How to Use a Knife for Self Defense [A Beginner’s Guide]

The world is not a safe place around us right now, and every day we live in fear of any unwanted attack, or a robbery at our own home, and more crimes. When an attacker charges towards us or attacks us, most of us feel helpless and vulnerable mainly because we don’t have the proper knowledge about how to protect ourselves.

Among all the things to defend ourselves, the most effective one is the knife. But, you need to know how to use a knife for self-defenseto properly defend yourself and your loved ones from any attack.

When Would You Need to Use a Knife for Self Defense?

There could be literary hundreds or even more scenarios where you will be attacked by people. It could happen on the street, at dark nights, or even at your own home.

You can encounter hijackers on your commute or travel – especially at night. In most cases, these people opt for knives or muscle power to dominate the victim. For women, it is more common, as they are targeted by muggers, perverts, these kinds of criminals.

You are not even safe at your own house. Thieves could enter your home at night to steal valuables or hurt you in any way, and in those cases, you need to defend yourself.

Many people think that if they get stopped by muggers and give them his/her valuables, they will be left unharmed. But, it is quite opposite of the truth. When a mugger stops you and holds you at knifepoint, that person can hurt you at any point if you give up, and that happens in a lot of cases.

If you know how to hold a knife for self-defense, a good percentage of attackers will run away when they see you prepared to fight. And, when you have good knowledge about how to use a knife for self-defense, you will be able to take the attacker down even if that person tries to go forward with the attack.

No matter how skilled you are, you will get cut in a knife fight. With knowledge, skills, and a calm mind, you can put the attacker down but there is a good chance you will get some cuts too, and you need to be prepared for it.

How to use a knife for self-defense?

How to Use a Knife for Self Defense

To fight with a knife requires some proper knowledge and a calm mind. Also, know the knife-carrying laws of your state. There are some states which have set rules on what type and size of knife you can carry with you. In some other states, it is completely open. For example, Minnesota knife laws say you can carry a knife of any size and type without the intention of harm.

Types of self-defense knife

The knife is really effective in close fighting and defense, and the types of knives play an important role in this. Different types of knives are suitable for different knife fighting styles.  The most effective knife for fighting is which has a really sharp stabbing point and even sharper cutting edge.

The most dangerous knife is arguably Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife, which was used by soldiers back in World War 2. It is one of the most lethal knives for knife fighting, and even today, if you carry it and then involve in any kind of knife fight, the will of self-defense would be questioned.

But, knives for self-defense do not have to be specific or high-end knives. You can use chef knives or even ordinary kitchen knife to protect yourself from intruders or robbers. For carrying in person, you can use types like a bushcraft knife to protect yourself.

Knives for self-defense – Anatomy of Human Body

To be successful in knife defenses, you need to have good knowledge of human anatomy. Even if you don’t have proper and thorough knowledge, you can use your basic knowledge to find the most suitable spots of the attacker where you can hit with the knife.

Compared to shooting with guns, you need to have more precision with a knife, as the perfect landing will take away the fighting ability of your attacker. When you know how to hold a knife for self-defense, and are under attack, you need to look for opportunities to cut in these organs and arteries, and not the flesh.

You need to target the vital organs, stabbing or cutting them will force the attacker to withdraw from the fight. It is the same case for arteries, when you hit and cut an artery with a knife, it will result in blood loss and the attacker will lose sense. If you attack and stab on the flesh, the attacker will still have almost their full strength and can continue to attack you.

Knife defenses – The Grip

Along with the knowledge of anatomy, one of the most important things for a knife is the grip of knife. Different types of knives Have different blades, balance, and grips, and you need to know how to make the most out of them.

When you are holding a knife, you can hold it in two ways, one is the forward grip, another is the reverse grip.

Forward grip is when you hold the knife in the usual fashion, and the blade extends from the thumb of your hand, like how you will filet a salmon. If you are defending yourself with a chef knife or similar knife, this grip will come in handy.

This style allows more reach and quick attack. You can reach the attacker from a relatively more distance, and use the stabbing point to stab the attacker. This style is most suitable for stabs.

The Reverse grip is when the blade is placed facing downward, and the sharp edge of the blade somewhat parallel to the hand. This style provides much more strength when fighting, and is used to make cuts in the arteries and stabs in the vital organs. However, you need to be relatively closer to the attacker to defend and cut.

Both the grip styles are effective, and when you face a person holding knife, your knife can get stuck or you may face a more difficult situation. To use knives for self-defense, you need to learn and be comfortable with both these grip styles.

How to End A Self Defense Knife

When you are protecting yourself from any attacker either outside or in any closed space, you need to be calm. When you are thinking clearly, that is when you can properly defend your life. You should not let your rage take over, as it will not only affect your fighting but also how you are going to end this knife fight.

If you have injured the attacker and that person leaves the fight to flee or run away, you should restrain yourself from making any knife moves. If the attacker stops the fight and you don’t – you will no longer be acting in self-defense. So, you need to be calm and know when to stop and end the fight.

Things to Do After Knife Defenses

If the attacker does not run away when you pull out the knife and engages in a fight, there could always be cuts. Cuts in a knife fight are inevitable, and even if you win and the attacker disengages and runs away, you will most likely have cuts in your body.

At first, check for cuts. After a knife fight, you will always have minor or even major cuts, and you need to stop the bleeding. If there are any major or deep cuts, find people and call for help, then rush to the nearest hospital. You can have deep cuts on your body without even realizing it, and if you don’t stop the bleeding and rush to the hospital, you will lose lots of blood.

Report the entire incident to a law enforcement officer, with every detail you can remember. Reports like these help in finding these attackers and prevent any future occurrence.

Lastly, keep hold of yourself. If you have come out of the knife fight with only some cuts, you are safe and you have successfully protected yourself and your loved ones. Mental panic attacks and aftershocks are common after things like this, so talk to a professional who can help with dealing with these.


Being attacked in a dark alleyway or in the road in the middle of the night is something we wish to never happen to us. But, the world is a dangerous place, and sometimes trouble could even come to your own house to harm you.  When you know how to use a knife for self-defense, you will be able to keep calm and use these self-defense knife skills to protect yourself and your loved ones. Keep safe, and do not fear, as it will be a catalyst that can play a role in hurting you.

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