Myths about Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight

Myths about Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight


If you carry a Handgun for Self-Defense you should dedicate a LARGE block of your monthly training to knife attacks.

They happen more frequently than you think and due to Hollyweird and Fantasy Gunfight Training most armed civilians and sadly a large percentage of law enforcement have no clue how to properly deal with them.

If you can still find them, check out Kelly McCann’s Combative Pistol/Knife and Dog Brothers Die Less Often DVD’s.

They are two of the most Practical/No bullshit pieces of training regarding how to “deal” with violent street knife attacks.




Prepare Accordingly and Train Realistically!

The Martial Cane


The Martial Cane 

You know life is a journey, and you have to enjoy the trip more than anticipating getting to your destination. Recently I have had to start using a cane more and more due to my injuries, being a still, relatively young and vibrant man,  it has really opened my eyes to another dimension of the “Complete Arsenal” of the Civilian Operator. I had studied stick fighting in the past, but really it was a cursory study and I focused more on firearms training than any other “ancillary” training. Once I got deep into firearms study, however, I found myself going back to the stick/knife training of Pekiti-Tersia for my footwork (ala Tom Sotis). I soon found, that the entire spectrum of my training, including knife and empty hand, was connected by simple combative principles. One of the principles that connected them was can call this “Getting off the X” “Inquartata” “Getting off the Line of Attack” all amounts to you moving and not standing still like a statue and getting stabbed or shot. We will come back to this.

Now that I get to carry a 40″ piece of hickory around with me all the time, I have come back full circle in studying the art of the Martial Stick/Cane. To be honest, I do not look at having to use a cane as a disadvantage, but rather as an upgrade. Let me explain. Before, I was a Bipod, now I am a Tripod. Before, I would look rather funny toting a 40″ piece of lacquered Hickory around with me with “shark teeth” cuts, now it is accepted. So in essence, I am more stable and better armed..I call that a major Upgrade! The philosophy of the “Layered Offense” and “Complete Combatives” rest in the ideal that the more weapons you have the better off you are, AS LONG as you have a simple combative system to use and integrate all of them under the stress of combat.

Before we go any further on this subject (or any other “ancillary weapon” topic) I think it is important to understand and have no illusions about the brutality of street violence. No mater how well-trained you are, either with a stick, knife or empty hand, Never bet your life on that alone..if possible for your location, your Sidearm should be your Primary Weapon. Not saying some people I know could not do serious damage or kill with a stick or knife, but why test fate? If you can obtain a CCL in your state, Get It!!  I have seen human beings do terrible things to each other..I have seen human beings take amazing damage and keep operating..I have seen people stabbed and slashed and they kept coming, I have seen them get their heads bashed in with a baton and keep coming..I have NEVER seen anybody take solid shots to center mass or head from average handgun distance with a center fire pistol and survive. Tote a Pistol, first and foremost, then layer your other weapons on top of that. Rant Off.

When we talk about “ancillary weapons” we are going with the premise that they SUPPORT the primary weapon. So how do these weapons support our sidearm? The simple answer is by creating an initial “first strike” and giving you space and time to draw your weapon. As we saw in the “Listerine” ECQ article, most handgun engagements are up close and personal affairs, with space being a premium. A Cane, because of its length and striking power is an ideal “first striker”. By using standard combative strikes and blocks (face smash, overhead smash, standard stick guard) we can accomplish a potent first strike into the assailants nose or face. We can also block most forms of punches and kicks using a two hand guard position. Going back to the Complete Combatives principles that connect all our weapon systems, we need to inflict as much pain as we can on our attacker in the most efficient way possible, striking “soft target” areas of the attacker: face and groin are good places to start.

Now we have think about the most important aspect common to all our combative systems: DISPLACEMENT, or for you folks who like common language: Getting your ass out of the Kill Zone!! There are several ways to accomplish this, the simplest way is by running the opposite direction obviously, but since combatives need to also be efficient, there is a couple of better methods:

  • Pekiti Take Off

Taken from Pekiti-Tersia Stick/Knife Fighting, it is the footwork method of the system. I cannot really describe it as well as you can watch it HERE. (Watch the guy in the yellow shirt) The move basically propels you forward by planting a foot and driving forward.

