by Darren Laur

Edged weapons are amongst the most ancient of implements used by human adversaries engaged in interpersonal conflict. Their use tends to culminate in the premature extinction of one and sometimes both parties. Unfortunately the potential lethality of the blade is not always realized or taken into account when confronting a knife-wielding attacker. There is a commonly held view that a person armed with a knife is less dangerous than a person armed with a firearm. The truth is that within their practical ranges both weapons are capable of fatal life stopping wounds. Some interesting facts include:


U.K. studies:

North America:


FBI Statistics:


Calibre Press:





I have personally gathered research form around the world on edged weapon assaults and the following facts emerged during my research:



Within its range, a Knife:


I have also attended several autopsies involving edged weapon deaths and in speaking with Forensic Pathologists have found the following medical facts:


The above noted information shows the importance of training to deal with such encounters. A person’s ability to deal with such situations will be based on his/her TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE. Experience is something not easily acquired, proper training can save lives by preparing you both physically and psychologically. Remember that most edged weapon assaults take place unexpectedly and so quickly that it is not unusual for the defender not to have time to realize that an edged weapon is involved. The attacker who possess an edged weapon usually does not want to convey in any way that he has one, and will usually conceal it until such time as he can deploy it quickly against you. Although a reality, it is a rarity that the attacker will produce his weapon in full view prior to an assault.


As I continued to conduct me research into edged weapon assaults on both police officers and the general public I was also able to identify three common denominators that seem to be present in many edged weapon assaults:


I’m a big believer in, "don’t tell me, show me" so in early 1992 I conducted an empirical video research study. I had 85 police officers participate in a scenario based training session where unknown to them, they would be attacked with a knife. The attacker, who was dressed in a combatives suit, was told that during mid way of the contact, they were to pull a knife that they had been concealing, flash it directly at the officer saying "I’m going to kill you pig" and then engage the officer physically. The results were remarkable:

When I reviewed the hours of videotape of the above noted scenarios, I also made several other interesting observations in how the majority of officers reacted to the attacks:


After making these observations, I began to ask myself why I was seeing the above noted reactions. In my research I had the opportunity to read an article authored by Bruce Siddle and Dr. Hal Breedlove entitled " Survival Stress Reaction" . In this article Siddle and Breedlove sated:

" research by numerous studies provide two clear messages why people will place themselves in bad tactical situations. The common phenomena of backing away under survival stress results from the visual systems deterioration of the peripheral field to attain more information regarding threat stimulus. Since the brain is demanding more information to deal with the threat, he officer will invariably retreat from the threat to widen the peripheral field. Secondly, the brains normal ability to process (analyze and evaluate) a wide range of information quickly is focused to specific items. Therefore, additional cues, which would normally be processed, are lost. This explains why people can not remember seeing or identifying specific facts which were relatively close to the threat."


The above noted research by Siddle and Breedlove not only confirmed my findings but also answered why our officers were acting they were. It also explains why one officer, who had actually caught the attackers knife hand with both of his hands and was looking directly at the knife, stated "I didn’t see any knife" It was not until I showed the video that he believed there was a knife.


Based upon all the above noted observations, I began to research a number of edged weapon defensive tactics programs that were being offered to both police officers and citizen. I attended several programs across North America and in doing so, I found that many of the programs although practical in a training environment, were totally unrealistic for the reality of the street. Many of these programs had several pitfalls:



When looking for a Realistic Edged Weapon Tactics/ Counter tactics Program you should ensure that you pick one that teaches:\






Awareness strategies start with the above noted information on stats and facts.



There are two types of attackers that you will have to deal with, Skilled and unskilled. Although it is a nicety to know the difference between the two types of attacker, it is very important to remember that both are as equally as dangerous. Remember it is not the skill level of the attacker but rather the desperation factor that makes him so dangerous. As well, in a dynamic spontaneous assault involving an edged weapon, you will probably not have the time to assess your attackers skill level. This is why it is so important that any counter edged weapon program you use, it must work against both the unskilled and skilled attacker. I say:





The best defense against an edged weapon is to not get into one in the first place. Watch for edged weapons, this means watching a person’s hands. I have stated for years that the only assumption I make in a fight is that the person I an dealing with may have a concealed weapon that I don’t see.

By being aware of the ways in which a person may deploy an edged weapon may give you the advantage to with the encounter. This means, get to know the technology available. Visit you local knife/ army surplus stores and see what is available. Also look into how this technology is deployed:


In my program I have over 50 slides of actual knife wounds that I also show to further bring to light the issue of awareness and respect for the blade.





There are as many gripes and strokes as there are people carrying knives. Is it important to know and understand how an attacker may be holding an edged weapon when it comes to defense. NO !!!!! I believe that the only important thing for you to understand is that the attacker is attacking with a knife. Again, in a dynamic and spontaneous knife attack you will likely not know how the weapon is being held. So if you have learned a system of edged weapon defense that is dependant upon how the knife is being held, good luck using it in the real word !!!!!








1) Respect the blade The person who attacks with an edged weapon has two incredible advantages.

Again remember, it is the desperation factor and not the technical skill alone that makes a person armed with an edged weapon so dangerous


  1. Expect to get cut. You will likely get cut, bleed, may or may not feel pain. A program that teaches students not to expect this fact is NEGLIGENT. Your goal is to "WIN" notice I use the word "WIN" and not "SURVIVE". Words are very powerful. The word SURVIVE is no different than the word "TRY". Both of these words to the subconscious mind mean "FAILURE". Our goal is to WIN, survival is a by-product of winning.
  2. Neutralize the line of attack. In any kind of combatives it is important to get you body of the line of attack.. Remember in a knife fight you will get cut and stuck, the secret is to limit the amount/degree of this damage. Unlike a fist fight, you can not stand there and take multiple blows with a knife
  3. Control the delivery system. In the system of Pat Wrap and Attack we do not play the knife hand but rather the delivery system ( arm/elbow) In hockey do you play the puck or do you play the man. You play the man why, the puck moves to quick. In a knife fight don’t visually lock onto the knife hand it moves far to fast when compared to the arm/elbow. We also do not attempt to grab the knife hand in a dynamic situation for the reasons that I mentioned earlier. Small target, slippery when blood is present Remember than most edged weapon deaths are associated with serious multiple blows. Why, person failed to control the delivery system. The delivery system is the arm (lever), if we can control the lever we control the blade. The only exception to this rule is in a static knife hold up where the knife hand is not moving and can easily be controlled with two hands.
  4. Attack the attack.. I believe that so long as the attacker has the opportunity to continue his attack, he has a strong tactical advantage, with a strong psychological advantage as well. Both of these advantages must be neutralized as soon as possible by throwing the attacker on the defensive.



I have been involved in FOUR separate edged weapon attacks which I "won", and I have had one person die in my arms from an edged weapon attack.. There are a lot of edged weapon defense programs out there that are designed to get you KILLED because they do not deal with reality. Do your homework. I have attempted to summarize some of the reasons for the development of my 8 hr Pat. Wrap, and Attack system in this post. This system is being used around the world and has saved many lives. Knowledge and the understanding of that knowledge is power.


Strength and Honor


Darren Laur

Integrated Street Combatives

Victoria, BC



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