I am sometimes asked, “Hey, if you carry a gun, what do need Krav Maga for?” It is true that with the invention of firearms martial arts took a step backwards. From a distance a gun will beat the best trained martial artist of any style. (See Raiders of the Lost Ark), but there is still a great need for martial arts, and Krav Maga, in today’s less than perfect world.
The fact is it takes time to draw and fire a weapon, even for a trained shooter. A person can attack from short range without warning. In such situations your handgun is almost useless. Against a knife the situation is even worse. If you rely only upon your handgun – you just might get killed. Most people, law enforcement included, have no idea how fast a knife wielding assailant can move. In a blink of an eye he can be upon you. I have seen police videos of actual stabbings and it is frightening. I have seen multiple armed police officers getting stabbed one after another, afraid to open fire since the assailant ‘only’ has a knife. Finally someone realizes that a knife is a formidable weapon against a gun, and shoots the guy. If you have a hand gun, realize that it does not provide absolute protection against a knife, especially as the distance decreases.
Personal Safety Expert Professor Arthur Cohen introduced me to the concept known as Tueller’s drill. It is a drill which shows that most people can cover 21 feet in about 1.5 seconds. Sgt. Dennis Tueller of Salt Lake City Police Department conducted experiments which let to the conclusion that an attacker with a knife in his hand covers 21 feet in 1.5 seconds. Therefore anything under 21 feet is considered to be in the zone of “imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.” In other words a person with a knife or any edged weapon is a direct and imminent threat to you if that person is within 21 feet (7 yards). Research shows that a person with a knife who is closer than 7 yards can stab or cut you before you can stop them with a gun. Most police officers, even with the gun already in hand, cannot hit a target twice before the “assailant” can cover 10 yards. Cutting that distance down to around 7 yards takes lots of practice and training. So, you see, “primitive” weapons are deadly weapons. That is why in Krav Maga we spend a lot of time working on knife defense.
The best bet is to step away as you draw your weapon, better yet; step at an angle, this will give you more time to draw your weapon. Realize that there is no such thing as a safe distance from a knife. Many armed police officers were killed by assailants armed ‘only’ with knives. They underestimated the lethal ability of the blade. Another technique we use, if we don’t have time to draw the weapon, is kick the assailant with a front kick as we step back and draw the handgun. Of course, no matter what, it is important to train in knife defense techniques and not to over rely upon the handgun and that’s exactly why we offer in depth instruction on how to handle situations involving knives. If you have any questions just ask your instructor. See you in class!