UC Counter Knife





On Sunday the 25th June we held our fourth UC workshop in Southampton, with an attendance of some 15 people from varying levels of

experience. The subject matter was counter knife, or dealing with a bladed article unarmed. This is of course less than ideal, the safest

option is and always will be, escape where possible.


The point to emphasise right off the bat is that no one system of Combatives or Martial art will ever hold all the answers, regarding dealing

with a knife unarmed and there are simply no guarantees. A look into the available material on this topic within the martial arts and Reality

Based media, borderlines from absolutely suicidal to some workable concepts and ideas. Today I was presenting my own take on the subject

based around what I have found workable for me, as an individual,

with resources coming from my own research, training and testing as well as from live experience. As always my attitude is learning with an

open mind, think logically and for yourself and take from it what you find workable. This workshop was designed to be both educational and

practical so we started things off with a look into current UK statistics on knife related incidents in  general. This is I feel, important

information so I have decided to relate that that to you here.



If we take a look into current UK statistics relating to knife crime, we can see that the equation is made up of multiple variables. Starting

with youth or yob culture, it is clear that within the last 2 decades young people have become a lot more de-sensitised to violence in

general, so much so that incidents of both knife carry as well as knife violence have been seen in youths from as young as 11 right through

teenage years and beyond.  Influences such as gang culture, computer games, TV media and film along with a severe lack in parenting

skills and disciple have all contributed to this sorry state of affairs.  Not only are the younger generation desensitised to knife violence,

but it’s got to a point where we are hearing about these Yobs actually committing murder as their friends stand around filming on

their camera phones. 


In addition to this is the influx of multi-cultural society in the UK with people from all walks of life coming from Eastern Europe,

Poland, Albania, Somalia etc. All of whom come with their own ideas and beliefs regarding what’s acceptable in terms of violence, which

has been seen time and again, to include knife carry and usage as a cultural acceptance. Add to this, incidents of domestic and

gratuitous knife violence often fuelled by alcohol, drugs and metal illness and you can see how a large percentage of reported violence

offences in the UK have involved some kind of edged weapon.


Current UK laws are under review (with a view to imposing much harsher penalties for those caught carrying a knife) since the recent

murder of a female Special Constable, who was stabbed to death outside her home, followed a week later by the 15 year old boy stabbed

 to death outside his school in North London. These events triggered an immediate knife amnesty all over the UK, where knifes and

weapons of all kinds could be handed into any police station across the Country with no questions asked, in an attempt to get them off the

 streets. This 5-week long amnesty finished recently and although not the complete answer to the problem, it was certainly worthwhile

 with over 20.000 bladed articles handed in. Conversely to that, the same Bank holiday weekend the amnesty started, there was a further

58 reported incidents several of which were again fatal, this points to the obvious fact that the law doesn’t seem apply to the criminal

element and youth culture who are simply continuing to carry knives regardless. The Home office have responded to a variety of blade

related assaults within UK schools by implementing random search procedures and confiscation of any sharp items found on problematic

pupils, in a vain attempt to prevent such incidents happening at school. But the solid fact remains that it’s not the availability of knives

and similar sharp items that are the problem it is the individual’s INTENTION to cause harm that lies at the root.  


Cue bladed articles display:

This cued our chance to take a look at a variety of bladed articles ranging from knifes designed specifically for combat/survival/utility/work

place as well as adapted and improvised.

Although they are all capable of inflicting harm, the commonality that they all share is that they are all simply tools; to quote the late

Peter Robins who said;


‘’place even the most ferocious looking knife into a draw for a hundred years and it won’t hurt anyone. It is an individual’s INTENTION to harm another that turns that tool into a weapon’’


And no amount of amnesties or random searches will take away INTENTION.  If intention is present then you could wreak havoc with a

pencil, a piece of ripped tin or a shard of glass.


                       All items are simply tools, it takes a person’s INTENTION to cause harm to turn said tool into a WEAPON!


Cue consequences of knife attacks:

Here we looked at some case study pictures of victims of knife attacks and reference was made to a recent crime watch program where a

 medic and a Doctor both commented about the risks

of serious injury or death from blade related incidents. In short when anyone sticks a knife into somebody they are literally playing a lottery

with that person’s life. The chances of penetrating a vital organ are massively high they are quite literally offering that person potential

lethal force.


Here we displayed pictures of slash and puncture wound victims who survived their attacks and a picture of a deceased victim exhibiting defensive wounds from trying to grab the knife.



