How to Use a Knife for Self Defense (Ultimate Guide)

In this article, you will learn how to use a knife for self defense.

We live in a dangerous world where you could be called upon to protect yourself against a dangerous attacker. Knives are convenient to carry and have several applications, so you should always have one on hand. They are also less illegal than guns or blunt hidden weapons.

The ability and art of self-defense is a complex and sometimes confusing subject. There are several methods and tactics for self-defense with a knife and moral and legal considerations.

Learning to defend oneself with a knife, on the other hand, does not have to be that complicated if you stick to the basics and get good at them.

It’s an ability you hope you never have to use, yet it can save your life in many situations if done correctly.

So, if you want to defend yourself with a knife properly, there is a lot to learn. Here’s a brief rundown on how to use a knife for self-defense.

Let’s dive in.

So, before we get into how to use a knife for self defense, let’s learn when to use it. First and foremost, you must be emotionally and physically prepared to engage in a knife battle. 

You must also be in the process of being assaulted, in good physical condition, aware of the laws of protecting oneself, understand anatomy in order for your attacks to be successful, and you must be prepared to be hurt.

You only lose less than the other person in a knife battle because no one wins. The bad guy is likely to back down as soon as you provide armed opposition. But you must be prepared if he does not.

This implies you shouldn’t start flipping around a butterfly knife if someone attempts to grab your wallet. You should only use a knife to protect yourself if your life is already in danger. Otherwise, you are the one endangering your own life.

What Knife to Use

small survival knife vs big survival knife

The knife is the most lethal weapon in close combat. When selecting a knife, two elements must be considered: balance and sharpness. The hilt should be comfortable in your hand, and the blade should not be so heavy that it drags the hilt from your fingers in a slack hold.

Because an artery rips through (as opposed to a clean cut) tends to constrict and limit the bleeding, the blade must have a vital stabbing tip and excellent cutting edges. If a major artery is cut cleanly, the attacker will immediately lose consciousness and die.

Today’s specialty knives are either based on those specifications or created with similar concepts in mind: ease of handling and excellent cutting. Unfortunately, many knife-fighting blades have little value outside of combat or have names that emphasize their violent origins. This may have legal consequences.

However, most other knives will do. Typically, you want a knife as long as practicable while staying balanced and pleasant to hold.

The sharper the edge, the better. Serrations improve the capacity to execute lethal cuts. A curvature also enhances the knife’s slicing ability. The decision between fixed and folding blades is usually based on concealability and simplicity of usage.

A fixed blade is more convenient to wield but less concealable. A folding knife will take longer to put into action, but it will be easier to hide. Keep in mind to always stay on the right side of the law.

How to Use a Knife for Self Defense

If you’re going to fight with a knife, you need to be aware of some key aspects of combat. 

The first thing to consider is how you handle your knife. The ideal knife grip for self-defense is the one that makes you feel the most at ease and allows you to operate the most easily.

There are several knife self-defense systems and tactics, but one of the fundamental concepts shared by nearly all of them is to maintain the tip of your knife pointing at your opponent.

Now let’s go over two primary grips.

Forward Grip

The Forward grip is a fantastic and highly flexible grip that provides you with a broad range of motion and possibilities. This grip is ideal for shorter knives, although it can be used with almost any blade.

Simply grab your knife in the same general position as you would shake someone’s hand to make the grip. For a firm and flexible hold, place your thumb on the spine of the knife, and your other four fingers may curl up under the handle.

The Forward grip is a relatively common and straightforward grip that many people employ without recognizing it. When you think of fundamental knife grips, it’s similar to your go-to and archetypal knife grip.

This grip is incredibly natural and will allow you to perform a variety of knife moves and skills. 

The Forward grip is one of the simplest and most practical grips available. It is one of the first ones you should learn if you are just starting out, but it is also very applicable and helpful if you are more accomplished in knife self-defense.

Reverse Grip

The reverse grip has two fundamental variations: one with the knife’s edge pointing outward and one with it facing inward. Both are incredibly practical and effective knife grips that are easy to learn and have a wide range of applications.

You can grip your knife with the blade facing down to establish a reverse knife grip. The thumb should curl around the butt of your knife or around the handle while your remaining fingers grip the knife handle securely.

The reverse knife grip is excellent for a downward stabbing action with a lot of strength. 

It is a little more difficult to operate your knife when it is in this hold, but you can become reasonably adept at using the reverse knife grip with enough practice.

By the way, if you want to learn how to sharpen a tanto blade, click here.

How to Move Your Knife

Drawing Your Knife

When drawing a fixed-blade knife, ensure sure the blade is always pointing away from your body.

To establish a defensive position, keep a firm grasp on the handle and extend the knife firmly up, out, and away from you. Foldable knives can also be held in your pocket. However, this might make drawing more difficult and time-consuming.

There isn’t one way to carry and draw. Much of this is a matter of your preferences. We recommend you try out different knives to find out what works best for you.


When you attack, your counter-strike should be quick and accurate, and it should put an end to the conflict right away. If they slash low, at your stomach, follow them with a large stride back and to the side. 

Bring your knife over their forearm, aim down, and cut down at the wrist with your blade, hoping to convince them to drop the knife.

