How to Use a Knife for Self Defense

In Home Defense Tips by homedefense

The knife is a good weapon of choice when looking into self protection and defense. People may get nervous about carrying and using a knife for self-defense, but a knife is just an extension of the arm and anyone can stab or slash with a knife to get away from an attacker. You can use a knife to the best of your ability when defending yourself. A knife can be most effective by doing a slashing motion to cut someone enough to disable the attacker so you can escape an attack. Slashing a person’s arm, leg, body or face will stop the attack long enough for you to run. Another way to attack using a knife is to thrust the knife into the aggressor’s arm, leg, body or hand to force them to back off so you can escape. 

Using a knife along with Pepper Spray for self-defense:

I would actually carry both a knife and the pepper spray with you at all times for added protection and the ability to defend yourself.  Let’s say someone breaks into your home during the day and you happen to be there. You can grab your pepper spray to shoot it in their eyes, and then have the knife ready if they lunge to grab you. The other thing is if you are in the kitchen or can get to the kitchen, you have knives there to use for self-defense.

If you are out walking around your neighborhood or shopping out in public at any store, it is best to carry both weapons with you. I like the pepper spray because many people carry it on their key chain and it is something most people feel more comfortable using. When you go into a parking lot to get into your car, you should have the spray ready and the knife easily accessible. You want to spray the attacker first then open the blade so you can be ready for any further attack. Once the attacker is down, then you need to run and get away as fast as possible. The key in any attack, is to escape.

There are many different scenarios in which you would need both your mace and your knife. Anytime you are feeling a threat of danger, it’s imperative you have a self-defense weapon at the ready. Maybe you see a stranger coming up on your car as you just pulled into the garage or a store parking lot. If you cannot get back into the car to back out and get away, then you need to pull out the knife. Show the person you mean business and will fight back to protect yourself.  Doing this alone, may be a useful self-defense tactic. If the criminal sees that you are armed, it’s likely that person will leave to find another victim who isn’t prepared to fight.

Knife advantages compared to a gun:

  • A knife is easy to carry in a purse or in your pockets
  • You can carry more than one
  • It is easier to use and not as expensive as a gun
  • You do not need a permit to carry a knife
  • With a gun, shooting someone may have an accidental stray bullet fired that could injure other innocent people
  • There are many things we use every day that can be used like a knife:
    • Screwdriver
    • Scissors
    • Pencil or pen
    • Fork
  • You can easily learn some basic moves with a knife to defend yourself
  • Having a knife to fight against an attacker with no weapon or even the same weapon is better than nothing
  • Gun training is a lot more intensive than using a knife because most people have the basic ability to at least stab or slash with a knife without any training, if their life depended on it

How to use a knife:

If you have a knife and you are facing an attacker with no weapon,  they will most likely see the knife and run, but if they do not, you have to be prepared to use the knife.

In the event the attacker lunges at you:

If the perpetrator lunges at you, then use the knife in a stabbing motion at their hands which is the first body part that will be coming to you when they lunge. If they do get to you and grab your torso then stab the thigh or knee or the groin. You can use self-defense fighting techniques with the knife if you are trained. If you are not trained, just stab and move to make it hard for the attacker to grab you. You do not want them to grab your arms so do not stab in a downward motion, but rather stab straight out like a punch. If you swing your arm with the knife, it is easier for them to stop and grab your arm to dislodge the knife from your grasp.

Key Points:

  • Stab at an attacker like a punch
  • Never raise the arm and stab down like the movies do it. This is way too easy for the aggressor to stop and defend himself against your attack.

In the event the attacker grabs you from behind:

If the attacker grabs you from behind, hopefully you have the knife in hand or easily accessible. You have to access it and open the knife so you can use it. If they grab you from behind, I would think they have grabbed you above the elbow. Get your knife ready if you can and use your head to smash the attacker’s nose with a rear head butt.  This means jerking your head back fast and hard to hit the attacker’s face. Hopefully they release you in response to this tactic, then you can turn and with your knife, open stab the leg or any area you can come into contact with. Do not swing wildly and randomly, but use concise stabbing punches and once the criminal falls or you can escape from his grasp, run away as fast as you can.

