Sunday, April 19, 2015

Defending Against Ice Pick Knife Attack - Close Range (P1)

Footage of knife attacks often show 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 the attack is close, too close to run or kick?    

Some tips to surviving such an attack:

1. Block and strike at the same time. Your blocking hand is open as your perform a forearm defense using the bony part of your arm against his wrist. (See pic below). 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 (G1) is an option but escaping is preferred if possible).

Avi Moyal with simultaneous block and punch

2.  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 (see pic below) to keep the knife away and to have a tactile sense of the most immediate danger.  

Kicking attack while maintaining contact with knife hand

3.  Some Common Mistakes:  

  • 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 on of the more common knife assaults.  If escape is not possible you have to "attack the attacker".  As daunting as this is, it is the only way to survive a close range assault.  

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

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