Footage of knife attacks often shows the assailant stabbing in a downward motion- what we call the ice pick attack. It is not a sophisticated attack but can be very strong. Avoidance and escaping are your best options as any knife attack can lead to serious injury or death. If avoidance is not possible and distance allows, a kicking defense is most effective. We do not want the attacker to close the distance. What do we do, however, if the attack is too close to run or kick?
Some tips to surviving such an attack, For the sake of clarity we will focus on the close-range attack from the front.
- Block and strike at the same time. Your blocking hand is open as you perform a forearm defense using the bony part of your arm against his wrist. (See feature pic). You are not absorbing the arm but attacking it as early as possible to minimize his momentum and to keep the knife away. You are striking at the same time with a punch or palm strike to the face. This strike can hinder his momentum and prevent him from closing the distance. Otherwise, he will continue his attack with repeated stabs. If his head snaps back the rest of his body might follow allowing you to escape. (Disarming (A1) is an option but escaping is strongly preferred if possible).
- Kicking (an option): Kicking after the initial block and strike might not always be practical – imagine, for instance, you are defending on a slippery sidewalk, or in an elevator. Kicking, however, can give you more time to escape. Bursting, by blocking with force, and striking the face as hard as possible can stop the attacker’s forward momentum and even reverse it, creating space for a kick. It is vital that you maintain contact with your blocking arm to keep the knife away and to have a tactile sense of the most immediate danger.
Some Common Mistakes:
- not closing the fist of the blocking hand
- not maintaining contact with the blocking hand as you punch/palm
- not recoiling your strike
- not leaning forward (body defense)
The ice pick attack is one of the more common knife assaults. If escape is not possible you have to “attack the attacker” with effective strikes. As daunting as this is, it is the only way to survive a close-range assault.