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Defending Against An Ice Pick Stab

By Prof. Gene Roos

Getting punched may be painful, and you may feel the results for some time afterwards, but the risk factor become much more threatening when dealing with deadly weapons. Weapons could cost you your life.

Self-defense as shown in many martial arts magazines, police or law enforcement journals are unfortunately often flawed. Many of the instructors or writers of self-defense articles are either over ranked, lack practical experience or have been ill trained.

Recently I read an article in a leading law enforcement magazine on how to defend against a downward weapons strike (knife or ice pick). I was surprised at what I saw and said to myself, “these are dangerous techniques.” Too much emphasis was put on blocking, when in reality blocks can miss or be overpowered.

Instead, one viable and much safer alternative which I demonstrate below is based on the following premise: Avoid the attack first and only then control the attacking weapon. Of course, there are other good defenses to this type of attack too; it is just that some are safer than others.

In the article, the officer demonstrated two possible defensive tactics to the ice-pick type attack. In the first suggested defense, the defender remains standing in front of the attacker (who was using his right arm to attack) while he uses his left raised vertical forearm to block to the inside of the downward striking arm near the elbow while simultaneously punching the assailant in the face with his right fist.

To me this is risky. It is difficult to block an attacking arm perfectly, and if you miss, or don’t get it right, you get stabbed. If you are smaller than the attacker, the problem of blocking is magnified because the attack might already be descending. To block after a lot of power has been generated into the attack is problematic at best. It might work, but you better be strong and accurate in your defense.

The second demonstrated defense in the article was equally risky. The defender used both arms to block and thus could easily be punched by the attacker’s other hand ( the none knife hand). There were other problems as well.

A much safer defense would be to start with avoidance. First move to the outside of the attack (away from the attack side). Then block/grab the attacker’s wrist, possibly strike to the groin, get control of the weapon arm and the attacker’s body, dislocate the attacker’s shoulder while throwing him to the ground, and then take away the knife.

Attacker a right hand overhead knife stab at the defender’s body.

Defender’s right foot arc steps to his right and his left hand blocks the attacker’s right arm.

Defender’s right hand goes under and wraps on top of defender’s left arm.

Defender’s left foot arc steps to the rear, his left hand moves to attacker’s shoulder as he spins the attacker to the ground.

Defender holds attacker in shoulder lock.


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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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