Using the Knife For Self-Protection: Pointless, or to the Point? (No Pun Intended)

Using the Knife For Self-Protection: Pointless, or to the Point? (No Pun Intended)


(Picture Above: Shots of myself training in Atienza Kali knife methods. Knife fighting is such an integral aspect of the warrior-lifestyle, but many find knife training to be impractical or useless)

The Filipino martial arts are known not just for their stick fighting methods, but they are also highly sought-out for their knife fighting methods as well. I’ve been studying the Filipino martial arts since I was twelve years old. In that time, I’ve been fortunate to have been exposed to various methods of knife fighting from different systems. As the Chief Instructor of Bayani Warrior ( I often encounter individuals both within and outside of the combatives and martial arts community who do not see a point (no pun intended ) in learning how to use a knife for self-protection. In this article, I intend to explain the importance of learning how to use a blade for self-protection in this day and age.


(Picture Above: Bayani Warrior Dallas Training Group Leader Harold Burman and I repping out Knife techniques in Dallas, Texas)

The Filipino martial arts are renowned for their knife fighting methods. The Filipino fighting culture is a blade culture, and as such, learning how to use a knife combatively is a highly cherished skill within the Filipino fighting culture. There are many, many systems of Filipino martial arts that emphasize the importance of learning how to fight with a blade for self-protection. I’ve been studying the Filipino knife arts since I was a teenager, and I have seen and have been exposed to many, many different ways to fight with a blade. For someone like me, learning how to use a blade for self-protection is completely logical. 

However, in the United States, the idea of using a knife in a fight is often considered criminal and cowardly, even if the individual was justified in using the knife to save their own life. In addition, due to the availability of firearms in the United States (depending where you live), most people in the United States regard learning how to fight with a knife as useless. After all, if I have a gun, why would I need to use a knife? In addition, many people feel that the odds of using a knife in a fight are so low that there is no need to spend any time training on how to use it. 

In light of this, I have decided to state several reasons why it is important, practical, and essential to learn how to use a blade for combative purposes.

1) Availability: In the United States, the knife is easily procured and easily carried. Nearly every state allows the carry of a blade. Even in my home state of New Jersey, where we have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, we are still legally allowed to carry blades (with certain limitations of course, but we are still legally allowed to carry them nonetheless). Knives are easily obtained and are highly effective in close-quarters and as such, they need to have a role in one’s combatives toolbox. The following video shows a case in which a woman used a kitchen knife to fatally stab a home invader. There is nothing impractical about training to use an implement that EVERY home has and that EVERYONE has access to. 

2) Awareness: The only way to truly prepare yourself for the realities of edged weapons is to train and immerse yourself in the edged weapons arts so you can identify how they are used, carried, and deployed. I have been networking with law enforcement and security professionals this past year, and while training them, I am amazed to see how they cannot detect or counter the ways I can carry, draw, and use a blade on them. By training in the use of edged weapons, you can truly get inside the head of how an edged weapons specialist thinks, and therefore, better detect and identify how someone can use edged weapons on you. The following video features myself speaking to a room of Concealed Handgun instructors, law enforcement, and security professionals about how important it is to see things from the knife guy’s perspective, and how it truly operates “backwards” from the standard defensive tactics and firearms world.

3) Weapon Retention: While firearms are the primary lethal force option tool for many law enforcement officers and civilians in America (as they should be), oftentimes you will find yourself in close-quarters where you need to fight to get to your weapon. As such, the knife can truly bridge the gap between empty hands and firearms so that you can fight your way to get to your handgun, rifle, or shotgun. In my research, no one teaches the concept of knife-to-gun better than Sayoc Tactical Group ( Notice in the following video how they employ the knife from the left-hand side, since their firearm is often on their right side. 

4) Knives are the most effective equalizer at close-range: In tight, close-quarters, there is no better weapon for lethal force than a blade. With the proper training, a knife can inflict a level of damage that is impossible to replicate with bare hands and difficult to do at close-range with a handgun. In close-range, where the majority of fights on the street occur. the knife can truly inflict severe damage on your adversary. Knives do NOT jam, and they do NOT run out of ammunition. As the following Atienza Kali video demonstrates, the blade can truly even the odds while in a close-quarters engagement, especially against armed multiple attackers.

5) Mindset: The defining characteristic of a warrior is the willingness to engage and close with the enemy. Training in the edged weapons arts teaches one how to develop the intelligence, courage, and mindset to engage an adversary in combat in a way that MMA and even firearms training cannot reproduce. The skill and the ability to fight with a blade is a primal and integral skill set that has often been lost due to the advent of time, but it is truly essential for one who desires to understand the warrior mindset. 

(Picture Above: the act of using a blade in combat is as old as mankind itself. Edged weapons training develops a true warrior mindset.)

6) The Stakes Are High: While many people scoff at the practicality about learning how to use a knife for self-protection, the truth is that when preparing for a life-or-death fight, you want to be as equipped and as prepared as you can be. To ignore ANY aspect of fighting, whether it be empty hand, baton, knife, or gun, is reckless and irresponsible, and as such it pays to train in every weapon (including knives) as much as possible. 

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