Surviving A Knife Attack

krav maga knife fight


krav maga vs knife


Maybe there is.

And maybe it's not a technique at all.

But before I get started, I'd like you to just re-read the headline of this blog post.

It starts with the word "Surviving". It doesn't say: "How to disarm a knife attacker like a badass"... or some similar claim. And the reason for that is simple: the truth is that if you're actually attacked outright by someone with a knife, you're in a world of trouble.

It doesn't matter how awesome you think your self defense skills may be. If someone is within arm's length of you with a blade, and has bad intentions, there is an overwhelming probability that you may be severely injured or killed.

That said, there's an equal chance that you'll get out alive if you decide to act smartly and courageously - and if you've had some decent training. (Make sure you check out the videos further down on this page.)

So let's do a quick breakdown:


If someone has a knife, and they're up to no good, then generally knife threats can be defined in 3 ways:

  • A static threat: here, it's a holdup. The assailant is using the knife to get you to do something, whether it's handing over your wallet or intimidating you so that he can assault you in other ways.

  • A committed attack: this is pretty obvious - the assailant is actively and aggressively trying to stick the knife into you or cut you. This is defined as a determined, single-minded sustained attack until he wins. (An ambush stabbing also falls into this category.)

  • An uncommitted attack: here, the assailant still wants to stab or cut you, but there's more of a dueling mentality at play here. Dancing, feints, fancy movements to draw you out or find an opening.

Of these, the easiest one to deal with is a static threat or holdup. Despite that, all are dangerous, and we need to cultivate the right mindset, practice the full range of responses, and know which one to apply in which situation.

For example, if a mugger threatens you with a knife because he just wants your wallet or phone, it makes no sense to get into a fight (assuming you're reasonably sure that the situation is not going to escalate and is just a theft scenario). Hand over the belongings, be polite, and walk away to live another day.
On the other hand, where there is a clear threat to your safety, sanctity, or the safety of a loved one (for example, an attempted abduction, sexual assault, rage-driven attack, etc), then you should be prepared to fight with everything you have in order to win.

The decision table looks something like this:

krav maga vs knife


The main focus of this short article is on knife attacks - a life-and-death situation where you have absolutely no choice but to defend yourself against someone who is aggressively trying to stab or cut you (or may already have done so!).

So, once again, there are some split-second decisions that you have to make.

DO NOT fall into the trap of thinking that "defending" only means trying to ward off or disarm an assailant using your cool hand-to-hand Krav Maga skills!
In actual fact, these techniques are your very last resort in a crisis. If at all possible, you should be following a sequence of options that look like this:

krav maga knife attack


The very best way to neutralize a knife attack is to shoot the attacker - repeatedly, as often as is necessary to stop him. This of course is assuming that you might be carrying a handgun and can get to it in time. (This is a whole other discussion and skill set, one which we won't go into here for the sake of time.)

If you don't have a gun, then seize upon any weapon that gives you reach, or places an obstacle between you and the attacker, or tangles him up, or somehow inhibits his ability.

"Inhibits his ability" means anything that slows him down or disadvantages him enough for you to neutralize him or escape.

In a worst-case scenario, you may have to engage empty handed, if there is absolutely no other choice. And if you do, here are some pointers:


krav maga against knife


In the Elite Defence Academy International system of Krav Maga, we teach several approaches to dealing with a knife attack. And the starting point involves learning a couple of key techniques against various forms or angles of knife attack.


However, in reality, an attack is almost always unpredictable, and things can change or go wrong very quickly - so learning techniques is not the solution, it's just one part of the solution.

Far more importantly, we also teach principles - because principles govern techniques, and enable us to intelligently adapt or change techniques, even at high speed and under pressure.


The blunt (or sharp!) truth is that you need to understand, very clearly, that you will very likely suffer some sort of injury if you engage - and you need to be okay with that.

Think about it: if you do nothing, or shrink into fearful jelly and hope for the best, you will very likely die.

But if you counterattack fiercely, and do things properly, you stand a good chance of winning. Along the way, you may very likely incur some superficial injuries - cuts or even a shallow stab - but as long as you don't get stabbed in a vital target, or lose tons of blood from repeated stabbing, you'll be the one who gets out alive.

It's not a nice thing to think about, but it's necessary to be prepared for that. And that's why the will to win against all odds is central to Krav Maga training, along with the determination to do whatever it takes, despite injury or fatigue.

It's also why we include first aid, self-triage, and stop the bleed training as part of our standard Krav Maga syllabus at Elite Defence Academy International.

Now, if you'd like to see some more practical techniques and principles that you can use to prevent yourself from becoming a human pincushion, check out this next video. 


Here's an example of some informal principle-based training, from Jacques Alberts, chief instructor of 1834 Tactical, our tactical and operational division: 



If you're interested in learning more about intelligent self defense against a knifeman (or any other kind of attacker), then I invite you to get in touch with us, and get some training.

We're beginner-friendly, we're here to help, and everyone is welcome.

We know that what we teach, works.

In the 15+ years of our existence, Elite Defence Academy International has never lost a Krav Maga student (or instructor) to an act of violence - and in fact, we've had several incidents where our students have defended themselves against knife attacks, face to face - and have won the fight, without incurring a single injury.

That should tell you something.


If you'd like to find out more about the training we offer, you're welcome to check out a list of our clubs, or consider purchasing some of our comprehensive, step-by-step Krav Maga training videos

Join us.

It may just be the best thing you've ever done for yourself, and for the safety of your loved ones.