The gun show this weekend was very interesting, particularly a conversation with a knife-fighting and knife-defense instructor, who was concerned about the “forward-grip, edge up” (FGEU) design of the Triple-O knife. He demonstrated (using a trainer and one of his students) how a thrust aimed at the abdomen might be deflected and the grip would then leave one with limited alternatives. It was interesting and informative.
It has always been clear to me that my knife design is not the right tool for everyone. If you have spent years training to use a conventional knife, then reversing the blade means your training isn’t going to work. At a minimum, you may need to develop different moves and different techniques to use it–and you may find that, given your training, a different grip is superior. That’s fine! Not everyone has to carry the exact same knife. There are literally thousands for you to choose from!
But one thing that struck me watching the two of them was that the “attacker” in the scenario they played out (the instructor holding the trainer) was committing assault at a minimum, and attempted murder at worst. Why? Well, they squared off (as you would do in a dojo or training space) and he then moved FORWARD into his student.
That isn’t self-defense. Squaring off is almost always an indicator of mutual combat, not justified violence, and advancing is similarly rarely acceptable. There are narrow circumstances when it might be; if you can claim that standing still with your knife at the ready is an untenable option for some reason, then perhaps an attack like that is legally justified. I can make up scenarios where that is the case: trapped in a circle of attackers who intend to kill you, on a conveyer belt leading off a cliff, or (most plausibly) confronting an attacker with a gun–but the fact is that most of the time, if your attacker is unarmed at greater than arm’s length, closing the distance in order to stab him with a knife is a crime. Backing up while holding the knife menacingly, or even just turning around and sprinting, is the proper and lawful option.
If you’re going to stab someone legally, you need be nearly at kissing distance without the ability to safely escape. So what they were doing in the aisle was actually pretty good anti-knife defense–the unarmed student was able to deflect thrusts and suffer only superficial injury–but the use of the knife (particularly on an unarmed subject) was unwise, if not criminal. On the other hand, if someone has you in a bear hug or pinned against a wall or is holding a weapon of his own and advancing–well, he’s going to have a lot more trouble finding two free hands to deflect your thrusts.
I hope I get to see those guys again at another show. I could learn a lot from them, since I am by no means a knife-fighting master. And I certainly know that the Triple-O knife isn’t the right choice for all of you. But I also hope that if you ever do use a knife, any knife at all, on a human being, you are truly “out of options” and legally justified in doing so.