survive a knife attack

How To Survive A Knife Attack

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You’ve probably already heard all about the “stabbing spree” in a Texas campus, where 14 people were injured. Now I don’t want to ignite the old gun control issue again, but this is the clear proof that a psychopath can get his way with or without guns. On the other hand, if someone had shot the attacker on time, less people would’ve been injured and the police wouldn’t be going around looking for “suspects”.

But this is not the topic of this article. This time, I want to show you how you can survive a knife attack. I, personally, never been in such a situation, but there are plenty of survivors out there who’ve shared their experience publicly… and also a lot of martial arts experts who can teach regular people, just like you and I, how to protect themselves in case they get threatened.

So here’s what you should know about self-defense in a knife attack:

#1: Identify the attacker’s feelings

This is one is actually easier than you’d think. You don’t need to be a genuine Freud to figure out whether the person threatening you is scared, angry or plain crazy. For your own good, I hope you’ll never get to encounter a crazy person with a knife.

Now, time is of the essence, so don’t look too much into it. Just take a split second to check his face.

If he/she looks scared, here’s what you can do:

Grab a solid object in your proximity: a wooden plank, a heavy rock, anything that looks more threatening than a knife. If the aggressor is scared, he’ll think twice before attacking you, which can give you time to run away.

Talk him out of it. If he’s scared, he’s vulnerable. And vulnerable people react well to soothing voice. Plus, he’ll take pretty much any arguments that convince him it’s a bad idea. Just tell him what could happen to him if he killed you and the police got him. Just talk a lot and take distance while you’re at it. When the aggressor lets his guard down, start running.

On the other hand, if he/she is obviously angry:

Do NOT threaten him/her back. It will only make it worse and you might get attacked before you even get to throw away your improvised weapon. Instead…

Try to talk to the aggressor. Again, the soothing voice can do wonders sometimes. If you can keep your calm and talk to the attacker, you might be surprised to see the anger soften like a wet sponge. In many cases, an aggressor wants to get attention, to see that someone cares about their problems, not necessarily hurt someone.

Now, no matter which sort of feelings you’re dealing with here, here are some general rules you need to keep in mind:


#2: Keep the distance

At all times, you need to be out of the blade’s reach. So if you’re not facing a “blitzkrieg” kind of knife attack, that doesn’t leave you time to react, just move around little by little to keep a safe distance.

#3: Run!

If you’re a fast runner, this is your best shot at getting away unharmed. But even if this isn’t your strong point, you can still use it to your advantage. For example:

• If you’re walking down a street when you get threatened with a knife, run around a parked car.

• If you’re in a house or in a bar, try to always keep an obstacle between the two of you (a large table is preferable).

#4: Never turn your back

Unless you are running like hell away from your attacker (only AFTER you’ve established a safe distance between the two of you), you must never ever turn your back at him/her. If you crouch helplessly, you won’t be able to defend yourself at all. And the whole point here is to fight for your life. And you won’t be able to do that if you don’t…

#5: Accept that you might get cut

I know it’s scary, but the possibility of getting cut is as real as it gets. But here’s what knife attack survivors say about getting injured:

You can’t really feel any pain or get freaked out about bleeding because the adrenaline rush pushes your body to go beyond its limits. Basically, your body’s only goal is to get you out of there. So even if you do get cut, you’ll be too focused on saving yourself to be worrying about the wound.

#6: Watch for your vital organs and major arteries

I realize how absurd this may sound, but if you’re going to get stabbed and you know it, try to get the aggressor away from any vital organs or major arteries. And here’s how you can do that:

“To prepare yourself for this, when you’re faced with a knife attack, turn your arms inwards exposing the backsides of your arms to your attacker. This will protect the insides of your wrists by keeping them facing your body.

Turn your body and have your left shoulder facing your attacker. This will protect your body. Be sure to lift your left shoulder to protect your neck from being stabbed.

(…) With your feet, you want to create a “T” form with some distance between them. This will protect the vital arteries located on the insides of your thighs. If you have your left shoulder forward, have your left foot form the top part of the “T” (

Now, if your aggressor has already cut you around a vital area, the best thing you can do is…

#7: Play dead

That’s right. If you’re bleeding (not from your hand or feet, but somewhere near a vital area), you might just pretend you’re dead. This is how a girl survived a knife attack. The attacker saw she was motionless, so he ran away.


Now, for the more courageous of you, here’s a course written by martial arts expert Jim Wagner on how to bring down a knife attacker in just 3 moves. It’s simple, intuitive and all it takes is a few drills to get it right. I’ll copy-paste the article here and you can try it out at home. In fact, please try it out at home! It might save your life one day.

survive“Jim Wagner’s Self-Defense Moves to Survive a Knife Attack — #1: Grab

If a knife-wielding assailant corners you, you must control the knife before he inflicts any damage. Grab his knife hand as if you are clutching at a person’s windpipe and do not let go. Remember that in a real attack, blood will make grabbing the weapon even more difficult. It is OK if your hands are not in the perfect position when you grab his hand — especially when training at full speed.

Jim Wagner’s Self-Defense Moves to Survive a Knife Attack — #2: Close

Once you latch on, maintain your grip and immediately close the gap by pressing yourself against the attacker and securing his weapon hand tightly against your own body. From this position, you can execute a takedown to prevent him from escaping. Although you are already in “close combat” (within reach of the opponent) in a knife fight, the attacker still needs several inches of room to swing his weapon or thrust it into you. While the blade can still cut you, the wound is likely to be superficial.

Jim Wagner’s Self-Defense Moves to Survive a Knife Attack — #3: Takedown

With your body pressed against his, force your shoulder into his to knock him off balance, then pivot your body to complete the takedown. If you feel resistance in the direction you intend to take him, immediately switch directions and force him down.

Once the person falls, disengage from him immediately. If you are a civilian, you should escape. If you are a police officer, you should get an adequate distance away from the suspect and draw your gun.

One last warning: Ground combat with a knife-wielding assailant is a no-win situation, and the idea of stripping a knife from somebody’s hand while you’re down is pure fantasy.”

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I hope you’ll never get to use this knowledge, but you can never anticipate such an attack, so read this article carefully a few times and share it with your family and friends. Stay safe!

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One thought on “How To Survive A Knife Attack

  1. Very informative article. Thank you. I have always been on the athletic side but self defense is a subject that I really have very little knowledge of except maybe for my Tai Chi training. With all of the mass shootings and more recently stabbings this is helpful info. I especially think your points on determining the state of the attacker psychology is invaluable.

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