Ground fighting against a knife attack

This video of ground fighting against a knife attack is NSFW. It’s gruesome and some people will find it hard to watch, so be advised before you click on it.

That said, I don’t have a lot of information about this video, but this is what seems to be going on:

  • I appears to be shot somewhere in Brazil.
  • We don’t know what started the fight.
  • The video says the guy died after getting stabbed, but he looks to be alive when the video ends. What happened afterwards, no idea. Given the amount of times he got stabbed and where the knife punctured him, I’d say odds are good he is now dead.

If you have official information about this incident, feel free to post it in the comments section.

Here’s the video (try this link if you can’t see it):

Some thoughts:

  • Both fighters are engaging in a typical street brawl when the video starts. It’s nothing special, we’ve all seen this kind of street fight before.
  • Notice how the guy in the white shirt is not doing anything. He’s standing close by, but he doesn’t intervene.
  • Notice the number of times he could have intervened He had plenty of opportunity to surprise the guy he ends up sticking with a knife. Notice how that guy seems oblivious to white shirt’s presence. More on this later…
  • As soon as the fight goes to the ground, he moves in. He drops his bag and it looks like he’s opening a folding knife as he steps forward. It’s hard to see clearly in the video, but given as you don’t see him reaching in a pocket or under his shirt, he seems to have palmed the knife the whole time the fight goes on. Considering the previous bullet, let the implications of that sink in for a minute…
  • He stabs right away. The guy on the ground has almost no time to “surrender”, let go and get clear of the stabber’s friend or pretty much do anything before he gets stabbed. One second he’s fighting on the ground, the next he’s facing a knife attack from a second attacker. There was no way he could have escaped getting stabbed…
  • There is no fight. Ground fighting against a knife attack is a losing proposition. This isn’t ground and pound: you can’t trade blows on the ground against a guy attacking you with a knife. As you’re lying there, you can’t generate a lot of power in your strikes, let alone consistently knock the other guy out or even away from you so you can get up. What’s more, he can soak up your shots, take some damage and still continue. But the same doesn’t go for you: he can stab you once with the knife, puncture an artery or damage a vital organ, and you’re dead. So all in all, when you’re on the ground, there is no “fighting” your knife-wielding attacker: there is only trying to survive.
  • Let’s kill the Brazilian myth. There’s a myth that has been kept alive ever since Gracie Ju Jitsu became popular. Whenever you mention the dangers of ground fighting in a self-defense context, somebody brings up that in Brazil, people will not intervene when two people fight on the ground. Yeah… We just saw how that worked out…
Ground fighting against a knife attack

Ground fighting against a knife attack: a slashed wrist…

Some people will read this article and think I’m bashing BJJ or other grappling systems; I’m not. These are excellent styles in certain environments and contexts. But in others, they are not such a great idea. Knowing when and where to use them is critical. As you can see in the video, you might not get a second chance when you mess up.

In a sporting contest, secondary opponents and knives are not an issue. You can fight on the ground for rounds on end and do your thing there, that’s perfectly fine. On the street, you should assume that a second attacker and weapons can always come in at any time, especially when you least expect it. Going to the ground leaves you vulnerable to both these issues.

Does that mean that every time a fight goes to the ground in the street, there will be a knife or another attacker? No, not at all. But it is a realistic possibility, one you ignore at your own peril. In contrast, in the ring or the cage, you will never encounter them so you don’t need to take them into account in your training. You can flat out pretend they don’t exist and become a UFC champion. However, if you train for self-defense, these factors are two of the most important ones to take into consideration: they influence your training on all possible levels.

This video is a sad reminder of that.

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  1. Thanks again

  2. One former instructor said that you should always assume the other guy has a knife until you can see both palms at the same time.

  3. should be shown at the start of every knife defense class-this wakes you up……….Ari of Don’t be a victim/Executive Self Defense Clarksville Tn.

  4. Jeff Gaynor says

    Couple of points to make. I’ve done jujutsu for over 35 years. The historical origin of most floorwork is law enforcement. We have several taiho jutsu (police work) techniques and all of them require at least a pair of people — one to restrain the suspect and one to cuff (or more classically, tie up with rope). The reason I bring this up is the most fundamental condition for doing any of these is that in police/law enforcement work, the target is trying to escape before more police show up: This fundamentally changes how they behave. More to the point, if the opponent was of sufficiently high class, injuring them might go very badly indeed later for the officers involved, hence there was a real attempt made at merely restraining, not just maiming. On top of this, if the opponent was not high ranking and hurt the officer, other officers could be counted on to even the score. All of these are assumptions that need to be addressed. Such an opponent in such a situation is nothing like, say, in this video. This being the case, it made perfect sense for Kano to incorporate such known safe techniques into his newly created sport of judo (which he intended for physical education in the newly founded Japanese public school system, of which he was one of the architects.) That the marketing from the BJJ crowd has tried to turn these into “warrior” or “ground and pound” to up the intensity of sporting events is a testimonial to the development of that sport in its context, but has little to do with the historical origins of such techniques or their proper application. As one of my senseis noted, no samurai army ever shoulder sprinted into combat on its back.

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