Sharpen Your Skills: Why Edged Weapons Training Could Save Your Life - ITS Tactical
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Sharpen Your Skills: Why Edged Weapons Training Could Save Your Life

By Chad McBroom

Those of you reading this article right now probably carry a knife on a regular basis. It’s more than likely a normal part of your Every Day Carry (EDC). I’d even venture to say it’s most likely some sort of “tactical” folder with a pocket clip. If not, then possibly a fixed blade of some sort.

If for some reason you don’t carry a knife, keep reading because you need this information just as much as a person who does.

There are a number of reasons you need quality edged weapons training from a qualified instructor. Some of these reasons should be obvious, while others are perhaps a little more ambiguous to the casual observer. I’ll address what I believe to be the most relevant reasons in this article.

General Defensive Application

You may be thinking, “Why do I need knife training? All I need to do is pull out my knife and stab with it, right?” Well before you settle on that as your solution, answer these questions:

  1. Can you deploy your knife under stress? Real stress?
  2. Do you know what parts of the body to target with your blade?
  3. Do you know when to stab and when to cut?
  4. Do you know what to do when your attacker grabs your knife hand?
  5. Do you know how to counter your opponent’s weapons?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then you’re not prepared to use a knife in a defensive situation.

Non-Permissive Environments

In many of these “gun free zones,” the carrying of a knife is still permitted,

Despite the rights protected by our 2nd Amendment, there are places here in the United States where those rights have been restricted by law, even in the most gun-friendly states.

Aside from federal restrictions (military bases, federal buildings, Amtrak, etc.) many states have their own “gun free zones” that, in some cases, make it a felony to carry at those locations; even when in possession of a valid CCW permit.

Some examples might be public schools, college campuses, places of worship, state parks, etc. Additionally, most states give property owners and businesses the right to prohibit the carrying of firearms on their premises.

In many of these “gun free zones,” the carrying of a knife is still permitted, within the confines of state and local laws. In such cases, your knife is likely going to be your best defensive weapon. Also, if you travel outside of the country, the only weapon you may be able to acquire and possess legally is a knife; even if it’s only a utility or food preparation knife (i.e. a paring knife).

It’s imperative, therefore, that you know how to use that weapon effectively, a skill-set that only comes through proper training.

Skill Transference

Man Holding Knife

One of the best reasons for edged weapons training is the ability to transfer those acquired skills into the use of an improvised weapon. Many knife-based skills, including footwork, angles, thrusting and cutting motions can be used with a pen, flashlight, screwdriver, rolled magazine or many hand-held objects with little or no modification.

Many of these skills can even be applied with empty hands, if the student is given the proper guidance. In my experience as an instructor, it’s easier for newer students to transfer edged weapon skills over to non-edged weapons than the other way around. This is the primary reason I focus so much on edged weapons in my training.

Edged Weapon Defense

Knife Fighting

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” – Sun Tzu

When I teach edged weapons defense seminars, one of the first things I do is go over some basic grips, angles and modes of attack for familiarization. If you don’t know what a real knife attack looks like, you’ll never be able to defend against one. Whether you choose to carry a knife or not, the reality that you may be attacked with one still remains.

The more you understand the capabilities of someone trained with a knife, the better your chances are for survival. You can only truly gain this understanding by undergoing realistic edged weapons training.

I can hear the roar from the Internet commandos and the “gun guys” already. “I’ll just shoot them” is your cry! Well, that’s great in theory. I mean, if you’re carrying a gun (because no one has ever been attacked while in bed asleep, in the shower or in a “gun free zone”). If you’re able to draw it in time (because knife attacks are always pre-announced, highly telegraphed and always start from at least 30 feet away). If you’re able to place well aimed shots on target (because no one ever misses under stress).

Finally, if your attacker instantly drops in his tracks like they do in the movies (because the fact that your threat will have about 15 seconds worth of oxygenated blood flowing to his brain, even if his heart gets blown out of his chest cavity, has no relevance here), then you absolutely will have no need to go hands-on with a knife-wielding attacker.

In the real world, however, you better know how to handle the situation without the assistance of a firearm.

Secondary Weapon Transition

If you do carry a firearm on a regular basis and train regularly with said firearm, you’ve probably realized that your firearm will run out of ammunition and on occasion, malfunction.

Depending on the circumstances, transitioning to your blade may be your best and only option.

In a perfect world, your primary weapon would be a rifle, from which you would quickly transition to a sidearm if a stoppage were to occur in close quarters. However, as we’re talking about normal EDC-type events, this most likely wouldn’t be a luxury you’d have.

In fact for many, reloading wouldn’t even be an option, as the only magazine available would be the one already in the gun. At this point, your gun transforms into what I like to refer to as a “very inefficient hammer.”

Depending on the circumstances, transitioning to your blade may be your best and only option.

Weapon retention is also a key factor to consider. You may find yourself in a struggle over your firearm, from either a drawn or holstered position. In such a situation, speed is of the essence. The faster you can break away, the less opportunity your threat will have to solidify his control of your weapon.

For this reason, I always advocate using breakaway techniques first and foremost. However, you may find yourself in a position where you don’t have the space to gain the needed leverage or angle to break away. Under such circumstances, using your blade as a secondary weapon to cut away your attacker may just save your life.


Drawing a Defensive Knife

Based on my own experience as a firearms instructor, I see the tendency for many professionals and non-professionals alike to rely on their firearm as the answer to every deadly encounter. This is a dangerous mindset.

If you’re going to be prepared for any situation, then you absolutely must train across multiple domains. Reliance on any one skill-set is a recipe for failure.

Edged weapons training can be physically demanding. It requires dedication to develop and maintain these skills, both inside and outside the classroom. Ladies will break nails and guys will get their egos bruised, but the rewards are priceless and it doesn’t require any ammo.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Chad McBroom is the owner and founder of Comprehensive Fighting Systems and specializes in the practical application of edged and impact weapons. Chad is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to Black Sheep Warrior, and other publications. He’s also the author of the book Solving the Enigma: Insights into Fighting Models and has contributed to several books on blade combat. Chad is a blade designer and consultant, using his extensive knowledge of edged weapon tactics to help design some of the most versatile edged weapons on the market.

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