Monday, April 28, 2014

Self Defense and Public Stabbings

This year, Canada has witnessed a series of high profile public stabbings involving one assailant and multiple victims. 

Some examples:

  • On  Friday, Feb. 28th, Jayme Pasieka, went to his job at a Loblaw warehouse donning a bullet-proof vest and armed with two knives. His stabbing spree ended with two workers dead and four others wounded.
  • In Toronto, on the morning of Wednesday, April 9th, Chuang Li was fired from his job at his office near York Mills.  In reaction, Li allegedly repeatedly stabbed two managers then stabbed another manager who might have tried to stop him. 
  • Most recently, in Calgary, a young man stabbed a group of young adults at a house party.  Five were killed. 

Why these tragedies happen is not clear.  It is also difficult to anticipate such horrible acts as they happen suddenly, without warning, and in places where violence is foreign. 

The simple fact is we simply don't know what people are thinking, feeling, or planning.  How, then, can we anticipate such horrible incidents.  Sadly, in most cases, we cannot.

So, what can we do? Every situation is unique but here are 5 general suggestions.

1. Exit/escape plans. Similar to fire drills exit plans facilitate employees leaving the dangerous area for a safer place.  In fact, such evacuation plans should be similar and should include contingency  actions. For tips on escaping go to:

2. Planning for hindered escape.  You might not be able to escape. The assailant is blocking the way. An unsettling reality is that if the assailant is an employee then he will be familiar with exits and yes, exit plans.  This means you might have to resort to different actions (see points below).

3. A safe place?  If there is no accessible exit is there a room you can lock, barricade, and call for help? 

4. Common Objects:  Warehouse inventory, office supplies, chairs, fans, lamps, small tables, chairs....   If immediate escape is not possible using a common object to protect yourself can be life saving.  It is worthwhile to ask an expert how best to use common objects. (leading us to point no.5)  

5. Learning Self Defense: Yes, this sounds self-serving but self defense training that offers you a better understanding of edged weapons assaults and teaches practical skills, can be a life saving investment.  For more on surviving knife assaults visit:

Public stabbings instill terror and often have tragic results.  If you are ever involved directly or indirectly please take care of yourself by seeking counseling that focuses on addressing your traumatic experience.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto