[This is a response to recent post A few thoughts on knife fighting…. – Rourke]




Shotguns are often touted as first response to home invasion or burglary. I arm myself with a SIG P220 .45acp because a pistol telegraphs less around corners than do long guns. I will have my combat knife as well because it is always on my pistol belt. We’ve all seen westerns where the cowboy buckles on his gun belt. Everyone should have a gun belt. Having a holstered pistol, magazines, light, and knife already on a gun belt makes for quick arming. Looping a belt through a holster takes too long, especially under stress and at night. Pistols should always have holsters for the same reason long arms should always have slings. You may need both hands free. Ever tried to climb a ladder with a shotgun?


I have a katana displayed on a stand in my bedroom. I just might take it as well. A katana can quietly stab through sheetrock walls and the horror of a combat be-handing or even be-heading. Oh the horror, the horror! For anyone breaking into a residence at night, I say fitting justice.


I’ve been in two too many knife fights. The first happened when I was a teenager and I was cut in the gut. It happened because of my mouth that lived a life of its own. I survived only because my unskilled opponent had a short knife. My second knife fight was also one sided. By then I was in government service. I had knocked down my opponent and foolishly presuming the upper hand, approached close enough to absorb a knife strike through the lower leg. I was better trained by then and had learned the cardinal rule for all knife fights: always bring a pistol.


Having twice seen firsthand the utility of one of man’s oldest tools I decided to learn knife fighting. Given equal armament, retreat when possible, is always better than confrontation. Unless total surprise is operant, you are going to be cut. I learned strikes, reversals, traps, blocks but the more I learned about knife fighting, the more this became apparent: you are going to be cut.


A professional never telegraphs superior armament or skill. If someone threatens me with a knife, my first plan is to pull out a pistol and shoot him between the eyes. Twice. I am never without a pistol but if I were, given that kind of an approach I might hold my knife in a non-professional manner while feigning abject fear (the fear part will be easy). You will never know whether a professional or a panhandler is approaching.


Being confronted by someone with a knife is grounds for the application of lethal force especially if that someone is within your uncomfort zone. My uncomfort zone is eighteen feet. Yes, that far. Never forget a knife can be thrown and a knife in the throat is a game ender.


Anyone serious about knife fighting should have a practice knife. With the exception of identifying red micarta handles and dull blade (1/8” blunt), my practice knives are identical to my carry knife. Else you are going to get cut. I had performed a reversal a hundred times to perfection with my practice knife and the first time I tried it with the combat knife, I got sliced. One can never practice enough. Interest in knife fighting developed into an interest in kendo and I cannot say enough about mushin or empty mind so essential to any combat action.


Having survived two knife fights and a gunfight or so makes me sudden, much less likely to analyze and much more quickly to act with those two rounds between the eyes. Knives are in some ways more deadly than pistols because distance can lull a greater armed person into a sense of superiority when faced by a knife wielding opponent.


Never forget a knife can be thrown.


You will be too slow on the draw to counter a thrown knife. A double tap to the head is the correct response.



Panhandle Rancher



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4 thoughts on “Response RE: KNIFEFIGHTING”

  1. Saddly if you have to fight with a knife you are already pretty much screwed. Most people don’t really know how to use a knife properly in a fight and it should always be a last ditch effort to save your life. Having been trained to use a knife it would be my last choice as a weapon. If I was using throwing knives as a weapon it is a much different story. Distance in a life threatening situation is your friend. Great post and a good point of view.

  2. PR,
    Good post – very good post, actually.

    I have been practicing and teaching martial arts (Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, and Kendo) for over 40 years and have both a military (US Army Ranger) and LE background. I have, needless to say, spent a lot of time training with and against bladed weapons – no brag, just facts.

    I am thrilled to say PR has the advantage over me – I have only faced one true knife fight. Suffice it to say at the end of a very busy 20 seconds I was leaking a lot less than the other guy. Still required lots of stiches and pain killers.

    When faced with an opponent with a blade and if you have the option – shoot or run. If you must go at it blade to blade, cut by pulling the blade towards you. Use the blade, even if it’s dull you can still hack with it. Don’t stab – ever. If your blade hits a bone or gets caught between the ribs it will be out of your hand before you know it. You won’t be fencing for points and a slice is harder to block and will tend to do more incidental damage if blocked than a thrust. Wrap a shirt, coat, poncho, towel, even a shemagh around your off side arm to use as a shield. Defensively, watch for cuts at the inside of your thigh, your arm pit, and your neck – those are the big arteries and you will go down quickly if they get sliced (now where did I stash my Quick Clot?)! Cuts to their face are really good if they are thugs (judgement call, sorry), because the face bleeds fast and a lot. Over the eyes is even better as it often robs them of sight. If they are any kind of pro, this won’t do much more than piss them off.

    Choose a blade which is either double edged or which has an obvious index in the grip (finger grooves and handle ergonomics are both ideal). If your grip is oval (for example a traditional Ka-Bar) you can’t tell which direction the balde is facing unless you put your thumb over the guard and feel the edge. This may sound trivial, but at night, under stress, or rolling around inside of your tent with a couple of nastys knowing exactly what side of the blade is sharp without having to contemplate the issue is pretty important. Whacking away at your opponent with the dull side of your knife may get you 30 seconds on You Tube, but it won’t win many fights.

    Unless you have the time and inclination to go through proper training, avoid the unusual blade styles. Emerson’s, Tarani’s, and even the overly bulky (imho) Strider Karambits are absolutely devastating in trained hands – otherwise, they will hurt you more than your opponent. Tomahawks, machetes, even fixed E-tools (CCCP Spetsnaz specialty) are also better than a knife for CQC, but only if you know what you’re doing with them.

    Rourke, thanks for posting this one – very informative.

  3. Actually, the zone for lethal force for a knife is 21 feet. Someone with a knife standing at 21 feet can charge and cut someone before they can draw a firearm and shoot them. This has been analyzed and tested for police officers. Action is faster than reaction. Anyone who has a knife and is threatening you within 21 feet should be dealt with as a deadly force threat.

  4. Rourke, I hate the idea of a fight with an edged weapon. That said, I am planning on an edged weapons class in the very near future. Not liking the idea is one thing, not having the skills is another.
    Panhandle, I am not trying to be argumentative here. It’s really just a matter of semantics. I do NOT shoot “double taps”. I train to shoot “controlled pairs”. The difference being: double taps is pressing the trigger twice rapidly. A controlled pair is the same thing except the sight picture is reaquired before pressing the second shot. ONE well placed head shot will end your target. If you shoot him between the eyes again it will be considered murder. A ‘double tap’ to the head, if the first round is placed correctly, will result in the second round heading down range to the next target in line. The BG will have dropped out of the way.
    No judgement here, and no argument. Some people call a controlled pair a double tap. As long as an unnecessary second shot is not taken, or a round heading down range, (with laywer attached), does not hit an innocent, I have no problem with whatever it is called.


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