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Defending Against An Ice Pick Stab # 2

By Prof. Gene Roos

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two part series on downward knife (ice pick) strikes by Prof. Roos. See the first article: “Defending Against An Ice Pick Stab.”

The two knife defenses shown below are also useful against a downward strike with a club, batten, stick (short) or bottle, or a stab with a knife. Don’t think people won’t attack you this way … it happens more frequently than you would think especially with bottles or clubs.

It’s true that experts, or those well versed in knife techniques will probably not use this type of stab since it leaves the body open and is easily blocked compared to other type knife techniques. However, but people who are angry or emotionally upset or don’t know much about weapons do resort to this type downward strike.

Unfortunately so many of the knife defenses I see demonstrated in the martial arts magazines, and even in the police publications, have what I think are important inherent faults.

For example, here are two downward knife strike (or ice pick) defenses recently illustrated in a leading police publication (reproduced by two of my students).

In the first defense the defender blocks a downward knife stab with one hand while counter attacking with a strike, all in one movement. This is force against force. It might work, but you better strike hard and do not miss. If the attacker is significantly larger and stronger, or the defensive technique is off, the attack might just power through. Also, even if the attack is stopped, if the counter doesn’t stun or knock out the attacker, the attacker is also still right in front – with a knife. A strength-on-strength struggle can easily ensue, or worse, a second or third knife attack might occur.

In the second suggested police knife defense, the defender does a double hand strike to the attacking arm followed by an arm bar (wrapping the defending arm up and over). The good point is the defender does move out of the way of the direct path of the attack. The bad news is that the defender is so positioned that he could be punched in the face with the attacker’s other arm. A second problem is that there is no counter attack until after an arm bar is established, something that might be hard to do if the attacker is moving, or resists. Notice too, even if the arm bar is established, the attacker can still stab into the defender’s back (not critical if the attacking weapon is a bottle or batten). In short, this defense might work, but it has serious risks.

I teach that it is much better to “avoid the attack first.” In fact, any defense should avoid risk. Thus, never directly try to stop an attack, force against force. This is especially critical if the attack is with a knife. If you are trying to stop a punch you might just get knocked out if it doesn’t work. But, if it is a weapon, you could get killed.

This doesn’t mean that a direct force against force defense never works. It often does, but if you are smaller or significantly weaker you could be in serious trouble. Also, as you age both strength and speed wane. That’s why I teach my students that strategically it is wiser to “avoid the attack first and only then control the attacking weapon.”

A second principle of any defensive technique is to ”keep it simple.” I see a lot of teachers with great technique, but what they do is far too complicated.

In this article are two more possible alternatives to the downward knife attack – both illustrating avoidance. In the first article in this series the defender moved to the right and away from the attack. Here, the defenses show how you can move to the outside (in the other direction).

There are other defenses in which you can move inward too. You should practice to find defenses with which you feel comfortable given your size, weight, physical capability and skill. But, don’t limit yourself to a single defense for any given situation: for in a real attack, the direction you practiced moving might just be blocked.

Attacker attempts a right hand overhead knife stab to the defender's body.

Defender's left foot arc steps to his left and left hand blocks (thumb down) the attacker's right arm.

Defender's right hand strikes the attacker's groin.

Defender's right foot arc steps to his right, moves his right hand under the attacker's right arm to his left hand, and rotates the attacker's arm to the rear.

Defender throws attacker to the rear. He places his right knee on the attacker's right triceps and with both hands rotating counter clockwise the attacker's right wrist.

Here the defender move out of the way, grabs the attacker’s wrist, strikes to the groin, gains total control of the weapon, dislocates the attacker’s shoulder, throws the attacker to the ground and then releases the weapon.

Attacker attempts a right hand overhead knife stab to the defender's body.

Defender's left foot arc steps to his left and double hand blocks (thumbs down) the attacker's right arm.

Defender hands push the attacker's right arm downwards stabbing his right leg.

Defender's right foot arc steps to his right, moves his right hand on top of the attacker's right hand, and throws him downward in a wrist lock.

Here the defender moves out of the way, executes a double hand block and grab, and directs the weapon into the attacker’s leg. Then the defender moves in front of the attacker, applies a wrist lock, and forces the defender face down to the ground.

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About The Author:

Prof. Gene Roos, 9th dan Ju Jitsu, and 4th dan in judo, is amemberof the Board of Directors for the America Ju Jitsu Association. In 1958 was awarded Shodan (Judo) and won the Regional Judo Champion. In 1958 & 1959 was Judo State Champion. His instructors include: Harold Brosious (Ketsugo), Dennis Palumbo (Hakko Ryu Ju Jitsu, 8th Dan), George Kirby, & Shizuya Sato (Ju Jitsu), Wally Jay (Small Circle Ju Jitsu), Dr. Sacharnoski (Hard Style Ju Jitsu & Ki) and Master Mochizuki (a student of Funakoshi, Kano, & Ueshiba). He is also the author of a series of upcoming books on Aiki jujitsu as well as a number of videos including: "Aiki Jujitsu" (a three video tapes series with manuals); "Deadly Attacks" (defense against 30 knife, gun, stick and empty hand attacks); "Deadly Attacks- part II"(defense against an additional 30 knife, gun and empty hand attacks); "Deadly Attacks III" and "Devastating Throws and Other Deadly Attacks " (defense against 30 advanced combat throws, knife attacks, stick, and a rear shotgun attack), For more information see: Roos is a frequent contributor to

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Self-defense, knife attack, ice pick attack, knife self-defense, jujitsu, jujutsu

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