A few thoughts on knife fighting…….

Alright. My very first thought and advice is DO NOT DO IT! Getting into a fight with another person and both yourself and your opponent are armed with knives is tremendously dangerous. To face off against someone with a knife and you are unarmed is flat out insane.

I have trained with knives before however the stick is my specialty. What I will say is that should you face off against an opponant and both of you have a knife – you have a 1 in 3 chance of surviving. Not very good. How?

If you are trained to use a knife and you opponant is not – you will win.

If both of you are trained and are of equal skill – you will both die.

If your opponent is more skilled than you – you will die.

Pretty simple huh?

Regardless – if I were to find myself in a situation where there is a potential violent confrontation and the other person has a knife – I will retreat if at all possible. In fact even if they do not have a knife my philosophy is to avoid physical confrontation at all costs.




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23 thoughts on “A few thoughts on knife fighting…….”

  1. let me add one other thing.

    even if you’re trained to a higher level than the person you’re fighting you still have to mentally be prepared to be cut. and not a paper cut you have to figure on the person you’re fighting probably cutting you to the bone on at least your forearm.

    so yeah, you’re right. don’t make it fair (especially since many other cultures are knife cultures and we’re not) bring a gun with many rounds or heavy bullets to a knife fight.

  2. I agree with you Rourke. If it comes down to fighting with a knife you are already screwed. Hand to hand combat is always used as a last resort.

  3. Concealed carry, or even open carry if legal in your state, can help you not be the one who brought a knife to a gun fight. If there is no other way out, we were taught: end it as quickly as you can, and it’s not if you get cut, it’s when you get cut. You will get cut and usually badly.
    As for avoiding physical confrontation at all costs: sometimes. Sometimes, backing off is the right thing to do. Sometimes, pressing the issue (developing the situation) is the best thing to do.
    Some folks won’t agree, but if you back off enough, if you avoid confrontation at all costs long enough, you will often wonder WHAT IF, and you will learn to hate yourself and almost everyone else.
    Sometimes, win or lose, there needs to be an ass whooping!
    Just my opinion. Thanks for the great site.

  4. My favorite axiom about knife fights is… “In a knife fight the winner goes to the hospital and the loser goes to the morgue.”

    The issue with a knife is the same as a small caliber pistol. They are effective killers, they just aren’t effective stoppers. So even after a lethal strike has been made they may still have a number of minutes left to harm you.

  5. Like most “what if” questions, you have to consider the situation at hand. Avoiding a confrontation is great, until a loved one is being held with a knife at their throat, or some thugs decide to ransack your house. Personally, I consider carrying a knife at all times not only part of the lifestyle of a Prepper, but also as a common sense and legal weapon. Depending on the situation, I often have as many as 5 or 6 knives on me at once.

    You are absolutely correct however, that proper training is imperative. But the same thing is true of any weapon you want to use. A fully automatic machine gun is useless if the person wielding it has never touched one before. I think it makes sense to learn as many self defense skills as possible, and that includes various weapons, particularly knives.

  6. True enough, you have much higher odds of surviving a gunshot wound.

    But that said it would pay folks to get training with knives, and also in weapon disarms, as well as weapon retention.

    There are many more places you can carry a knife, than a gun, and you should learn how to use it.

    Never use real steel in training

  7. while for the most part your right even the best martial artist can get killed in a knife fight BUT THAT BEING SAID IT COMES DOWN TO TRAINING to use a old line THE WARRIOR THAT KEEPS HIS HEAD IN BATTLE WILL KEEP HIS HEAD THE DOSNT WONT in other words proper planing prevents piss poor proforments

  8. Knife fights always end badly. You WILL be slashed and cut. You WILL have blood on your knife hand and you WILL have a hard time holding the blade tightly. If you are lucky enough to get the drop on the other combatant you MAY be lucky enought to get in the first couple of strikes but knife fighting is a close in engagement. Gaining surprise in a knife fight is easy- bring a gun, otherwise, surprise means you have to close with your enemy in order to strike- that means arm length distance. If the enemy holds his knife blade up, he is well versed and will be looking for an attack against your soft central torso and you should disengage and keep space between you. Overhand strikes are NOT suggested as they open up your ENTIRE vital area to underhand thrusts and slashes. Too many bad things happen in a knife fight and it is all very close and personal.

