Placing Emphasis on Driving an Attacker’s Knife Arm Back Improves Several Krav Maga Knife Defenses

When I teach knife defenses, many of these techniques call for an arrest or control of the arm wielding the edged weapon.

And, in this context, we often hear the motor skill described as – down and back. While this ideal is 100 percent true, these words are often misinterpreted by many students – almost as if “down” must be completed before “back” is attempted. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As with many things in Krav Maga, action begets action and movement begets movement. The “down and back” instruction calls for movement in both directions simultaneously. However, I often give the instruction as – back and down – pointing out that emphasis must be placed on moving the knife BACK. An emphasis DOWN simply changes the level (but not the distance from your body) in which the knife is located. In my view, a DOWN emphasis also inspires slashing across the defender’s body, rather than a reset or reloading of the knife. Finally, as human’s, we are much weaker with our arms stretched back beyond the seam of the shirt at the shoulder, as opposed to pushing the arm down to the front pocket of the pants.

In any case, I’ve come to prefer the words – back and down. Ironically, these words, when properly interpreted, mean the same things as – down and back. But, the emphasis on BACK seems to resonate with my students and substantially improves their defenses.

So, remember, during an overhead knife defense (for instance), drive the attackers knife hand down and back, as long as you’re driving back and down.

If this is clear as mud to you, check out the video below for more detail!

…walk in peace.

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1 comment

  1. Michael Donahoe

    Great video. I’m curious though about the amount of mobility to escape the defence when moving back from the high side. A small step from the attacker gives a larger range of motion from the high side as opposed to the lower route for them to escape or counter the defence. The lower route is has less mobility but the attacker, as you have said, has more strength from the torso.

    Thank you so much for you blog, I love looking at these defences from an analytical viewpoint. It’s deeply fascinating and educational!