Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 11 – Knife Held to the Stomach from the Front

Knife Held to the Stomach from the Front (十級刃物護身術)

The first thing to remember about the white belt self defense techniques against a weapon is that they are not designed to be complete techniques, but are designed to start building your skill and confidence against weapons attacks. As you go through the motions and start watching other video lessons on the subject, the scenario described in this technique is not only relatively rare, but relatively unrealistic. The person is not likely to just stand there and threaten you with a knife, there is probably going to be a lot more motion, and a lot less notice that you are going to be attacked with a knife.

The primary rule of knife fighting is to protect your inner wrists and neck. Beyond that, your biggest issue is not slashing, but stabbing. In later levels we will deal with stabbing motions, but for now we will address a static attacker holding a knife to your stomach. Again, as with all the weapons defense techniques, after you feel comfortable with the static moves, you should add a lot more realism into your defense practice by adding dynamic motion.


This assumes the attacker is holding the knife out with their right arm (since most people are right handed).

  1. Using the outside of the right hand you are going to parry the knife to the outside as your turn your body and “catch” the attacker’s arm between your left and right hands.
  2. Rotate your body towards the attacker, collapsing their elbow, and pointing the knife at their face
  3. Grab their head and drive them downwards into your knee
  4. Finish the twist of the knife out of their hand to end the disarm
  5. Cover out, and discard or put the knife in a safe place


The focus of this movement needs to be on control. As soon as you start moving, the attacker will either try and continue the motion and stab you, or will try to pull away. You need to use this motion to your advantage and ensure that the attacker is not able to completely pull away from you so they can come back at you with a stabbing motion. The key here is getting their hand locked after you parry the blade off to the side. Once you are in this position, the knife as a stabbing agent is fairly neutralized, and you have a bit more leeway in terms of your defense technique and motion. The ultimate scenario is one where you are able to twist the knife out of the attackers hand by sliding your hand down to the hilt of the knife, and taking control through the twisting torque motion, and throwing the attacker off guard by driving them downwards and a knee towards their face.

During this maneuver, however, you need to be careful that the point of the blade is facing away from you. If you are in the situation where the point is still facing you, you do not want to drive a knee upwards as this could potentially expose you to getting stabbed in your leg. Here is a fun fact when it comes to knives – most knives attackers use aren’t designed for stabbing, and therefore the potential for injury is limited to your ability to control the situation. Now, if you do find yourself in a situation where you are faced with an attacker with a “proper attacking knife” who knows how to use a knife (trained knife fighter), then most likely they aren’t just coming up to you and trying to threaten you with a knife in your stomach. They will be moving the blade around, as well as using their other hand to distract you enough to stab you through the weakest areas of your body. This is why, in this scenario, it is vitally important that you get control of the attacker, and neutralize the knife and their ability to maneuver it.

Things to Work On

Just like the gun attacks, we are focusing our efforts on getting to the outside of the attacker’s body. It is a lot harder for them turn their elbow outward then it is for them to turn their elbow inwards. One thing to notice as you begin the practice, holding your arm out straight is relatively easy, but it even easier to collapse your attacker’s elbow and roll into their attacks. Make sure you aren’t trying to strong arm this technique, but rather focus on using the leverage you have outside the arm moving the attacker into their own knife.

Concluding Thoughts

As with all weapon attacks, it is critically important that you practice this until you not only feel comfortable with the maneuver, but also able to perform it from both sides and in a dynamic motion and situation. The sooner you can move to this phase of training the better. Additionally, get your hands on some dulled knives to practice with rather than rubber or plastic weapons. The more realistic you can make the practice, the better your chances for success are in the field.

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