The Truth About Knife Fighting

The Truth About Knife Fighting



This is what you should know about edged weapons….

The actual field studies regarding knife wounds and the effects of attacks on different target areas were pioneered by WWII commandos.

Dull vs Sharp.

The sharper the blade, the cleaner the cut. The cleaner the cut, the harder it is to clot and heal. Jagged edges form a mesh and will create a seal. Remember, the skin is elastic and will go back to position. Keep your blades sharp.

Stabbing vs Slashing

What really causes knife wound trauma is penetration. The best and most efficient way of doing this is a stab. The best type of weapon is a thin, pointed, double edged, longer blade. Is has less chance of  getting obstructed by bone and will reach all the “hard to get” spots.

Most styles of knife fighting feature fluid, slashing movements. Unfortunately slashing will only cause superficial damage and has NO STOPPING POWER. You may cut a guy several times and he will never even notice it and still fight as hard as ever – but if you stab him deep the clock is ticking until he bleeds out. Refer to the “Time Table of Death”.

The Grip

This is where the SDTS parts ways with the WWII crowd. The fencing grip puts too much pressure on the thumb  and forefinger creating a weak grip. We (SDTS) prefer either the Hammer Grip or the Ice Pick Grip (this depends on how you happen to grab the knife). You will notice the problem with the Fencing grip the second you stab something…it hurts. Add to that the fact that blood and tissue make things slippery and your weapon could get stuck in bone and you will have no choice but to grip the weapon as hard as possible.

NOTE: The knife will “tell you” how to hold it. In the SDTS we like straight knives with hilts, T Handles and “Finger Knives” with a hole for the finger.


Ditch the fancy stuff. Like everything else it looks cool but has no place or usefulness is  real fight. At the end of the day you need to GRIP IT AND RIP IT. Repeat as needed. The quick and flashy moves have no real usefulness other than to distract. In the SDTS we use strikes and other tactics while we keep the knife protected and only use it for the “kill shot.”

Always protect the weapon. If you’re properly trained with a knife the ONLY way someone will be able to “take it away from you” is if they incapacitate you. Or “pry is from your cold dead hand.”

Edged weapons are universal and can be found in any kitchen on the planet. The problem is that people believe that if the knife cuts you, the fights over. This is clearly not the case. Most times people suffer knife wounds and don’t even know it. So you need to cause serious trauma through penetration and power. This is a combination of power, technique and the weapon used.

Until Next Time…

See you on the Inside,

Damian Ross

Founder, The Self Defense Company


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Published by theselfdefenseco

Founder, The Self Defense Company

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  1. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find nearly all
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  2. I tend not to comment, but I looked through some remarks on Knife Fighting 101
    Damian Ross, The Self Defense Company – SDC Insider Training.
    I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be
    just me or does it look like like some of these remarks
    appear like they are left by brain dead individuals? :-P And,
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    Would you make a list of the complete urls
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    twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  3. I’m not sure this type of information should be publically published to an unvetted audience although I’m sure you can find all kinds of “efficient killing” information on the net if you look hard enough.

  4. Thanks Damien my weapon of choice is a knife I’m the only fool that will take a knife to a gunfight

    1. LOL – but there’s some truth in what you’re saying.

      At close range a firearm becomes limited and even if you get every round in your target, chances are he’ll still keep coming.

      With an an edged weapon at close range you have somewhat of an advantage because you don’t run out of ammo…but…

      You can run out of grip – either get tired, the weapon get’s stuck in your target or the blood and body fluids make it impossible to grab…it’s usually a combination of all three.

      This is why it’s a common practice in prisons to secure the shank in your hand with torn, wet bed sheets. This way you not only keep your grip, but you have a blunt force weapon. Because unlike a gun, there is little blunt force trauma with a knife, and unless you hit one of the sweet spots, you’re in for a prolonged fight.

  5. “At close range a firearm becomes limited and even if you get every round in your target, chances are he’ll still keep coming. With an an edged weapon at close range you have somewhat of an advantage because you don’t run out of ammo”

    This is absolutely preposterous. Under no circumstances does a guy with a knife have “somewhat of an advantage” over a guy who is shooting him with a gun. “Hah, you just shot me six times, but now I can stab you and I won’t run out of ammo” is the sort of thing that only makes sense when you are dying from blood loss.

    1. Hardly preposterous Kev – I think we can agree that you could shoot your target multiple times and he still will be dangerous…ask this cop here:

      Cop unloaded in the subject and he didn’t slow down a bit. Shot or stabbed you basically die due to blood loss.

      That being said in extreme close quarter and grappling situations, the advantage goes to the edged weapon.

      1. I agree, my EDC is an Emerson CQC Tanto folder and my 1st go to is a Fox Knives Dart, invented by Doug Marcaida, has the finger ring and the Emerson Wave so that is the fastest deploying knife you can get…I quit carrying the equivalent Karambit because that is considered specifically a fighting knife and can get you hammered in court if you need to use it…and the knockout after a trap with a forward slice across the forearm followed by a downward thrust into a shoulder, followed by the forefinger in the ring with a punch into the cheekbone or or nose area is a good stopper…Always refer back to the 21 foot rule too…

    2. Standard training in every police academy in the world warns the prospective officers that a man with a knife, if located within 20 feet of the officer, can reach the cop and even kill him before his gun clears its holster. I’m not saying that a defender with a gun in hand can’t hit and possibly kill a knife wielding assailant, I saying that the man with the knife has the potential to deliver deadly force before he drops dead.

