AAR – Suarez International: HITS-8 – Defensive Knife

Organization: Suarez International
Course Title: HITS-8 – Defensive Knife
Instructor: Steve Collins
Date: August 28th, 2015

I decided nearly twelve years ago that I would carry a gun to defend my own life or the life of another person if necessary.  That said, I typically do carry a knife as well but have never considered it to be of much use to me as a defensive weapon.  I had absolutely zero knowledge on the defensive use of a knife and had always viewed the knife as a last ditch weapon if other, more familiar, options failed to be effective.

It’s rare that I participate in a training course of any kind in which everything is completely new.  Defensive Knife put me into just that situation.  By the end of the day, most of the expectations and conceptions about defending myself with a knife had been shattered.  Having taken instruction from Steve Collins in the past, I had a general idea of how he would run a course.  His method of instruction works very well with my personal disposition.

The day began with a quick safety briefing and a triple check that each person had purged themselves of any functional knives, guns, pepper spray, or any other real weapon.  Steve explained that the method we would use involved a simple five step fighting stroke which he taught us and we practiced one step at a time.  He encouraged us to begin each set of practice strokes with our knife in its regular carry position so we could practice our presentation with each rep as well.

Once each participant had seemed to have the basic steps down, he moved on to using the steps in different ways.  He explained that varying ones knife strokes and cadence can be useful to keep ones opponent from taking advantage of a timed hole in your defense.

We partnered up and practiced the fighting strokes using the other person as a dummy.  Their role was to stand in place and allow the defender to better visualize how these knife strokes would affect a human body.

This is how much of the first half of the day was spent.

After a lunch break, we began learning how these strokes would be applied against an attacker wielding a knife.  Steve took great care in demonstrating each technique and, with each one, showed us how it could also be used if we happened to be unarmed.

It would be most difficult to attempt to describe the techniques he taught us so I won’t try.  I will say this:  There are really three primary target areas and a couple of secondary areas when fighting another person with a knife.

The first target area is a cut to the inner forearm of the knife wielding arm of your attacker.  This should be followed up with an immediate cut to either the bicep or tricep (preferably both) of the same arm.  These two steps should place you in direct contact with your attacker at which time you should attempt a deep and long cut to as much of the thigh as possible.

The concept is simple.  Once you have cut the two primary muscles on the attacker’s strong arm they will lose much of the strength in that arm and be forced to use their support hand if they want to continue the fight.  The cut to the thigh is meant to ensure they can’t chase you so you can get to safety.

Until now, I had believed that stabbing motions would be most effective against an attacker.  I learned that stabs are far less effective than cuts.  I also believed that one would need a very expensive, extremely sharp knife to get the job done.  I learned that practically any knife with a good working edge can be used as long as it can be deployed quickly when the time comes.

The most important thing I learned from this class is the fact that developing sufficient skill with a knife will take much more effort than developing sufficient skill with a gun.  I’m not sure I will ever get to what I would consider “sufficient” but most of the techniques are relatively easy to practice even if you’re alone.

If you’re a “gun person” but you carry a knife, I would highly recommend taking a course like this.  I’m willing to bet you know much less than you think you know.  I know that’s what I found of myself and I would be so bold as to suggest most of the other participants did as well.

Nic Shoffner

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