13 Knife Fighting Techniques And Tips From A Filipino Knife Fighter

knife-vs-fight-filipino-martial-arts | 13 Knife Fighting Techniques And Tips From A Filipino Knife Fighter | Featured

August 30, 2023 / Comments (20)

Self Defense

 [Editors Note] A friend of mine over in Manila who is an avid practicer of using knives as a weapon wrote this article and asked me if I'd share these knife fighting techniques and tips 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.

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.

RELATED: Which Survival Knife Should I Buy?

13 Knife Fighting Techniques And Tips from an Expert

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.

knife his left hand fight knife fighting techniques SS

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.

folding knife hand criminal close man knife fighting techniques SS

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 the 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.

knife vs fight filipino martial arts knife fighting techniques SS

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-foot allowance from anyone wielding a gun to be able to close the gap and turn the fight into hand-to-hand combat.

men fighting knives urban street knife fighting techniques SS

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 easily 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.

knife vs fight filipino martial arts 3 knife fighting techniques SS

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.

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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 a good examples. The femoral artery, for one, ensures immediate excessive bleeding.

knife vs fight kapap instructor demonstrates knife fighting techniques SS

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.

RELATED: Throat Strike Tutorial Lesson 1: Simple But Effective Self Defense

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 their eyes ferociously from any weapon.

boy looks man knife knife fighting techniques SS

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.

grab knife hand fight front view knife fighting techniques SS

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.

culprit held knife threatening rob property knife fighting techniques SS

If you condition yourself to take in the 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.

kapap instructor demonstrates martial arts self knife fighting techniques SS

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.

combat hunting survival sawback bowie knife knife fighting techniques SS

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.

pocket knife fixed blade on green knife fighting techniques SS

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 into 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 that 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.

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Disclaimer: All content on this site is for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer here.

Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on June 30, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

20 Responses to :
13 Knife Fighting Techniques And Tips From A Filipino Knife Fighter

  1. Mark Walker says:

    How about this one: “No matter how good you are with a knife, the other guy will always be better.”

    1. Sean Patrick Si says:

      I think that’s an overstatement. If you study under a good, practical knife fighting system, there’s little doubt that you will be the better fighter.

      1. gale says:

        it don’t matter how good you are, expect to get cut or stabbed during any knife fight, luck has a lot to do with who wins, it only takes one “lucky” cut or stab to kill you, or disable you. Best defense is always never get into a fight, as any fight can turn into a knife fight. Even between so called friends.

    2. MarkMathers says:

      See rule #12.

  2. Vic Ocampo says:

    your Guro is Sixto Carlos…Pugay po! Our system’s lineage draws from Kalis Ilustrisimo as well.

    1. Sean Patrick Si says:

      Yes. I learned everything from him and Alfred Gealogo. Most of the things I wrote here came from them and from Hank Reinhardt’s book.

  3. Did I Spray That? says:

    Never bring a knife to a gun fight or something like that

  4. Joe Vigilante says:

    A knife is meant to be felt, not seen.

    Probably the most common phrase uttered by a stabbing victim is, “I never even saw the knife”.

  5. Richie Hamilton says:

    A real knife fighter will chew up even a trained knife fighter. I suggest a weapon that puts distance between you and the knife to protect self to be able to get away. Fight another day on your terms not their terms.

  6. Gordon says:

    Lot of bad/wrong info in this article.

  7. Bill says:

    feints are over rated, and few if any normal people have the reflexes and burst speed to take advantage of a flinch. It is always better to off balance an opponent , stay off their line of attack, make them redirect constantly. Cuts are not only better than blocks, they block more effectively than blocks or even redirection. cutting to any but kyusho (weak points) is dangerous. shallow cut are from poor technique and lack of cutting practice. Waste no attack if you plan to carry a knife, practice with it, a lot .

  8. Jojo Afable says:

    So many comments here both negative and positive. I bet you most of you if not everyone probably had NEVER into a knife fight. I personally never have engaged in one and thank God for it.

  9. happyjack, 3rd Bn, 75th Inf Abn says:

    From a West Philly street kid, we tried to wrap a coat, shirt, or cloth to wrap around our non-knife arm to act as a “catch” or minor protection. I know there may or may not time, but just a street thought.

  10. Robert says:

    I would almost rather face a firearm than a knife at close quarters. I have on 3 occasions survived and disarmed a gun wielding individual but not one of my methods would be adequate or advised against a knife. If you are thinking first of disarming you are going to get hurt and most likely loose the fight. Think about doing lethal or severe damage first and then if opportunity presents itself you may have success disarming but you had first better have wounded this individual seriously enough to have a major advantage.

  11. CBW says:

    The “21′ rule” is total b.$. You lost any and all credibility when you threw that little gem out there…..

  12. An Old Man says:

    Carry a pistol !! Train with a pistol every week. Train to hit a playing card till you can hit it EVERY TIME in rapid fire !! Don’t let any advisory get within 21 feet of you !! Shoot center of mass. Shoot at least 3-4 times.

  13. Terry Crossen says:

    It is just like fighting like the black braes and green braes and army ranger special forces!

  14. Chip says:

    It does not matter how much of a ‘bad-ass’ you may be or think you are…there is ALWAYS someone better…best to just walk away and live another day…if you must fight, fight to take no prisoners and fight hard so you are not the one laying in a pool of blood…if they can move, they can hurt you.

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