[Editors Note] A friend of mine over in Manila is an avid practicer of Filipino Knife Fighting wrote this article and asked me if I’d share it with our community (Keep in mind that these aren’t my views and I am definitely not a trained knife fighter). It’s definitely got some interesting points and I thought you guys and gals might enjoy it. Let me know what you think about this fighting style in the comments below:
I’ve been practicing knife fighting for over a year now. While my dreams of being a professional knife fighter like The Winter Soldier have crumbled away, it has brought me some serious and lethal realizations about using knives for combat and survival. Here is just a taste of what I’ve learned:
13 Lessons from a Filipino Knife Fighter
1. The Knife is Lethal
Once you’ve become involved in an altercation that has caused you to expose your knife, you need to remember that you are holding a lethal weapon. There is no other way to use a knife in a fight than to strike with fierce lethality. If you intend to use it simply to scare an opponent, you are an idiot. Once a skilled opponent has seen you pull out your survival knife, the first thing he does is study the length and build of the stainless steel. Then he will strategize how to kill you.
Tip: Don’t give your opponent that chance. Pull out your knife only when you’re in a position to lethally strike your opponent.
2. It’s ‘Always On’
Strictly speaking, there is no ‘on and off’ button with a knife. Sure, you can argue that an automatic folding knife has a safety lock, but once the blade is out, it’s out. There’s no reloading time, there’s no concept of ammunition with a knife. It’s a weapon always ready to draw blood.
Tip: Bring a knife that is easy to deploy in times-of-need. A folding knife is great, but a fixed blade is even better. Make sure you carry it in such a way that it’s easy to pull out if you’re carrying it inside waistband (IWB) style.
3. The Biggest Myth About a Knife Fight…
Knife disarming techniques are deadly self-defense moves – for the one doing the disarming. We regularly spar with dull wooden blades here and 100% of the time, disarms don’t work. If you are about to try to lock the hand or arm of an attacker, you can expect to get stabbed 5 – 10 times before actually being able to do so. On top of that, the only reason you are able to lock your opponent’s hand or arm is your opponent’s fatigue. If your opponent is in good condition, you will never disarm your opponent through locks.
Tip: Hitting your attacker’s face with a blunt weapon, a head-butt, your fist, or your palm for disorientation is a much better way to approach a disarm for self-defense training. Even so, prepare to get stabbed before being able to disarm your opponent.
4. The 21′ Rule
If you are educated in the way of the knife, you have a 21 feet allowance from anyone wielding a gun to be able to close the gap and turn the fight into a hand-to-hand combat.
Tip: The trick is to keep your eyes open and avoid staring only at the gun. Always be alert to your surroundings.
5. Don’t Overestimate Your Knife
I’ve had some realistic medium training in the past with another knife fighter. I found there were times when my knife would not cut the flesh deep enough or would not puncture the flesh easy enough. During those sobering moments, I realized it was hard enough to stab, puncture, and cut where you want to. It was even harder to make sure the damage is deep enough.
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Tip: Always make sure the knife is razor sharp with knife sharpeners. A dull knife can set you up for missed opportunities in damaging or critically wounding your opponent. Keep both your knife and sheath in good condition.
6. Cuts Are Overrated
While slashing moves are instinctive and natural for us – especially for those who aren’t so used to wielding a knife for combat, it’s the stabbing that does the real damage. Slitting someone’s throat records a higher survival rate than we are set to believe. That’s because, no matter how good your grip or strike is, usually the damage is not deep enough.
Tip: Stabbing someone in the femoral artery, brachial area, neck, lungs, groin or anus, however, ensures death for your opponent. Plus, it’s easier to stab someone than to cut someone deep enough to kill.
7. Human Anatomy Is the Key to Victory
There are only a handful of places where you can stab someone and make sure the person ends up dead or permanently incapacitated. The brain stem and other areas I mentioned in the previous tip is a good example. Femoral artery, for one, ensures immediate excessive bleeding. Stabbing someone in the stomach can mean a long way off from death and he or she has a high chance of stabbing you back.
Tip: Better to strike with your weapon once and strike lethally than to do ten stabs in non-critical areas and risk the person fighting back and wounding you.
8. Hitting Them Between the Eyes Is Almost Never an Option
That said, the eyes are extremely hard to hit. Even if hitting the eyes can immediately end the fight, it’s not worth the risk of getting yourself stabbed. Human beings have the ultimate instinct to defend the eyes ferociously from any weapon.
Tip: If you can make your opponent blink by faking an eye attack, that is a thousand times better than actually trying to hit the eyes.
9. Deception Is Everything
But you can only use it once. In my opinion, the best way to use deception is to try to make an exit. Whether you drop lines about not knowing the problem, not knowing the person or not wanting to fight – use whatever means necessary for you to get out of the situation.
Tip: Some people even go so far as to say they are blood-related in some way with the opponent. While it may sound funny, in a dire situation, it may just give you a few critical seconds to land a lethal blow or to run away.
10. You’re Going to Get Cut…Deal with It
The sooner you accept this fact, the better you’ll get at improving your knife fighter skills. There is almost no way for you to walk away from a knife fight without a scratch. If you condition yourself to take in damage, the more you will be able to handle it. That said, make sure you have the skills and ability to manage and treat your wounds immediately after a fight.
Tip: Learn about wound management even as you’re learning about knife fighting.
11. The Best Fight Is the One You Avoid
Only fight when you really have to. When that situation is, you have to be discerning enough to know. If you ask me, if you’re being held up for valuables or possessions, just give it up. It’s not worth risking a stab in the kidney or gut for. But if your life or a family member is threatened, it’s high time to pull out that knife and act quickly.
Tip: Run. Running away is the best thing to do in most unfortunate situations. Condition your body in such a way you can run fast, run quickly, and run for miles.
12. Always Carry a Knife…Always
Considering everything I mentioned here, always bring a knife – whether it’s for work, utility or self-defense. A knife is a useful tool to always bring with you. As to how many you prefer to bring, that’s up to you. Make sure you comply with the laws of your state or country in terms of knife carry length, style, etc.
Tip: Make sure your knives are well-maintained, preferably oiled, razor sharp and always ready to pull out in times of need.
13. Myth: Taking a Cut Is Okay
Unless you are wearing an iron man suit, never ever try to take a cut – even one cut – with your arm. Once you do that, your chances of winning a fight essentially drop to zero. No one can grip properly and fight with blood gushing out from a cut or a chunk of flesh dangling from their arm. Once you think of taking a cut with your arm, the fight is essentially over.
Tip: Put a lot of practice and thought in your footwork. If you grip the knife on your right, your right foot should always be forward. Know how to dodge and check the knife hand of your opponent.
Watch this video from Kali Center for knife training drills for beginners!
Knives are not self-defense weapons like tasers or a bayonet. A fight with a knife fighter is also not the same in martial arts like Brazilian jiu-jitsu and taekwondo. Knives are lethal weapons which can fatally wound you or be the key to your survival. Be a better knife fighter with these tips 13 brutal in mind!
Are you a trained knife fighter? Do have any vital tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on June 30, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.