Scenario Based Self Defence Training

Being physically attacked in the street, at your workplace, or in your own home is bad enough as it is. But in the case of a knife attack or threat, there is a high likelihood that you could get seriously injured or worse.

The wise person will never go anywhere near a person wielding a knife. However, what happens if you get caught up in such a scenario? Would you know what to do?

Unless you have been specifically trained to defend yourself against a blade, the answer is probably no.

This article looks at how you can maximise your chances of surviving a knife threat. It covers five areas:

  1. your mindset
  2. prioritising de-escalation and escape
  3. targeting vulnerable body regions
  4. disarming an aggressor
  5. finally, why you should seriously consider joining a krav maga self-defence class.

Getting your mindset right

The best way to defend yourself from a knife attack is to stop it from happening in the first place. That may seem obvious, but many knife attacks happen because the victim wasn’t aware they were in danger. Either that or they said or did things to inflame the situation.

Situational Awareness

It is not always easy to spot an unfolding knife attack. Carrying a knife, in the UK, is illegal. This means many people will conceal the weapon in their clothing until the last minute. Krav maga teaches students a skill known as ‘situational awareness’.

This means quickly assessing an environment for potential threats, escape routes, and objects that might help or hinder you. Part of situational awareness involves understanding the patterns of normal behavior around you. That way you can more easily notice red flags.

For example, you might notice that a person is crossing the street behind you. He is picking up his pace and putting his right hand into his coat pocket.

Reaction to a knife threat or attack

Once you become aware of a potential knife threat, keep as much distance between you and the person as possible. Speaking calmly, but firmly, tell them to stop and ask them what they want.

If they intend to rob you, placing your wallet or jewelry on the floor and backing up might satisfy them. They could be angry with you for some reason (e.g. cutting them up on the road or giving them a ‘dirty’ look). When that is the case, you might be able to apologise and talk them down.

This is not the time for protecting your ego or your possessions.

Warrior mentality

Maintaining this level of discipline is not easy, especially when your body is flooded with adrenaline. However, it is the best way to avoid having to fight. This is part of the ‘warrior mentality’ that you will learn if you join a krav maga group. That is, the ability to maintain situational awareness, stay calm under stress, and act rationally and efficiently.

When calm doesn’t work

Unfortunately, at times nothing can put an aggressor off. They could be high on drugs or drink; have mental health issues; intend to sexually assault or are simply out for a fight.

In this case, shout for help and make your escape. Grab potential weapons as you go, long, hard objects such as metal poles can be particularly useful. If you’re lucky, someone will intervene, or the attacker will decide to run off.

When fighting is the only option

Aggression should be used only as a last resort. If fighting is the only option left, your focus should switch to using maximum aggression. Neutralise the threat as efficiently as possible. Targeting your attacker’s vulnerable areas is the best way to achieve this.

If you are caught by surprise or are unable to immediately get away, target the sensitive parts of their body. Your only aim when defending yourself from a real knife attack – prevent the attacker from using the knife. The easiest way to do this is to inflict immediate and incapacitating pain.

Vulnerable areas

Vulnerable areas include the throat, eyes, and groin. In all cases, aim to hit quickly, with maximum force, and follow-through.

For striking the throat, use a hard part of your body, such as the elbow or forearm. Depending on how far away your attacker is, use the knee, shin, or foot to hit them in the groin.

Gouging the eyes is acceptable if gruesome, response but only in a real attack scenario. If you carry any sort of spray (perfume, deodorant, etc.), spraying the eyes is another effective tactic.

Disarming your attacker

Attempting to disarm your attacker without the appropriate training is very dangerous. It should only be attempted if you are trapped and have been unable to incapacitate your attacker. Knife attacks, by their nature, are unpredictable. When an attacker is within one or two steps, you stand a high chance of being stabbed or slashed.

Focus on the hand holding the knife

If you are still at a distance and have managed to get hold of a long metal bar or pole, aim to strike the attacker’s knife-hand. It’s ok if you don’t manage to disarm them. You may inflict enough damage or pain to stop them from being able to use the knife effectively.

