Knife vs. Unarmed @ Dog Brothers

I've been reading with interest the threads regarding unarmed vs. the blade, as this has been a big interest of mine for a while.

The main takes on unarmed vs. blade seem to be Jerry's Red Zone, Demi B's new stuff, and the Sayoc unarmed defense against the knife.

I'm wondering if people from these groups would want to particapte in the Dog Bros' gathering next June, going unarmed against the knife. I'm planning to do some of this myself and think it would give a good comparison of some of the differen t approaches that people are working on these days. I think it would be a great opportunity to see how the different approaches play out in real-time against people who are skilled with the blade.


 Thanks for the invite:) I've been a big fan of the Dog Bros. since I first heard about them in the early 90's. In fact, I'd say their training ethic changed the way I view weapons training and eventually had an impact on how I approached unarmed defense against the knife.

 I read somewhere on here that Marc Denny was trying to get more focus on emptyhand blade defense going at the Gatherings. I'm not sure that the training at the gatherings would be appropriate for a system like the Red Zone.

 To start with, the whole focus of the RZ program is to create a window for escape and to avoid engaging at all costs. Typically, the training we use involves simulating an assault of some kind using a force-on-force role playing approach. There aren't pre-determined attacks so much as pre-determined roles (you are the attacker, your goal is kill, mug, threaten, etc.) The main reason for this is to avoid the gaming that can happen. 

 The problem that arises with the "gaming" is that the person with the knife ALWAYS holds the cards. The only thing the defender has going for him is some element of surprise. Of course, in the laboratory, the training partners both know the program so there isn't that much surprise which is why the guidelines are put in place. Without the guidelines, the training basically becomes "how to best to mutilate an unarmed attacker with a knife" or "how to engaing an assailent armed with a knife who is not totally committed to attacking". This is not really the focus of the RZ.

 My friend Marc Scott hosted a Ray Floro seminar at my gym a while back. I remember watching Ray and Marc tearing guys up in sparring and thinking "this is why you run away". LOL! My "Red Zone Solution" to dealing with either of these two would be to barricade myself in the back room and call the police. LOL! That or make them tired of chasing me around and then have someone bludgeon them while I distracted them. Defending against a knife just plain sucks.

 Speaking of Marc, he participates regularly at the Gatherings and has developed a system of defense with some similarities to the RZ. He's definitely one to watch.

 I'll put the word out at my place and see if any of the guys are interested. Either way, I'll be watching and listening with interest to hear what comes out of the Gatherings.

Take care,

This sounds like a cool idea to me! What are the DB Gathering "rules" for such a match? Wooden or aluminum trainers? What kind of armor? Eye and throat protection?


-Sean Brandt


I have to agree with Jerry on this one.

Against a knife wielder who knows good fundementals, who is thinking rationally, and have the proper attitude............I doubt that the unarmed defender would win.

I would certainly NOT win against my more experienced students if I went un-armed against them. And YES, Marc Scott would absolutely annihilate me.

Even sparring knife on knife..there are a lot of "double kills".

Having said that......I maintain that the Red Zone and STAB approach is the closest thing to the most effective and EASILY learnt of the un-armed defences against the knife.

I have taught Jerry's approach (with slight modification) to members of Australian Military, Aussie Commando's and Aussie SAS, State and Federal Police and Special Anti-Terrorist and Tactical Teams. I have also exposed Red Zone to Air Marshalls and the General Public.

The results speak for themselves, as many have adopted this as their standard response to a knife attack when unarmed.

With everything I know.....It's my personal choice of response.

I went unarmed vs. knife in the first gathering
I ever did. It went really well, I took control and ended up taking the guy down without getting "cut".

I having always believed in trainign edged weapon defennse against resistive opponents and that was a perfect way to do it.

As for armor it was standard fencing head gear and that was it.

Hey Marc,
Did you use the 2 on 1 control to take it to the ground?
How did you finish it once on the ground?

Using a counter knife structure at a DB gathering would be a GREAT
IDEA! I would reccomend the use of the paint knife. This is how we
train any "knife related elements" when we are trying to see how things
would really play out. There are a lot of not so cool "paint/lipstick/
chalk training knioves out there. The best is a foam type knife with
some kids Crayola red (waterbased) paint. Wipes right off with a damp

Jerry pointed out that in gaming the person with the knife always holds
the cards. I agree and I think it's very significant to work against "that
person". Of course it's not real, but it's not real in any training
situation, even in scenarios. I have seen people fall apart over the years
in scenario training of all kinds, SIMUNITION, multiple attackers,
counter knife, OC spray... But in the very far reaches of their minds
they knew the following:

They could stop at anytime - Nobody there really wanted to kill them -
There were rules and the people would abide by them - The person(s)
they were fighting are actually there to help them - Lunch was going
to be @ 12:00 - etc.

Scenario based training is of extreme value. But it has it's good and
bad parts. Hardcore training of any element is of extreme value but it
too has it's good and bad parts. You cannot hardcore all the time or
you will wind up injured and unable to train at all.

Everything should be given it's appropriate significance.

"""I have taught Jerry's approach (with slight modification)"""

"""Speaking of Marc, he participates regularly at the Gatherings and has
developed a system of defense with some similarities to the RZ"""

Great to see other Counter Knife structures developing.


