How To Use A Knife For Self Defense

This world is undoubtedly dangerous and there may be instances where you are required to defend yourself against a violent attack.

How To Use A Knife For Self Defense

Not everyone will have access, or be legally allowed, to carry a weapon. However, if you are able to carry a weapon where you live, then you may choose to carry a knife.

Guns can be incredibly bulky and aren’t able to be carried everywhere, the same applies to air guns as an alternative weapon.

Pepper spray can also be bulky and only usually contains a limited amount of spray. Some attackers may also be able to power through the pain inflicted by a pepper spray.

Therefore, knives are the easiest weapon to carry for self defense purposes. They are also far less questionable than firearms or any other form of blunted weapon. 

When Do I Need To Use A Knife For Self Defense?

Firstly, you will need to be prepared for what occurs during a knife fight, this involves both physical and mental preparation.

You will need to be in good physical shape, have strong awareness of your legal rights, have a good grasp on anatomy, and be prepared to be cut yourself. 

The fact of the matter is that no-one usually wins during a knife fight, there is simply one person who is less injured that the other. Your aim is to be the person who is far less injured.

Offering this form of resistance may also be enough to prevent your attacker from proceeding further. Using a knife for self defense should only be resorted to whenever your knife is already on the line. 

What Kind Of Knife Should I Choose?

Captain William E. Fairbairn, is one of the fathers of knife fighting. He has spent numerous years in China, during a period of time when many people were fighting using knives on a regular basis in Shanghai.

His experience in China led him to develop a stronger fighting mindset and style when using knives to fight.

According to Captain William, “In close-quarters fighting there is no more deadly weapon than the knife. There are two important factors to bear in mind: balance and keenness.”

Fairbairn states that you should carry a blade that is not too heavy, and that has a firm grip on the hilt.

This is because a heavier blade may otherwise drag the knife from your fingertips due to a looser grip.

He also stated that it is essential for the blade to contain a sharpened stabbing point and strong edges, in order to inflict the amount of damage that is required to disable your attacker.

He later developed his own knife, that became known as the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife. This blade was used during close combat fights in WW2. 

The vast majority of speciality fighting knives in the modern age are based on this form of design, or are designed along similar lines.

This is due to the effectiveness and ease of handling these weapons. Unfortunately, there are also numerous fighting knives that do not have many uses outside of fighting purposes.

This can have many legal ramifications, especially in regard to proving that you were acting in self defense.

A tactical killer 9001 weapon is hard to justify in regard to your intentions behind carrying it. 

For self defense purposes, you will want to carry a blade that is as long as possible while ensuring that the grip remains sturdy.

The sharper your weapon, the better it will work. Any serrations in the blade will also greatly enhance its ability to deliver debilitating cuts in order to disarm your attacker.

A curved knife also has a greater ability to slice, and some specialist knives are created with curves for this reason. 

How To Use A Knife For Self Defense

Whether you opt to choose a folding or fixed blade is entirely up to you. People usually opt for a folding blade due to the ease of its use and the heightened ability to conceal it.

However, it is important to note that these knives take more time to bring into action, which can have devastating consequences.

You should research the laws in your state in order to note which weapon you are allowed to carry, as some may have rules that outlaw the use of specific blades.

How Do I Use A Knife For Self Defense?

There are numerous aspects that you will need to consider when you are fighting using a knife. The first is the anatomy of your target, and how to appropriately damage them.


The key thing to consider when ending a knife fight is the impact that a blade has on the human body.

When using a knife, you will need to specifically target an artery or a key organ.

If you are going to use a knife to defend yourself, you will therefore need to spend a considerable amount of time researching the human anatomy, especially the various locations of vital arteries. 


The grip on your blade will also drastically impact your overall ability to fight using a knife.

Using a forward grip whenever the blade extends upwards is a great means of doing this.

This grip style will ensure that you are able to reach greater distances and move at a faster pace.

However, using a reverse grip where the blade is facing downwards, is a stronger grip to have.

This is because stabbing in a downwards motion using a reverse grip provides more strength than if you are stabbing outwards using a forward-motion grip. 

If you are using a downward grip, you may need to get closer in order to strike your attacker.

This can be far more dangerous if you are not experienced with using a knife. You should practice using both forms of grip if you are inexperienced in knife fights. 

Ending The Fight 

A crucial skill to practice is disengaging your attacker. Whenever they start to back away from you, you should also stop fighting.

If you are defending yourself, this is the perfect moment to run from them, as continuing your attack will make you the aggressor.

This means that you will no longer be acting in a manner that is deemed to be self defense.

Thus, you should also practice ending a fight whenever the threat has been disabled. A good idea is to undertake professional classes in knife fights.

Filipino forms of Martial Arts place focus on knife fight techniques.

You should also search for any law enforcement or military persons who are offering classes on how to use a knife for self defense purposes. 

Crucially, you will need to know how to stop the bleeding. You are unlikely to get out of a knife fight without becoming cut yourself.

Thus, having the necessary skills required to stop the flow of blood will ensure that you remain alive for enough time to receive medical attention. 


To conclude, knife fighting should be a last resort and is not something that should be engaged in carelessly or casually.

However, if you are under attack, there are various techniques that you can deploy, using a knife to defend yourself accordingly.

You should bear in mind that the vast majority of these will require you to come into close contact with your attacker, and thus, you should only use a knife when you have no other options.

Using a downward-motion grip is a great means of ensuring that you inflict maximum damage to your attacker due to the strength that is involved in this motion.

However, this does require you to be in closer range, and it may be easier to use a forward motion in some instances prior to running away to safety. 

Tim Roth
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