Knife Defense and Empty Hand Defense Must Sync

Police in China confront a knife-wielding attacker. Police in China confront a knife-wielding attacker.

One of the core principles of Hammerhead Hapkido is that empty hand techniques must not build bad habits for knife defense, and vice versa. At the moment of attack, one cannot say, “Hmm, this is a knife attack so I will discard all those empty-hand movements and use only knife defense movements.” In reality there’s no time for thought. Your body will respond according to training. The underlying movements must be the same!

This is why I plan to stop teaching – for example – push defenses that involve trapping the pushing hand on my chest. What if there’s a knife concealed in that hand?

Why knife in particular? Because knife attacks are globally common. Whether you’re in New York, Karachi or Johannesburg, the weapon you are most likely to face in a mugging or street attack is a knife.
Guns are common too, of course, but the first principle of close-quarters gun defense is to hand over your wallet, and if the gunman is farther away then to run. But again, when it comes to actual self-defense, the underlying movements should be the same.

Wael Abdelgawad, Founder
Hammerhead Hapkido

(Photo: Police in China confront a knife-wielding attacker).

1 Comment

  1. This idea of empty-hand and knife defense movements working in sync is characteristic of Southeast Asian arts such as Silat and Kali. That’s because these arts were originally knife arts, and the empty-hand movements were derived from that.

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