's torso in the ribs, side, or hip region.

  • 9-3 Angle of Attack. The same as No.3 angle, but to the right side.

  • 12-6 Angle of Attack. An attack directed straight down upon the attacker.

  • 5-11 Angle of Attack. An upward diagonal attack toward the attacker's lower-left side.

  • 7-1 Angle of Attack. An upward diagonal attack toward the attacker's lower-right side.

  • 6-12 Angle of Attack. An attack directed straight up-for example, to the attacker's groin.

Self Defense Knife Attack Strategy

Create a circle of defense and let the attacker feed you a target. Attack his weapons if the enter the circle, hands, arms as well as body.

Download Angels of Attack Training .pdf Printable

Knife Targets For Self Defense
Knife Targets For Self Defense

Basic Types of Self Defense Knives

Folding Knife on Right in Photo- More compact and has a utilitarian look making it more socially acceptable in most places of US however it has more moving parts that require more training.

Basic Types of Self Defense Knives
Basic Types of Self Defense Knives

Fixed Blades on Left in Photo- Easier and faster to draw, harder to conceal and may raise some eyebrows if seen.


It's important to note you do not need a $200 knife. Try a couple of styles and pick one that fits your lifestyle

Blade length- Smaller is preferred for carrying in everyday life. Plus 2.5 - 3.5 inches blade length won't raise eyebrows.

Overall the best knife for you is the one that is balanced to your weight and strength.

Practice handling knives during downtime.

Knife Fighter's Stance.

In this stance, the fighter stands with his feet about shoulder-width apart, lead foot toward the rear. About 70 percent of your weight is on the front foot and 30 percent on the rear foot.

You stand on the balls of both feet and holds the knife with a straight saber grip. The other hand is in a high ready position held close to his body where it is ready to use but protected.

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About AxxNox Self Defence Skills and Tradecraft Magazine

AxxNox self-defense training that focuses on personal-defense industry, education, news coverage, article stories. AxxNox represents numerous thought leaders and subject matter experts from a wide range of backgrounds.

Our goal is to provide evidence-based analysis that can help men and women avoid and respond to a real-life crisis. The online magazine creates, curates, and reviews various types of self-defense skills and tradecraft. Education, techniques, and tips are delivered in quick how-to guides and videos.

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