Self Defense on the Street: Defense Against an Attack With a Weapon — Attack the Attacker!

It is important to understand that there is a significant and critical difference between a holdup involving a weapon and an attack involving one.  This outline deals with the problem of an aggressive attack by a person wielding a weapon.

You are confronted by an attacker who has a knife, a club, a machete, a ball bat or other life threatening weapon.  Your instincts are to deal with or stop the weapon at all costs.  Your instincts, unfortunately, are basically and dangerously wrong!.

Let’s assume, for example, you are being attacked by someone with a knife:  The knife your assailant is about to stab or slice you with is essentially a harmless tool by itself.  Only when a person uses it with harmful intent does it become a threat.  Even then, the knife is only an extension of the person wielding it.  If you think about this for a while you will likely realize that your main focus and effort in this situation should be to stop the attacker, not the weapon.  Without question you must do everything you can to avoid being struck by the weapon.  More often than not running away is the best solution.  Sometimes that is not possible.  Then it becomes critically important that you absolutely must focus on the attacker.   You must, in this instance, disrupt the attacker mechanically.  You will find that under many conditions (drugs, alcohol, some forms of extreme rage, etc.) inflicting pain on the attacker will not be effective.  In many cases he will not feel much of anything.  This is why dealing with his physiology is so critical.

Some ‘food for thought’:  Let’s say in your defense attempt the attacker loses his weapon.  Odds are he will instinctively look for it and possibly even try to retrieve it.  Instinctively you will do the same because you  don’t want him to get it back and use it against you.  Once again a dangerously wrong move!  Once the weapon is out of his hands it is no longer a threat to your safety.  However the attacker will likely still be a threat.  Deal with him and forget the weapon.  If he is distracted trying to retrieve the weapon he becomes a much easier target to deal with.

Granted, if he has friends around they may pick up the weapon and attack but that is another topic for another time.

In essence, too many defense techniques focus on the weapon.  Everything from knocking it away, trapping the attacking hand or hands and disarming the attacker, redirecting the weapon hand or arm and executing a joint lock, etc.  These are all good in theory and they could work in a real life violent confrontation.    What if they don’t.  Then you are off balance, the attacker still has the weapon, is probably not really harmed and, more than likely, the attacker is more agitated than in the beginning.  Not a good place to be.

There are also a number of legal issues inherent in this scenario.  Here is just one:  If you disarm the attacker and use the weapon against him you instantly become the aggressor and the legal consequences can be severe.  Even if you started out doing nothing other than trying to defend yourself and ended up using attacker’s weapon on him you could be charged and ultimately convicted of murder…Frightening but it has happened.  The premise is generally as follows:  If you honestly believe or feel that your life is in danger your options in response are virtually limitless as long as the original aggressor still has the weapon and you do not.