If they get close enough to stab or slash you, and you have been unable to get free of them, grabbing the thumb of the knife-wielding hand is likely to be your best option. As you do so, continue to aim for their vulnerable areas with your free arm and feet, because if you let up, your attacker will come back at you and could overpower you.

Muscle memory

By this time, a krav maga student’s muscle memory would have kicked in. They would have deployed the defensive strikes and/or disarming skills that they had mastered in training. Krav maga leaves nothing to chance. There is a high chance the attacker will be out of action, leaving the student free to make their escape.

That’s why we highly recommend you look into krav maga clubs operating in your area.

How krav maga can help you defend yourself from a knife threat or attack

Krav maga can be translated as ‘close quarter combat’. It is the fighting style of choice for armies, police, and security forces worldwide. Part of its appeal is its utility against weapon attacks.

Difference from other martial arts

Unlike martial arts, krav maga training is mainly based on so-called ‘self-defence scenarios’. Every session is focused squarely on preparing you for a real-life attack. There are no distractions in the form of sports tournaments or complex routines. From day one, you will be learning simple, effective self-defence techniques.


Each technique is broken down slowly. The student then practices with the goal of completely mastering every aspect of it. Techniques are combined in various ways so that the person can deploy them under a variety of different circumstances. This is the fastest way to learn useful fighting skills, including how to defend yourself from a knife attack.

Many krav maga groups will supplement the standard scenario-based sessions with specific weapons defence training.

Suitable for everyone

Your krav maga training will also turn your body into an asset rather than a liability. Whatever your current level of fitness, you will gain stamina and become stronger and more supple over time. Whether you are running, dodging, blocking, striking, or grappling, you will find that your body is there for you in your hour of need.

Krav maga is open to students of any age, gender, experience, and fitness level. It helps working people such as nurses and teachers feel more secure in their homes, work, and out and about.

Inclusive training and promotion

Krav maga clubs and organisations also support students with a safe, welcoming environment. They provide guidance on the moral and lawful deployment of the lethal skills they are learning.

While krav maga isn’t a martial art, it does have its own belt system. This helps students to consolidate and demonstrate their learning. Knife defence techniques are explicitly included in the grading syllabi, from the very first belt (yellow) upwards.

Knife defence in the krav maga syllabus

As the student progresses through the belt grading system, they will demonstrate their ability to react to various real-life scenarios.

Starting off

Part of each belt syllabus is dedicated to knife defence. For the first belts, students will need to demonstrate effective responses to a variety of different knife attacks.

For example, by the time they take their grading, they will have learned:

  • how to rapidly assess the distance they are from their attacker
  • the trajectory of the blade (e.g., upward or downward stab, slash, double slash, etc.)
  • assess the direction of the attack

They will then respond with two or three alternative combinations of movements and strikes. Some defences may include the use of objects to distract and disorientate the attacker.


As they progress up the belt grading system, students will be asked to demonstrate how to:

  • disarm an assailant
  • combine multiple counter-strikes
  • respond to more complex scenarios. This includes dealing with attacks from behind, from multiple attackers and when sitting or lying on the ground.

Online materials

While there are lots of YouTube videos and online guides about defending yourself from knife attacks, be warned. Many of these present unrealistic scenarios. Even those that are based on effective techniques require hours of practice before they become second nature.

Introductory Session

If you don’t know how to defend yourself from a knife attack, find your nearest krav maga centre and book in for an introductory session. Chances are, you will never have to face a knife-wielding maniac. But if you ever do, krav maga will make sure you are fully prepared.

Brixton Krav Maga

Find out about Krav Maga Self Defence! Join a beginner’s session and discover why Krav Maga is the most effective self defence system in the world. The session will include training in 3 effective techniques and then learning how to apply them to a range of self-defence scenarios.

Join an Introductory Krav Maga Course !

My name is Simon, I head up the instructor team and have a 3rd Degree Black Belt in FEKM Krav Maga, as well as being the President of the UK Sector of the FEKM.

All of the instructors are FEKM qualified and undergo continual assessment to improve and develop their skills. A full list of instructors can be found on this page.

We run introductory courses every few weeks at our Club in Brixton, so that you can discover Krav Maga and learn how to protect yourself…