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Knives You Don't See

One of my hobbies, one that most people do not know about, is collecting knives, folding knives in particular. No, I am not a hardcore collector, like my son's good friend Darin who got me started. But I do have several knives of different sizes (from 3 to 9 inches when open) and types (lockback, liner lock, credit card, etc.).

Many knives can be easily opened and even closed with one hand. And these are not even spring assisted or butterfly knives (which are illegal in Hawaii). These are just regular folding knives.

So what is my point? It does not take much skill or training at all to conceal a folding knife and open it very quickly. A regular knife does not even have to be opened.

If a person wanted to attack you with a knife, you would not be able to see it coming. Unlike television shows and Karate demonstrations where the knife attacker makes big, slow motions, a real knife attack will probably be lightning fast and at close quarters. No big slashes or swings. The knife will be opened and the attack will be made, almost certainly before you can see it. A twitch of the wrist and you will be cut... and skilled knife fighters know where to cut do the most damage in the least time. You could be cut several times before you could even react.

One of my Karate teachers also taught eskrima. He often warned us to be extremely careful when an attacker brushes back his hair, rubs his neck, or reaches for a back pocket, because these could all be movements to get a concealed knife. He taught that you have to react to the movements of the attacker, not to the knife itself. By the time you see the knife -- if you even see the knife -- it will be too late.

You have to react to the attacker and it would be prudent to assume that he is armed whether you know it or not.

I know that this is difficult. I am not saying that you should use a regular Karate-type block to defend against a knife. The teacher I mentioned above used to teach us how to use folding chairs and other items for defense, even umbrellas. You have to be aware of the environment and alert to things that could be used for defense.

As much as we practice Karate, there are other martial artists who train with knives and other weapons. You have to assume that they can become as skilled as us! If you think that you are good at Karate, can you imagine being attacked by someone just as good (or better) at knife fighting? That is not a pleasant thought!

It doesn't matter that you are skilled at Karate if you are wounded or killed before you can use it. Therefore, being aware of the situation has to be the most important part of Karate, because without awareness, there will be no opportunity to use any techniques at all.

Sometimes I see martial artists who are cocky about their fighting skills. Confidence is a good thing but overconfidence can make you miss things... like a concealed knife.

Just to be clear, I collect knives and use them for utility purposes (like cutting plants and cord). I do not carry knives. That does not mean that other people don't carry knives... you have to assume that at least some do.

In Karate we learn to defend against an unexpected attack. That attack could be with a knife, a knife that might not be seen until it is too late.


Charles C. Goodin