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For the past several weeks I’ve been deciding on which knife defence techniques to demonstrate at my recent grading – I needed techniques that could be stripped down to something practical and almost effortless. If it takes more than a couple of seconds to disarm an attacker, the technique isn’t much use.
Also, what all the defences here have in common is they can be broken down into two stages: the block and the technique, one flowing into the other. If the attack isn’t blocked correctly, the application won’t work. Never try and perform both at the same time.

The technical term is ‘Tanto Tori‘, or ‘Tantodori‘, a ‘tanto’ being a Japanese short-bladed weapon. Personally I prefer to keep the knife defences simpler, shorter and practiced with more aggression than what’s typically demonstrated on YouTube – this is why this is usually practiced by higher grades at our dojo. The following are the ones I decided on.

Method 1
Not my favourite method to practice at speed, since I’ve had my stomach opened up once already, but the fact is shanking seems the most common form of knife attack, and the chances are the victim wouldn’t even realise there was a knife until sometime after the confrontation. That’s something to bear in mind.
The first thing to do is move off the centre, simply by turning 90 degrees – get the timing right and the knife will miss, and that buys an extra second. And at the same time block the striking arm near the wrist.

For the technique, grab the hand holding the knife, just as you would with tenchi nage, and turn the wrist upwards as soon as you’re facing the attacker.

Method 2
A little like the first method, but this time hit the attacker’s wrist with the palm of the hand as you turn. From there, you’re in a position to continue with the shiho-nage technique (risky because it means the blade is closer to the neck), or the sayoundo.

What’s demonstrated in this video is shihonage at the beginner level. Again, defending against a knife, I break this down into two stages that are drilled separately: Turn and block with just one hand. Do this before following up with the shihonage.

Method 3
A kokyunage followed by a wrist lock. I teach beginners this, because I know from experience the entry is highly effective as a reflex against right-hooks, it allows for a palm strike to the throat and at least five techniques can be performed from it. The latter point means you could get away with using the same entry twice in a grading.
In fact, it’s one of multiple things Krav Maga borrows from Aikido.

As the attacker initiates a punch or slash, get straight in, use your forearm to block near the wrist, and palm-strike upwards into his jaw (or throat if you’re seriously threatened), all in one swift movement. Unlike the Krav Maga application, it’s critical to stay relaxed and use your whole body for this, rather than just using your arms.