« A long time ago in a place far away | Main | Long ago on this night.... »

Never bring a shoe to a knife fight

It is admitted by recognised authorities that for an entirely unarmed man there is no certain defence against a knife.” So wrote WE Fairbairn in the definitive second world war commando training manual All-In Fighting, and what was true in 1942 is equally true against a malevolent hoodie’s blade today: the only surefire way to avoid being cut is to outrun your attacker.
Knife carrying is so prevalent these days — last year there were 169,400 violent crimes involving knives in England and Wales — that it’s always as well to assume that your menacer is armed.

The key to survival, according to Gary Wragg, a martial arts expert at Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan Academy in Bethnal Green, east London, is awareness. Do not make eye contact with your opponent (which will provoke him) but be mindful of his body language. A hardened streetfighter is likely to conceal his weapon until the last second so never allow him to get within striking distance. If he does, you must act.

If running is not an option, Wragg says, “always fight a weapon with a weapon”. Anything is better than your bare hands — a chair, a bottle, your belt or even your shoe

Readers from the lefthand side of the pond may have different advice to offer to that, but then we live in "the most frightened of youths" nation on earth.


I would think that the "the most frightened of youths" nation status would go to those chaps across the channel?

My hand-to-hand “commando” training (USMC) in knife fighting was a little different. If your opponent fights only with the knife, not the rest of his body, it is possible to win by getting inside his knife arm and going for elbows or knees to the face – followed by a heel to the forehead as the coup de grâce. Wearing body-armor helps prevent getting stabbed in the back during this maneuver.

Of course, on this side of the pond, we do prefer the Indiana Jones method of dealing with knife wielding problems.

When a mugger tried to stab me in the chest, I disarmed him. I was a lot younger then. When he turned out to have another weapon, I ran. He jumped on a bike and pursued me, yelling "Give me my knife back."

On this side of the pond my Gilbert & Sullivan troupe has an easy time recruiting youths into our orchestras from the poorest parts of Greater Boston.

Post a comment