Thursday, October 19, 2017

Inktober Day #19 - Beware the hidden knife!

Day 19 of Inktober - so far, I'm having fun reading/re-reading some of my knifefighting/martial arts/self-defense books. I'm also having fun practicing my 'gesture drawing' also. My drawings are not perfect, but they serve its purpose for me. Like a mental bookmark ... some loose and fast drawings to jog my memory ... like humming a few bars of a song. And on that front, they are perfect for me. Know what I mean?

Today's picture/topic is the hidden knife. I hope you all are finding my drawings and notes useful in your martial journey!

From "Knives, Knife Fighting and Related Hassles" (1990)
By Marc "Animal" MacYoung

"Pissed off Stance"

  • You can't see the knife until he strikes
  • Crossing arms is a natural reaction when someone is pissed off.
  • If someone crosses their arms - call them on it, run, or pre-emptive strike

"Subway Pass"

  1. Subject approaches with hands in pockets.
  2. He starts to spin. Knife being removed from pocket and is concealed from victim's views.
  3. Completion of spin - knife is out and subject stabs victim.


"All warfare is based on deception."
~Sun Tzu

Do you know why Police Officers always say, "Let me see your hands!" or advice when interacting with police is to show your hands clearly? If not, please read on...

Anyone with a knife looking to assault you will conceal their blade. This is not like the movies where the subject will brandish a knife to intimidate. As you can see from my picture above, sometimes the hands are in sight, yet, they can still hide a blade.

Be aware! Learn to read the tell-tale signs of impending violence. In poker, the signs to look for to see if a player is bluffing are called 'tells'. Gavin deBecker calls them PINs (Pre-INcident indicators).

The subject will engage in conversation with dialogue as distraction and deception to "close the gap". Once they are close enough, the destruction will go down. Geoff Thompson calls these "The Four D's" in Chapter 1 of his "Dead or Alive" book:

The Four 'D's

There are four techniques often used by attackers, especially muggers and rapists, in preparing victims for attack. Although these are nearly always overlooked by self-defence writers, the four 'D's – dialogue, deception, distraction and destruction – are the most important element of self-protection to be aware of.


Dialogue designed to disarm and distract the targeted victim is the professional attacker's most common priming technique. An attacker will approach a potential victim in a non-threatening way and begin a conversation. Often, he will ask a question about directions, ask if you have the time, a light, or any spare change. His objective is to make you think about his question, so that you do not notice the weapon he is drawing or his accomplice coming round behind you. It only takes a second of distraction for you to get into deep trouble. Understanding this will make you more aware and keep you alert, which is the most important part of target hardening.


An attacker uses deception to make himself appear harmless. Dialogue and appearance are the most common methods used to deceive victims, to make them let down their guard. Do not expect dangerous people to stand out in a crowd.

Attacks may start with politeness, even with an ingratiating approach. Deception is the attacker's greatest asset. Every attack I have ever documented that was not a blind-side attack (the ones that happen when you do not use awareness) came through deception, the attacker using this as a window of opportunity.


Distraction is a part of deception and usually comes through dialogue. The attacker may ask his victim a question and then initiate attack while the victim is thinking about the answer. This distraction also switches off any instinctive, spontaneous physical response the victim may have. A man with twenty years of physical training in a fighting art can be stripped of his ability by this simple ploy. I have witnessed many trained fighters, who are monsters in the controlled arena, get beaten by a guy with only an ounce of their physical ability. How? They were distracted before the attack. Rob, a hardened street fighter and nightclub doorman, always told potential opponents that he didn't want to fight before he attacked them. Their first thought when recovering consciousness would be: 'I'm sure he said he didn't want to fight!'

If the distraction is submissive, 'I don't want any trouble, can we talk about it?' it will also take your assailant down from a state of fight or flight to one of low awareness, because your submissiveness tells him that the danger is over and he can relax into self-congratulation.

Brain engagement, via disarming/distracting dialogue, gives the victim a blind second. This is when the assailant strikes. The distraction is also used by the experienced attacker to take down any protective fences that may have been constructed by the victim (the 'fence' is dealt with in detail in a later chapter).


This is the final product of expert priming. Few people survive the first physical blow and most are out of the game before they even realise that they are in it. Even trained martial artists often get suckered by the four 'D's because these do not appear on their training curriculum. They do not understand the enemy they are facing. The attacker uses the techniques of deception and distraction to prime a victim that is only trained in 'physical response'.

When the destruction happens, most people have no idea how brutal and quick it can be.

Rory Miller teaches "The Four Basic Truths":

"Assaults happen closer, faster, more suddenly and with more power than most people can understand."

Do not let 'unknown contacts' get close to you. Maintain some reactionary gap... put up your 'Fence' if you have to ... establish your boundaries. Be ready to run if you can or pre-emptive strike if the need arises.

Craig Douglas aka "Southnarc" in teaching the Criminal Assault Paradigm has narrowed the tell-tale signs down to four Pre-Assault cues:

  1. Grooming
  2. Target Glancing
  3. Discernible Weight Shift
  4. Furtive movement of the hand towards the waist

For further information, please read:

Further, keep in mind, this is not the movies, when a knife is deployed, it's deadly force. Kelly McCann, writing as Jim Glover, in Guns & Ammo, May 1995:

"Any time sharpened steel meets flesh, flesh loses. Once the fury of flashing steel begins, it is almost impossible to stop without sustaining injury. That is the reality of a knife attack. That is what makes a knife so dangerous to fight against."

And if for whatever reason, you are able to see that the subject approaching you has a blade, keep in mind what martial arts living legend Dan Inosanto teaches as his anti-knife ROE (Rules of Engagement):

  1. Run!
  2. Throw things!
  3. Use things!
  4. Martial Arts -- and expect to get cut.
Once you cannot see an unknown contact's hands and they are approaching you, usually joking, laughing and smiling, be mindful of what these signs can mean! One sign may be nothing, two signs and your spider-senses should be tingling mildly, three or more signs and you should be like Robby the Robot in the classic sci-fi TV series, "Lost in Space":  "Danger, Will Robinson!" THE FIT WILL HIT THE SHAN!!!

Now you know why Police Officers always say, "Let me see your hands!"

My drawings for Inktober 2017 - drawing at least 1 pic each day in October:



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