  9. Hi Rourke, I agree with you 100%. An old guy once told me, “fight with a knife, be prepared to be cut”. I’d really like to avoid that. When you live away from immediate medical attention, one has to think about personal damage at all times. Knife fighting with zero training, something I’ll try to avoid. This is why we practice our handgun training. We look forward to supporting your new web areas.

  10. I think there are more factors then just the three you state. One is regardless of “training” you just don’t know that other person. I know skinny unassuming guys who are incredibly strong and fast. Genetics, youth, weight lifting who knows and it doesn’t matter. He may have never had a knife in his hand before and he is still going to kick your ass.
    Second is attitude. Everyone knows the guy who spends the first half of his life looking for trouble. Give him a few drinks and he wants to fight. This kind of guy is dangerous with or without a knife. I personally know a tough guy who told someone at the bar who pulled a knife on him “if you don’t put that away I will stick it up your ass”. He is now in prison for doing exactly that. Not just winning, not for just “cutting” the guy but for sticking the knife up his ass.
    Third, I have indeed learned knife fighting techniques in martial arts. In every case, in every move it is obvious that it will work if you suprise them or if they are not particularly aware of what they are doing but simply won’t work against someone who is ready for you. You will get cut and once you are cut and your blood is flowing freely you are done.
    fourth, anything that makes you confident makes you over confident. Most real fights are over in one punch and most first punches are sucker punches. You can have a knife or a gun or an explosive vest but the odds are when you get mugged or just beat up in a bar fight you won’t see it coming in time to defend. After the first punch you are laying on the floor with one or more guys kicking you in the head.

    Your best bet is avoidance; don’t drink, don’t go to dangerous places, stay away from people who are trouble, recognize when trouble is beginning and move away from it. No matter how tough you are or what you learned in martial arts there is someone tougher and stronger then you and in fact there are a lot of them and they don’t typically look like big strong men. In fact the little 5’8′ guy with an attitude will probably be the one who takes you down.

  11. Fighting, and particuarly fighting with weapons is inherantly dangerous. That being said I do not think that two thirds of people who get into a knife fight die.

    Conclusions. First avoid fighting as it is dangerous. Don’t open hand slap huge bikers or wear a Klan outfit to a Black Panther meeting. Stay out of rough places and neighborhoods.

    Second if at all possible break contact. Discretion is the better part of valor.

    Third carry a gun.

  12. Rule #1 of knife fighting. Always carry a gun and avoid a knife fight. Rule #2 when in doubt refer to rule #1. Remember using a knife to kill is a lot different then being in a knife fight. There are three almost guarantees with a knife fight. 1. You will cut your opponent. 2. Your opponent will cut you. 3. You will cut yourself. Go back to rule #1 of knife fighting.

  13. I agree 100%. It takes skill for an opponant to reliably damage you with a handgun, and his ammunition will eventually run out. Anyone who’s ever prepared a meal in the kitchen has the basics on how to use a knife and if you’re having a bad day, it will cost you your life, or you will suffer mutilating wounds far worse than that produced by a handgun. At the very least you’ll use the use of your non-knife arm having to deflect potentially fatal thrusts with it. Scary, very scary.

  14. Well, I think your math is wrong and you make some assumptions that are fallacious too. For instance, you say, “If you are trained to use a knife and your opponent is not – you will win.” This, I have found, is frequently not true. Knife fighting is one of those skills where an untrained person can do something that he thinks, in the moment, is perfectly logical, but is really dangerous to himself. This is especially true when the untrained person is making an attack. The effect is that an untrained person will frequently launch an attack which almost certainly WILL strike home, but at the cost of a simultaneous counter-strike, resulting in double-death.

