How to Defend Against a Knife Realistically

Last weekend, I went to Sicamous, BC for the annual Hiscoe/Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu seminar in the Okanagan. We had some fantastic instructors featured including Steve Hiscoe Shihan, 8th degree black belt in Can-ryu, 20-year RCMP veteran police officer and RCMP trainer of trainers. Steve’s topic this year, at my request, was the updated knife defense curriculum.

In Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, our knife defense, like all our other core techniques follows 4 basic principles: 1) simplicity, 2) gross motor skills, 3) commonality of technique and 4) awareness of the potential for multiple opponents. This is to say that our knife defense is meant to be simple enough to be learned fairly quickly. It uses gross motor skills, which are easier to use, even in the high stress situation of a life-threatening attack. It relies on commonality of technique, using similar techniques for various situations so you’re less likely to freeze up trying to “think” of what to do. And lastly, it is adaptable for use against multiple attackers.

Our knife defense system uses a simple block that protects the arteries and is adaptable for various types of attacks, (i.e. slashing, stabbing, etc.). You use that block as many times as is necessary to either get away or to find the opportunity to close in and control the knife arm at the elbow. Once you have control of the knife arm, you hold on for dear life then use your legs to attack the person, using knees to the groin, shin kicks, foot stomps, whatever is necessary. Once the person is weakened, a simple takedown can be used to get the attacker to the ground.

Here is a short video of Steve Hiscoe Shihan demonstrating an inside block against a left-handed attacker:

Here is another video in which Steve Hiscoe defends against multiple attacks from different angles:

It was an excellent seminar and all who attended appreciated the effectiveness of this system. Thanks to Steve and all the other instructors (including Michael Seamark Shihan, Phil Wiebe Sensei, and Julian Sensei) who led classes at the seminar!

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