Defensive Weapons, Part 2, Knives

By Alex Haddox

This month we continue our investigation into Defensive weapons; our topic is knives.

However, first and foremost when it comes to weapons, always obey local laws. Country, State, County and even City ordinance and laws may be different or even in direct conflict with each other. Something that may be permissible under federal law may be criminal under your state law or even at the city level. The differences in restrictions apply to any weapon you might carry from a handgun, to knives to kubotons.

Second, you must get professional training. Always seek professional training in any weapon you intend to use or carry. This is absolutely critical in understanding and properly wielding any weapon. A good, professional instructor will teach you how to maintain the weapon, proper handling of the weapon, how to safely wield it, safe storage, help you select a model for your size and skill and a host of other essential items. Reading articles or watching DVDs are not enough. I cannot recommend hands-on, instructor led weapons training strongly enough.

Knives are the most common weapons used in criminal assaults, but they do not get the airtime that guns do. Why? To the untrained they do not seem all that dangerous. After all, it was just a knife, right? Make no mistake; knives are extremely dangerous and absolutely lethal.

Knives are considered contact weapons, meaning that you must physically touch someone to hurt them. However, knives are still lethal even at distance of 21-feet (7m). There is an exercise we do in our Reality-Based training based upon the Dennis Tueller Drill. The exercise boils down to this: it takes less than 1.5 seconds for a knife-wielding person to cross 21-feet of clear space and stab you. 1.5 seconds is not much time and is about how long it takes to draw holstered handgun and point it (not even aim).

If your attacker is wielding a knife, you are most likely not going to have time to draw your own weapon. The fencing-style knife fights you see on TV and in the movies are the stuff of myth. Most often, you are not going to even know a knife is involved until you are already cut. In several interviews I have conducted with victims of knife attacks, half were unaware they were even cut until minutes after the encounter.

If you are lucky enough to see the knife first, your priority is not getting cut by it and not drawing your own for a counter-attack. The saying, "In knife fighting one person goes to the hospital, the other goes to the morgue" sounds cool, but does not do well under scrutiny. The average knife "fight" lasts between three (3) and seven (7) seconds and usually entails one person attacking and the other being cut.

So if I will not see the attacker's knife or if I do see it I will be so busy trying not to get cut by it, why would I want to bother carrying one? One consideration is that if you manage to get some distance from your attacker, but you are unable to flee to safety, you might have an opportunity and a need to draw your own knife. For example, you might not be able to run away if you must protect a child, an elderly parent or a disabled friend.

A knife is a last-ditch, hand-to-hand, close quarters defensive weapon. It is far more lethal than most people give it credit for and deserves a lot of respect.

Again, you need to be aware of your local laws regarding knives that can run a range greater than guns. So if you intend to carry a knife for personal protection you must research each place you intend to carry. There is a place you can start your search, but is by no means comprehensive for every area. It is a book by David Wong entitled Knife Laws of the Fifty States: A Guide for the Law-Abiding Traveler published in 2006.

Part 3 of the Defensive Weapons series will cover the kubotan.

First published by Tae Kwon Do Times Magazine.