If the head butt tactic does not release his grip, then use the knife to swing your arm in backward motion, thrusting the knife into his leg. You need to do it several times until you are released, then face the attacker and have the knife ready for any further attacks. If the attacker fell down or is incapacitated, that is when you run while yelling for help.

Using your knife against an attacker who also has a knife:

If someone pulls a knife on you and asks for money, then just give them the purse or wallet and run. If they grab you or they are trying to force you into a car or van, then fight back and escape to run. Do Not Go To the Second Location.

If they come up to you with a knife and press it against your side but have not grabbed you, then run. The chances of them chasing you with a knife are very small. Their objective if they are trying to kidnap you is to quietly and quickly get you in a car to go to a secluded space. I know most of you think this is for women only, but men can be kidnapped too, so everyone needs to avoid being taken to second location at all costs.

If a stranger comes up to you with a knife and says get into the car and you cannot run and you cannot get your knife out to fight back, you should try to do anything to distract or disarm them.  You have to make a judgment call and fight them off so you can quickly grab your knife to stab them  and then run.

Let’s look at other scenarios for using a knife.

What to do in a home robbery:

When you are at home, make sure you have all your doors and windows locked and know where all your weapons are located.  One of those weapons should be easily accessible, so if someone forces their way into your home, you have a weapon near you to use in order to fight back.

If someone breaks into your home, you to immediately be armed with a weapon, because you never know what else the criminal may do. You need to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and your family if you encounter a stranger in your home. With a knife, you can slash the thief or stab at them with quick punches to wound them. Once you have wounded them, you need to run out into the street yelling for help, or you can press the panic button if you have an alarm system. If you can get out and into your car, drive directly to the police station. Your goal is to get away at all costs and get somewhere safe and secure.

What to do if an attack occurs away from the home:

Let’s look at two difference situations that might occur:


 If someone pulls a knife or gun on you and is asking for your wallet, purse or money, I suggest you just give them what they want. Once they get what they want, they usually leave and nothing happens to you.  Their goal is to steal, not harm you.


 Abductors try to abduct people at times and in areas where no one is around. You should always try to stay in more populated areas when jogging or when walking alone. When you are needing to get to your parked car in a dark parking lot, ask someone  to walk you out. Always look around to make sure you understand your environment, its surroundings and any dangers that may be lurking around you anywhere you go. Be cautious and mindful, always. If you sense or see anything that feels dangerous or unsafe in any way, make sure to leave the scene immediately.

And added safety reminder:  You can use a knife kept by your bed side if there is any foul play with a date or partner in the bedroom. Let’s hope this wouldn’t be the case, but I have heard of many women (and some men) being attacked or raped and they didn’t see it coming. Having a knife right by your bed, is a great way to have access to a self-defense weapon, if ever needed. You can really hurt someone enough to stop the unwanted advances or attacks.  Also, if there is a home invasion during the night when you are sleeping, you can wake to find a weapon available to you immediately for self-defense. When traveling, you can bring your knife with you and do the same, just as a precaution in case of the threat of danger where you are staying.

Real Life Scenarios

TV Show I Can’t Believe I Survived

I just watched this show where a young woman was abducted in a parking lot of a busy store. It was not even dark outside when she was forced into her car and told to drive. The man came up from behind with a knife and told her to get into the car. He just got out of prison and needed her car to get to where he wanted to go. I will not go into great detail but the women did survive by outsmarting the abductor. Most people do not survive once abducted so she was very fortunate to survive.

It is too bad she was not better prepared. She should have run as soon as that abductor came up to her. I know it is easier said than done, but you have to override your fear. You need to try to escape with everything you’ve got. It helps to have a knife and your pepper spray ready to use in case a stranger starts coming at you. You need to always be prepared and you need to always stay alert.

This post was not intended to cause fear, but rather it was written to offer you insights and practices you can apply for your own self-defense and protection.  What’s most important is your safety, and if you can made mindful decisions about your surroundings and people you encounter, while also learning how to carry and use a weapon in self-defense, you are much better off in staying safe in this world.

If you would like to read more on self-defense check out this post.

It is my hope that you can find all the articles on this site helpful in self-defense and protection as well as creating a safe and protected home environment as well.