  • Russian Take Off (ala Sonny Puzikas)

This method differs in that it propels you off the OPPOSITE leg than the Pekiti uses. I could not find an example online, I would suggest buying Sonny Puzikas’ DVD Beyond the Firearm 2, besides the footwork, it is an outstanding Manual of Arms for the AK Platform rifle.

In examining these two methods, I have come to a conclusion that proves a firmly held belief of mine: ALL SELF-DEFENSE TRAINING IS A CONTINUUM..There is no separate “schools of thought”, but one blended process that lends itself to what works best for you. Here is what I mean: There are those that want to argue the Pekiti TO is superior to the Russian TO and vice versa. Some say that one is faster than the other, or that one works better on certain ground than the other. Since my injury, I have a bad leg that does not function as well as the other. So what I have found, is if I blend these 2 methods, using the PTO to go right and the RTO to go left,  I can go Right or Left using the same leg (my good leg) to propel myself. The Continuum theory is proven!

So in summary, let’s put all these elements together. You are walking along headed to your vehicle. You have your trusty Glock 30 in an Appendix Holster, your Benchmade Presidio clipped in your back Pocket and a small Surefire E2D  clipped in your front pocket. In your right hand is your sturdy 40″ Hickory Cane. As you approach your vehicle, you notice a guy loitering in front of your car, as you get closer, he starts to close distance, there is nothing in his hands, but his head is on a swivel, glancing his flanks continuously as he approaches. You bring your cane up into a guard position, grasping it with both hands horizontally, holding it just above your waist. When he is close enough to you, you use your other “layered” weapon: your voice. “Can I Help You!?” You ask in a loud authoritative tone. The Guy stops about 15 feet from you. “Ughhhh..I was wondering if you could give me  ride to a pay car is broke down.” He mutters..he is shifting his weight from foot to foot and from this distance you can now tell his eyes look a bit glassy. “NO, but there is a pay phone 2 blocks down, you could walk it in 10 minutes.” You say. “Ughhhh…no, I really need a ride, I am disabled.” he mutters again. You can tell this guy is obviously in fine shape and he is starting to get agitated that you are throwing wrenches in his plan..”Sorry Man, I don’t give rides to strangers.” You say firmly and continue your walk to your vehicle.

As you make your second step toward the truck, you see him make his move, reaching in the pocket of his jacket he produces what looks like a box cutter and starts toward you..he covers the 4 yards in 2 big steps, as he closes distance, you in one motion, propel yourself to the left with a PTO and at the same time snap a shot with your cane, snapping the cane out with your left hand, aiming for his face, the end of the cane impacts his left eye, now, both of his eyes automatically snap shut and he steps back, in this same moment, you drop the cane with your left hand and move your left hand to clear your shirt tail out-of-the-way for a one-handed (right hand) appendix draw. You cleanly get the Glock out of the holster with your right hand, and press the gun out hard toward your target one-handed, the gun slightly canted. By this time, the attacker, half blind and stunned, wants no more of you and retreats. You wait until he is out of sight, check your immediate surroundings for other threats, then re-holster and calmly get your cell phone and call 911.

This incident is based on an incident a friend of my father, JB, who was 68 years old at the time, was involved in Houston in 2007. With the right mindset, situational awareness (did you notice all the ‘cues’ the attacker was giving?) and using all the weapons at your disposal (even the ones we do not consider weapons like your VOICE) he survived the day. Luckily, he did not have to shoot this attacker, but as he told me, he had already determined in his mind that he was going to shoot him due to the guy pulling a knife and the distance the guy was Texas, brandishing a knife is considered use of  a Deadly Weapon, and you can respond legally with likewise force. Add to this equation, the friend of my dad’s is a Disabled Veteran and MAY be justified in using Deadly Force even if the guy did not have a deadly weapon due to the “disparity of force” ideal, (the attacker was in his 20’s and JB is 68). I say MAY because we are talking about how a jury would see it.