DVD Review: Knife Defense Against Multiple Attackers.

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How do you deal with the increasingly common multiple attacker crime — armed only with a knife?

Knife Defense Against Multiple Attackers
Presented by Alessandro Padovani, Safer Faster Defense

I’ll admit it — I’m not a knife guy. Don’t get me wrong; I carry one (actually two) almost everywhere I go and use them as tools on a daily basis. I actually wear knives out from use! I’m not an expert in using them as self defense tools, however, finding that in my environment a firearm is a more efficient lethal force tool. (Remember that the knife is a lethal force instrument in the eyes of the law.)

Learning how to use one as a weapon, then, is not something I’ve spent a lot of time doing. Many of the concepts are new to me and, frankly, I find the plethora of techniques and grasps and tip directions and thrusts and slashes and….well, a little overwhelming! That’s why I liked Padovani’s first PDN knife defense video, because it simplified things to the point that I could integrate knife techniques into my repertoire. I’m still not a “knife guy”, though, and wondered just what would happen if a knife-wielder were to be attacked by more than one person.

That’s what this new DVD from the Personal Defense Network is all about. It’s not a knife technique DVD, but rather an application guide that builds on his previous DVD and shows you how to use those skills against two (or more) attackers.

Padovani starts by pointing out that the techniques which you’d use against one attacker are the same as what you’ll use against more than one. Dealing with multiple attackers isn’t a matter of learning new ways to use the knife (or your empty hands), but rather how to manage your space so that you’re only dealing with one of them at any given moment.

Things like angles and speed of attack become critical components in dealing with multiple attackers, and these concepts are introduced in his opening remarks. Padovani spends some time talking about predators and how they attack, using force of numbers to compel their victims into submission without having to fight. Your goal is to create time and distance from them to give you a chance to employ your defensive blade.

He points out that there are two contexts to interaction with predators: the approach, where the bad guy sizes up the intended victim and positions himself (and his partner) to launch a strike; and the attack, where violence is used to subdue the victims. Padovani gives some good tips on what you should be doing during the approach in order to set yourself up to defend against the coming attack.

The rest of the DVD deals with the response to the attack itself. He explains the process in easy to grasp terms: Clear, Control, and Counter. (Later on in the DVD he shows a drill that allows you to practice this specific concept.)

Clear refers to the line of attack, meaning that you get out of the way of the incoming blows by either “getting off the X” or deflecting the attacker; control means to capture and restrain the opponents limbs (not the hands, he points out, which are much harder to catch because they move very quickly); and counter means to mount a counter-attack using your defensive blade.

Padovani also introduces the concept of “split and stack” for dealing with more than one attacker. The idea is to manage your angle to the attackers so that they’re in line with each other, forcing them to attack serially instead of in parallel — which divides the amount of force that they can deliver to you (thus the “split”.)

While the second attacker is busy maneuvering around his accomplice, you’re pressing your counter-attacker on the first one. According to Padovani, this is what makes it possible to use the skills you’ve already learned in his previous DVD, by applying them in this new context through the split & stack strategy.

While this information was all good, for me the very best part of the DVD (and frankly worth the price by itself) was his presentation on fear management. Fear can come from the attackers themselves, who use it to control their victims, or from inside yourself. Either can sabotage your effective defense.

Padovani discusses ways to help you avoid becoming paralyzed by the fear your attackers are trying to instill in you, and how to keep your own doubts from preventing you from doing what’s necessary to defend yourself. One of the best points he makes is to focus not on what they’re going to do to you, but on what you are going to do to them!

Fear, he points out, can be used as a motivator and to enable our responses. He talks about using emotional triggers to elicit your most powerful response; think about what you fear losing the most (your kids, your spouse, your parents) and think about what your death would mean to them. He recommends that you practice visualizing this during your practice routines so that you can call on that emotional trigger when you’re faced with a real attack. It’s a method of building the inner strength you need to prevail.

There’s a lot more about dealing with the mental aspects of self defense in this DVD: giving yourself permission to hurt someone who is attacking you, for instance, isn’t something I talk about in my defensive shooting classes — but maybe I should! He points out that no matter what weapon you’re using you need to think about how far you’re willing to go to defend yourself, and you need to do this before you’re faced with the decision to do so.

He also spends time on defensive posturing, and by that he doesn’t mean (necessarily) stance. He talks about using your hands in a position that is both non-threatening (and non-escalating), but allowing you to respond to an incoming strike quickly and efficiently. He calls this a “negotiating posture”, and is usually effective with resource predators (those whose attack is intended to relieve the victim of things the attacker wants.)

This is in contrast to process predators, whose motivation is the thrill of using violence on another person. With process predators there is usually no room for negotiation, and your response is likely to need to be more immediate.

He talks about the two kinds of knife draws: the stealth draw, usually used against resource predators while using the negotiating posture to provide distraction; and the combat draw, which emphasizes speed when an attacker is imminent or in progress (which is likely to be the case with process predators.)

After this he demonstrates some of the basic drills in knife defense, focusing on the concepts of Split & Stack and Clear/Control/Counter. He explains that distance to the threat prioritizes your focus, as the closest target is the first you can and therefore need to deal with. For people with a background in defensive shooting this is a different concept: since guns are remote-impact tools we don’t have to think about what’s closest, rather what’s more important — because we can easily reach any of them. A knife is distance limited, and you need to take that into account during your response.

He also talks about training with partners, a necessary part of learning how to employ the knife. Padovani explains what you need in a training partner, how to work together and play the roles, and especially how to bring the necessary emotional input into the role playing.

There are also two bonus drills on the DVD, one dealing with training for a surprise attack (called the Hood Drill) and another quick drill showing you how to control the force you use against your training partner (called the Threshold Drill.)

All in all, an interesting DVD. As I said at the beginning: I’m not a knife expert, but the techniques he presents and the way he explains them make logical sense to me. The information about how predators work is on the money, and the discussions about fear management and pre-contact indicators are valuable whether you carry a knife or not. In fact, I’d recommend this DVD for those topics alone because Padovani has some unique insights.

You can purchase Knife Defense Against Multiple Attackers from the ICE Training Store, or you can get both the Knife Defense DVD in a package (autographed!) directly from Alessandro Padovani at Safer Faster Defense.

-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-

Disclosure: This DVD was supplied by the Personal Defense Network for review. I am affiliated with PDN as a contributor and have taught with Rob Pincus and Alessandro Padovani in the past. I receive no compensation should you purchase this DVD.


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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