Defense Against Weapons

by Grand Master James S. Benko, Ph.D.


If when confronted by an opponent who has a weapon, you are unable to reason with him or walk away peaceably, then you must be prepared to defend yourself or face the consequences.

No matter how small your opponent may be, if he has a weapon he has a distinct advantage over you. He will be able to strike you while remaining outside your defensive sphere. A club, even in the hands of a novice, can become a deadly weapon. Therefore, when you begin to take action to defend yourself, you must act decisively and without hesitation. You must either draw your antagonist into your defensive sphere or move along one of the angles of evasion, so that you will be able to control the weapon and neutralize your opponent.

When defending against a weapon attack you should follow the rules of defensive action in their precise chronological order:

  1. Evade the attack by drawing the opponent into your defensive sphere or moving along one of the angles of evasion.
  2. Control the weapon. Use trapping techniques, joint locks or manipulations, strikes, or off-balancing techniques.
  3. Neutralize the opponent. This may be accomplished by disarming him and counter-attacking, using his weapon against him or striking vital parts of the body. Throws and projections are also methods of neutralization and may be used at this point.

When defending against an opponent who has a knife, controlling the weapon is of the utmost importance. Soft blocks, and circular movements should be used when subduing him. Re-direct or evade the weapon while following up with a technique of neutralization.

When disarming an opponent who is using a knife, you will not, in most situations, use the weapon against him, as can be done in club defenses. When defending against club attacks you are able to grab the end of the weapon and quite easily disarm him. With a knife that same situation does not exist. Your opponent will be holding the only area of the knife which can be grabbed safely. The only time you will be able to actually take the knife away from him and use it against him is while executing detailed joint manipulation techniques. Normally, the weapon will fall to the ground, at which point you will promptly follow up with a technique of neutralization.

When practicing weapon defenses you should do so under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor. You should practice with a rubber or wooden knife NEVER with a real knife. When executing a disarm technique apply pressure to the joints slowly and stop the technique as soon as your partner signals you that there is pain or too much pressure being exerted. The pain tells you your opponent would have dropped the knife at that point. Safety, concentration, and preciseness are key factors in determining the effectiveness of your defenses.


If you would like to learn more, order the following DVD videos:
"Self-Defense Against Weapons"
"Hapkido Defenses Against Knife Attacks"


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