  6. Reply to Preposterous Kev: I am Bernie McPherson, former Army Ranger, and deployed 5 times. I have had both buddies and bad guys shot in the chest multiple times and they kept charging. It depends in part on the caliber, in part on the angle of the bullet, and I will admit: the anger and determination of the fighter. I’ve been shot twice: once in the chest, once in the upper abdomen. I killed the assailant in combat. I have had Ranger buddies who were shot, and continued on to eliminate their target.
    And, at close range, I’ll choose a knife: Damian is right: no reloading, and I guarantee that bloody knife will slip out of the hand. It happened to me and many others. I’m talking combat experience here.
    I just love martial arts: I have a 5th degree Black Belt in Shotokan karate; but a knife is the equivalent of 10 years of martial arts training when it comes to doing physical damage. If you don’t carry a gun, carry a knife. Train honestly!

      1. Awesome reply, thank you. I am a black belt in Kenpo Karate and a police defence instructor.

      1. Right on Bernie…and remember, in Maryland it is a felony to carry any fixed blade knife, you can carry a 3′ long folder though, my preference has always been folders for the street…The Fox Knives Dart invented by Doug Marcaida is definitely a great choice when knowing how and when to use it properly…

    1. Barry,

      Finger hole knives go from the WW I trench knife with “Knucks” for the hilt and the “Finger Skinner,” little one-hole skinner that will work you to death skinning a deer or a hog. The trench knife is making a small comeback in the urban area due to gangs and is illegal in many states, including Texas, because of the brass knuckles. The finger skinner is small with a short blade. These are what I see the most. The only others I see are made in High School shop and welding class.

      Hope this helps, Train honestly


      1. Shine,

        Trench knife is a good knife. Impractical for me unless my life changes and I live in the woods or wear a trench coat all the time.

        Skinners I have. Short fixed blades also. Looking to carry a longer blade for the reasons Damien mentions.

  7. Damien,
    I like the TOPS CUT 4.0. Great if small hands. Wish it was 4.9 inch blade.

    Also, like the CRKT Dragon 4.5 inch fixed blade. Inexpensive and maybe the best modern replacement for the FS knife.

    My state has a 5 inch blade length limit.

    I carry the SOCP fixed blade finger hole knife. Not long enough. Wearing business clothes makes a longe fixed blade difficult to carry. No, I do not wear a jacket most of the day so a shoulder holster is out. SOCP has never drawn a comment.

  8. How can we prevent the bloody knife from slipping out of our hands ??. otherwise the assailant can use the knife against us.

  9. Marvin the SDTS is based on empty hand combat to start with. That being said, the training teaches us to handle situations effectively without weapons if I dropped my knife I’d finish the job empty handed. Check out the many choices of The SDTS, for me choosing to be an Elite member has been a game changer.
    I hold several black belts the highest being 9th degree. Do yourself a favor check it out!

  10. Nice little bit of history and a good bit of information to think on. How do you feel about karambits as a daily carry option?

  11. Craig,
    I like karambits. I have one I carry on a somewhat regular basis, although lately I’ve been carrying my OTF more, really for ease of deployment versus my karambit. When it comes to shape and feel, I definitely give the edge to karambit. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to what you’re personally comfortable with and what you train with.

  12. This much I know, you never come out unscathed in a knife fight. If you are defending yourself or someone else. Knives are tough to defend against and are an awesome equalizer in a tough situation. Have many good knives and daggers. Very effective when need be!

  13. a tangent to consider if you will… a $4 Walmart knife is just as deadly as a $400 custom super blade. I really enjoy, and have on my list to pick up a Fairbairn-sykes fighting knife someday. but in the range of about $150, I don’t see it as an EDC blade. Maybe EDC in a SHTF post apocalyptic world, sure, but in a day to day life in an area that has societal structure, emergency services, law enforcement, etc….I personally look at economic options. I saw karambits mentioned, and that is an item that can be found relatively cheap. another search term I’ve had success with is “toothpicks” for small, easily concealable, affordable boot/shoulder sheath knives. I personally enjoy my United Cutlery M48 series Combat Toothpick. and at $23.00 on Amazon, if I deploy it, and it breaks or post fight becomes “lost”, I’m not really to worried about it.

    for elite members, check out the stay out of jail blueprint. it is some advice provided in that article that encourages cheap and economical blades over high end top dollar blades.

    ~Nate the Norseman – Level 3 SDTS Instructor

  14. Fantastic website. Lots of useful info here.
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    And obviously, thanks in your sweat!

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  16. If I have my pants on I’m carrying a knife. Particularly useful when I cant carry a firearm (such as on the Army base or places where it’s prohibited). Ironically I dont have a Fairbairn/Sykes knife in my collection. Right now my knife of choice is the Jim Wagner knife. It is single edge but I like the way it fits in my hand.

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