    On the other hand, when two people are trained, they already know certain things to “not do,” particularly how and when to attack while maximizing their own safety. This leads to a “feeling out” period and, in fact, may lead to a stale-mate/draw in which one or both parties will withdraw from the conflict.

    Knife fighting is an extremely chaotic activity and, I agree, extremely dangerous and to be avoided.

    Fortunately, in industrialized Western societies it is also a “Dead Weapon” martial art, which is a clever way of saying that knife-vs-knife fights are extremely rare, when they happen at all. More often the knife will be used in an asymmetric encounter. That is, a knife is deployed against a differing weapon, against an unarmed person, or against multiples. It is almost never knife-against-knife for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the availability of firearms along with the fact that the “knife culture” has been successfully removed from most of Western society by more than half a century of casting is as low-caste, low-brow, criminal-only.

  15. I have had the misfortune to have had two knife encounters in my life and I can tell you they are far more scary than one would think and far more dangerous, they also are fast, the event is short and most of the time very brutal.

    Here’s what I took away from my two encounters; everyone gets cut & there is no winner unless you kill the other fighter, on this you and I see eye to eye. I would disagree with a untrained person losing a fight, it only takes a lucky cut to end it and that can happen at anytime.

    Having spent sometime training in the use of the knife I would again agree with you, move out of the fight and than run away as fast as you can.

  16. AHhhhmen! I have taken the time and lumps to train with the knife. I don’t feel all that willing to even brandish one in the vane hope of fending off a ‘fight’. If anything, I’ll avoid the ‘offer to engage’ all the more. For you in here who want to know what a simple finger snap cut looks like… or a well placed punch cut, go to http://www.TDIOHIO.com and surf around till you find the promo-cut of thier TDI knife CD. Even if you in the winning 1/3rd……. you shall get cut!

  17. I remember my dad saying “If you are in a knife fight you are GOING to get CUT – so make sure you really HAVE TO FIGHT. Then . . . be faster, quicker, and meaner than the other guy”.

    If you are fighting, fight to win. There are NO RULES in a fight for your life. There is no such thing a ‘cheating’ in a fight for your life”.

  18. A few musings and a bit of advice…….

    ALWAYS bring a knife to a gunfight! But bring a gun too. Heck if you know it’s going to be a gunfight, bring a whole bunch of guns with a whole bunch of friends to carry them and shoot back!

    Reading the comments, it appears that everyone is agreed that if you are involved with a knife fight….expect to get cut! I always like to expand on that. I tell my students……… If you’re involved in a gunfight…..expect to get shot! I’m constantly amazed that dedicated shooters never expect to get shot in a gunfight, but expect to get cut in a knife fight. Especially when it takes very little (in comparison) to get out of range of a knife.

    On the whole, at least in the U.S., ACTUAL knife fights are pretty rare. By an actual knife fight, I mean that both individuals are armed with only knives. Knives are more commonly used for killing (assassination style) than fighting. There is a reason the phrase “a knife in the back” is so common.

    Knives are used for quiet intimidation (no sound of shots) while remaining legal in almost all areas. They are cheap, easily accessible and easily hidden. While there are few people who grab their Browning Citori over their 870 when there’s a bump in the night, there are many who pick up a long kitchen knife over their latest Benchmade folder when they go to check what made the bump sound.

    But the days of 50’s street gangs pulling out knives to go rumble are long gone. A killing, yes. A mugging, yes. But a fight is rare indeed. Show up to a gang fight with a knife and expect to be shot!

    Other societies, yes, dying by a knife is more common, but even then it is rare for knife-on-knife fights. You are more likely to see a machete-on-machete (or machete-on-baseball bat), than knife-on-knife.

    Knives are tools. Always keep on for backup and common tasks, but you are better off carrying a good umbrella or walking stick if you’re worried about getting attacked and can’t or won’t carry a firearm.

    Last thought………. it will NEVER cease to amaze me the number of people who refuse to carry/own/use a firearm because they are so scary and dangerous, but when they are scared a hear that bump, they reach for a knife. Hmmm…. maybe knives aren’t so dangerous then!?!


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