About the author : Mark Human

Mark has been trainer for South African Military, law enforcement departments, private law enforcement, security companies. His focus is on CQB, specialized segments of HRT, and “anormal” scenarios practices and skills.

Mark Human: Looking at attacks from a knifers perspective is key to developing counter edged weapons training.

Knife Defense: Common Misconceptions

What are common misconceptions professional operators, law enforcement, and CPS have about knife defense? And why?

Over the last few years, edged weapon threats to law enforcement and security services have come under the media spotlight.

The recent attack, October 3rd 2019, in Paris: within seven minutes four police were fatally stabbed and one badly wounded before the attacker was gunned down. This is an example of how dangerous a edged weapon opponent can be.

Even skilled empty hand practitioners and seasoned gunmen don’t take the time to really understand the mindset, variables and the chaos of edged weapon attacks.

They tend to over- simplify their solutions. That‘s why there is such a big market for answers made of simple steps in one-two- three-four-tactics like:

• This is how the will attack happen

• Don’t let the attacker get that close

• Shut his weapon hand down

• Shut his computer (head) down

These basic steps are all viable in the right context and correct circum- stances. But in isolation they only deal with the picture of the way the person behind the simple one-two-three-four- step solution perceives how a knife attack will happen. You can‘t do that.

Because the sad truth is: Any variation or change can destroy even a good defense tactic within seconds. And it will happen to you if you look at knife attacks in such a formulaic way.

Of course, in training, or when facing a criminal approach, you have to prioritize what is most likely to happen. But at the same time you must avoid the trap of oversimplifying how you think a knife attack will happen to you.

Knife attacks aren‘t formulaic.

With formulas, you are buying yourself a false sense of security. And maybe you have to trade your life for this illusion of security one day.

Don‘t let this happen to you.

Officers in uniforms and carrying a firearm often develop a dangerous „this won’t happen to me“ attitude, when it comes to knife attacks.

I have heard this been called the Batman Syndrome because they feel a false sense of control and invincibility.

The problem starts, when your Batman Syndrome is not backed with training commitment and skills required to survive real violent encounters.

You need to know that many people and cultures have no respect for your uniform, firearm, values and social beliefs systems.

They will stab you.

They will stab you furiously, in random, chaotic ways and take your firearm away without a second thought.

You can‘t counter this moment with a formulaic approach of wisely calculated steps.

These formulas just calm your own fears, but they won‘t calm the violent randomness you will face on the streets. Luckily, more and more officers and operators understand that.

From an actual skills and training programs point of view it seems that more and more people are appreciating the threat that knife in the hands of someone with bad intentions and a committed mindset can result in.

But dogmatic instinutionalization and blind belief in static firearms training programs often fail to address the chaotic nature of edged weapon attacks.

Trying to force a set of skills from the range world into the world of edged weapons defense will only give you a small piece of the puzzle.

I am a firm believer in solid modern day fundamentals of safety and marksmanship, but if this is all you have, then you have a very limited ability to deal with any variations.

Students have to know that at close range they will have to move and shoot.

A lot of shooting will get done one handed, and they need to avoid shooting themselves.

Especially, they need to avoid shooting themselves if their support hand has to go forward of their muzzle to push, defend or strike.

Looking at attacks from a knifers perspective is key to developing counter edged weapons training.

This is not just stuff that they need to be made aware of but something that has to be structured and trained constructively if it is to be functional out in the field.

Yes, this training will be uncomfortable and ruffle a few feathers of modern day range officers but if properly planned and presented this can be done safely.

GTI Magazine

Read more about Mark Human in our GTI Magazine May 2020

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