Outside of that, we need to consider how a knife has no real ballistic value, in other words its not like getting hit in the head with a lead

pipe which will most likely fracture your skull and if it doesn’t knock you out will certainly knock you down. Unless a knife hits a lethal entry, such as the heart which is of course pretty much immediate it won’t necessarily stop you in your tracks in a physical sense. The fact remains that

stoppage is largely psychological, people realise they have been cut and simply give up conversely to that and I can speak from experience

here, people often get stabbed in-fight and don’t even realise. I know people who have been slashed and stabbed multiple times

(in a non-immediately vital area) and have either not realised, managed to run or managed to keep fighting.  We then all took a look at

our 1st CCTV clip which showed an attack on a bus after two guys were arguing over a seat. (All of the following clips are available to

view on my forum on GT.com)


Cue first clip:

Knife attack on the bus, here our main conclusion aside from avoiding denial and lack of situational control is MINDSET! The need to

 keep fighting until there’s nothing left to fight about!


Next we looked at how a lot of knife attacks unfold including ambush tactics and methods of concealment, access and disguised carry

e.g. Palming and Cupping. The old saying ‘’a stabber won’t usually show and a shower won’t usually stab’’ although not written in

stone most attacks will often happen out of ambush, hence the importance of awareness. Approach with intent may indeed incorporate

 Palming or Cupping or some kind of attempted weapon access during the interview; hence the importance of situational control,

observing where the hands are and understanding body language cues.




Here we can see the physical characteristics of cupping and palming the knife.


Cue second clip:

Doorman knife ambush! Conclusions apart from idiot doorman’s mistakes are situational control/observation of hands and keeping your

eyes on the potential aggressor. Also a classic example of non-ballistic value, as both doormen stood momentarily in shock after

being stabbed before running. Again it’s a lottery the two belly stabs depicted in the clip could have both been to the

heart with immediate fatal consequences.


Cue third clip:

This clip depicts an assassination attempt. Conclusions are, try to pick up on anything out of the ordinary, in this example look out for the

vicious or serious intent on his face, also how the hands are obscured during weapon access and the importance in-fight of immobilizing

that weapon bearing limb, either directly and/or via a continuous ballistic counter assault to disarm intention.


Cue trap & strike drills:

This module included methods of shutting an aggressor down before gaining access to the weapon, based on the understanding of

certain body language cues. Working from touching range the aim is to shut the aggressor down before he gets the knife out.

Observation of the hands for cupping and palming is met with an immediate offensive response. This module was our first

series of practical drills.




Working off attempted weapon access and BL cues; James and Phil working the trap & strike drill also fouling the draw from attempted frontal access with immediate wheeling elbow.



Cue our options:

Here we looked at each of 4 training models in turn, starting with the 3 E’s and the Action Pyramid/Training Pyramids on an A4 display

board as well as the dynamics of action to reaction time.


These training models depicted here originate from C.O.D.A’s counter knife program, the original S.T.A.B course. 


Cue Offensive angles:

Next we took a look into offensive knife use and at how street attacks may present themselves. First we focused on gaining a basic

 understanding of how to use a knife in an offensive sense from both a training and common street attack perspective, so that we

can obtain a better understanding of how an edged weapon may be employed against us.


Again the reality is that no one system of Combatives or martial art has a guaranteed method for countering a bladed weapon unarmed. Here

we take a look of some of the counter methods that I have found most workable in my opinion and experience and as part of my UC curriculum.

Here we looked at damage limitation via the knife fence then at our principles of counter knife. We practiced ingraining the response

just as a repetition drill starting against a wall fending the angles in order/then randomly before moving on to employing an

immediate counter offensive. This is just a progression to drill and map in the correct reaction.  In reality the

counter must be immediate, continuous and ferocious (MINDSET) again.



Here we can see a blade fend to a low horizontal and backhand slash before an immediate offensive is employed as we immobilise the weapon bearing limb.

Cue isolated counters to the angles:

Here we employ an immediate counter offensive from the blade fend, working off an overhand and backhand slashing attack followed by a

counter to the thrust with attempted retraction. The principles I teach are to get inside of the weapon bearing limb, seizing the

same as we simultaneously mount an explosive counter attack. This is worked up to a random drill adding

pressure to each attack via non-compliancy.




Alban covers and crashes the attack line for an immediate offensive of clinch knees.


Cue padded assailant drills:

Here we made 3 power lines feeding the angles of attack at a full-on pace in order to practice realistic counters under a degree of pressure.

 Here we employed the use of a Fist helmet/full-face head gear, body and groin guards in addition to dialogue, deception and role-play.


Cue static hold up attacks:

Recap on awareness and the old saying ‘’a stabber won’t usually show and a shower won’t usually stab’’ emphasis on variables

effecting that statement. Then we worked our response to a static knife hold up, both frontal and from behind. Such a situation is

obviously less than ideal and should have been prevented via awareness and observation before allowing such a threat to get this

close. However such things do happen and a contingency plan is therefore necessary. 



We concluded the day with a Q&A and a recap on material so far. We also talked about trained knife fighter as well as the accomplished

knife man, such as the product of a prison environment; such people get out etc also out of interest about my recent experience of the

knife fighting styles of Southern Italy.


All that remains is for me to thank all those in attendance and I hope that each of you took away something useful in relation to this

very difficult topic.

Peace L.M.