Self-Defense Tip #104 — Cut-Resistant Fabrics and Knife Attacks

Most terrorist vehicle attacks are followed by knife attacks, because stabbing and slashing disarmed and shocked people with a knife is easy. Empty hands stand no chance against the knife of a determined attacker.

To knock out the knife-wielding attacker the defender’s limbs need to enter the knife’s cutting zone–well before being able to reach the knifer’s knock-out spots. In other words, a knifer can disable or even kill the defender with an easy cut to an arm or a leg, while the defender has to land a strong strike to a knifer’s head or throat. Good luck with that!

To knock the knife out of an attacker’s hand, the defender needs to hit the knifer’s quickly moving hand hard. To grab and immobilize the knife hand, the defender has to bring partially open hands (both of them–one won’t do) within the knife’s cutting range–and that means losing fingers. Even if the defender succeeds at grabbing the knife hand, that hand usually has enough mobility to cut the defender’s forearm, while the attacker’s other hand is free and may hold another knife. . . . So good luck with those ideas too!

Blocking a knife with your hand

A demonstration of how easy it is to lose fingers during a knife encounter

Now, it would seem that cut-resistant fabrics could offer enough protection to allow punching or grabbing the knife hand. Cut-resistant gloves and forearm protectors are available, and are not expensive, so let’s take a look at how they do against knives.

First, normal-looking gloves with cut-resistant lining, the type of gloves police officers use for frisking to protect themselves from accidental cuts.


This video shows gloves with Kevlar® liner (level 2 cut resistance), Spectra® liner (level 3 cut resistance), and Dyneema® liner (level 5 cut resistance).


A different glove with level 5 cut resistance

And now, two inexpensive cut-resistant sleeves.


Too inexpensive?


A cut-resistant sleeve that actually resists cuts (but not stabs, which are the most common moves in lethal knife attacks)


Conclusion: Don’t be empty-handed.

Most European governments made it illegal for civilians to carry weapons. European governments deny people their natural human right to means of self-defense — in Western Europe by keeping National Socialist (Hitlerian) weapon-control laws, and in Central and Eastern Europe by keeping Scientific Socialist (Soviet) laws restricting gun ownership.

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Ideal self-defense weapons are those that are legal to carry everywhere, do not attract attention, are simple to use, and do not require practice.

Self-defense tip from Thomas Kurz, co-author of Basic Instincts of Self-Defense and author of Science of Sports Training, Stretching Scientifically, and Flexibility Express.

Self-Defense Moves

Basic Instincts of Self-Defense - Defenses Against Unarmed Attacks DVD

For your defense moves to work under stress they must be based on your natural, instinctive reactions, require little strength and limited range of motion, and be proven in fighting experience.

To learn how your natural reactions can instantly defeat any unarmed attack, see the video Basic Instincts of Self-Defense.

Defend Against Weapons

Self-Defense: Tools of Attack DVD

To defend against weapons you have to know how they are used. Also—every stick has two ends … the weapon of attack may become a weapon of defense in your hand …

To learn how the typical street weapons (club, knife, razor) are used by an experienced streetfighter and how to practice with them, see the video Self-Defense: Tools of attack—Club, Hatchet, Blackjack, Knife, Straight Razor.

Mental Toughness

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Staying cool under pressure is more important for self-defense than being physically fit and technically skilled. If you can’t control your mind what can you control?

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2 thoughts on “Self-Defense Tip #104 — Cut-Resistant Fabrics and Knife Attacks”

  1. I saw a video a while back with a couple of Danny Inosanto’s students. One was “armed” with a magic marker as stand-in for a knife. These were trained fighters, and in less than a minute, the defender had marks up and down his arms and body that would have been killing cuts. The advice: if someone has a knife, get a chair or something else big. If that’s not possible, run. You can’t win, unarmed.

  2. I can agree with you about one thing. If you don´t have anything to defend yourself with, you better run. But if your life´s in danger and you don´t have a choice (can´t run) then it´s all about your “fight or flight” system. In case you don´t have a weapon, you´ll try to survive and do whatever it takes to save your life.

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