Hey Marc, Demetrious and All,
I have talked to Crafty Dog about the possible use of the ?Shocknife? for up and coming gatherings. I think this would really add a lot to the fights. May I also comment that unarmed vs. knife does not mean that it starts with one person yielding the knife. Quite the contrary, EH vs. Knife in the real world almost always starts when the person who has the knife, packing it rather than holding it in their hand, then the blade is presented. At the November gathering this is how the knife fights started off; close range with the knives hidden on the fighter?s bodies. This then eliminates the first defense against a bladed weapon that the previous posts are talking about (to run). It also adds the possibility of stuffing the weapon and blade retention. I remember several incidences where the fight ended up EH vs. Knife. May I also comment that we all know the first defense against the knife, but what about all the ?what ifs?? What if you need to get through this person to save a loved one? What if you are pushed into a corner and need to escape? And so on and so forth. I am planning on the June gathering and would love to fight EH vs. Knife on either side.



This is pretty hazy but here is as best as I remember...

He had the knife in a reverse grip edge out. I moved in and did a shoulder stop and got a single arm wrap. From there I did an inside sweep to take him down. From there I controlled the knife with my hands, pried it out of his and stabbed him in the throat.


"From there I controlled the knife with my hands, pried it out of his..."

Do you remember what kind of control you used here?

Two hands on the blade?
One on the blade, one on the handle?
One hand on the wrist, the other on the blade?
One on the wrist, one on the handle?
Two on one on the wrist?
Two on one on the hand?
One on the wrist, one on the hand?

Single arm overhook:


 I see more what you mean about how the training would go. That makes more sense now. I read a post by Marc Denny saying that when the two guys started with their knives hidden, both participants jumped back and then drew their blades. Marc said that he was going to make some modifications to try to change this. Do you know what he came up with?

 I'm not sure it's entirely accurate to say "EH vs. Knife in the real world almost always starts when the person who has the knife, packing it rather than holding it in their hand, then the blade is presented."

 I'm certainly not saying that this doesn't happen often nor am I saying that one shouldn't train for this. Quite the opposite. I do know quite a few people who were stabbed with a blade that was held out of site, not to mention muggings etc.

 I hear what you're saying about knowing that running is a priority. What I have seen with many programs is too much focus on going hands on. There would always be lip service to disengaging, but then you would not see this actually have any part in the actual training. Often you would see two people training and circling eachother several times. Throughout the course of the circling, there was never and attempt made to disengage. 

 I used to think and train that way too. But when you sit and try to imagine "what kind of scenario would I be in where I could not disengage, use cover, environmental obstacles, projectiles, etc." you find there aren't really that many cicumstances where I would have to go hands on. UNLESS, you are forced to, meaning the attacker is attacking and not just using the blade as a barricade.

  I realise you may know this, but I'm not sure you are in the majority based on what I see being taught. It's impossible to answer hypotheticals with hypotheticals so it's hard to address "what if's". I am very much a proponent of what ifing provided the what if's are credible.

 I like the direction that the training is going now that I understand. I spoke to some of my guys and I may be bringing some down after all. Especially if there's going to be a shock knife:)

Take care,

I was referring to the actual disarm once you were on the ground. What grips were you using to strip the knife?

One of the things I do in training is to have both people start in some kind of clinch position (over under; tie up; plumb, e tc). One guy has the knife hidden or already drawn and we go from there.

As far as disengaging, unarmed vs. knife often is with the knife wielder holding the unarmed person's clothing with one hand and stabbing with the other. I've found it's very hard to disengage from this..

I can't even remember what disarm I used, I would have to see it again.

When I train against the blade, I like unconciousness as my favorite disarm, I don't do any FMA style strips because I don't believe in them against the types of knive carried these days.


 Sounds like some good training. I agree, in the situations you describe I've found the only way to get out is to go in.



Allow me to expand on your comment, I don?t think I was very clear:

"I'm not sure it's entirely accurate to say "EH vs. Knife in the real world almost always starts when the person who has the knife, packing it rather than holding it in their hand, then the blade is presented.""

What I more or less mean is that when there is a one on one altercation where both parties acknowledge the situation there is almost never a blade deployed at this point. If there was it would make no sense for the other person sans knife to stick around. This is where the running comes in. However, if the person does not know their opponent has a knife they may be more opt to try and get physical. I guess what I am saying is that the fight usually goes physical BEFORE the knife is drawn. Does this make more sense?


P.S. I am honored to have such a respectful and knowledgeable group of people that are willing to talk in an adult manor, unlike other places on the net.

Sorry I just saw your other question. Crafty Dog please correct me if I am incorrect but I believe the majority of the problem was solved by the fights starting at very close range. I can?t wait until June. I think the gathering would gain a whole new realm if we had EH vs. Knife.


I hear you Ryan and I agree this is often the case. Indeed this is a very dangerous area as due to the effects of adrenalin, people often don't feel the blade and continue to fight in close as though the fight was still empty hand. Really does enforce the idea that you have to have game everywhere.

I see how starting close could help to force the issue. Do you know if people were trying to escape at all? Was there a predetermined goal to finish the attacker even empty handed?


I still saw some jumping back but yes it did solve the problem with a lot of issues. I can also remember several where one person did not present their knife immediately giving then an EH vs. Knife situation.

As you said about adrenaline I also believe this. A sharp knife can cut someone in the adrenal state without them knowing until they see the blood. A "Walking Dead Man" if you will. I still think this presents some issues as a walking dead man can still perform for a long time before he keels over. "Long time" obviously in regards to a fight and I perceive thirty seconds to be a long time. An issue I see with a lot of Knife one hit sparring where one person gets a good shot in and they stop the fight.



 I agree whole heartedly.