If they swipe high, follow them by taking a large stride back and to the side, then slash with your blade pointed up at the underside of their forearm. In order to induce them to drop the knife, aim for the forearm and wrist area.


Stabbing can be an effective technique to wield a knife in self-defense, but there are very few situations where it will be superior to slashing.

If your opponent is wearing thick and protective clothes and stabbing with your knife is the only option to pierce through the material, you should stab rather than slash.

If you want to learn 11 of the best self-defense tips and tricks, click here.

Consider Your Range

When it comes to combative knife applications, there are three primary categories. The various ranges are as follows:

  • Close Range — You may elbow, knee, and headbutt your adversary within this range.
  • Mid Range — When fully extended, your empty hand may touch your opponent at mid-range.
  • Long Range — When extended, your empty hand is unable to touch your opponent.

The manner we strike and protect against the knife is heavily influenced by the range we are in. If we are at long range, there is no need for me to check with my empty hand because my opponent will be too far away to truly deal harm to my vitals.

Where to Attack

Where to Attack with Your Knife

You should attempt to disarm the attacker by slashing the arms. However, attacking any of the vital areas will also neutralize your attacker. Just remember to keep the law in mind.

Other areas besides the arm that has maximum effect include but are not limited to the neck, temples, thighs, wrists, stomach, and shoulder.

These areas are similar to where you should hit for hand-to-hand combat. Speaking of hand-to-hand combat, Krav Maga is the deadliest style of hand-to-hand combat and you can learn 8 of the best moves by clicking here.

Practice Makes Perfect

We recommend practicing with a partner, with markers. You will not only receive direct feedback from a moving target, but you will also practice both attacking and defensive knife techniques.

If an attacker remains in a static posture during an attack, it will be uncommon. It is critical to move with them while using knives for self-defense. Adding a companion, like other skill-building ventures, makes things a little more fun.

The motivation level tends to rise, and you have each other as a source of incentive on days when you don’t feel like getting out of bed. 

The more time you spend practicing with your edged weapons, the more valuable the blade will be in real-world situations.

Essential Tips

1. Never Switch Grips

It’s not a good idea. Switching the way you grip the knife in the middle of a battle is a trick better left to Hollywood actors unless you have a lot of training. The very last thing you want to do is drop your knife while attempting to change your grip.

2. Always Avoid When Possible

Pulling and wielding your knife should only be done as a last option, and only if your life is in danger. If you can avoid the confrontation totally, or if you can flee, do so to prevent a possibly fatal situation.

3. Keep Your Knife In Front of Your Body

It is critical that you utilize your knife as a defensive instrument, shielding your face, neck, and body from an assailant at all costs. 

Draw your shoulders in and duck your head, stretching your knife-holding arm in front of you, curved at a 45-degree angle.

As you shelter behind your knife, use your other arm to protect your chest, neck, and stomach. You don’t want to use your unprotected hand as a shield or guard. Always put your knife forward.

4. Move Around

If you both draw knives, take a large stride backward while keeping your weapon between your body and your opponent at all times. As though a magnet were directing your knife at your opponent’s knife.

You can proceed in one of four directions: forward, backward, and right or left circling. To defend oneself and make it more difficult to be struck, you should always be moving in some direction.

5. Distract

Most opponents will be hesitant in assaulting you, especially if you just brought out a knife that you appear to know how to wield.

Nobody wants to engage in a knife battle. If you’ve pulled a knife on the attacker and they’ve drawn a knife on you, that should be the end of it. Pulling your knife and distracting your opponent should, ideally, be the end of the battle.

6. Never Throw Your Knife

In one-on-one knife combat, the last thing you want to do is lose your weapon. As your marker exercise should have indicated, defending yourself against an attack with a knife when you don’t have one is exceedingly tough.

It’s exceedingly unlikely that you’ll really strike someone with a thrown knife, and you’re more likely to lose your weapon and get up in trouble. Always have your knife in your grasp.

Basic Knife Tactics

Last Words

Overall, there are several methods and strategies for defending oneself with a knife, but the most important thing to remember is to keep the blade pointed at the threat and between you and it.

We hope you liked this article on how to use a knife for self defense.

You may learn various techniques and ways to hold the knife as you gain expertise and experience, but for most novices, it is preferable to keep it as simple as possible.

Learn some fundamental grips and methods, but practice with whatever comes naturally to you. When you have to defend yourself with a knife, you are unlikely to recall anything you have studied and will rely mainly on reflexes and instincts.

This is where a lot of practice, as well as just utilizing what seems natural to practice with, comes in helpful, so you can be just as effective in a circumstance as you are in practice. Keep prepping!

If you were surprised by any of them or liked this article, please consider following us on FacebookTwitterPinterestReddit, and Instagram. Also, consider sharing this content and subscribing to get 255 free ebooks.

Here are some articles you might enjoy:

1 thought on “How to Use a Knife for Self Defense (Ultimate Guide)”

  1. “How to use a knife for self defense” blog IS a must-read! I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a crime/thriller movie where a character would go grab a knife for defense but doesn’t really know how to use a knife for self defense! Let’s normalize reading blogs on how to use a knife for self defense!


Leave a Comment